Scotland - Flemish

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About us

This project is focusing on Scottish families that believe that they may have Flemish roots. The project is being developed in tandem with historical research being undertaken at the Institute of Scottish Historical Research at St. Andrews University and titled Scotland and the Flemish People:

Some estimates suggest that up to a third of the current Scottish population may have Flemish ancestors. These Flemish immigrants came to Scotland from Flanders over a 600 year period, between the 11th and 17th centuries.

The Flemish came to Scotland in several waves. The earliest Flemish settlers in Britain came with William the Conqueror’s invading force in 1066. David Canmore ascended to the Scottish throne in 1124 (as David I) and his wife Maud, of Flemish stock, came north with him accompanied by a large retinue of her Flemish kinsmen. This led to the first significant Flemish presence in Scotland.

In 1154 English King Henry II expelled many Flemish from England on the grounds that they were encroachers on English trade.

Towards the end of the 16th century another wave of Flemish immigration to Scotland took place. The root cause of this was religious persecution.In the wake of the reformation a number of Flemish Protestants left Flanders in the second half of the 16th century through to the middle of the 17th century.

The name Fleming and its variants give a clue as to the origins of its holder. However there are a significant number of other family names that have Flemish roots. The list of surnames shown above is preliminary.Some are rather speculative. But there are likely to be other names that have not yet been identified for inclusion in the list.

This project has been set up to help those with a history of many generations in Scotland who believe—even rather speculatively—that they may have Flemish forbearers. As the techniques of DNA analysis are becoming more refined it is becoming possible to more accurately pinpoint the geographic origins of a family.

How to participate: The Y-Chromosome is carried only by men who inherit it from their father. As surnames in Europe are typically patrilineal in descent the Y-Chromosome can be used to identify men who share a common ancestor. As women do not carry a Y-Chromosome, females who wish to participate require a male family member to participate who bear one of the project surnames.