Fleming Surname Genealogy

Fleming is a surname in English-speaking countries. It
points to an ancestral origin in and emigration from Flanders.
Flemings came
to England at an early time
. There were extensive ties
between Flanders and the British Isles later in
the Middle
Ages, with numerous Flemings arriving as merchants or weavers.
At this time Flanders was the hub of the European textile trade and many Flemings were offered incentives to set up their trade here, particularly in Scotland. Some of this emigration happened so long ago that the name has been retained while the ethnic connection has been lost.An alternative spelling of the surname is Flemming.
The Irish Gaelic name is Pleimeann. German variants include Flaming, Flahming, and Flehmig; Dutch variants Vlaming and Vlaaderen. The Flemings of Louhisaari were a Swedish noble family whose forebears had migrated to Swedish-ruled Finland.The one place where there are few Flemings is Flanders. There are only 125 in Belgium and 100 in Holland.
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Scotland. The Flemish
influx into Scotland
began when they were driven out of
England as alien traders by Henry II in the 12th century. They
set themselves up in the wool trade on the Scottish borders, first at
Berwick and later at Dumfries.

Other Flemings were influential in

  • Robert Fleming was a supporter of
    Robert the Bruce and his son Malcolm was made the Earl of Wigton.
    Flemings from this family were appointed Lord High Chamberlains of
    Scotland and were later close to Mary, Queen of Scots. This line
    died out in Scotland in the 18th century.
  • another Fleming family
    from Stonehouse in Lanarkshire has descendants today in Canada and New

The Fleming surname has cropped up in various other places in
Scotland. There was the Laird Cragganfearn Fleming in
Perthshire. David Fleming was an 18th century Glasgow merchant
whose descendants were graziers in Australia.

Migrants to London.
Robert Fleming
started out as a
jute baron in Dundee in the 1880’s and set up his own international
merchant bank in London. His grandson was Ian Fleming, author of
the James Bond books. Roddie Fleming sold the
business in 2000 to Chase Manhattan Bank.

Another Scot who
migrated to London was Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin
in 1929 at St. Mary’s hospital in Paddington.

England. Two
weavers Constancius and Reginaldus Flemmyng – names which suggested
they were recent arrivals from Flanders – were recorded in the 1379
poll tax records of Redenhall in Norfolk.

In England, however, the
Fleming name was generally to be found in the north of the country, in
particular in what is now Cumbria. These may also have been early
Flemish settlers. A Michael le Fleming was recorded at Aldingham
in the Lake District in 1150. The le Fleming seat there for many
centuries was
Rydal Hall (this family history is recounted in Ann Galbraith’s The Fleming Family of Rydal Hall).
The family emigrated to New Zealand in the 1850’s.

A Fleming
family from
Wath near Rotherham in the West Riding of Yorkshire dates from Reiner
Fleming in the 12th century. This family produced Richard
Fleming, the Bishop of Lincoln in 1419. They too have long
departed the scene. Flemings in Lancashire are more likely to be
of Irish origin.

Fleming has been less in evidence in the south of England. The
Flemings of Stoneham in Hampshire descended from Sir Thomas Fleming,
the Lord Chief Justice in James I’s time. This Fleming estate had
become very extensive by the end of the 19th century. But
the ancestral home at Stoneham Park has since been demolished and the
estate broken up.

Wales. There was a
Flemish enclave left at Llangwm after
their initial settlement in Pembrokeshire in the 12th century.
craftsmen built its Church of St. Jerome around
1185. However, Fleming as a surname has hardly figured

Ireland. A Fleming
starting from John Fleming in the 15th century and possibly earlier,
lords of Slane in
county Meath. Many Flemings were prominent in the church at that
time. Flemings became landowners in Sligo in the 1650’s.
However, the Meath Flemings lost their holdings in 1690 when the
Jacobites were defeated.

Other Flemings were Scots
settlers in Ulster from the 17th century. These included the
Flemings from
Tyrone in Cookstown and Dromore and the Flemings from Derry in

Alexander Fleming came to Virginia in 1649 with
other adherents of Charles I and purchased land in Lancaster
county. He was, according to family tradition (although not
confirmed), from the Scots Wigton Flemings. These Flemings
subsequently lived at Rock Castle in Goochland county. Captain John
fought and died in the Revolutionary War.

William Fleming from Scotland was an early settler in Chester county,
Pennsylvania in 1714. Another William Fleming, also from
Scotland, arrived in Kent, Delaware in 1740.
The Flemings in Pitt, North Carolina, where David Fleming was born in
1755, may also have come from Delaware. Benjamin Fleming, an African
American, did come from that state.

Scots Irish.
Samuel Fleming,
Scots-Irish from county Antrim, arrived in Savannah, Georgia with his
family in 1768. Another Scots-Irish Samuel Fleming, this time
from county Tyrone, had come to New Jersey around 1740 and was the
founder of the township now called Flemington.

A third
Scots-Irish immigrant, George Fleming, came to St. Augustine in Florida
in the late 1700’s and received a land grant from the Spanish
authorities. Fleming Island was named after him in 1790 and his
Hibernia plantation was located near Jacksonville. His
descendant Francis Fleming was a segregationalist Governor of Florida a
century later.

Canada. John Fleming
emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1803 and became one of Montreal’s
leading merchants. During his lifetime he amassed the largest
library of books in Canada. However, he died early, at the age of
forty six.

came with his
brother David to
Ontario in 1845. Two years later he established the Royal
Canadian Institute and designed the first Canadian postage stamp.
He was subsequently known as a railway surveyor and the proponent of
worldwide standard time zones.

Flemings from Ireland came to Newfoundland, most notably Michael
Fleming, the Catholic bishop who arrived there in 1823. For the
next twenty five years he expanded the position of the Catholic church
in the colony and looked after the incoming Irish immigrants.
Legend has it that he devised the tricolor flag of Newfoundland.

Australia. Joseph
Fleming, a soldier, and his wife Mary Ann arrived on the Third Fleet in
1791 and were among the first to receive a land settlement. A
later generation was involved in incidents of Aborigine killings, John
in the Myall Creek massacre and brother Joe in further massacres in SW
Queensland. Joe started up one of Queensland’s first sawmills,
Bremer Mills, in the early 1850’s.

William and Isabella Fleming came to Sydney from county Tyrone in
Ireland in 1835 on the Clyde.
John Fleming arrived there in 1855 on the epidemic-stricken Constitution which was immediately
put into quarantine.

Jim Fleming
was a pioneer of Sydney discount supermarkets in the 1930’s, which his
son carried on. When their Fleming and Jewel chains were
eventually sold, Jim junior became one of the
wealthiest men in Australia. Like his father, he had a love for
the horses.

Fleming Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Fleming Names

Sir Thomas Fleming was the Lord Chief Justice who sentenced Guy
Fawkes and the gunpowder plotters in 1605.
Michael Fleming, a Catholic bishop, was regarded as the
influential Irish immigrant to have come to Newfoundland in the 19th
century.  Sir Sandford Fleming was a
Scots-born Canadian engineer and the creator of Standard Time.
Robert Fleming was a Scots
financier from Dundee who founded the merchant bank Robert Fleming
& Co.
Sir Alexander Fleming
was the discoverer of penicillin in 1929,
for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1945.
Victor Fleming was the director
of two classic American films, Gone
With The Wind
and The Wizard
of Oz
Ian Fleming was the novelist and creator of James Bond.
Tommy Fleming from Sligo is one
of Ireland’s top singers.

Select Flemings Today

  • 28,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lanarkshire)
  • 34,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas)
  • 35,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).




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