309 Flemings - Flanders

309.1 history-of-scots /origins/ 2.3.1 The Anglo-Normans and their followers
309.2 Flemish Migration to Scotland in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods - Morvern French
309.3 https://www.electricscotland.com/history/nation/fleming.htm The Scottish Nation - Fleming

309.4 Flemming Family History - History Of The Fleming Name
309.5 The Flemings of Pembrokeshire - Amy Eberlin
309.6 webclans /dtog /flemings.pdf - Boghall Castle in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

309.8 Insch Museum - Leopard Scans - Flinders, Flanders and Flemings, January 1994 - by Bill Nicolaisen
309.10 - National Library of Scotland Map - Searches for Fleming, Flind, Flanders, Findr etc.
309.11 boys-name-lander - Boys Name - Lander

309.12 Flemings Annette-F-Beauchamp-Genealogy-of-a-Fleming-Family-with-Colonial-Ancestors.pdf ANNETTE FLEMING BEAUCHAMP
309.15 Finnercy



2.3.1 The Anglo-Normans and their followers

There was intermittent Norman influence on the English court for half a century before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The exiled English princess Margaret (Saint Margaret), the wife of Malcolm III (Canmore), introduced continental influences into the Scottish church. Like the Angles, the Normans had already been seen in Scotland, as mercenaries. The first were probably those who fought on both sides with the future Malcolm III and Macbeth (Barrow, 1973: 279; 1981: 26).

When Malcolm III was killed (in 1093), his brother Donald Bán expelled the Normans and the southern English brought in under Malcolm and Margaret, but he was driven out by Malcolm’s eldest son Duncan, trained as a knight by the Normans, who in turn held the throne for less than a year and was forced to dismiss his Anglo-Norman retainers. Edgar took the throne in 1097 with the help of William II (Rufus) of England.[30] The next king, Alexander I, built castles and created knight feus on royal estates. But it was with the reign of David I, beginning in 1124, that Normans were brought in in large numbers. David I, who had spent much of his early life at the English court, greatly accelerated the process of feudalisation, so that by the end of his reign (1153) most of Scotland south of the Forth, apart from Galloway and Carrick, had been allocated to tenants, almost all newcomers, holding by military service. North of the Forth there was settlement in Fife, Gowrie, Angus and the Mearns, and the Aberdeenshire districts of the Garioch and Formartine. The Earl of Moray rebelled in 1130 and after defeating him, David I annexed the whole province (at that time a very large territory) for the crown and set up foreign feudatories there.

Later described as (see sanct B 2 (3)), David I continued the process begun by Saint Margaret of endowing Continental monastic orders in Scotland. As Sharp (1927: 123) points out, David I perhaps valued the Normans as much for their administrative as for their military talents, and it was from the ranks of churchmen, educated in schools run by churchmen, that administrators were drawn. As with secular migrants, the clerical migrants came from establishments in England as well as directly from the Continent. Crucially for the spread of Lowland Scots, David I also founded burghs (see below) in almost every part of his kingdom outside the Highlands (Barrow, 1981: 31-2).

The Clyde valley was systematically feudalised by Malcolm IV in the mid-12th century. A colony of Flemings was planted, hence the place-names Thankerton (after Tancard), Wiston (Wice), Lamington (Lambin), and Symington (Simon Loccard) (Barrow, 1973: 289). The penetration of Galloway was apparently difficult – there was “a violent anti-foreign reaction” that lasted from 1174 to 1185 (Barrow, 1981: 49).

The Anglo-Norman era lasted, Barrow tells us, from 1097 (the beginning of the reign of Edgar) to 1296 when war broke out between England and Scotland. For large parts of the Norman period, Scotland was a client kingdom of Norman England, and the kings of Scotland “kept the doors of their kingdom open for settlement, and in particular for settlement from England and northern France… … Scotland became a land of opportunity for sons whose fathers had not yet died, for younger sons with no patrimony to inherit” (Barrow, 1980: 7; see also ASH: 417). Barrow quotes the well-known comments of the Barnwell chronicler to the effect that “the more recent Scottish kings [Malcolm IV and William the Lion] count themselves Frenchmen by race, manners and speech, and retain only Frenchmen in their household” and of Jordan Fantosme that William the Lion “held only foreigners dear, and would never love his own people” (ibid.: 84).

Nevertheless, the Anglo-Norman period in Scotland differed from England in that Scotland had fewer external connections and retained its native dynasty and much of its native ruling class (ibid.: 153). Existing earldoms came to be held under feudal tenure, and the native magnates had to adapt by obtaining more land with which to reward new followers, who might be incomers, and by forming marriage alliances with the new order (ibid.: 87). There was nothing to prevent them obtaining lands in England, which they sometimes did.

Below the great lords, there was a stratum of tenants holding land by knight-service (the originals of the later laird class), many of whom were also migrants. “Although many of these families may have had continental ancestry, as far as Scotland was concerned they would to all intents and purposes have been English. Their speech was doubtless English, their experience was limited to England, and they would have regarded themselves as English by race” (Barrow, 1980: 82).

2.3.2 Feudalisation and the spread of OE/PreSc {Old English/Pre-Scots}

Anglo-Norman French never acquired the importance in Scotland that it had in England (Murison, 1974: 77-8; Barrow, 1999). With rare exceptions, it was Latin that was employed in administration (which took on a new, bureaucratic form under the feudal system). French was a familial language amongst the Normans, and was of use for wider communication (with England and France), but OE (which we can now begin to call PreSc) was the shared language of feudal overlords (secular and clerical), their vassals, and the freemen of the burghs. The anglicising forces of the feudal system were:

- the burghs;

- the monasteries (see ASH: 340-1), and the parochial organisation of the church (see ibid.: 348ff.);

- the local administration, by sheriffs, of feudalised territories (see ibid: 192-5).[31]

The numbers of people involved were small, but the social shift was radical, and eventually brought about a linguistic shift from Gaelic to Scots throughout the Lowlands, as the native population was assimilated into the new social system.[32]

The burghs, as foci of internal and external trade, were crucial in the spread of Lowland Scots, although the population even of the largest would have numbered hundreds rather than thousands (Barrow, 1981: 94). There was a great deal of internal migration as new burghs were created, and this would have increased the homogeneity of the dialect that spread as a result. The population of the early burghs would have included Lothian Angles, and a handful of Gaelic speakers, and in the west and south-west Cumbrians (conceivably still Cumbric speakers). “For the most part, however, they seem to have come into Scotland from Flanders, the Rhineland, northern France, and England especially eastern England” (Barrow, 1981: 92).

Right up to the 16th century, Flemish craftsmen were encouraged to immigrate, and they formed small enclaves, seen in such place-names as Flemington, of which there are four in Scotland, or settled in the burghs, where they played a prominent part in public life. Their linguistic influence is reflected in burghal terminology, e.g. guild, kirkmaister. They were allowed to have their own ‘Fleming law’ (s.v. Fleming n.).

The Atlas of Scottish History to 1707 (ASH) gives a series of maps (pp.196-8 and 212-4) showing the spread of burghs up to 1500. The second of these is reproduced here as Map 9. Taylor (1994) considers that the critical mass of Scots speakers in the St Andrews area was reached c1200: a man named Martin gave his name to Balemartin (coined in the mid-12th century), with the Gaelic generic baile, while his son Gillemuire, who was alive around 1200, gave his name to Gilmerton, with the OE generic tūn.[33] Nevertheless, Gaelic continued to be used in Fife in the first half of the 14th century, on the evidence of names and nicknames that occur in a Dunfermline document containing genealogies of neifs, indicating a Gaelic-speaking environment at least amongst the unfree peasantry. The outward spread of PreSc from the burghs into the countryside is examined for the North-East by Nicolaisen (1999), who finds evidence of Gaelic/English (i.e. PreSc) bilingualism from the early 13th century, and a dramatic increase in PreSc place-names (mostly additional to the existing Celtic nomenclature, but sometimes replacive) in the 14th century. Sharp (1927: 382ff) similarly found that whereas even the east coast of Angus was strongly Gaelic in 1219, by the end of the 14th century, the districts around Forfar were inhabited mainly by Scots (“English”) speakers. Scots must have begun quite early to differentiate into Northern, Central and Southern dialects (see §§5.2.5, 8.4 and Map 10).

Withers’ map of “Linguistic Changes” (ASH: 427, reproduced here as Map 11) attempts the difficult task of estimating the boundary between Gaelic and Scots (“English”) c1400 and c1500, on the basis of place-name and charter evidence. Of course, this boundary would not have been a thin line, but a transition zone with a mixed and often bilingual population (cf. the maps for later periods, where more detailed information is available, ibid.: 428-9).

2.3.3 Anglo-Danish population movement

In a chapter with important implications for the history of Scots, . . .

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Flemish Migration to Scotland in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

Morvern French

Friday 4 December 2015

In last weeks posting Morvern looks at the factors that led some to come to Scotland.


The Flemings were known throughout western Europe as people skilled in a wide variety of occupations. In 1188 Gerald of Wales, reflecting on the settlement in that area of a significant number of Flemings, described them as:-

" a brave and sturdy people […] a people skilled at working in wool, experienced in trade, ready to face any effort or danger at land or sea in pursuit of gain; according to the demands of time and place quick to turn to the plough or to arms; a brave and fortunate people.[1] “

The question under consideration here is what might have led them to migrate to Scotland. Although the primary impulses for this may be broadly grouped into feudal, economic, and religious categories, the reality was much more nuanced.

The Flemings as Traders in Scotland

Flemings international trade links were a major factor in their migration to Scotland. St Margaret, Queen of Scotland (d.1093) is recorded as having encouraged the immigration of foreign merchants:

... It was due to her that the merchants who came by land and sea from various countries brought along with them for sale different kinds of precious wares which until then were unknown in Scotland. And it was at her instigation that the natives of Scotland purchased from these traders clothing of various colours, with ornaments to wear.[2] … “

Flemings in particular have left their mark in the evidence of early trade. The name of Coupar Angus, for example, is thought to have derived from the Flemish word ,copar, meaning one who exchanges commodities.[3] Documentary evidence from the early years of the burghs shows that a significant proportion of inhabitants were international, including Flemings. For example, an 1164 charter of Malcolm IV referred to ‘Scots, French, Flemish, and English, both within and without the burgh’ of St Andrews.[4]

Flemish settlers had an important role in the establishment and growth of trading centres in Scotland, and they are thought to have brought with them continental traditions. For example around 1180 William I. (r.1165-1214) granted to the burgesses of Aberdeen, the Moray Firth, and north of the Mounth (an eastern ridge of the Grampian mountains) a free hanse as in the time of David I (r.1124-53); this hanse is believed to have been a trade guild as in the Low Countries.[5]

Around 1144 Bishop Robert of St Andrews founded the ecclesiastical burgh of the same name around the ancient monastic community of Kilrimund. He established there Mainard the Fleming, who had previously been burgess of the royal burgh of Berwick. Because Mainard was one of the first to build and establish the new burgh (‘ex prioribus est qui burgum supradictum aedificare et instauare incepit’),

('he is one of the former who began to build and set up the aforesaid borough')}

he was granted three tofts in the burgh.[6] His appointment as provost of St Andrews was no doubt connected to his experience at Berwick and his foreign contacts, and his duties would have included finding merchants and craftspeople to settle in the burgh and developing its commercial and mercantile potential.

