Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Flanders Name
Origins of Name:
The Flanders surname derives from geographical locations in England during the Middle Ages. The surname appeared as early as the 8th century and was used to describe an immigrant from the Low Countries, i.e. “of Flanders”. The Low Countries constitute the present day Netherlands and Belgium. In the 13th century a “de Flanders” settled in Cambridgeshire, where the surname would become well known. It is thought this “de Flanders” is the ancestor of all Flanders in the county of Cambridgeshire. In Yorkshire there is another recorded person of the name “de Flandres”; however, that individual left no descendants with that name, unless the name was changed to Fleming.
More common variations are:
Flander, Flaunders, Flenders, Flinders, Flounders, Flandres, Flinders, Flindres, Flandre
The surname Flanders describes someone who left coastal Netherlands and Belgium and immigrated to Britain. During the Middle Ages, using geographical names to identify strangers where they were from was commonly used. The first known recording of the name hails from Warwickshire, where the Flanders clan were medieval lords and held political and economic power in the area. In the early part of the 11th century, the Norman invasion and occupation of England shifted power in England. The culture and language of the courts changed to French for the following 300 years. Anglo-Saxon surnames would continue to exist, however. The Flanders surname was first cited in 1191, when Euerdai Flanders was recorded in the Danelaw Charters for the county of Lincolnshire.
In the Middle Ages England and the Netherlands had built a commercial trade primarily in wool. Many immigrants from the Low Countries would thereby settle in England on their own or due to English monarchs paying weavers and merchants to set up business in England. Flanders was the heart of the European textile trade and while many set up shop in England, the name Flanders has passed on while the ethnic and culture has not.
The surname Flanders would originally be limited to East Anglia, the West Country and mainly coastal areas. The name would then spread to other parts of England. In 1327 the name was recorded in Somerset for Thomas Flaundres. Finally, the name would begin to appear in church records in 1606 – Alice Flownders christened at St. Mary Whitechapel in Stepney, 1642 – Henry Flanders a witness at St Giles Cripplegate in London, and 1842 – Isabell Flounders married in St Martins in the Field in Westminster.
Ironically the place with very few Flanders surnames, is Flanders. Only 133 exist in the Netherlands and only 89 exist in Belgium.
Flanders is the 3948th most common name in Great Britain. The highest concentrations are found in Bournemouth and Dorset.
10,000 in the United States (mainly in New Hampshire)
914 in England
654 in Australia
449 in Canada
Benjamin Flanders (1816), Louisiana state governor in 1867
Harley Flanders (1925), American mathematician
Laura Flanders (1961), English journalist
Michael Flanders (1922), member of the duo Flanders and Swann
Ralph Edward Flanders (1880), U.S. senator
Stephanie Flanders (1968), English journalist
Walter Flanders (1871), American automobile pioneer
Flanders Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Flanders blazon are the lion rampant, bend, mullet and harp. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and sable.
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” . Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron , perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur . In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known . Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy .
There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts. Originally it appeared only in one pose, erect, on one paw, with the others raised but such was the popularity of this figure, and the need to distinguish arms from each other, that it soon came to be shown in an enormous range of forms . The lion rampant is an example of these modified form, and any family would be proud to have such a noble creature displayed on their arms. Rampant is the default attitude of the lion, raised on its hind legs, facing to the dexter and with front paws extended in a fearsome and powerful pose.
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right . Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). . The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank .
The heraldic mullet, not to be confused with the fish of that name, is shown as a regular, five pointed star. This was originally, not an astronomical object, but represented the spur on a horseman’s boot, especially when peirced, with a small circular hole in the centre it represents a type of spur known as a “rowel” . A clear example can be found in the arms of Harpendene, argent, a mullet pierced gules. The ancient writer Guillim associated such spurs in gold as belonging to the Knight, and the silver to their esquires . In later years, Wade linked this five pointed star with the true celestial object, the estoile and termed it a “falling star”, symbolising a “divine quality bestowed from above” .