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Fleming William, Biography


WILLIAM FLEMING

According to a tradition that has been handed down in the family, William Fleming was born in Scotland. The date of his birth, as given in all available records, was the 5th of June, 1717. He probably spent some time in Ireland before coming to America. Just who came with him to Delaware and the exact time of his coming cannot now be de­termined. He seems to have arrived about 1740. The fact that he settled in Mispillion Hundred, the place where a large number of Flemings then lived, indicates that he had a desire to be among his relatives.

His wife was Jean Frame, usually written “Jean,” which is probably the old way of writing the name “Jane.” The records of Kent County show nothing as to the Frame family. William B. Tharp says her family lived in Sussex County. The date of their marriage cannot be found on the Delaware records. But it was prior to the 15th of August, 1744, the land records showing that William Fleming and Jean, his wife, on that date conveyed 282 acres of “land and swamp” to Robert Fleming, “yeoman.” This deed was witnessed by John Fleming and George Fleming.

The will of William Fleming shows that he was a large landholder. But the land records of Delaware do not show how he acquired title to all of his land. No doubt he lived and brought up his family in that frugal and industrious way that was common to all early settlers. However, it will appear later in these pages that most of his children were not satisfied with the “lowlands” of Delaware and chose to become pioneers in a country farther west. Why they chose the northern part of Virginia cannot be determined. One of his sons elected to remain in Delaware, where a very large number of his descendants may yet be found.

William Fleming was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. On the 4th of August, 1777, he enlisted in John Patton’s Company of the Delaware regiment commanded by Col. David Hall. From October, 1777, until March, 1778, he was in the hospital. On April 1, 1778, he entered Captain Moore’s company and was with it until May, 1779. On the 10th of June, 1779, he was reported sick at Yellow Springs. He was in Captain Wilson’s company in April, 1780; and also in Captain Williams’s company of the Southern Army of the United States at Hillsboro during a part of the same year. The record of these services will be found in the Delaware Archives.

Mrs. Lillie F. Shaw (1-3-5 in Chapter V) has an old book that has been handed down in the family, entitled ‘A Plea for the Non-con­formists,” published in 1719. In it there is written: “Matthew Fleming, his book,” also “William Fleming, his book, a present from his grandfather, Alexander Fleming, February 5, 1832.” She says the author of this book, Thomas De Laune, was imprisoned in Newgate with his wife and children, where they all died from the hardships of prison life.

Non-conformity is said to have caused the Flemings to leave Scotland.

Miss Flossie Fleming, of Fairmont, has in her possession an old Bible that was brought from Delaware by Ann Fleming, widow of William Fleming. On one of its pages there is written, probably in the handwriting of William Fleming, in a large and beautiful hand: “ANN FLEMING’S BIBLE.” The following records, though apparently in a different hand, also appear there:

“William Fleming and Ann Hudson were married December 27, 1770.”

“Thomas Fleming, son of Wm. Fleming and Ann, his wife, was born December 22nd, Anno Domine, nil.”

“William Fleming departed this life May 5th, A. D., 1784, in the 67th year of his age.”

“John Fleming departed this life November 28, 1813, in the 87th year of his age, and lost his eye-sight with the smallpox in Ireland in the 7th year of his age.”

In the Thomas Fleming family many things of interest have been handed down in regard to this blind uncle that came with his nephews to Virginia. It is said that he could play the violin and could also make baskets. In the chapter on Benaiah Fleming something will be presented to show the interest of other members of the family in his welfare. There is also on the records at Dover, Delaware, something that should be mentioned in this connection.

In volume A 17, at page 201, of the flies of Administration and Wills there is found the settlement of Archibald Fleming as administrator of the estate of one Samuel Fleming in which the following appears on the debit side of the account:

“By ballance of said estate in the administrator’s hands to be paid to John Fleming, a blind brother of the intestate, as by the said intestate’s desire and request-14 pounds, 7 shillings, and 7 pence.”

On the other side of the account this appears:

“To ballance of the estate in the administrator’s hands to be paid to John Fleming, one of the brothers of the intestate, as by the intestate’s desire and request, etc.”