In the early 1150s David I confirmed his grant to one Baldwin a toft in the burgh of Perth, in exchange for Baldwin undertaking to carry out watch service within the burgh, contributing towards enclosing the burgh within some sort of fence or wall, and providing the king with one terret and two horse collars per year. Baldwin the lorimer, as he has come to be known, was not to be sued in any court except before the king himself or his justice. David I’s grant was confirmed again by Malcolm IV (r.1153-65), who also provided Baldwin with a tenement in Perth, ‘ten feet broad by twenty-four feet long’. Baldwin was perhaps deceased by the 1160s, when his lands and buildings in Perth were granted to the cathedral priory of St Andrews, under similar terms to those granted to Baldwin.[7] He is assumed from his name to have been a Fleming, although unlike other early settlers he is never described as such in the written evidence.[8]

Aristocratic Settlers

The tenth to the thirteenth centuries witnessed the mass movement of aristocrats, most famously from Normandy, outwards to the peripheral European areas of Britain and Ireland, southern Italy, Spain, Pomerania, and Silesia. Many of these noble migrants were invited to settle in their host lands and were rewarded for military service through grants of lands and titles. The Flemings who settled in Scotland, in areas such as Moray and Lanarkshire, were without ties to the local populations and were intended to bring those areas further under the control of the kings of Scots.

Lauran Toorians points out that settlers came to Scotland from French Flanders as well as from the Dutch-speaking region. A Philippe de Vermelles was introduced into Scotland by Robert de Quincy, who himself originated in Cuinchy, to the east of Béthune in French Flanders. De Quincy may have travelled to Britain as a follower of William the Conqueror. Based in lands around Tranent in East Lothian, he brought several other French Flemings to Scotland, including Alan de Courrières, Hugh de Lens, Robert de Béthune, Robert de Carvin, and Roger de Orchies.[9]

Many Flemish incomers and their descendants who settled as knightly tenants of Malcolm IV (r.1153-65) left their mark on the place names of Upper Clydesdale in particular: Simon Loccard (Symington), Wice or Wizo (Wiston), Tancred (Thankerton), Lambin (Lambington), and Robert, brother of Lambin (Roberton).

Baldwin the Fleming is thought to have been the son of Stephen Flandrensis of Bratton in Devonshire, expelled by Henry II in 1154. Baldwin became sheriff of Lanarkshire and lord of Biggar, constructing a castle there, of which the large motte remains. By 1162 he was sheriff of Lanark and he acted as a witness to the charters of Bishop Robert of St Andrews, Malcolm IV, and William I.[10] Baldwin is thought to have aided in the expulsion of the invasion force of Somerled, lord of the Isles, when in 1164 Somerled landed at Renfrew with a fleet of 160 ships and attacked the lands of Walter son of Alan, the king’s steward. He was defeated at the Battle of Renfrew by the royal army, and it is likely that Baldwin also participated considering the proximity of his fiefs of Inverkip and Houston.[11]

In Moray the only person described in the primary sources as being a Fleming is Berowald. He also held land in West Lothian, giving his name to Bos-toun-ness). On 25 December 1160 Malcolm IV granted to Berowald the lands of Innes and Nether Urquhart in the sheriffdom of Elgin, for the service of one knight in Elgin Castle.[12] Elgin was an important centre of government in the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with William the Lion granting fourteen of his charters there compared to only six at Aberdeen.

Freskin is another possible Fleming in Moray. He was granted Duffus, where he built a castle, and other lands near Elgin by David I; he also held lands in Uphall and Broxburn, West Lothian. His family adopted the name de Moravia (of Moray). Freskins other grandson Gilbert was archdeacon of Moray (1203-22) and bishop of Caithness (1223-45).

At Garioch in Aberdeenshire there was a significant Flemish population in the early thirteenth century, when Bartholomew Flandrensis granted. This Flemish settlement left its name at the farms of New Flinder, Old Flinder, and Little Flinder; and it is thought that Bartholomew also held Flemington near Forfar.[13]

Discrimination against Flemings in England and Scotland

The expulsion of Flemings from England in 1154 was a reaction to King Stephen’s (r.1135-1154) great use of Flemish mercenaries during his civil war against Empress Matilda. The most well-known was William of Ypres, an illegitimate claimant to the county of Flanders. The influx of Flemish migrants encouraged by Stephen was not well received by English contemporaries, who felt their influence over the king and their hold on land and wealth threatened. Chronicler Gervase of Canterbury recalled that,

" ... Flemings were called to England by the king, and they, envying the long-time inhabitants of the land, having left behind their native soil and their job of weaving, flocked into England in troops, and like hungry wolves proceeded energetically to reduce the fecundity of England to nothing.[14]”

On the accession of Henry II (r.1154-1189), the new king considered it necessary to rid himself of this large body of Flemish mercenary troops and to regain for the crown control of military recruitment. To this end, in 1154 he expelled those Flemings who had migrated to England during Stephen’s reign:

those foreigners who had flocked to England under King Stephen for the sake of booty and in order to fight, and especially the Flemings, of whom there was then a great multitude in England, should return to their own lands, fixing a deadline for them, beyond which they would be in danger if they remained in England. Terrified by this edict, they slipped away so quickly that they seemed to disappear in a moment, like phantoms, leaving many astonished at how swiftly they vanished.[15]”

Many of the Flemings who settled in Scotland in the mid-twelfth century are likely to have come from England after this expulsion.

Another factor that may have encouraged Flemish merchants to settle permanently in Scottish burghs was the imposition from the 1330s of higher customs duties on exports by foreigners, which made up only 15% of recorded exports in this period. This bolstered the mercantile privileges already accorded to Scottish burgesses: they had exclusive rights to deal in wool, hides, and pelts, and foreign merchants could deal only with burgesses except at fair time.[16] The acquisition of burgess rights through permanent residence and the payment of a fee gave merchants greater economic privileges.

In 1347 David II’s parliament moved the Scottish staple port from Bruges in Flanders to Middelburg in Zeeland, and expelled the Flemish people from Scotland:

... we entirely banish the merchants of Flanders and all the Flemish people of whatever condition or estate, sailors only being excepted, so that wherever in our kingdom […] any Flemish people are able to be found they should be seized as if banished and exiled and all their goods and merchandise confiscated.[17]”

This move is thought to have been made in reaction to Flanders’ expulsion of Scottish merchants from Flanders, for reasons as yet unknown. Scottish merchants probably hoped to gain a better bargaining position with the Flemish by restricting trade.

However, this hostility towards international settlers appears to have decreased substantially by the late Middle Ages. Into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the settlement of international peoples was again considered to be highly beneficial to Scotland. James I (r.1406-1437) was recorded by sixteenth century historian Hector Boece as having,

" ... brocht oute of Ingland and Flanderis ingenious men of sindry craftis to instruct his pepill in vertewis occupacioun, becaus Scotland was continewallie exercitt in weeris [wars] fra þe dede of Alexander the Thrid to þai dayis, and all þe craftismen and vtheris war constrenit to pas to þe weeris, and þe maist part of þame distroyitt be þe samyn.[18] “

Also, in 1498 the Spanish ambassador Don Pedro de Ayala noted that,

"... Scotland has improved so much during [James IV’s] reign that it is worth three times more now than formerly, on account of foreigners having come to the country, and taught them how to live. They have more meat, in great and small animals, than they want, and plenty of wool and hides.[19] “

Desirability of Flemish Craftsmanship

The collapse of Flanders’ cloth industry from the late fourteenth century led its cities to diversify their crafts and to specialise in luxury arts in order to maintain their position as centres of manufacture and international trade. Certain towns and cities specialised in the manufacture of different objects, for example manuscript illumination in Ghent and Bruges. Several Flemish craftspeople are known to have migrated to Scotland, often temporarily, to fulfil the demand for Flemish-made objects.

The town of Arras was particularly famed for its production of high quality tapestries in the late Middle Ages, to the extent that the town became synonymous with fine Flemish tapestry. Arras was described by Spanish nobleman Pero Tafur as being ‘very rich, especially by reason of its woven cloths and all kinds of tapestries, and although they are also made in other places, yet it well appears that those which are made in Arras have the preference.’[20] Rulers of this period sought Flemish tapestry weavers to settle in their lands and to produce tapestries for them. The ‘Matthieu de Araz’ present in Scotland in 1312 may have been one such weaver.[21] An ‘Egidius Gremar de Arras’ was employed by James I in 1435, being paid £6 10s. The following year an ‘Egidius tapisario’ was paid £7, and it is reasonable to believe that these two are the same person.[22]

There is evidence that the Bruges painter Willem Wallinc, master of the Bruges guild of painters in October 1506, was resident for a time in Scotland.[23] He may have been the same William Wallanch or Wallange employed by George Brown, Bishop of Dunkeld between 1505 and 1516, as well as the same artist who painted the portrait of Bishop William Elphinstone of Aberdeen in the early sixteenth century, a copy of which bears the label ‘William of Bruges’.[24]

There is further evidence of Scottish elites patronising Flemish and Low Countries painters. In 1502, for example, James IV received a Meynnart Wewyck who had previously worked for Henry VII of England. Also, in September 1505 Scottish conservator in the Low Countries Andrew Halyburton sent to James IV a ‘Piers the painter’:

... Item, to ane servand of Andro Haliburtons that the said Andro laid doun on the furnessing of the payntour to cum in Scottland.[25]”

Piers remained at the Scottish court, painting such decorations as tournament banners and standards, until 1508 when he received money to ‘pas in Flandrez’.[26]

James V also employed continental craftspeople such as a Peter Flemisman who carved the figures adorning the canopied buttress niches on the south front of Falkland Palace chapel. This was part of extensive works undertaken at the palace by James from 1537 to 1542, which cost a total of nearly £13,000.[27]

Flanders was also known as a centre of munitions production and expertise. As early as 1369 unspecified munitions were imported from Flanders for use in Edinburgh castle: ‘quedam emenda in Flandria pro municione castri de Edynburgh’.[28] From at least the 1470s the Scottish crown was developing and manufacturing guns; however, materials for casting guns (for example, wax, copper, and iron) continued to be imported from Flanders and France. By 1458 the crown was employing ‘cuidam Teutonico dicto Dedrik, gunnar’ (‘a certain Teuton called Dedrik, gunner’), whose duties are likely to have involved the construction, testing, and use of the royal artillery.[29] Several other names in the documentary record suggest that Flemish or Low Countries mercenaries continued to work in Scotland into the early modern period, for example Josias Rikker and Peter Sochan.[30]

Flemings were also utilised as textile workers in Scotland. The region maintained a reputation for high quality cloth production, and efforts were made in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to settle Flemish weavers in Scotland. In 1581 an Act of Parliament brought a Robert Dickson to Scotland,

... to learn within this realm the art of the making and working of silks, to be as good and sufficient as the same is made within the countries of France or Flanders and to be sold within the same cheaper than the like silks are sold within this realm brought here or out of other countries.[31]”

In return, Robert was granted the sole privilege of silk weaving and the authority to allow others to practice it; custom-free imports of raw and finished materials; and the position of burgess in Perth, ‘or such other places where he shall please to plant’.

