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 émigrés 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. At the University of St. Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research a major project, called ‘Scotland and the Flemish People’, started in 2013.
This month we were contacted by Alex Fleming, cosponsor of and researcher in the project. At this point in the project the researchers would like to post guest pieces on the Flemish influence on sport in Scotland. One of these areas that has come up from time to time is the possible Flemish influence on the game of golf, reason why Alex Fleming invited us to write a posting for the blog of the project. Here you can read our contribution.