This settlement was inspected, allowed, and passed on the 27th of February, 1750. Assuming that the “Blind John” referred to here was the same man that afterwards came to Virginia,-and this is not a rash assumption,-this record indicates that William Fleming had another brother in Delaware whose name has not been mentioned in any of tire records that have been handed down in the family. Though this settlement does not state that Archibald was a brother of Samuel, the implication is very strong that he was. In those days strangers were not appointed to settle the- estates of deceased persons when there were brothers to serve. It here plainly appears that Samuel had other brothers besides John. This Archibald is probably the same man that is men­tioned in Chapter XLIV.

In nearly every branch of the family the tradition is that the four brothers who came to Delaware were: William, Robert, Archibald, and John. Some of these records that have been passed down in the family will be noted here. Mrs. Josephine Bridger, of New Boston, Illinois, obtained her information from Lottie Amelia Ice, a granddaughter of Thomas Fleming, as follows:

“Four brothers, William, Robert, Archibald, and John, came from Scotland long before the Revolutionary War and settled in Delaware. John was blind, played the violin, and was never married. With his four nephews and one niece, sons and daugh­ter of William Fleming, he came to Virginia (now Marion County, W. Va.) in 1786.”

It cannot be shown with certainty that they came here in 1786 But, assuming that the families of Mary, Nathan, Boaz, and Benoni came together in the fall of 1788, there were several of them in the group. Mary had ten children, if they were all living. Eight of Nathan’s,were in the company. Boaz had only one child with him, Clarissa who was then about two years old. Benoni, only a little past twenty years old then, probably had no children. Three of Mary’s children were older than their Uncle Benoni. Elizabeth, Mary’s daughter, may have been married in Delaware. The following records show that Jane was married at that time and had a daughter, Elizabeth, nearly two years old.

1 The following items have been furnished by the Melvin family, said to have been taken from old papers sketched by Charles T. Fleming, January 2, 1860:

“William Fleming, who emigrated to this country (United States) from Scotland about the year 1740 on account of the persecution of the Christian religion in Scotland at that time by the Roman Catholics, was born June 5, 1717. On his arrival in this country he applied at the land office then open and was granted a patent for land located in Kent County, Delaware, called ‘William’s Choice’, and thereon located in 1741, built and resided until his death, which occurred May 5, 1784, aged 66 years and 11 months. About the year 1744 he married a lady by the name of Jane Frame, who was born July 26, 1726, and died on Monday, March 7, 1768, aged 41 years, 7 months, and 11 days. The record says that ‘She was a dutiful wife and a good mother and much lamented by all who knew her’. The following are the children of the said William and Jane:

MARY FLEMING, born March 11, 1745;

ANDREW FLEMING, born January 1, 1748, and died October

19, 1764, aged 16 years, 9 months, and 18 days;

NATHAN FLEMING, born February 23, 1750;

WILLIAM FLEMING, born August 17, 1755, died July 22,

1772, aged 16 years, 11 months, and 5 days;

BOAZ FLEMING, born January 3, 1758;

BENAIAH FLEMING, born January 10, 1762, died October

12, 1845, aged 83 years, 9 months, and 2 days;

BENONI FLEMING, born February 17, 1768;

THOMAS FLEMING, half-brother, born January 23, 1777.

After the death of the said William Fleming, the father of the above-named children, all of the said children (then living) emigrated to the ‘Western Frontier’, as then called, except Benaiah, who remained on the old homestead and died in the same house in which he was born, at the age of 83 years, 9 months, and 2 days.

The same old brick dwelling first erected by the father, Wil­liam Fleming, yet stands and the walls seem as firm and solid as when first erected. The old homestead has now, A. D. 1860, been in the family 119 years, and is now owned and occupied by Nathan Fleming, son of the said Benaiah, where it will prob­ably remain in the family another generation at least.”*

Mrs. Thomas W. Fleming says on her chart:

“Driven from Scotland to the North of Ireland by religious-persecution, four brothers, William, Robert, Archibald, and John Fleming, emigrated to the United States early in the 18th cen­tury and took up lands under William Penn in 1741, now known as Mispillion Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. This land is still owned by their descendants. In 1789 three sons of William, viz.: Nathan, Boaz, and Benoni, with their uncle John, emigrated to western Virginia and settled on lands on the Monongahela River.