In 1587 this was followed by another Act which brought to Scotland the Flemings John Garden, Philip Fermant, and John Banko. These incomers were,

to exercise their craft and occupation in making of serges, grograms, fustians, bombasines, stemmings, baize, coverings of beds and others appertaining to their said craft and for instruction of the said lieges in the exercise of the making of the works, and have offered to our said sovereign lord and whole commonwealth of this realm the experience and sure knowledge of their labours.[32]”

It was considered ‘for the common good of the realm’ that these three should bring with them a further thirty weavers, fullers, and other textile workers, and that they should take on as apprentices only Scottish boys and girls, to be taught the Flemish art of cloth production over five years. Significantly, Garden, Fermant, and Banko were granted,

... the liberty and privilege of naturalisation and to be as free within this realm during their remaining as if they were born within the same, and that their lawful bairns shall possess the said privileges as if they were naturalised or born Scotsmen.”

Religious Incentives for Migration

Artisanal skills are known to have coincided with religious concerns in the encouragement of Flemish immigration. A 1600 Act of the Privy Council authorised the immigration into Scotland of a hundred ‘stranger’ families with textile skills, the masters of the families to be ‘naturalizeit and maid frie denisen’ of the realm.[33]

Many religious refugees settled initially in large Protestant cities such as Geneva or Zurich then migrated to England, where Edward VI had in 1550 established London as a location for ‘Stranger Churches’, in which Calvinists from the Low Countries and France could practice their religion among their own people. A small number of these Stranger Church members may have migrated northwards to Scotland. Although there is no record of such establishments north of the border, David Dobson has identified several Flemish or Dutch names in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century baptismal register of Edinburgh.[34]

The Flemish immigrants of 1587 were also to be granted a kirk and minister, ‘when they are a sufficient number’, suggesting that efforts were being made to encourage the Flemings to stay in Scotland permanently. James VI of Scotland and I of England is thought to have been interested in bringing in Protestant Flemish and Walloon weavers to Scotland via their established settlement in Norwich, linking the Flemings’ reputation for textile production to their growing status as refugees from religious persecution in the Low Countries.[35] Several similar measures, which connected Flemish origin with expertise in cloth manufacture, were enacted in this period.[36]


Having reviewed the myriad reasons for Flemish migration to Scotland, it is clear that Gerald of Wales was correct in describing the Flemings as being adaptable ‘to the demands of time and place’. The principal reasons for their migrating to Scotland can be summed up as follows:

Flemish expertise in urban planning and trade was desired for the establishment of Scottish burghs.

Aristocratic Flemings were granted lands and titles, most notably in Upper Clydesdale and Moray, in order to maintain the power of the Scottish king in those areas.

Those Flemings expelled from England in 1154, and those seeking lower customs duties from the 1330s, may have been encouraged to settle permanently in Scotland.

Flemish expertise in such crafts as tapestry weaving, painting, gun casting, and textile production was sought after by the Scottish crown.

Flemish Protestants were encouraged to settle in both Scotland and England by the reform-minded monarchies of James VI and Edward VI.

Although many of the examples above were temporary migrations, with the subjects returning to Flanders after their stay in Scotland, a common theme is that these movements were often initiated by the Scottish crown itself, which was cognisant of the advantages that Flemings could bring to Scottish society. The mercantile, feudal, artisanal, and religious objectives of the crown in the medieval and early modern periods appear to have complemented those of the Flemish people who chose to move away from the Low Countries.

Morvern French

November 2015

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The Scottish Nation


FLEMING, a surname derived from Flandrensis, a native of Flanders. In the Chartularies of Paisley and Kelso, it is written Flandrensis, Flaming, and Flammaticus, originally borne by one who came from Flanders. Among those who accompanied William the Conqueror to England was Sir Michael le Fleming, a relative of Baldwin earl of Flanders, whose descendants still exist, and enjoy a baronetcy, in the county of Westmoreland. The Scots Flemings descended from natives of Flanders, the most enterprising merchants of their time, who in the twelfth century emigrated first to England, whence being banished they removed into Scotland. [Chalmers The bulk of the volume goes to illustrate, directly and indirectly, the ancient and enduring influence on the Makers of Lowland Scotland of their Norse kinsmen from over the North Sea. In this connection Chalmers in his "Caledonia" says

"Boeytter, Brea (d), in (an') griene Tzis,

Iz goed Ingelsch in' eack goed Friesch."

It was late before the name Scottis tongue was given to Lowland speech in contrast to Erse or Gaelic. In point of fact, the Lowland tongue is mainly the archaic form of the ancient Northumbrian, and therefore ought to be invaluable to the student of historical English.

Minor sources Burgh, Kirk-Session, and Guilds, 63, 236; Robertson, Joseph, antiquary, 64; Robertson, historian, 78; Robertson of Ochtertyre, 88; Ross, John, Narrative, 157-160; Ruddiman, Thomas, 235; Sackville, Induction to the Mirror for Magistrates, 156; Sanders, Robert, printer, Glasgow, 235; Schippert, 108; Skene, historian, 64; Simson, Alexander, grammarian, 235; Skeat, Prof., passim; Skinner, John, 62; Stanley, 81; Smith, Adam, 78; Statistical Account of Scot., 101, 102; Stevenson the Engineer,

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Flemming Family History

History Of The Fleming Name

The “Fleming” name had it’s origin from a region of either Belgium or Northern France then referred to as “Flanders”. Those who lived in this area spoke “Flemish”. The name “Fleming” refers to one who is a native of Flanders. The Flemish and Dutch language probably derived from one another. Variation of the Fleming name are numerous: Flemming le Fleming, Flemings, Flemon, Fliming, Fleman, Flemans, Fleminge and Flemyng. Somewhere through the years “Fleming” has evolved from these variations.


It is an interesting fact to the genealogist that the motto borne by the Fleming, or Flemming, family is the only motto recorded in British healdry which is still written in Gaelic This motto, “Bhear na Righ gan”—“May the King live forever”—must date from a very ancient period, as the Flemings have been in England and Scotland for almost a thousand years.

The English chronicler gives as the first of the family Stephen of Flanders, who first assumed the name of Flanders or Fleming to show the nationality of his forefathers. The Irish descendents of Stephen say theat Stephan's Father, Archembald, a nobleman of Flanders, came from the continent with William the Conqueror and acquired the lordship of Bratton in Devonshire.

Stephen Flanders, or Fleming, had a son, Archembald, said to be the ancestor of the Irish family of Flemings who become lords of the estate of Slane, County of Meath, Ireland. There were twenty-three recorded generations of Barons Slane, but the title became dormant in 1726.

William, a younger son of Stephen of flanders, who died in 1197, had a son, Sir Malcom, sheriff of Dumbarton, who died in 1246, and his son Robert was the well-known supporter of Robert Bruce. Robert had two dons, at least-Malcom, who was made Earl of Wigton, and who died in 1362, and Patrick. The son of Malcom, Earl of Wigton, inherited his father's titles and estates, but later sold them.

Patrick married a daughter of Sir Simon Fraser and had a son Sir Malcolm, who had two sons, Sir David and Patrick. The former had a son Malcolm, who married Elizabeth, Daughter of the Duke of Albany, and had Lord Robert Fleming, who married Margaret Lindsay. Their son was Malcolm, who married Euphemia Christon and had Lord John, who married Janet Steward. Lord John died in 1524, leaving a son, Malcolm, who was created Earl of Wigton under a second creation.

The First Earl of Wigton under this new creation had two sons—James, who succeeded to his father's honors and was Lord High Chancellor to Queen Mary, and Lord John, who, after his brother's death, succeeded to the earldom. The latter married Lillian Graham, a daughter of the Earl of Montrose. Their two sons were John and Sir Thomas Fleming. Sir Thomas married Miss Tarleton and emigrated to Virginia and there became the originator of the southern branch of the Fleming family.

Sir Thomas, it is said, had three sons—Tarleton, John and Charles. John died in New Kent, VA., in 1686, leaving a son Charles, who married Susannah Tarleton. The children of this marriage were as follows: Elizabeth; Judith, who married Thomas Randolph; Colonel John, who married Mary Bolling; Tarleton of Rock Castle, who married Hannah Bates; Robert, who was burgess for Caroline county, and Susannah, who married first John Bates and then John Woodson.

Colonel John, the third child and “son and heir” of Charles and Susannah Tarleton Fleming, had five sons and two daughters. Of these the eldest John, was captain of the first Virginia Regiment in the Revolution and was killed at the battle of Princeton in 1776. Charles, the second son, was Lieutenant Colonel of Continental troops in the Third Virginia Regiment; Thomas was Colonel of the Ninth Virginia Continentals; William was judge of the Virgina supreme court, and the yougest son was Richard. John, the eldest, married Susannah—, and had a son John.

Colonel Thomas, the third of these five sons, was the most distinguished. He was born in 1727 and commanded two hundred men in the battle of Point Pleasnt, with the Indians, in 1774. The white forces were in command of General Lewis and the Indians were commanded by Corn Stalk. Fleming's men hid behind trees and held out their hats. The Indians, mistaking the hats for the white men's heads, shot at them. At this, Fleming's men would drop the hats and the Indians would rush forward to scalp their victims. When the Indians got near them, the whites would jump from behind the trees and tomahawk the unwary Indians. These men were all backwoodsmen and knew as well as the Indians, the methods of Indian fighting. There were a thousand Indians and only four hundred whites, but the battle was a signal victory for the whites. Unfortunately, Fleming was severely wounded in this engagement, but he was none the less willing to enter the Revelutionary army a few years later. Thomas Fleming married the daughter of Major John Bolling, the son of Colonel Robert Bolling and the daughter of Thomas Rolf, the son of Pocahontas.

The New Jersey Flemings settled near the old Bethlehem meeting house in Hunterdon County, N.J. There were four brothers, the sons of Malcolm Fleming. These sons were William, Thomas, Andrew and Samuel, but at what date they came to this country is not known. Samuel, the youger, was founder of Flemington, N.J. It is an interesting fact the genealogy of this branch of the family dates from a few years ago, when Elisha M. Fleming of Belvidere, N.J., found in an old box in one of his barns, papers which proved to be the ancient family records. Malcolm, the father of the four brothers who came to this country, proved to have been a weaver who lived near Cooktown, Ulster province, in the parish of Derryloren, County Tyrone, Ireland. He died some time before 1736.

A third branch of the Fleming family was founded by Solomon Fleming, who came from England to America. His son Sampson lived in New York State, and Sampson's son was Brigadier General Fleming of the state militia. He was born in 1773 and died in 1843. By his wife, Maria Ludlow, he had a son Augustus, born in 1809, and a son William H., of Greenport. The former married Caroline Bennet Lisle. This branch of the family is small and is located chiefly in New York State.

The fourth branch of the Flemming family (Nantucket) came to the US via Newfoundland. Two brothers were said to be in a tavern in Ireland and were jumped and forced to work (press gang) on a British cargo ship. When they got close to land (Newfoundland) they were told to go and fetch fresh water (the other story is that they jumped ship and swam for shore). One of the brothers (George Flemming) said he was going up to the cliffs to take a look around . He escaped and settled in Peter's river Newfoundland. Later moving to St. Vincent's , marrying Johanna Halleran and raising a family of 7. This site focuses on the descendant of George Fleming .

Although it is probable that all who bear the name Fleming today are descendants of the Stephen Fleming who first assumed the name of Flanders, yet there were several men of the name mentioned in the Domesday book (Survey ordered by William the Conqueror of England in 1086), and then there have been others who assumed the name of their native country, Flanders.

The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname Flemming

Amongst the family names emerging through the mists of time from Holland and Belgium was the ancient posterity of Flemming and the distinguished history of this surname is closely entwined withing the colourful tapestry of the ancient chronicles of Britain. They spoke in and old French dialect and were known as "Walloons"

The Flemish Presence in Britain commenced about the year 1150 A.D., and contributed more to British industrial development than any other race. The Flemmings were artisan industrialists of the low countries.

