The Fleming family was prominent in the affairs of Southampton from the early 13th century. Michael Flandrensis (Fleming means from Flanders) was one of the first to be mentioned, as a bailiff in 1222. Other thirteenth-century bailiffs included Walter le Fleming in 1237, 1247 and 1248, and Henry le Fleming in 1286. John le Flemyng was MP in 1298, 1306, 1313 and 1314-15, and mayor in 1319. The stone figure leaning over the footbridge in modern Castle Way (image below) depicts John le Flemyng.

The Walter le Fleming mentioned above was the son of another Walter le Fleming, and was a major figure in the 13th century town. Apart from his involvement in civic affairs as bailiff and later mayor, he was a wealthy and successful merchant. He owned several ships, and traded extensively in wine and wool, sometimes acting on behalf of the king. He lived in a large house on the corner of High Street and Broad Street until his death in 1258. He had three children, sons Henry and John and a daughter Alice. John died before Walter his father, leaving his widow, Petronilla to carry on his trading activities. The main Southampton branch of the family continued through the children of John and Petronilla. Their descendants continued to be prominent in Southampton until the early-sixteenth century and another branch of the family settled at Newport on the Isle of Wight. From the 14th century the ‘le’ part of the name was dropped and the variant spellings standardized into Fleming.

In 1604 Sir Thomas Fleming, born at Newport in 1554, was made Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer by James I. Soon after, he purchased the North Stoneham estate, making it an occasional residence, and died there in 1618. He is buried in North Stoneham Church. In 1737 the house passed to distant relatives, the Willis family, although they retained the name Fleming, because of the prestige attached to it. John Willis-Fleming bought South Stoneham House in 1819.

Statue of John Le Fleming

Image Unavailable

Photograph, 2010

Newspaper clippings:

Further reading:

Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, 239-240. (HS/h)
The Book of Remembrance of Southampton, Volume 1, By H. W. Gidden (ed), introduction p xxi-xxix (HS/l)


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