Scotland and the Flemish People


Some estimates suggest that up to a third of the current Scottish population may have had Flemish ancestors. While this is almost certainly an exaggeration, many Flemish emigrés did settle in Scotland over a 600 year period between the 11th and 17th centuries. Many shed their continental sounding names to take on the name Fleming or its variants.  Others took on different names that give little clue as to their country or region of origin.

As the Flemish left Flanders over a relatively long time period they were absorbed into Scottish society gradually. So while the Flemish may well be one of Scotland’s largest immigrant groups the question of why they came, their significance in Scottish history, and their broader impact on the economy, society and culture of their adopted homeland has never been examined in detail.

The overall aim of the Project is to provide an accessible overview of the impact of the Flemish people on Scotland and the historical interactions between Scotland and Flanders (the Low Countries or modern-day Belgium). Combining genealogical and historical research, the project will reassess the settlement of Flemings in Scotland – their distribution and local impact – as well as reviewing the role of the Flemish in the broad sweep of Scottish history.

The Project has been made possible by a generous grant from the P F Charitable Trust and the support of Alex and Susan Fleming and is conducted through the St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research.

For further details, please contact Professor Roger Mason.