The Flemmings were recruited firstly in Scotland to develop Scottish industry. They became ardent Scottish Patriots, so much so that the storm of Berwick by the English in 1296, the Flemmings barricaded themselves in the Red Hall with such stubborn resistance they were buried to a man.

They later migrated south to Wales and the west of England where they spawned the weaving and the woollen industry. In Norfolk, Suffolk, and Hertfordshire they were particularly involved in paper making and erected several fine paper mills.

Professional researchers have carefully scrutinized such ancient manuscripts as the Ragman Rolls (1291-1296) a record of homage rendered to King Edward 1st of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other ancient documents and found the first record of the name Flemming, in Lanarkshire where they were seated from early times and their first records appeared on the census rolls taken by the ancient Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

During the early and middle development of the name many different spellings were found in the archives researched. Although your name, Flemming, occurred in many manuscripts, from time to time the surname was spelt Fleming, Flemming and these variations in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. It was not uncommon for a person to be born with on spelling, married with another and yet another to appear on his or her headstone. Scribes and church officials spelt the name as it was told to them.

The family name Flemming emerged as a notable English family in Lanarkshire where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated with manor and estates in that shire. The name is said to have arrived in Scotland about 1126 with Baldwin de Flemming, Fifth Earl of Flanders, who settled in Barrochan in the upper ward of Lanarkshire. The Clan subsequently built Boghall Castle near Biggar in Renfrewshire. Theobald his son was granted additional lands by the Abbey of Kelso. The Chief of the name became Earl of Wigtown and the Clan assisted Robert the Bruce in securing a victory for Scotland in 1320. The Flemings assisted Mary Queen of Scots with an army of 6,000 men but they were defeated by the Regent's forces. Notable in the family at this time was Earl of Wigtown.

In England the Flemmings started the trades of papermaking, book publishing, glass blowing, clothiers, glove making, and many more. Many Flemmings rose to high office and became members of the newly found political fervour of Cromwellianism, and the remnants of the Roman Church rejected all non believers and fought for supremacy. During these turbulent times and conflicts between Church groups, the Crown and political groups all claimed their allegiances and their assessments, tithes, and demands on rich and poor alike broke the spirit of the people and many either turned away from religion, or, alternatively, desperately renewed their faith, pursuing with a vigour and ferocity the letter of the ecclesiastical law.

The Flemmings were responsible in Ireland for the development of the fine linen trade, for the development of Irish Pottery, and gave their name to such streets in Doublin as Combe, Pimlico, and Spitalfield. The leader of the Flemish contingent in Ireland was General, the Marquis de Ruvigny of Port Arlington. In Ireland they settled in the counties of Down and Meath. Baron Fleming and Viscount Fleming were leaders of the clann in Ireland.

In the midst of this religious turmoil of the middle ages the New World beckoned the adventurous. They migrated, some voluntarily from Ireland, but mostly directly from England, their home territories. Some also moved to the European continent. They settled in Australia, New Zealand, the Carolinas, Virginia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the West Indies.

Members of the family name Flemming sailed aboard the armada of small sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30 % to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers decimated by illness and the elements.

In North America, included amongst the first migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Flemming, or a variable spelling of that family nave is Christopher Fleming who settled in Virginia in 1653; Elizabeth Fleming settled in Virginia in 1650;James, Joh, Joseph, Martin, Richard, Samuel, Thomas, William Fleming all arrived in Philadelphia PA between 1840 and 1860.

From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagon trains to the prairies or to the west coast. During the American War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

Contemporary notables of this surname, Flemming, include many distinguished contributors Major James Fleming, an officer of the 28th Massachusetts Regiment during the War of 1861-65.

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was; A silver chevron with a double order. The Crest is; A goat's head. The ancient family motto for this distinguished name is: "Let the Deed Show"

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The Flemings of Pembrokeshire

Amy Eberlin

Saturday 2 May 2015

As noted in earlier blog postings (see especially posting dated November 21, 2014) some of the Flemings that came to Scotland had, according to historical records, done so after a period of time spent in Wales. This blog posting by Pamela Hunt examines why the Flemings had come to Wales and describes an ambitious project that seeks to restore an old Flemish church and gain a better understanding of the Flemish footprint in Pembrokeshire.

In one extract of William of Malmesbury’s “Chronicle of the Kings” written in 1125, there is a passage that caught the eye of the Pembrokeshire village of Llangwm’s Local History Society: The Welsh, perpetually rebelling, were subjugated by the king (Henry 1 1100-1135) in repeated expeditions, who, relying on a prudent expedient to quell their tumults, transported thither all the Flemings then resident in England. For that country contained such numbers of these people, who, in the time of his father, had come over from national relationship to his mother, that, from their numbers, they appeared burdensome to the kingdom. In consequence he settled them, with all their property and connexions, at Ross, a Welsh province, as in a common receptacle, both for the purpose of cleansing the kingdom, and repressing the brutal temerity of the enemy1.

The village of Llangwm is in that province of Ross and sits on the banks of the Cleddau Estuary. It is known to have been a winter haven for the Vikings who would draw their ships up onto the foreshores for repairs during the 10th and early 11th century. They called the place Langheim, loosely meaning Long Road, Long Street or Long Way. Many Vikings settled in this part of the world, indeed the parish to the north is called Freystrop, a derivation of Freya’s Thorpe. Freya is the Norse Goddess of Love and Thorpe is a village or hamlet. There are many communities in South Pembrokeshire that have Viking names. This is the area referred to by William where England’s Flemings were sent to help the Normans keep order.

The Hundred of Roose as part of ancient Dyfed showing the Lordship of Haverford in green, the Lordship of Walwyn’s Castle in Blue and the position of Llangwn in Red

William of Normandy’s marriage to Matilda, Princess of Flanders, meant that the Flemish became allies to the Normans and indeed Flemish nobles joined the 1066 expedition to invade England. With the success of the invasion some Flemish knights were given land and estates in England. When Henry I became king in 1100 he perceived a troubling superfluity of Flemings (probably disbanded mercenaries and others)2. So with one stroke Henry solved two problems. He sent the Flemings to Pembrokeshire with promises of land there. But more importantly they could help to keep order. As William of Malmesbury attests, the Welsh were constantly rebelling. It is believed that as many as 2,500 Flemings were sent to Pembrokeshire.

But this wasn’t the only migration to Pembrokeshire during Henry’s reign, it seems there was another. According to the Welsh Chronicle of the Princes, or the ‘Brut y Tywysogion’ written around 1350, it refers to ‘An inundation across the sea of the Britons, flooding vast areas of Flanders wetlands’3. It goes on to suggest that this was a reason for there being Flemings in Pembrokeshire. But it doesn’t tell us when during Henry’s reign this happened. Professor Tim Soens of the University of Antwerp specialises in the history of Flanders Hydrography and he confirmed that there was a massive storm surge in October 1134 causing dozens of Wetland villages to be washed away and thousands killed. Was it out of kindness or a determination to reinforce his hold on South Pembrokeshire that Henry chose to invite the survivors of that catastrophe to settle in Pembrokeshire?

The Normans established a Cordon Sanitaire with a string of castles that stretched from Newgale in the west to Laugharne in the east. This became known as the Landsker Line. Those Welsh who refused to accept Norman rule were forcibly moved north. Up until the end of the 19th century, the area to the north was referred to as ‘The Welshry’ and they would refer to the south as ‘Down Below’. Even today, journey a mile or so north of the Landsker and you will find Welsh being spoken, but it will be hard to hear Welsh spoken to the south of the Landsker.

The Landsker Line

In an article written by the Methodist Minister posted to Llangwm in 1864, he described the people of Llangwm as Hardy fishermen and women. He went on:

The customs that prevail in this community are peculiar. Separate and distinct from the Welsh race, they claim descent from the Flemings who landed at Milford and took possession of that town and also of Haverford and possessed themselves of the surrounding country in the reign of Henry 1. From that time to this, they have retained their distinctive character. You need not ask them the question so often asked in the north of the Principality ‘Fedrwch chivi siared Saesneg?’ (Can you speak English?) As all of them are essentially English, so far as their language is concerned. These people, though now for the most part on a level with their Welsh neighbours have retained for them, and their language, a hereditary contempt 4.

He goes on to write that they will have nothing to do with those who live in the Welshry. He noted too that the women, having chosen their husband rather than the other way round, would then retain their maiden name after marriage, something that still occurs in the Flemish speaking areas of Belgium and Holland today. Those 19th century people of Llangwm, still boasting pride in their Flemish ancestry used also to refer to the ‘Dolly Roach’ family being lords of the manor during medieval times. They were referring to the De La Roche family who had lands both at Llangwm and further north at Roch. That is when Godebertus Flandrensis became a person of considerable interest. It turns out that he was the ‘patriarch’ of the dynasty that became the De la Roches. Very little record of him survives and one of the goals of the project is to find out exactly who he was.

There are many places ‘below the Landsker’ that can claim a strong Flemish past: Tenby, Flemingston, Wiston, Walwyn West and Tancredston for instance. But it’s Llangwm, in spite of the village’s Welsh name, which seems to retain one of the strongest links with its medieval Flemish past. And what of that name? It’s only the thirteenth name by which this community has been called since the Vikings came! Other names dating from 1200 include Landegunnie, Landigan, Langham, Langomme and Langum, but barely 30 years after that Methodist Minister wrote his piece, a Welsh speaking Rector appointed to St. Jerome’s Church decided that Langum, the name the village had been known since the 1600s, was a distortion of the Welsh Llan Cwm, meaning Church in the Valley. So the village’s name was changed once more.

This had for centuries been a remote and insular village and marriages outside the community were discouraged. Many of those residents wouldn’t have even ventured as far as Haverfordwest, except of course the Hardy Langum Fisherwomen who would carry baskets of herring, mussels, cockles and oysters to sell at the market there as well as at markets in Tenby and further afield.

Llangwm’s Flemish past had largely been forgotten until quite recently. The urgent need for major repairs to Llangwm’s Church of St. Jerome unexpectedly provided a special opportunity to rediscover those roots. St. Jerome’s had been built by Flemish craftsmen around 1185, but in recent years the fabric of the building began to deteriorate quickly. In 2013 a bid to Heritage Lottery for development funding for a project that would combine the repairs and renovations with research and an exhibition was successful. That development led to a full second stage bid a year later and that has been successful too. The project is expected to commence in July 2015.

The primary aim is to discover as much as possible about Godebertus Flandrensis and his descendants, who changed the surname two generations on to De la Roche. Another goal is to find out when the family settled in the area and to discover more about the church and how it has changed over the years. Then with all that information gathered it is hoped to create an exhibition in the North transept of the church with a locally designed and sewn tapestry. Modern communications techniques will be used to tell the story.

This funding will allow researchers to visit the National Archive at Kew, the British Library and other sources of written research material and spend time checking out writings related to the De la Roche family, and the village. The funding will also support archaeological research at the site of a medieval manor house at the edge of the village, which may also have secrets to share. In addition there will be funds that will allow six male volunteers, who can confirm that their families have lived in this area for at least 250 years and that the male line of that family is unbroken, to have their DNA tested, hopefully to discover that they do have Flemish Ancestry.

The project will be a significant challenge. It could be described as a 500-piece jigsaw that has, perhaps, 300 pieces missing. The objective is to find as many of those missing pieces as possible.

