Additional Scottish Families with Possible Flemish Roots

Morvern French
Friday 19 February 2016

Two weeks ago a blog posting examined a number of families that may, with varying degrees of probability, have Flemish roots. This blog posting examines a further two families – Bishop and Spalding – that may have had their origins in Flanders.

The Bishop Family

The Bishop family has a long and distinguished history in the British Isles.[1] Family records indicate a presence in England from the time of the Norman Conquest and in Scotland from the arrival of David I.

The Scottish Bishop line is believed by some family historians to have come from Flanders. The Bishops were clearly of aristocratic stock and over time members of this family were recorded as being sheriffs and burgesses in the royal burghs in the Lothians and on the east coast. Some were also merchants.

Family research to date suggests that there were strong connections in the medieval period between the Bishop family and many of the Norman-Flemish families of the day, for instance Stirling, Ramsay, Stuart, Bruce, and Sinclair. The armorial bearings of Sir William Bischop, the elder sheriff and burgess of Edinburgh displayed two rampant lions that appear to connect them to other Norman-Flemish families. Moreover, William de Bishop, Count of Rokesburgh (Roxburgh), signed the Ragman Roll in 1296 in the company of a number of other men who were believed to be of Flemish origin.[2]

If you are interested in making contact with the Bishop family, please send an email to William Bishop at

The Spalding Family

The Spalding family probably took its name from the town of Spalding in Lincolnshire, England. It is not clear whether the towns name was Anglo-Saxon in origin or brought over by Flemish settlers.

The family name Spalding has remained largely unchanged over time, with the main variant being Spaulding, found in the USA. The name was probably introduced quite early in the medieval period and was used extensively in England and Scotland. It is not known whether the Spaldings descended from one common ancestor as at least three different Spalding surname Y chromosome lines have been identified.

The Spaldings appear from time to time in historical accounts of Scotland. For instance, there was a Spalding who was a burgess in the fortified town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Being on the border between Scotland and England it often changed hands over the course of history.

According to Haile’s Annals of Scotland, “one Spalding, a citizen of Berwick, having been harshly treated by the governor (probably Robert Horsely), resolved to revenge himself. He wrote to a Scottish lord (probably Patrick, earl of March) whose relation he had married, and offered, on a certain night, to betray the post where he kept guard.”[3]

This intelligence was communicated to the king (Robert Bruce) who wished to take the town back from the English. “Troops were assembled under Randolph and Douglas, cautiously marched to Berwick, and assisted by Spalding, scaled the walls and in a few hours were masters of the town”.

Spalding was rewarded with a grant of lands in Angus, and later the family acquired lands in Ashintully, Glenshee in Perthshire, Scotland. Glenshee itself is an area where there was evidence of other Flemish settlement in a later period.[4]

If you are interested in making contact with a representative of the Scottish Spalding family in America, please send an email to Timothy Spaulding at

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:


[1] There are a number of variants on the name Bishop, including Bisshop, Byshop, and Bischop.

[2] Annette Hardie-Stoffelen, ‘The rise of the Flemish families in Scotland’, in The Flemish Scottish Connections, pp. 21-2.

[3] Haile’s Annals of Scotland, vol. II, p. 97.

[4] and

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One reply to "Additional Scottish Families with Possible Flemish Roots"

  • axford
    Wednesday 9 March 2016, 2.49am

    scottish but gentic test says Flemish 25 marker test

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