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 
The project also has a blog

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.  The fact that the Flemish by now had a foothold in Scotland meant that this was an attractive place for those evicted to seek refuge.  The new immigrants worked with the suppliers of wool in Scotland to export wool to merchants in Flanders.  In the course of time the Scots, realizing that they were losing out on the profits that came with the weaving of their wool, decided to bring Flemish weavers to Scotland.  The idea was to bring about a transfer of weaving skills to the indigenous population.

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 Flemish in Scotland were concentrated, for the most part, in the North and on the East Coast (where there were trading ports with Flanders).

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.

If you have already tested with Family Tree DNA, login through the 'Join' link at the top of this page with you kit number and follow the 'Join' tabs.

If you get an error message it typically means that you are already a member of the project. 

Your join request will receive an acknowledgement from Family Tree DNA that the process is complete and in due course you will receive a welcome message from the project administrators.

Not taken a DNA test yet?
The DNA test itself involves a simple swab on the inside of the cheek.  Which test should you order?  There are two levels of test for genealogical research.  We recommend you purchase the 37 marker Y-DNA test as the minimum for surname research which may well identify distant relatives within FTDNA’s extensive database.  The 67 marker test provides extra data and will help us in the analytic work.  This test may give you an indication of your “deep ancestry” by matching with other participants who have been found positive for advanced “deep ancestry” markers called SNPs.  These advanced markers can be ordered at a later date if required. 

Click on the following link to begin the process for your own Family Tree DNA test

Alternatively, if you have not tested before and live in the British Isles, and prefer to pay in $Sterling, kits can be purchased and mailed direct from United Kingdom email for details.
There is a small discount by ordering through either route (£13-£20 or $20-$30).

If you are not familiar with the basic principles of DNA testing it is recommended that you read this introductory article by Debbie Kennett to understand how it works.

There is no guarantee that every participant will match anyone in the Flemish in Scotland DNA project or in the wider Family Tree DNA database.