Below is a list of issues that it is hoped that research will shed light on:

1. We know that Godebert was born in 1096, ten years before Henry 1 sent the Flemings out of England. Most genealogy sites suggest he was born in Pembroke, but one states Flanders. If he was born in Pembroke that suggests that his father took part in that initial invasion of South Wales in 1087. Yet it is known that the Normans looked down on the Flemings. As a result, the Flemings were eager to adopt Norman lifestyles and to be seen to be more like them; this is the reason that Godebert’s grandsons adopted the De la Roche surname. If his father was part of that invasion, who was he? And what was so special about him that the Normans allowed him to join that invasion?

2. Godebert named his sons Richard and Robert, the same names as the younger brothers of Mathilda Princess of Flanders. Was he possibly a relation of the ruling family of Flanders?

3. Who was the first of that family to settle in Llangwm? The 12th century dovecote at Great Nash Farm and the site of the medieval manor house suggests that it must be one of the first three generations – Godebert, his sons Richard or Robert, or indeed Robert’s eldest son David De la Roche. Richard died with no heirs.

4. Yet in “The Greatest Knight”, the biography of William Marshall, the author Paul Asbridge refers to this particular David De la Roche betraying William Marshall over lands in Leinster. If David lived in Leinster at that time, then who was living in Llangwm?

5. Why indeed did that family create an estate in Llangwm? It is four miles south of the Landsker Line. Surely the lands that were granted to the Flemish nobles would have been closer to the defensive line and it is known that Adam, Robert’s youngest son completed Roch Castle in the 1180s. So when was the Llangwm estate occupied and by whom? The first recorded De la Roche presence is David Lord of Landegunnie and Maenclochog in 1244.

6. The De la Roche’s were active in the conquest of Ireland. The Norman French poem, “The Song of Dermot The Earl” refers to Godebert’s eldest son Richard going to Ireland to help Dermot regain his lands with his small private army two years before Strongbow’s invasion. He failed that time and was back in 1169 with Strongbow’s force. He then died, reportedly in Wexford, with no male heir in Ireland, enabling his lands to pass to Robert’s sons. So who had what?

7.It is also known that the Flemish nobles Wizo and Tancred went to Scotland to establish Flemish communities. Did they return to Pembrokeshire? If so when?

8.There is also a suggestion that Godebert too went to Scotland, but we can find no evidence of this trip. Anyway the 1130 Court of Rolls states that he was awarded lands in Pembrokeshire on a payment of 126 shillings. He is reported to have died in 1131 at the age of 35. So when could he have undertaken what would have been a very long trip?

The research is still at the point where more questions are being raised than are being answered. There is much work to be done and it is hoped that by tying in with with the Flemings in Scotland and the Flemish People Project, more of the jigsaw pieces will be put into place.

Pamela Hunt, May 2015

Pam Hunt chairs the Heritage Llangwm working group and has been responsible for raising most of the £420,000 needed to complete this project. She retired to Llangwm in 2006, having spent her working life in broadcasting and television production, joining the BBC as sound effects technician on The Archers in 1968. She left the BBC in 1990 and started her own television production company, producing documentaries usually with a history slant until her retirement. She was intrigued by the fact that Llangwm’s church had two effigies and some intricate Norman carvings in what appeared to be little more than a rural Victorian church.


(1) The Chronicle of The Kings of England – William of Malmesbury 1125, http://archive.org/stream/williamofmalmesb1847will/williamofmalmesb1847will_djvu.txt

(2) J. Arnold Fleming, Flemish Influence in Britain, Vol 1, p.59. Glasgow, 1930

(3) Brut y Tywysogion (The Chronicle of the Princes) – Caradoc of Llancarfan, c1340, http://archive.org/details/brutytywysogiono00cara

(4) Langum, “A Village in The Little England Beyond Wales” Unknown Methodist periodical written by M.C. in 1864 and held at The National Library of Wales

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Boghall Castle in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

(Engraving by Samuel Sparrow after drawing by Francis Grose FSA, published March 4, 1790)



© F. Lawrence Fleming 2015


HAMLET Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?

HORATIO Aye, my lord, and of calves' skins too.

HAMLET They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in this...

(The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: Act 5 Scene 1 )

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a Fleming is a native or inhabitant of Flanders. In Middle English, the word Fleming is spelled

Flemyng, occasionally Flemmyng or Flemynge. This was, in turn, derived from Old English: Flæming.

Fleming is, moreover, a present-day family name that is borne by approximately 150,000 people, who, if gathered together from all the four corners of the world,would constitute a rather populous city, a virtual city that I would like to call Flemington. Surely, the correction of any historical inaccuracy with respect to the Fleming family name will be of interest to the citizens of Flemington, perhaps even to citizens of other virtual cities.

The history of the Fleming surname is particularly difficult to research because of the ethnic connotation. It is commonly considered indisputable that immigrants from Flanders to the British Isles must typically have chosen Fleming as a family name. Intuition, however, can lead to untruth, and assumption is the mother of all mistakes.1 (The world, after all, is not flat; it is round.) Before accepting an explanation of the origin of any family name, it is imperative that we first thoroughly examine the historical evidence of English surname formation that is contained in the surviving rolls and charters of the Middle Ages. Fortunately, this is not as difficult a task as it might appear. Various exchequer rolls from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that are preserved at the National Archives of Great Britain have in recent years been transcribed, edited, and published, either in book form or as searchable databases on the Internet.

We must distinguish between the two types of surname that occur in English documents of the Middle Ages. One type is the comparatively rare hereditary family name. The other type is the much more common byname (Middle English: ekename—additional name). Whether locative, occupational, or ethnic, a byname was seldom passed on from father to son except as a kind of patronymic. Thus, a certain Richard Taillour might have been a tailor, but he could also have been the son of a tailor who was surnamed Taillour, although not a tailor himself. In such a manner, a byname could become a hereditary family name. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the assumption of a family name may not have occurred generally among the English population until the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the surviving poll tax returns of 1377, 1379, and 1381, even a cursory analysis of the various surnames that occur indicates that many of these are bynames, and not hereditary family names. Clear-cut examples of hereditary family names in these records are very unusual. Not only were men with surnames such as Taillour, Webbe, Baker, Smyth, or Miller usually the village tailor, weaver, baker, blacksmith, or miller; in village after village, specific surnames mostly occur only once in the records, which would hardly be the case had they been established family names.

The prevalence of bynames (i.e. ekenames) in medieval English tax records probably reflects a naming tradition that arose among the populace of post-Conquest England in conjunction with the practice of christening children with Norman personal names.2 In the lay subsidy returns of 1524 and 1525, many of the surnames that occurred in the fourteenth-century poll tax returns would appear to have become family names, but it was not until after 1538, the year parish record keeping was introduced in England, that the adoption of a proper family name by lower-class citizens who did not already have one would have became more or less manditory.3 Thus, when searching the records for people surnamed Fleming, we must constantly remind ourselves that Fleming can either be a hereditary family name or just a surname that identifies a foreigner from Flanders.

The best place to start looking for Flemings from Flanders is at the website for the National Archives of Great Britain. We shall first search the catalogue using “le AND fleming” as search words:


Le Fleming is the anglicized version of the original Anglo-Norman family name

le Flameng, which was also spelled le Flamang, and le Flamenc. (All spelling variations of the name were pronounced identically, i.e. lə flamɑT .)

I have used 1399 as a cut-off date for the search because by the late fourteenth century the Old-French surname had largely been superceded by the Middle-English surname without a definite article:

Flemyng or Flemmyng, but very seldom le Flemyng.

As we scroll down through the catalogue entries concerning 827 documents, we soon notice that most of the documents pertain to any of a number of historically prominent medieval families: the le Flemings of Southampton, Nottingham, York, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Cumberland, Slane in Ireland (originally from Devonshire and Cornwall); and the le Flemings of Scotland who are recorded in the Ragman Rolls of 1296. In no document is there any mention of Flanders. Indeed, only a single document would seem to pertain to someone who would possibly have come from Flanders:


When we download a scan of the document, we find that William Frombald's grandfather is called Frombald Flemyng, not Frombald le Flameng, even though the document is in French. The definite article has been used (incorrectly) by the editor in an explanatory note. It is interesting to see that both son and grandson are referred to in the document by the patronymic Frombald, and not by the epithet Flemyng. Frombald being a Flemish personal name, we may reasonably assume that the grandfather was from Flanders, but in this particular case Fleming would not seem to have become a family name.

Having made the acquaintance of people in the Middle Ages whose family name was le Fleming, let us institute a search for people who in documents may have been assigned the Middle-English word Flemyng as a surname denoting national origin, an epithet that would possibly have evolved into a family name:


Once again, scrolling down through catalogue entries concerning 853 documents, we find no mention of Flanders. There are, however, about 10 documents which refer to a certain John Horn, Fleming and fishmonger of London:


The earliest of these documents, from 1326, actually refers to him as John Flemynge:


Was John Horn the fishmonger a Fleming named Horn? Perhaps his descendants were surnamed Fleming. But if we use Horn as a search word instead of Flemyng/Flemmyng, restricting the search to the time period 1199 to 1399, we find that his father, Sir John Horn, was sheriff of London in 1270 and alderman for St. Magnus the Martyr near London Bridge. Sir John, it would appear, had three sons: John, Andrew, and Geoffrey; all of whom became wealthy fishmongers with residences along Bridge Street on the London side of the Thames. John Horn Flemynge, who died before 1353, had a wife named Alice, a daughter named Goditha, a son named Thomas Horn, and, it would appear, also a son named John Horn, a fishmonger, who was alderman for Billingsgate Ward in 1377, 1379, and 1381, and was in 1381 accused of actively assisting the rebels in entering London during the Peasants' Revolt. Of the fishmongers named Horn that are to be found recorded in the city archives of London, only John Horn, son of Sir John Horn, is called a Fleming. Horn was obviously the family name, probably derived from the town of Hoorn in the Netherlands. Why John Horn the younger was called a Fleming must remain a mystery. Perhaps his mother was from Flanders.

The many thousands of names that were entered in the lay subsidy and poll tax returns of the fourteenth century are not available as a database at the National Archives. Some of these returns have, however, been transcribed and published in book form, namely the lay subsidy of 1334 and the poll taxes of 1377, 1379, and 1381.4 These volumes are not indexed with regard to surnames, which makes surname research very laborious.

Notwithstanding, should you work your way through the transcriptions as I have, entry by entry, you would soon become aware of the fact that Fleming, whether meant as a hereditary family name or as a byname, is not particularly common in these records. In most counties for which tax returns survive, there are only a few entries of tax-liable persons who are surnamed Fleming, and in some counties none at all. In County Essex, where Flemings would seem to have been particularly numerous, seventeen people during the 1377 and 1381 poll tax collections were recorded by the surname Flemyng, eleven men and six women. Four of the men are listed as weavers (textorius), which naturally conjures the notion that these particular Flemings might actually have been from Flanders, that the word Flemyng in these and various other cases was, perhaps, recorded by the scribe as a surname denoting national origin, and not as a family name.

