Monday, March 14, 2011

Henry Fleming's brothers did very well for themselves. Chief Justice of Tasmania, Chancellor of Durham.

Although there are many mentions and footnotes about Henry "The Flea" Fleming in directories, memoirs, and other publicly available sources online, it has been difficult to find one definitively connecting him to his brothers.

1841: Henry and James

In the 1841 census, Henry and James Fleming were living together on Davies Street, St. George Hanover Square. Davies Street runs north from Berkeley Square to Oxford Street. Charles Street, where we found Henry in 1871, runs from the south-west corner of Berkeley Square, not terribly far away.

In 1841, both James and Henry were shown as lawyers. Henry was listed as age 25, James, age 30. This census doesn't give enough information to prove the two were brothers, but it's a start.

James and Sir Valentine

In roughly the 1860s and 1870s, directories of the prominent lawyers and citizens of the time mention James Fleming, Q.C., and Sir Valentine Fleming, both lawyers, both sons of Valentine Fleming, a captain in the 9th Regiment of Foot. Those directories don't connect Henry to either one, though James and Valentine show up as being brothers of each other.

In 1870, at p. 517 of The Law Times, it was reported that the lawyers of Tasmania paid tribute to Sir Valentine Fleming upon his retirement after 15 years as the Chief Justice there. Sir Valentine and his wife returned to England, where he died in 1884. The story mentioned that Valentine was the brother of the eminent lawyer James Fleming, Q.C.

1876: Henry and James

The connection between Henry and his brother James crops up more definitively after Henry dies. Probate for Henry's estate was granted shortly after his death in 1876 to his brother, James Fleming of 12 Dorset Square, one of Her Majesty's Counsel, as described in the grant.

1881: Sir Valentine

On page 350 of the Colonial Office List of 1881, Valentine's history in Tasmania goes back a little further, as an insolvency commissioner for Hobart-town in 1841. That list says he retired as Chief Justice in 1870.

1885: James, Captain Valentine, Baldwin and Francis

Page 157 of the 1885 Men-at-the-bar hand-list, which lists the prominent lawyers of the day, includes Henry's brother James, identified as one of Captain Valentine's sons. Two of James's own sons, Baldwin (also spelled Baldwyn in some places), and Francis are also listed, but more about them later.

The distinctions attained by James Fleming, Q.C. were listed in that same 1885 Men-at-the-bar hand-list:

Since 1865, chief commissioner of the West India encumbered estates court;
Since 1871, chancellor of the county palatine of Durham;
Author of Rules and Orders Chancery Court Durham;
1832 a student of Lincoln's Inn;
9 May 1836 went to the Middle Temple;
10 June 1836 called to the bar;
9 January 1858, Q.C.

Sir Valentine and Captain Valentine

Sir Valentine's obituary in the February 1885 issue of The Law Times and review (page 98), says he graduated with honors from Trinity College Dublin in 1834, was called to the bar of Gray's Inn in 1838, and from 1844 to 1874 was Solicitor General and then Chief Justice of Tasmania. He was the second son of Valentine Fleming Esq. of Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, Captain in H.M. 9th Regiment of Foot.

1887: James, Baldwin and Charles

When James died in 1887, probate went to two of his sons, identified as such in the grant: Baldwin Francis and Charles Francis.

Captain Valentine's Will

Midway through this research, I broke my own rule and paid to download Captain Valentine Fleming's will. The script is hard to read, and of the whole thing, the most difficult is the one word I was looking for: "Henry". However, I'm convinced I have it right.

Captain Valentine died in 1820, when his four children were around 10 to 15 years old. He named all the children in his will, three sons: James, Valentine, and Henry, and a daughter, Emma Frances. Much of the will is concerned with ensuring that control of the family fortune never passes into the hands of a spouse of the daughter, Emma, or the widow to be, Catherine.

1908: Henry and Sir Valentine

The final piece of evidence linking Henry to Captain Valentine is in a memoir by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, Rambling Recollections, Vol. 1, at page 103, published in 1908. Henry Fleming had already been dead over 30 years by then. Drummond Wolff, who was about 20 years younger than Henry, wrote, "Another acquaintance of mine was Mr. Fleming, so well known in society. He had been a great ally of Mr. Charles Buller and ended his days as Secretary of the Poor Law Board. His brother, Sir Valentine Fleming, was a Judge in Australia."
THE ROYAL NORFOLK REGIMENT - The 9th Regiment of Foot

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