Scottish Families with Possible Flemish Origins – A Summary

Morvern French
Friday 4 March 2016

Over the past two years this blog has played host to a number of postings that have sought to provide evidence of a Flemish root for some specific Scottish families. This blog posting summarises the state of play so far. It also highlights a new addition to the list — the Wyles family — that some believe to have Flemish origins. As noted in previous blog postings, it is difficult in most cases to be definitive about assigning a Flemish root to a family. In due course it may be possible to draw on DNA analysis to provide supportive evidence of a Flemish origin for a family.

Families with Possible Flemish Roots

The list of names below has been developed over the last two years from various books pertaining to the Flemish in Scotland, from submissions by various families who believe their origins to be in Flanders, and from genealogists and other family history researchers.

Abernethy, Adie, Anstruther, Armstrong, Air(e), Ayres,
Bailey, Baird, Balliol, Bart, Barty, Beal, Beale, Beaton, Bell, Bels, Bennie, Beveridge, Binnie, Binning, Bishop, Blaw (or Blow), Bonar, Boswell, Bremner, Brodie, Browning, Bruce,
Cameron, Campbell, Cant, Clemmet, Clink, Clow, Comyn, Cornelius, Cousin, Cox, Crawfurd,
Danks, De War, Deurs, Dewar, Douglas, Dowie,
Emery (or Imrie), Enzell Erskine,
Flamang, Flamank, Flament, Flammang, Flanderensis, Flanders, Fleeming, Flement, Fleming, Flemish, Flemming, Flemyng, Flockhart, Flucker,
Frame, Frisken, Frizall, Furlong,
Gentleman, Graham, Grote,
Hally, Hamilton, Harrower, Hazeel, Hazel, Hazell, Henman, Holm, Houbron, Innes,
Junker, Justice, Kemp, Kessen, Kettle,
le Bel, Leith, Leslie, Lindsay, Lochore, Luke, Marriott, Montgomerie, Morran, Morrens, Mortimer, Murray, Mustard, Mutch,
Oliphant, Peacock, Petrie, Plender, Plenderleith, Prain, Prayne, Pren and Prenn, Preynne, Pundler,
Roche, Roy, Rutherford,
Seton, Smout, Spalding, Stein, Stewart, Stirling, Sturman, Sutherland, Swankie,
Vermont, Waddell, Weddell, Wingate, Woodall, Wyles, Younger

The most recent name to be added to the list of possible Flemish origin families is Wyles. This family is the subject of the box below.

The Wyles Family

There are varied opinions as to the ancient origins of the surname of Wyles. Some believe it to be Flemish but the name has also been associated with possible Germanic, Saxon, Pict, and Viking origins. The name may be both locational or occupational for a catcher, trapper, or hunter, derived from the word for a snare: the “Wyle” may be in reference to the willow wood used in the traps. Wyles may be from the characteristic of a person who is “being wiley” as in cunning. It was also used as a baptismal name for a son of a “William”. Lastly, the name may also mean someone who lived near a pagan temple.[1] There are also a variety of spellings for the name including Willas, Wiles, Willes, Wills, Willys, Williss, Wileson, and Wyles.

The first occurrence of the Wyles surname was Adam Wylis, who appeared in the Poll Tax records of Yorkshire in 1379. Subsequently, census data for the second half of the 19th century show that there were a good number of people with the name Wyles to be found in the south of England (especially Kent). Scotland also had a significant number, especially in Fife, Lanarkshire, and Roxburghshire. More detailed census information and pertinent statistics can be located at and the Forebears web sites.[2]

A branch of Wyles of Duddington, Northamptonshire are of Haplogroup E, which would not be a common Haplogroup in the Flemish community.[3] A Wyles DNA Project provides more detail.[4] As this is only one branch of the Wyles family, the unusual Haplogroup may be due to various reasons including a recent or remote “non-paternity event”. This event could have happened even before surnames were introduced.

In conclusion, many more DNA samples for the Wyles surname will be required to reveal additional information about the ancient origins of this surname. Multiple surname testing will, importantly, reveal if Haplogroup E is predominate or common to all others of the surname Wyles. 

Discovering the genetic origins of surnames is an ongoing process. If you are male and bear the surname Wyles or a variant of it — or indeed any other surname that might have a Flemish root —please consider taking a DNA test and joining the DNA component of the Scotland and the Flemish People project. See the following link:

Source Material on Surnames

The links below provide a good starting point for a study of surnames in general or Flemish origin surnames in particular.
The People of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1314
England’s Immigrants, 1330-1550 
The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming, edited by Carole Hough
Flemings in the Fens
Flemish Influence In Britain, CD book, J. Arnold Fleming (sample pages)
Searching for Flemish (Belgian) Ancestors
Online Etymonline Dictionary (search for Flemish, Fleming or Flanders, Vlaanders, etc.)
What’s in a Surname (scanned pages for Fleming Chap 3 The March)

Behind The Name – Flemish‬

Flemish Diversity, 2008 DNA study by Guido Deboeck

Flemish DNA & Ancestry by Guido Deboeck

Heraldry & Surname info. for Scotland

Janet Flandrensis and Alex Fleming
March 2016

Janet Flandrensis’ interest in genealogy dates back to 1980. She has been an administrator of a DNA Fleming project at and more recently at FTDNA. Her email address is
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:



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