Much more useful in our search for evidence of the word Fleming used as a surname denoting national origin are the returns of the alien subsidies that were levied between 1440 and 1487. These returns have been researched and edited under the auspices of the Arts & Humanities Research Council and made available for researchers at:


If we go to “Advanced Search” and type Fleming into the box labelled “Nationality/Place of Origin” we discover an alphabetical list of 1163 people who the editors conclude must have immigrated to England from Flanders. Although reference to a specific document preserved at the National Archives is given for each name, it is not possible to view any of the documents in order to check the actual wording of the entries, as these documents have not yet been digitalized; thus, we must assume that as long as the nationality of a particular person is not

enclosed in brackets when we open the “full record” tab, the nationality of this person is evident from the context of the original document. However, once we have scrolled down the list to where people surnamed Fleming (Flemyng/Flemmyng) are recorded, we find that both place of origin and nationality in the full record are almost always enclosed in brackets, apparently indicating that the person's nationality cannot be ascertained from the context of the original document. These approximately 250 tax-liable persons, with a few exceptions, have been classified in the database as Flemish solely by evidence of their Fleming surname. But as we have seen, in medieval records Fleming can either be a family name or a surname that denotes national origin. Considering the fact that both Scots and Irish living in England were usually obliged to pay tax as aliens in the fifteenth century, we can assume that some of these 250 people named Fleming were not Flemish. But despite our not being able to determine which Flemings were from Ireland or Scotland, and which were from Flanders, are there any generalizations that we can safely make concerning those who must actually have come from Flanders? To begin with, we may assume that many were illiterate. Additionally, as first generation immigrants, many were not fluent in English. And perhaps most importantly, none had taken the family name Fleming with them out of Flanders.

Fleming is not a word in Flemish (i.e. Middle-Dutch). I suggest that, like the great majority of other people who were recorded in the alien subsidy rolls, foreigners from Flanders were given a surname in English by the tax collectors at the time of liability evaluation. Moreover, many of these foreigners were probably not aware of the fact that they had been honoured with a particular surname.

Searching the database for people with the surname Flemyng/Flemmyng gives 248 results. The subsidy rolls and other contemporary records show that five of these people were from Ireland, one person was from Scotland, and one person was from Brabant. The rest are unspecified in the rolls as to national origin, but in the database are assumed to have been from Flanders, apparently because of the surname. Searching the database using “dutchman” as a keyword gives 1,170 results (Dewcheman, Docheman, Duchman, etc.). Twenty-three were from Flanders, three from “Dutchland,” two from Brabant, one from Cleves, and one from France. The rest are unspecified in the rolls as to national origin, but are assumed in the database to have been from the Low Countries. Using “frenchman” as a keyword gives 2,004 results (Frencheman, Frenchman, Frenscheman, Frensch, etc.). Fifty-six were from Holland, twenty-two from Normandy, ten from Ireland, and four from Scotland. National origin is unspecified in 1,884 results; however, these people are assumed to have been from France.

Leaving the England's Immigrants database, we shall now consult the 1881 census of Great Britain by means of the software entitled The British 19th Century Surname Atlas (http://www.archersoftware.co.uk/satlas01.htm).

This census enumerates 13,663 individuals as having the family name Fleming/Flemming, 65

individuals as having the name Dutchman, and 15 individuals as having the name Frenchman. These statistics almost speak for themselves. The surnames Dutchman and Frenchman, two of the most common in the alien subsidy rolls,5 apparently did not become family names to any significant extent. From this we can conclude that these two surnames were probably not used by tax collectors in the fifteenth century to denote families; they were used as a convenient way to record the nationality of those who were liable to pay the alien subsidy. The word Fleming was from the twelfth century an established family name, but it was occasionally also used as a surname for foreigners from Flanders. Nevertheless, I can see no credible reason to conclude, without direct supporting evidence, that Fleming should have been taken by foreigners as a hereditary family name any more than Dutchman and Frenchman were. I cannot, of course, prove that no immigrant from Flanders to the British Isles ever adopted Fleming as a family name, but I can conclusively show that this cannot have occurred on a regular basis, that is to say, “typically.” The evidence is in the statistics from the 1881 census. Let us compare the total number of Flemings enumerated in the census (13,663) to the total number of Douglases (16,432). The Douglas family name (and the personal name Douglas) originated as the hereditary surname of the descendants of William de Dufglas, who flourished in the late twelfth century. No theories of multiple origins for the Douglas surname have ever been proposed. It would thus appear possible, at least judging by the numbers, that Fleming could also have originated in the twelfth century as the hereditary surname of a single extended family, despite the ethnic connotation.

Other single-origin family names in the census were: Gordon (Richard and Adam de Gordun, late twelfth century) 18,872; Bruce (Robert de Brus, late eleventh century) 14,039; Crawford (John de Craufurd, twelfth century) 14,684; and Sinclair (William de Sancto Claro, eleventh century) 15,465. Compare these to the surname Scott, which is a family name that, again judging by the numbers, would, more likely than Fleming, have multiple origins. In the England's Immigrants database, there are 1,031 people listed by this surname. In the 1881 census, 75,808 people were enumerated as having the family name Scott.

The earliest records of the le Fleming (le Flameng/Flamang) family name are from the second half of the twelfth century. Erkenbald le Fleming, grandson of Erkenbald Flandrensis, was advisor to Henry II of England, and in this capacity he was in some way involved in the plot to rid the king of a certain troublesome priest named Thomas Becket. William le Fleming served as chamberlain to Queen Eleanor, consort of Henry II, during the years of her imprisonment, 1173-1189.

Richard le Fleming was justiciar under Richard I and King John, and also sheriff of Cornwall. A different Richard le Fleming was sheriff of South Glamorgan in Wales at the turn of the thirteenth century. (This Richard le Fleming accompanied King John to Ireland in 1210.) Alard le Fleming was a military advisor and commander during the reigns of Richard I and King John, and during the minority of Henry III. (Alard le Fleming and his son Hugh were also with King John on the crossing to Waterford, Ireland in 1210.) Stephen le Fleming, son of Erkenbald, commanding nine knights and supplying fifty horses, accompanied Prince John to Ireland in 1186. Reiner le Fleming was the steward of William le Meschin, lord of Coupland in Cumberland.

Michael le Fleming, probably Reiner le Fleming's brother, was a prominent landholder near Furness Abbey in Cumberland. Baldwin le Fleming of Biggar, younger brother of Erkenbald le Fleming, settled in Scotland during the reign of David I. And Jordan le Fleming was captured by English forces while defending King William the Lion at the Battle of Alnwick in 1174.6 Nowhere in the records can we find evidence that any of these men were from Flanders. By applying the principle of Occam's razor, I think we can thus disregard the theory that immigrants to the British Isles from Flanders typically chose Fleming as a family name. The theory is not supported by any evidence other than the misleadingly obvious fact that, in English, natives of Flanders are called Flemings.

The point I wish to make is that the history of the Fleming family of the British Isles actually does go back to one of the companions of William the Conqueror, namely Erkenbald Flandrensis of Rouen in Normandy, whose father, Erkenbald Vicecomes, would appear to have hailed from Saint-Omer in Flanders. The grandsons of Erkenbald Flandrensis became known by the surname “le Flameng” probably because Erkenbald Flandrensis had been well-known to the French-speaking Normans by that epithet. It is true, Fleming is at present a relatively common family name, which according to the National Records of Scotland website


ranks number 86 among family names in Scotland. Compare this ranking to that of various names reputed to be of single origin such as Gordon (ranking 50), Bruce (73), Crawford (75), Sinclair (79), and Douglas (88). I am suggesting that Fleming is a relatively common name, not because many unrelated families have, in the past, assumed Fleming as a family name, but because of the phenomenon known as genetic drift; that is to say, various generations in this family, as well as in other ancient families of similar ranking, happened to produce an unusually large number of male children. All the same, I am on no account implying that the citizens of our virtual “Flemington” are all descended from one man. Like every other ancient family, the Flemings have had their fair share of premarital and extramarital liaisons. Men with family names other than Fleming have sired sons who afterwards were surnamed Fleming. In addition, families of no relation whatsoever to the ancestral Fleming family of the British Isles have probably from time to time assumed Fleming as their surname, perhaps even some families from Flanders. I have found no record of this actually having occurred, but I have little doubt that it did. In the course of time, the name has likely been purloined quite a few times. Moreover, it is important to remember that some of the citizens of virtual Flemington are descended from Fleming families that originated on the European continent. The earliest record of the German/Pomeranian Flemming family is that of Henricus Flemmingus de Havelberg in the Codex diplomaticus Brandenburgensis from 1209. Concerning this family see:


In addition, there is a Fleming family that appears to have originated in the Belgian province of Hainaut, more specifically in the medieval territory of the Tournaisis. The earliest record of a member of this family that I have been able to find is in a lease from 1384 by Jehan de Bauwegines and Laurench le Flameng, receivers of the town of Tournai, to Piat de Leuse, of a piece of land near the little gate “des norriers” at a rent of 15s. Furthermore, Nicholas le Flameng was elected abbot of Saint-Martin in Tournai in 1465, and was succeeded by his nephew, Jean le Flameng in 1489.7 From the 15th century to the present, Flameng is a fairly common surname in records of the neighbouring Belgian provinces of Hainaut and Walloon Brabant. Present-day spelling variations of the Flameng surname are Flamen, Flamenc, and Flament/ Flamant, all pronounced in the same manner (flamɑT ). In the archives of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain & Ireland8 we find sixteenth and seventeenth century records of about twenty individuals (families) with these surnames, Flamen being the most common. All of these people would appear to have been Huguenots who came as refugees to England from either France or from the Southern Netherlands. However, if we return to the census of 1881, we find only one individual with the ancient Flameng family name. Thus it would seem that Flameng, Flamen, Flamenc, and Flament did not long survive as family names in England. The foreign refugees who originally brought these names to England probably tired of hearing their name pronounced so atrociously and decided to change it to Fleming.

The idea that the surname Fleming must have been taken as a family name by various unrelated families with origins in Flanders is centuries old. In the Domesday survey of 1085-6, we find a number of individuals who were recorded by the Latin epithet Flandrensis. The list is not long. We have Walterus Flandrensis, a tenant-in-chief in Bedfordshire, whose name is usually rendered in English as “Walter the Fleming,” although in genealogical literature you can sometimes find him erroneously named “Walter le Fleming.”

We also have Balduini Flandrensis,Turstino Flandrensis, Hugo Flandrensis, Odo Flandrensis, Rainbertus Flandrensis, Winemarus Flandrensis, and Erchenbaldus Flandrensis. The last man on the list, Erkenbald of Rouen, was, as far as records show, the only one of these men to have descendants surnamed “le Fleming.” The le Flemings first appear in rolls and charters of the reigns of Henry II of England and William I of Scotland.

These were all very high-ranking men. However, the le Flemings were also surnamed Flandrensis in many documents, as were other men who actually did come from Flanders. This apparent anomaly led eighteenth-century genealogists to conclude that all of the men named le Fleming or Flandrensis in twelfth-century documents were from Flanders. A interesting example of the misinformation to which this conclusion has led is found in the People of Medieval Scotland database



Each of the 57 entries concerns someone who in the database has been surnamed Fleming. However, if we go to the documents from which these names have been taken, we find that in many of the documents, the surname that actually occurs is Flandrensis, and not Fleming. A search using flandrensis as a key word does not turn up any results. How many of these 57 entries concern men who were members of the early Scottish Fleming family (Flamang/Flandrensis), and how many concern foreigners from Flanders (Flandrensis)? Whatever the case may be, it is apparent that Fleming and Flandrensis are not particularly unusual surnames in Scottish documents of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Would not this be an indication of multiple origins for the Fleming surname? Surprisingly, if we search the database for individuals recorded by the surname Comyn, we turn up 67 results.

