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Notes and History of the Fleming Family

From the Frances Cowlles Document (1)

“The Name Fleming is from Flanders, the home of the first of the Family—Stephen, who planted his name in England—the Flemings in the South Colonel Thomas, and how he fooled the Indians in a fight—the New Jersey Flemings—and the Arms of the Old Fleming Family, and the Fleminsh Motto.”


By Frances Cowlles

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 Flemish. [Editor's note—No, it is actually 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 lordshoip 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.

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