After a few years they were joined by their sister Mary and family, and their step-mother (Ann Hudson) and her son Thomas. Gradually their children scattered until now almost every state in the Union can boast of some of the name as worthy citizens.”

There were other Flemings here in early days, who probably came from Delaware and then went farther West. In 1793, David Scott, the son of James Scott, was indicted for assaulting James Fleming, a cooper. At the same term of court he was also indicted for the same offense against William Fleming, a son of James Fleming. Later, in 1796, James Fleming and William Fleming, probably the same men involved in the affair with Scott, were required to give a bond to keep the peace “with all of the commonwealth’s subjects, especially towards Thomas Cordray, until the next grand jury court.”

On the 13th of September, 1803, the County Court exempted James Fleming, a Methodist preacher, from paying county levies and poor rates and from working on the public highway. The marriage records show that he officiated at many marriages from 1794 to 1806. In 1806 there was a Rev. James L. Fleming here. A man with the same name performed the marriage ceremonies for all of the children of John Fleming, whose marriages are on the record at Zanesville, Ohio. The census record for 1850 shows that he was 87 years old then and was born in Delaware.

Among the papers now in the possession of William B. Tharp, of Farmington, Delaware, is a copy of a memorandum sent to Benaiah Fleming by one of his brothers who came to Virginia, which shows the route traveled by these brothers in reaching their new home. Starting at Milford this gives the mileage between the different points along the road as follows:

To Dover……………………………………………………… 20 miles

To Cross Roads (probably Smyrna, Delaware)……….. 12 miles

To Middletown ………………………………………….…. 13 miles

To Head of Elk…………….…………………………………….14 miles

To the Blue Ball Tavern..…………………………………… 8 miles

To Barrett’s Tavern.………………………………………… 8 miles

To Warnock’s Tavern….…………………………………..…8 miles

To McCall’s Ferry (over Susquehanna River)…………14 miles

To Brogue Tavern………………………………………… 10 miles

To Little York (now York, Pa.)……………………….…..15 miles

To Abbottstown (now a small village in Pa.)…………15 miles

To Gattiestown .(Gettysburg)………………………….. 15 miles

To Nicholson’s Gap……………………………………. 10 miles

To Hagerstown…………………………………….……. 25 miles

To Greenspring Furnace ……………………………………. 18 miles

To Licking Creek Forge.………………………….…….. 5 miles

To Hancocktown (now Hancock, Md.)…………….. 9 miles

To Barnhart’s Tavern………………………………….. 11 miles

To Fifteen Mile Creek…………………………….…… 6 miles

To Gray’s Tavern………………………………………. 15 miles

To Oldtown (now a small village in Md.)…………… 5 miles

To Cumberland ….………………………………..……. 15 miles

To Crayon’s Tavern…………………………………… 5 miles

To Tittle’s Tavern……………………………………… 5 miles

To Tumbleston’s Tavern…………………………….… 11 miles

To Little Crossings (now Great Meadows)..…….… 2 miles

To Simpkins’s Tavern………………………………..… 9 miles

To Big Crossings (now Somerfleld, Pa.)……………… 8 miles

To Sandy Creek……………………………………….. 14 miles

Over the Laurel Hills……………………………..…… 12 miles

This makes a total of 337 miles. Their record of the trip stops near Uniontown. From that point to Fairmont the distance is about 50 miles.

COPY OF THE WILL OF WILLIAM FLEMING

In the name of God, Amen, I, William Fleming, of Kent County, in Delaware, being sick in body but of perfect mind and memory, thanks be to God, do, this third day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four, make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following:

First: I desire that my lawful debts shall be paid out of my personal estate; next, I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Ann Fleming the whole use, benefit, and profits of all and singular my houses, lands, and improvements whereon I now dwell, that is, the cleared part of my home plantation, exclusive of a field which my son Boaz has now in his occupation on the east side of said plantation, together with as much woodland as may be necessary for the supporting fence and firewood for the hearths to her during her life; also I give and bequeath unto my wife aforesaid my two oldest negroes, namely, Will and Dinner, to her heirs and assigns forever, save only that the child of the said negro woman I give and bequeath unto my son Nathan Fleming to be delivered to him at one year and eleven months old clear of all expense of raising, to him, his heirs and assigns forever; also in like manner as aforesaid I give, will and bequeath to my son Nathan Fleming aforesaid all and singular that tract or parcel of land and tenement whereon he now dwells, containing two hundred acres or thereabouts, be the same more or less, to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