9 http://db.poms.ac.uk/search/search?basic_search_type=people&query=comyn&ordering=&years=1093-1314&show_all=false"

The Comyn surname (afterwards spelled Cumming, Cummings, Cummin, and Cummins) is generally considered to have originated in a single family. Robert de Comines, who was made Earl of Northumberland by William the Conqueror in 1067, was probably from Comines in French Flanders.10 I wonder if he and Erkenbald Flandrensis were related to one another. Erkenbald was almost certainly from the line of the castellans of Saint-Omer, a family that the Belgian historian Ernest Warlop called “the House of Menen.”11 The distance between the French towns of Comines and Menen is only about twelve kilometers. But regardless of whether or not Robert and Erkenbald were related, I hope that in all the above I have managed to shake your belief in the theory that the Flemings came from Flanders, if indeed you have entertained such a belief.

1 “Assumption is the mother of all mistakes” is attributed to American political scientist Eugene

Lewis Fordsworthe.

2 The wide-spread practice among the general population of England of assigning to a person a byname in addition to the baptismal name probably predates the Norman Conquest, although little evidence of the practice can be found in Anglo-Saxon documents. The Norman knightly class began to use the their fathers' or grandfathers' locative or, in a few cases, ethnic bynames as hereditary family names in the twelfth century. This fashion of adopting a family name eventually spread to other people of high social status. I suggest, however, that people of relatively low social standing mostly continued to be distinguished by their patronyms or by their specific locative, occupational, and ethnic bynames, which prior to the fifteenth century seldom developed into hereditary family names. Nevertheless, bynames were just as useful to the tax collector as family names when it came to reporting to the Crown which particular William among many had (or had not) paid his taxes.

3 I would like you to imagine the vicar of some small parish in England. The year is 1545. He has recently baptised the first-born child of the village baker and is presently occupied with the task of recording the baptism in his register.

"John, your child must have a family name. His Majesty commands it. You can choose any name you like. Shall I write Baker? Or if you do not like Baker, what do you say to Smith? Or what about Jones? Your father's name, like yours, is John, but he is originally from Wales.”

I suggest that the progenitors of many present-day family names may have lived no longer ago than the sixteenth century. The predominant theory at present is that most families in England had adopted a hereditary family name by the turn of the fifteenth century. In my estimation, this theory is disproved by the great number of surnames that occur in the early censuses of Great Britain (1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1881) that were far too rare to have originated as family names as early as in the fourteenth century.

I would also like to suggest that family names such as Smith, Jones, Williams, Taylor, Brown, Davies, Evans, Wilson, Thomas, and Johnson are particularly common today because they were particularly convenient choices for a surname in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Hundreds of families may have assumed Smith as a family name, not because the family father or grandfather was a blacksmith, but simply because Smith was one of the first names that sprang to mind. When hard-pressed, it is not easy to be imaginative, which is what makes Smith and Jones such attractive choices for an alias.

4 The Lay Subsidy of 1334, Robin E. Glasscock, OUP/British Academy (1975); and The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381, Carolyn Fenwick, OUP/British Academy, 3 volumes (1998-2005). A comparison of these two very important sets of records would seem to show the extent to which many (hereditary) surname lineages may have become extinct between 1334 and 1377. The Black Death struck England in 1348-1350, with an estimated mortality rate of 50%; and in 1361-1362, with an estimated mortality rate of 20%.

5 The surname Smith occurs about 320 times in the database at England's Immigrants; the surname Taylor occurs about 775 times; and the surname Johnson occurs about 1,690 times. (Interestingly, the surname Jones occurs only 14 times.) The surname French, which occurs about 169 times in the database, is particularly interesting in relation to the Fleming surname. The 1881 census enumerates 14,607 individuals as having the surname French. French is an early (probably fourteenth-century) corruption of the Anglo-Norman family name de Freyne, which first occurs in English documents during the twelfth century. French is also the abbreviated form of the word Frenchman (Frensche', French', Frenche', etc.), which was used in medieval documents as a surname for foreigners from France.

Did foreigners from France typically adopt French as their family name? I have found no evidence that they did.

Other variations of the ancient de Freyne family name are Frain and Frayne, together accounting for 598 individuals in the 1881 census.

6 For historical information concerning these individuals please see my books: A Genealogical History of the Barons Slane (2008), A Genealogy of the Ancient Flemings (2010), The Ancestry of the Earl of Wigton (2011), Wigton Revisited (2014), Facing the Other Way: Conversations with my Daughter (2015).


7 de Grieck, Pieter-Jan. De Benedictijnse Geschiedschrijving in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden (CA. 1150-1550) p. 640

8 http://www.huguenotsociety.org.uk/publications/cdrom.html

9 Amanda Beam, John Bradley, Dauvit Broun, John Rueben Davies, Matthew Hammond, Michele Pasin (with others), The People of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1314 (Glasgow and London, 2012) www.poms.ac.uk [accessed 20 March 2015]. Other names in this database include Gordon (24 records), Douglas (29 records), Crawford (31 records).

Bruce (42 records), Sinclair (18 records), Scott (74 records). “Flemings” listed under the surname Fleming who were probably not members of the medieval Fleming family include: Peter Fleming, Stephen Fleming, Theobald Fleming, Matthew Fleming, Everard Fleming, Copin Fleming, Berewald Fleming, Baldwin Fleming, Walter Fleming (son of John), William Ridel (lord of Flemington), and William Fleming of Stanhouse.

10 1881 census results for Cummin(s)/Cumming(s): 13,147; and Fleming/Flemming: 13,663. Results in just the Scottish census of 1881: Cumming—3,741; and Fleming—6,665. 1880 United States census results for Cummin(s)/Cumming(s): 32,599; and Fleming/Flemming: 28,452. Robert de Comines (Rodberto de Cumines according to Orderic Vitalis in his Historia Ecclesiastica, vol.II, p. 220, otherwise referred to by the chroniclers as Rodbertum cognomento Cumin) was killed in Durham in 1069. It has been suggested that Earl Robert's surname might have had a connection, not to Comines in French Flanders, but to the condiment cumin (cuminum cyminum).

The earl might thus have been a spice merchant, or something of the sort. (See: Alan Young, William Cumin: Border Politics and the Bishopric of Durham, 1141-1144 , Borthwick Publications [1978] pp. 4-6.) However, the surname does actually appear in early Flemish charters. A certain Walkerus de Cumines witnessed a charter by Robert II of Flanders in 1094. Earl Robert de Comines was, perhaps, related to Alard de Comines, who was lord of Comines according to a charter of Baldwin V of Flanders dated 1047. (See:


Seigneurs de Comines.) He appears to have had two sons (or grandsons or grandnephews), William and John. William, who became Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of Scotland, did not have any descendants as far as is known. John, who was killed during the Anarchy, had three sons, William, Osbert, and Richard. Richard, son of John de Comines, along with Waldeve, son of Baldwin of Biggar (le Fleming), and Jordanle Fleming, was captured by English forces at the Battle of Alnwick in 1174. According to Hector Boece (1465-1536), Sir John Comyn, known as the Red Comyn, Richard de Comyn's great-great-great-grandson, was murdered in 1306 by Robert the Bruce (later Robert I of Scotland), Roger de Kirkpatrick, and Robert le Fleming, who would likely have been the great-great-great-grandson of Jordan le Fleming. (Medieval Scotland was a small place, was it not?)

11 Ernest Warlop, The Flemish Nobility Before 1300, Kortrijk (1975), Vol. I, pp. 105-13

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Leopard Scans - Flinders, Flanders and Flemings, January 1994

by Bill Nicolaisen

When, about 1185, David Earl of Huntingdon who had in addition to estates elsewhere, been granted the lands of Garioch by his brother, King Malcolm IV, in the 1170s, issued a charter of Infeftment to Malcolm son of Bertolf, laird or Leslie, he addressed it intriguingly to clerics and laity, the French, English, Flemings and Scots. The Scots in question are obviously the Gaelic speaking population of his territories who had lived there for the last 300 years or so, but the three other designations refer to the three main groups who feudalisation attracted to Scotland, including the North East, from abroad – Normandy, Brittany, England and Flanders, chiefly in connection with the newly created burghs. Of these, the Flemings (flaminggis in the charter) are the smallest and least tractable among these incomers, but fortunately, we do have a certain amount of place-name evidence to reflect their one-time presence in the region.

When thinking of Scotland as a whole, the several places called Flemington come immediately to mind, especially in Clydesdale whre there are at least three villages of that name – one not far from Motherwell, another close to Cambuslang, and the third in Strathaven. In southern Scotland, a fourth is found in Berwickshire. As fas as Leopardland is concerned. Flemingtons occur in the very south of it, about five miles north east of Forfar, and on its north westernmost edge, not far from Ardersier on the Moray Firth, while in its heartland no such name seems to have survived if, indeed, there ever has been one.

There is, however, a small cluster of farm names not far from Insch which bears witness to the settlement of Flemings in mid-Aberdeenshire in the Middle Ages, although neither the modern map spelling nor the current local pronunciation provide obvious clues as to names origin – New, Little, and Old Flinder (pronounced Flinner) in Kennethmont.

A glance at the early records, however, opens our eyes, for about 1261 we find a reference to the village of Flandres in Garioch (villa de Flandres in Garviauch), in 1355 the place is also called Flandres, and in 1367 Flandris. The qualifying adjectives New, Little and Old are clearly later additions.

Flandres undoubtedly represents Flanders, the European province from which the flaminggis of Earl David’s charter had come, a transferred name therefore, either applied by the Flemings themselves for nostaligic reasons or, as seems more likely, by non-Flenmings in the neighbourhood as a kind of ethnic nickname,

In another act of Earl David’s in the last decade of 12th century, Simon the Fleming (Symon Flandrensis) is mentioned as one of the perambulators of a grant of land to Arbroath Abbey in Kennethmont ( Kinalchmund), and in the 13th century Bartholomew the Fleming (Bartholomeus Flanderensis) grants to the church of St Drostan at Insch (Inchemabani) a toft and some arable land. The same Bartholomew is a witness in two charters in the middle of the 13th century. The eminent historian of the North East, W, Douglas Simpson, takes the former moated homestead at Wardhouse to have been Bartholomew’s residence, a view which is strengthened by the claim that the Flemings are supposed to have introduced the motte-castle to Scotland. It is worth remembering that as late as 1357, in a grant of land of the Garioch by David II, the force of Fleming lauch (Flemish law) still reverberates.

In comparison with Flemish colonisation of Clydesdale, the ‘colony’ of Flemings in the Garioch must have been relatively small, although there appear to have been some personal connections between the two areas. Whether, however, as has been suggested, the name Flinder and the personal-name evidence represent an industrial population in Upper Garioch is another question. Chiefly, on the basis of the weaving villages in the Clyde Valley, it has been assumed that the Flemings in Mid-Aberdeeshire were also involved in similar activities. Perhaps it would be more acceptable to view them like the Flemings in the burghs, including Aberdeen, as important traders and merchants, involved in the wool trade perhaps but not so much in the manufacture of cloth and woollen goods. However, on this topic our place-names and the names of the aristocratic Flemings are silent, and mere speculation is not going very far. We are fortunate that a name like Flinder, whether Old, New or Little has survived.

Note: I was amused to read in George F. Black’s Surname of Scotland that “James Fleeman or Fleming (1713 – 1778) was the fool, as part of the establishment of the family of Udny of that Ilk, the last family in Scotland, it is said to have maintained one.


