Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Lost Baronetcy of Slane. Maybe you are an Irish noble and don't know it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In honour of the occasion I am going to post two stories connecting Henry Fleming to Ireland.

Henry Fleming's story is in turn part of a larger history and genealogy project, tracing the residents of Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London, from the 1871 census.

The Charles Street Series

Flemings and the lost Baronetcy of Slane

There is a Slane Castle and a title, Baron Slane, attached to a little corner of Ireland near Dublin.

(U2 played there in 2001.)

I expect the castle is well taken care of, but the title is going begging for want of a suitable heir.

That's not for trying.

In the 1830s, one George Bryan petitioned the House of Lords in England to have himself recognized as the lawful inheritor of the title. It was a very complex claim, and the Lords referred it to a special committee. After five years of investigation, the decision was that the claim had not been made out, but Mr. Bryan was free to come back if further evidence surfaced.

Bryan's claim was opposed by a James Fleming and his brother Henry. I have seen references to these two being of Dublin, but also to James Fleming being one of Her Majesty's counsel. I have two theories.

1. The Fleming claim was made by James Fleming, a brother of Captain Valentine Fleming, and thus the uncle of James Fleming QC and his brother Henry of No. 2 Charles Street.


2. The Fleming claim was made by James Fleming, QC, when he was a student or a recent graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and thus living there, and that the Henry referred to was Henry of No. 2 Charles Street.

The latter theory seems more plausible because of the ripple effect this claim to the Baronetcy of Slane had in the generation to which James Fleming, QC, Henry of No. 2 Charles Street, and their brother Sir Valentine Fleming belonged. There is no doubt that this is the right family, it's just a question of which generation went to the House of Lords.

Sir Valentine named his second son Henry Slane Fleming.

James Fleming gave each of his children the middle name of Francis, other than the one who was actually called Francis Fleming. One of his other sons was Baldwyn Fleming. In the history of the Flemings as Barons Slane, the names Francis and Baldwyn are both prominent.

The three Fleming boys, James QC, Sir Valentine, and Henry of No. 2 Charles Street, and their sister, Emma, were perhaps raised with many tales of Irish greatness swirling in their heads, on both sides.

There is a Baron Slane today, Colonel Cyril Woods of Ontario, Canada, who was born in Ireland. Some controversy apparently surrounds the granting of arms to Colonel Woods, but without taking sides in an argument I do not pretend to understand, I think it may be safe to venture that Woods's claim may be for a slightly different title. Others can argue about the types of baronetcies and the intricacies. I am over my head.

There's another Irish story about Henry Fleming's family, but it's not quite so romantic. Since it's St. Patrick's Day, I'll post that one next.


  1. It was James, QC, who tried to revive the title. He was successful with many others (eg Baron Latymer) but failed on his own family's account. A shame!

  2. Hello, I was wondering if you could tell me anything more about the controversy regarding Cyril Wood's being the baron of slane. He was best friends with my grandfather, who is since passed, and I would like to get a bit more information.


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