Item: I give and bequeath unto my son Boaz Fleming the one-fourth part or share off all and singular my home plantation where I now dwell and the part thereof which he has built on and improved and also a negro boy named Dick about eight years old, to him and his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my son Benaiah Fleming a one-fourth part of all and singular my home plantation aforesaid and on the side thereof next to John Turner’s lands, also one negro boy named Horatio, to him and his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my son Benoni one-fourth part of my said home plantation to be laid off on the south side thereof adjoining lands of Samuel Turner, also one negro boy named Jacob, and also horse and saddle to value of ten pounds specie, to him and his heirs and assigns forever.

Item: I give and bequeath to my youngest son Thomas Fleming a one-fourth of all and singular my home plantation whereon I now dwell to be laid off where convenient and not at any part already directed, also one negro boy named Bob, also one bed and furniture to value of seven pounds, ten shil­lings, also the additional sum of ten pounds lawful money to be laid out in his schooling at the discretion of my wife, said lands, negro boy, and bed to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

Item: I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Fleming, wife to Matthew Fleming, one negro girl (now in her occupa­tion) named Snith, to her and her heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath unto my wife Ann Fleming afore­said one black mare named Flag and one side saddle, to her, her heirs and assigns forever; also I give and bequeath all the re­mainder and reversions of all and singular of my estate of every nature whatever not hereinbefore devised, after my lawful debts are paid, to be divided according to law, that is, my wife afore­said one-third thereof and each of my children an equal share of what remains; and I do hereby appoint my sons Nathan Fleming and Boaz Fleming to be whole and sole executors of this my last will and testament, at this time revoking and disallowing any will heretofore made by me.

In witness whereof I, the aforesaid William Fleming, the testator, have to this, my last will and testament, contained on two sides of this sheet of paper, set my hand and affixed my seal the day and year first herein written.

his

WILLIAM X FLEMING (Seal)

mark

Witnesses:

Sarah Tolbott

John Rolston

William Hudson.

This will was probated on the 7th of June, 1784.

_______________

* This brick dwelling was still standing in 1930, when I was in Delaware and went a short distance from Farmington to see it. But, regretfully it must be said, it has now passed out of the family.

It will be seen that two dates are given here for the birth of Thomas Fleming. It will be observed that the different members of the family do not agree as to the exact time of the coming of these Flemings to Virginia. From the inscription on the gravestone of Alexander Fleming, mentioned in Chapter V, I got the im­pression that the Mary Fleming family came with Nathan, Boaz, and Benoni. But Mrs. Fleming here says they came later.

From Marion Franklin Brand’s  “The William Fleming Family”,  Morgantown, 1941; pages 7-12

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1 Comment »

  1. One of the reasons I enjoy genealogy research is because I have learned so much about history, geography, religion and other topics in the process. In this context, I would like to comment on the statement regarding the Flemings leaving Scotland because of persecution by the Catholics. I believe “non-conformist” usually referred to those who failed to adhere to the Church of England rather than to the Catholic Church, and included Methodists, Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians – you name it. The history of religious conflict and persecution in Europe is extremely complex and the tides surged one way and the other so rapidly and so violently, especially during the 17th century, that it is hard to even imagine the chaos in which these people lived. These tides spilled over into the Americas, bringing successive waves of refugees of all stripes to our shores, and their conflicts with them. Maryland, for instance, was founded as a refuge for Catholics who were persecuted in England, but became a haven in the late 1640’s for “non-conformists” from Virginia, who were being persecuted for refusing to worship in the Church of England, the official church of that colony. Later in that century, Maryland politics became dominated by the Church of England, and Catholics were prohibited from holding public office. Probably the only denominations that did not participate in persecution including violence against other groups were pacifist groups such as the Quakers and Mennonites.

    Comment by Margaret Murdock | January 31, 2010 | Reply


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