NLS Map Searches


 Fleming                                  North     East
                                         degrees   degrees
Flemington, Angus			56.68964  -2.77572
Flemington, Berwickshire		55.84087  -2.09850
Flemington, Lanarkshire		        55.84087  -2.09850
Flemington, Peebles-shire		55.69233  -2.32549
Flemingston, Vale of Glamorgan          51.42098  -3.41474
Flemings, Suffolk?			51.57717  +0.65179
Fleminghill, Ayrshire			55.62002  -4.41799
Low Flemiland / Flemyland		55.67124  -4.69106
Kirkpatrick Fleming			55.02380  -3.13173
Loch Flemington				57.54291  -3.98885

Old Flinder Kennethmont		        57.33299  -2.67253 
New Flinder Kennethmont		        57.34082  -2.69048
New Flinder Kennethmont		        57.34441  -2.68374
Little Flinder Kennethmont		57.33869  -2.68456
Flinders Street Liverpool


South Flanders Perthshire		56.14515  -4.21493
Flanders Moss, Perthshire		56.15792  -4.20093
Flanders Northern Ireland nr Dungiven?
Flanderwell, Rotherham		        53.42913  -1.28214
Flanderwell Farm, Rotherham 	        53.42908  -1.27476


Findrassie, Moray			52.66860  -3.35111
Findrassie Wood, Moray
Findrack House				57.13331  -2.64861 
Mains of			        57.13461  -2.64700


Finner, Northern Ireland
Meikle Finnery, Dunbartonshire	        56.03217  -4.49056
Mid Finnery, Dunbartonshire		56.03653  -4.49584
Little Finnery, Dunbartonshire	        56.03761  -4.49408
Banks of Finnercy, Aberdeenshire	57.12303  -2.41390
East Finnercy, Aberdeenshire	        57.12835  -2.38513 
Milton of Finnercy, Aberdeenshire	57.12544  -2.40432


Landerberry, Echt			57.13030  -2.42467
Landermere, Basildon    ?? area	        51.57864  +0.45084
Landermere Hall, Tendring		51.86636  +1.18639
Landermere Wharf, Tendring		51.87040  +1.19324
Landermere Creek, Tendring		51.87257  +1.20616 - flooded 2020
Landermeads		?? area	        52.91819  -1.22948

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https://www.baby-boys-names.co.uk› boys-name-lander

Boys Name - Lander

Lander is a boys name with Basque origin meaning 'Lion man'. ....


During that dark period of history known as the Middle Ages, the name of Lander was first used in France. While the patronymic and metronymic surnames, which are derived from the name of the father and mother respectively, are the most common form of hereditary surname in France, occupational surnames also emerged during the late Middle Ages. Many people, such as the Lander family, adopted the name of their occupation as their surname. However, an occupational name did not become a hereditary surname until the office or type of employment became hereditary. The surname Lander was an occupational name for a grower of lavender. Looking back further, we find the name Lander was originally from the Old English word lavendier, which indicated someone of that profession.

Early Origins of the Lander family

The surname Lander was first found in Bedfordshire, where Almaric de Landres held lands in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in the 13th century. He originated in Burgundy, France with the spelling Landres which is also a commune today in Lorraine. The northern-eastern location of the name in France makes the Norman influence very probable. [1]

At about the same time, Ysabelle la Lauendere was listed a census in 1253 and Ralf la Lavendered was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Somerset in 1268. Thomas Launder was listed in Yorkshire in 1331 and later Elyzabeth Lander was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Staffordshire in 1524. [2]

Early History of the Lander family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lander research. Another 77 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1550, 1659, 1575, 1665, 1217 and 1260 are included under the topic Early Lander History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lander Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Landers, Lander, Landes, Landis, Landor and others.

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of a



Colonial Ancestors And Allied Families



Printed in the U.S.A.

Mitchell-Fleming Printing Company, Inc

Greenfield Indiana

Copyright 1959


Pg 5

The history of the Fleming family begins in the Eleventh century on the mainland of Europe. Inhabitants of Flanders were designated as the Flandrensis, and the name Fleming means “native of Flanders.” The Queen of Willian the Conqueror was Matilda a Flemish princess. Tradition is that Tunstan Flandrensis was one of the knights of the Norman Army and a relative of the Queen of William the Conqueror. At Furness Abbey, Lancashire, are two effigies of a Norman Knight of the 12th century, said to be the only one of the kind in England; one represents Sir John LeFleming who was a crusader.

During the middle ages, LeFleming was the usual designation of the name, variations Flemming, Flemans, Fleminge, Flemyuge and Phlemming.

In the 10th and 12th centuries, persecution of Protestant French and Dutch people by the Catholics became unbearable and after some of the massacres described in history of that period the ones who survived the punishment began their flight to England, Scotland and Ireland. They could only flee with the clothing they wore.

When they landed in a strange country their language was a mixture of French and low German and was called the Flemish language, the people being called Flemings. In Flanders the persecutions continued and massacres were not stopped, the most horrible was the St. Bartholmew in Paris in 1572. After this the refugees left in greater numbers taking with them skilled and intelligent persons and the countries who received them were greatly profited by their coming. They established dye works in England, manufactured felts, plates of brass for culinary utensil:introduced Dutch clocks, tapestry, the art of printing paper, mathematical instruments and in Scotland introduced manufacturing of serges and broadcloth. In some areas they showed the natives how to cultivate and raise more vegetables, thus making themselves useful and not a burden.

After they had become establish in their adopted land , many obtained grants of naturalization and by the beginning of the 16th

and 17th centuries they had heard of America and began to emigrate to America. During the years since they left Flanders they had changed the spelling of their names, or dropped a prefix, married into families of their accepted land, also some for their outstanding work had been given titles, as Earls, Barons and Lords. We find in 1228 a Charter dated February 14, bears the name of William Fleming. Stephen Flandrensis lived in England in the time of William the Conqueror. In Scotland, James Fleming son of the Earl of Wigton.

The ancient Flemings of Scotland lived in Biggar on the Clyde, an ancient town still existing. Consequently we can see that the Fleming name has come down through many years of changing, but all we descendants of the Huguenots who were refugees to these other countries. In over four hundred years we find that the change of home, change of names and employment has not changed the fact that many outstanding families are direct descendants of the Huguenots who came to America in early colonial days.

According to historians, there were four brothers who came to America before or early in 1700, name Flemans or Fleming. Samuel settled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey; Stephen settled in Monmouth County, New Jersey; Thomas Perth Amboy, New Jersey and John went to Virginia.

In my search for facts, find that Stephen (Flemans) Fleming, a farmer who lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey, was the progenitor of my father’s line and from records and history have established the fact that he came from Tyrone County, Ireland. I have not tried to connect my line with titles or any of the nobility of England, Ireland or Scotland but as one writer has said: “Generosity is a characteristic of the Flemings, of whom it may be said they know no such word as fail. They are men who hold on when others let go, who advance when others retreat, they are those who win in the end.”

The Slogan of the Huguenots from the beginning “An open Bible, freedom of conscience, political and religious liberty.”

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They like the Quakers, came to America for religious freedom and throughout the United States you will find them in all denominations and churches.


Smiles – History of Huguenots

Baird – History of Huguenots

Monette – History of Picataway and Woodridge, New Jersey.

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Pg 187
Finarcy (Echt)

1696, Finersy and Findercie, Poll Book;
1618, Fynnersie, Retour 157;
1610, Phynnersie, Retour 124;
1517, Fenersy, Ant. III., 477
1505, Fynnersy, Ant. III., 419

Perhaps a corruption of fionn àird (arj), “fair height.”

1853 - 54;
Printed and Published by

Pg 185 Echt
Henry, William, farmer, Miltown of Findrassie
Leith, Alexander, farmer, Little Findrassie
Leith, William, farmer, Banks of Findrassie
Philip, Robert, farmer, Milltown of Findrassie
Pg 186
Ross, John, farmer, Little Findrassie

Recorded as Banks of Findrassie, Little Findrassie, Milltown of Findrassie, somewhat similar to Findercie above. Perhaps have an "L" dropped and should be Flindrassie or similar indicating a relationship with Flinders. This seems likely as at Banks there was a community of weavers who possibly had their own church and grave yard.

Mrs Hall (b circa 1875) could remember the days when she could see the smoke rising from the cottages at Banks of Finercy. Horses will not venture into the area where the grave yard is believed to be.

Pg 198 Kinnethmont
Anderson, Peter, farmer, Oldflinder
Forbes, James, farmer, Oldflinder
Mennie, James, farmer, Little Flinder
Reid, William, farmer, Little Flinder
Skinner, Peter, farmer, Old Flinder ]

Pg 189
Flinder(Kennethmont). CS Flinner

1635 New and Old Flinder Ant. IV., 514;
1367, Flandris, Col. 539;
1355, Flandres, Col. 358.

Tradition says that a colony of Flemings settled in Leslie and Kennethmont at a very early period, and it is possible the name Flandres originated with them. A charter by Earl David, 1171-1199 (Col 546), conveying the lands of Lesslyn to Malcolm, son of Barthholf, is addresses to “Franks and Angles, Flemings and Scots”; and a charter by Thomas, Earl of Mar, confirmed by David II. in 1357 (Col. 548), conveys the lands of Cruterystoun (Leslie), with the right of Flemish law – “una cum lege Fleminga que dicitur Fleming lauch.” A plough-gate of land in the parish of Kinalchmund was granted by Earl David (1189-1214) to the Church of S. Thomas of Abirbrothoc, and it appears to have been perambulated, along with others, by Symon Flandrensis, who may have been one of the colony.

Pg 224
Kennethmont (Parish)

1600, Kynnathmont and Kynnauchmount, R.M.S., 1032
1418, Kyllachmond, R.E.A., II., 218
1403, Kynalchmund, Col. 626;
c. 1366 Kynalcmund, Col. 221;
1299 Kilalckmunith, Col 625;
1172 - 1199, Kyllalchmond, R.E.A. II., 13
1165 – 1188, Kynalcmund, Col. 624

Cill, “a cell or church.” St Alcmund is said to be a “well-known saint in the Roman Calendar.” I do not find his name in this form in the “Kalendars of the Scottish Saints,” but it is probable that there was a saint so called. It is not quite certain, however, whether Kyn or Kil is the older prefix. Kinbattock also has the old forms of Kilbethok and Dolbethok. It is possible that in both cases Kil and Kyn may be the distinctive names of the church and the church lands. St Alcmund must have had a cell apart from the church, or he may have fallen into disrepute, for the church was dedicated to St. Rule, and in 1572 it appears in an “Act of Secrete Counsall” as Trewle Kirk. See Trewel Fair. In a charter – given in the Register of Aberbrothoc, p. 55 – by Earl David on a ploughgate of land in Kinalchmund, in favour of the Church of St. Thomas of Aberbrothoc, the names of the four men are given who had fixed the marches, and among them is “Symon flandrensis.” He may have been one of the Flemish colony settled in this part of the country, and to whom there appears to be reference in charters of date 1177 – 1199 and 1357, Col. 546 and 548. This charter by Earl David (1211 – 14) gives the spelling Kinalchmund; the Royal Conformation of the same year Kelalchmund; and the Confirmation by Earl John, 1219, Kynalchmund.

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Trewel Fair (Kennethmont)

Cor. Of St. Rule’s Fair, St. Regulus being patron saint of Kennethmont. 1572, “Trewlekirk,” Act of Secrete Counsall.”

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