Lords of the Manor of Rydal

Rydal Hall, seat of the Le Fleming family, Lords of the Manor of Rydal

A Brief History of the Le Fleming family of Cumberland and Westmorland, by Richard LeFleming.

The Fleming family can be traced back to 864AD and were related to Baldwin, Earl of Flanders.  When William Duke of Normandy (William the Conqueror) mustered his troops to invade England and claim the throne in 1066, the then Earl of Flanders joined him and brought with him his kinsmen  in armour. One of these was Sir Michael le Fleming who was also a kinsman of Matilda wife of William the Conqueror.

Following William’s victory over King Harold he granted land to those who had been loyal to him and thus it was that the le Fleming family were given large holdings of land in Westmorland and Cumberland (now Cumbria). They became Lords of the Manors of Beckermet, Aldingham, Coniston and had castles at Caernarvon in Cumberland and Gleaston in Furness. 

Over the years the family was involved in countless noteworthy events in English history, ranging from the 250 years of conflict along the Scottish borders, the Holy Wars, the Wars of the Roses, and remaining firmly loyal to the Crown during the Civil War. Sir Daniel le Fleming was appointed the first High Sheriff of Cumberland by Charles II and was the Justice of the Peace for the six northern counties from Kingston-upon –Hull to Newcastle upon Tyne, as well as being MP for Cockermouth. Positions in Government and as High Sheriff were held by many members of the family down the ages. There was also a strong link with the Church and several members of the family were Vicars. In 1734 Sir George Le Fleming became Bishop of Carlisle.

Sir William Fleming, the eldest son of Sir Daniel, was created the first baronet in 1705. He had been parliamentary representative for Westmorland for some years and appointed Commissioner of Excise by King William III in 1698. The baronetcy has passed down the generations to the current 13th baronet. 

In 1409 Sir Thomas le Fleming, who was living at Coniston Hall, married Isabel de Lancaster and brought the feudal Lordship of Rydal to the le Fleming family. Rydal then became the chief seat of the family and Rydal Hall can still be visited today, although it now belongs to the Diocese of Carlisle. William Wordsworth, Hartley Coleridge and Thomas de Quincey were all tenants on the Estate during the early 1800s. The land holdings have diminished over the centuries but some 12,500 acres of the original Estate still belongs to the family.

There has always been a strong link with Queens College Oxford where many members of the family have been educated.

As with many words spellings change over the centuries. The name may have been written as ‘Flemyng’ in line with early spelling. There is even a document written in 1557 where it is spelt ‘Fflemynge’. But generally from about the time of the Norman Conquest the name was written as ‘le Fleming’. Many names of the nobility of that period had prefixes of ‘de’ and ‘le’. It was the French influence at the time no doubt. From the 15th century to about 1750 the name appeared in documentation purely as ‘Fleming’. It then reverted to ‘Le Fleming’ ever since.

Rydal Village