Lays and Legends

the ancient family of Le Fleming

Michael Le Fleming, the first of the name, called also Flemengar, and in some old writings Flandrensis, was kinsman to Baldwin, Earl of Flanders, father-in-law to the Conqueror; by whom he was sent with some forces to assist William in his enterprise against England.

After the Conquest was completed, and William was seated on the throne of England, the valiant Sir Michael, for his fidelity, and good services against the Saxons and Scots, received from his master many noble estates in Lancashire; Gleaston, and the manor of Aldingham, with other lands in Furness.

Sir Michael and his heirs first settled at Aldingham. By a singular accident, the time of which cannot now be ascertained, the sea swallowed up their seat at this place, with the village, leaving only the church at the east end of the town, and the mote at the west end, which serve to show what the extent of Aldingham has been.

After this, they fixed their residence at Gleaston Castle.

To the Abbey of Furness he was a great benefactor. There is an affecting earnestness in the language with which in the evening of his long life he declares in one of his charters

“In the name of the Father, Be it known to all men present and to come, That I, Michael Le Fleming, consulting with God, and providing for the safety of my soul, and the souls of my father and mother, wife and children, in the year of our Lord 1153, give and grant to St. Mary of Furness, to the abbot of that place, and to all the convent there serving God, Fordeboc, with all its appurtenances, in perpetual alms; which alms I give free from all claims of any one, with quiet and free possession, as an oblation offered to God”

He was buried with his two sons within the walls of the Abbey Church. His arms, a fret, strongly expressed in stone over the second chapel in the northern aisle indicate the spot where he found a resting place; not the least worthy among the many of the nobility and gentry who in those days were interred within the sacred precincts of St. Mary’s Abbey in Furness.

What was originally called the manor of Aldingham, is now called the manor of Muchland from a corruption of the word Michael.

From Baldwin’s kinsman, the first Le Fleming, the founder of the family in England, two branches issued:

  1. William, the eldest son of Sir Michael, inherited Aldingham Castle and his Lancashire estates. His descendants, after carrying the name for a few generations, passed with their manors into the female line; and their blood mingling first with the de Cancefields, and successively with the baronial families of Harrington, de Bonville, and Grey, spent itself on the steps of the throne in the person of Henry Grey, King Edward the Sixth’s Duke of Suffolk, who was beheaded by Queen Mary on the 23rd of February 1554. This nobleman being father to Lady Jane Grey, his too near alliance with the blood royal gave the occasion, and his supposed ambition of being father to a Queen of England was the cause of his violent death. By his attainder the manors of Muchland, the possessions of the le Flemings in Furness, were forfeited to the Crown.
  2. Richard le Fleming, second son of the first Sir Michael, having inherited the estates in Cumberland which William le Meschines had granted to his father for his military services, seated himself at Caernarvon Castle, Beckermet, in Cope land. After two descents his posterity, having acquired by marriage with the de Urswicks the manor of Coniston and other considerable possessions in Fumess, returned to reside in that district. The Castle of Caernarvon was abandoned, then erased, and Coniston Hall became the family seat for seven descents.

via Lays and Legends of the Lake Country pages 98 to 100

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