The Norman Family of Fleming
Researching the Norman Ancestry of the Fleming Family
Before I began in earnest to study the history of the Baron Slane peerage, I had more or less accepted the tradition which claims that the Flemings of Ireland are mostly descended from the Flemish mercenaries who came to the island from Wales in the retinue of Strongbow in 1170. I supposed that my paternal ancestor was a soldier who, after his bloody work was done, remained in Ireland and eventually adopted “Fleming” as his surname. The ancestor of the noble Fleming family of Slane, however, turned out to be a baron in the court of Henry II, Erkenbald le Fleming, who was anything but a common soldier. According to the nineteenth-century genealogist Sir Bernard Burke, Erkenbald’s father was Stephen fitz Archembald of Bratton Fleming, a man I had little trouble actually finding in the ancient records. He is recorded under the name of Stephanus filius Erchembaldi. In 1130 he paid a fine of 10 silver marks. Stephen’s father is called “Archembald, a nobleman of Flanders” by Burke in his Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, although no references are given to any specific documents that would substantiate his noblesse. Luckily, Stephen’s father is very much in evidence in Domesday Book 1086, but under the name of Erchenbald. And further research into ancient Norman documents shows that, prior to the Norman conquest of England, this Erchenbald was indeed a Flemish nobleman in the court of Duke William of Normandy.
By the time I had worked my way back to the progenitor of the noble Fleming family of Slane, I began to realize that the ancient Flemings of the British Isles could have possibly belonged to a single family. Perhaps the tradition concerning a multitude of Fleming family progenitors was completely wrong. Had there been only one? Had the Erchenbald who is recorded in Domesday Book been the first Fleming? Only the result of a conscientious examination of the entire collection of surviving medieval records could be offered as proof.
Having recently conducted such a survey of the ancient records with respect to the Fleming surname, I am more convinced than ever that practically all of the Flemings of the British Isles in medieval times were members of a single extended family. I am thus convinced that a majority of the Flemings living today are cousins, however distantly related they may be. I have prepared this website which concerns the genealogy of the early Flemings specifically for these descendants of Erkenbald the Fleming. The scroll screen below shows the results of my research.
If you have information you would like to share or comments on the information herein, please contact me.
F Lawrence Fleming