More Scottish Families with Possible Flemish Roots

Morvern French
Friday 5 February 2016

Over the last two years this blog has featured postings written by authors who have extensively researched their families and have concluded that they have Flemish roots. In this posting we draw your attention to a number of other names that have been communicated to us and, with varying degrees of probability, are believed to have Flemish roots.

The Rutherford family is thought to have Flemish roots and its origins are discussed at length on an excellent website.[1] The family is believed to have come to Scotland under the programme to settle Flemish immigrants in Scotland during the reigns of David I (1124-53) and Malcolm IV (1153-65). One piece of evidence to support this belief is that a Robertus dominus de Rodyrforde witnessed a royal charter in 1140 granted by King David I of Scotland to Gervasius de Rydel. The family’s settlement in Scotland is further evidenced by the existence of the hamlet of Rutherford that is found in the Scottish record during the reign of William the Lion, shortly after 1165. A Rutherford Castle was also built on the Hunthill estate near West Linton and Carlops in Peebleshire.

A family that has been the subject of extensive research is Bell.[2] The name is noteworthy for having over sixty spelling variants including Beal, Beale, Bels, le Bel, Balliol, and Bailey. The earliest lineage is that of the Bels of Flanders who can be traced back to the 9th century. The various Bell families that came to Scotland had both Norman and Flemish origins and had initially secured a foothold in England. The authors of the research referenced above concluded that the Bells of the Scottish borders and most of the eastern coast of Scotland (as well as the area encompassing Northumbria and Cumbria) originated from the le Bel strain who descended from the Flemish/Anglo-Normans of the south of England. Like the Rutherfords described above, the Bells were reportedly brought to Scotland as part of an attempt to pacify the country and bring new skills to it.

A number of other family names have been thought to have Flemish roots. A. W. Cornelius Hallen for instance, writing towards the end of the 19th century, states that: “Just to show that the materials exist for proving the prevalence of Flemish blood in in Scotland at the present day, I will mention but a few of the many names common to England, Flanders and Scotland: Clink, Cant, Mustard, Wingate, Younger, Justice, Furlong, Harrower, Cornelius, Adie, Frame, Cousin, Gentleman, Beveridge, Grote, Emery (or Imrie), Peacock, Enzell, Marriott, Danks, Kemp, Barty, Blaw (or Blow), Bonar, Luke.”[3] The names Cant and Frame have already been the subject of earlier blog postings.[4]

If you are aware of other Scottish families that may have Flemish roots, and for which supportive evidence exists, please write to the author of this blog posting at the email address shown below.

Alex Fleming
February 2016

Alex Fleming is a co-sponsor of, and researcher in, the Scotland and the Flemish People project. He also edits this weekly blog. His email address is:


[2] James Elton Bell and Frances Jean Bell, Bell Roots: Our Early History, 825 – 1800 (2012).
[3] A. W. Cornelius Hallen, The Scottish Antiquary, or Northern Notes and Queries, note 616, p. 77 (

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