Source: “The Descendants of Stephen Flanders of Salisbury, 1626” Author: Ellery Kirke Taylor
Published privately: 1932 58th out of 150 copies (Boston Public Library)
Taylor finds that Stephen Flanders, Sr. came to America probably from Salisbury, England in 1646. He maintains that Flander's wife, Jane, was of European descent and and not a native American. I agree that the oft-repeated and much discussed Sandusky story is Flanders folklore (First heard it myself 60+ years ago from my uncle, Earle Flanders of Monmouth, Maine!). Stephen's oldest son was Stephen, Jr who had 5 other siblings. Jane died the year before Stephen died, so she is not mentioned with the children in his will which Taylor includes in full in the book. Taylor"s work comprehensively records 4 generations of Stephen's childrens' children, etc. The book is a big help to anyone trying to outline their Flanders family tree back through the 17 and 16 hundreds in America.
The identification of Salisbury, England as Flanders place of origin is based as much on theory as definitive documentation. Here is Taylor's argument. First a number of “planters” (landowners outside the village proper but not owning land in the village) who first settled in Salisbury, MA were from the Cathedral City of Salisbury, England. It was also customary for such groups to name their new home after their hometowns in Europe. The argument here is that Stephen Flanders was in that group, although not in the first wave of immigrants.
Taylor identifies two possible threads for the English family strand. (page 13) He also mentions a couple other more continental strands, but favors the Walter Beek de Flanders family as the most likely source of Stephen's blood and genes. The following is a direct quote from Taylor;s study.
“First, Walter Beek de Flanders, a Norman knight who came with William the Conqueror. Second, Ferault de Falandres, a gentleman of the Court of France who accompanied the Princess of Provence to England when she went to marry Henry III in the year 1239. A descendant of Ferault de Falandres (or Flanders) commanded the camp of the Royalists at the battle of Stamford in 1310. Later the representatives of this second line returned to live in France.
(Armorial de la France, Table des Families Nobles, 1874).
“The first line, that of Walter de Flanders, after a gap of a century seem to appear at the Manor of Flandres (or Flanders in Warwickshire. This is the Stratford–on-Avon country, with Rugby and Coventry as interesting county towns. The Warwickshire family first appear in the person of Gerard de Odingseles à Flandres, Lord of Maxstok, in the year 1174. He married Basilla, the great granddaughter of Hugh de Lindsey (or Linsey), a Norman baron of the reign of King William the Conqueror. Gerard á Flandres had three sons, to each of whom one title descended. Thus his eldest son William became Lord of Maxstok, the second son, Gerard de Odingseles, and the youngest, Hugh de Flandres, born about the year 1218 (From “The Lindescie and Limesi Families of Great Britain” by John Wm. Linaee, 1917).
“This Hugh de Flanders, County Warwick, is given by Sir Bernard Burke, in the General Amory, as the principal ancestor of the family in England, as follows: Flandres, Co. Warwick, temp. Richared II: descended from Hugh de Flanders, third son of Gerard de Odingsells, Baron of Markerstoke, Co. Warwick, in right of his wife, Basilla, dau. And heir of Geoffrey, Lord Lindsey, Baaaron of Makerstoke, temp. Henry II Visit. Leicester, 1619) <(Arms) Ar. A fesse gu. I chief three mullets sa.>
“This Hugh de Flanders was born in Maxstoke Castle over seven hundred years ago, but the castle is still in use today, (1932), although not in the Flanders family, the recent proprietor being Thomas Dilke, Esq. This fine structure sgands about one mile from the town of Solihull of Clesill in Warwickshire, and is encompassed with a moat. At each corner is a hexagonal tower with battlemented parapet. The gates are covered with plates of iron and the marks of the discard portcullis are still visible. In the walls of the court are yet remaining the caserns or lodgements of soldiery.
“Hugh de Flandres had a son Gerard do Flandres. Gerard’s son was William de Flandres, who married in 1291, Eleonora, dau. of John Bracebridge. There is thus a gap of 356 years between the marriage of Wm. de Flandres and the arrival in New England of his possible descendant Stephen, some 285 years ago. As Stephen has over a thousand living descendants, the large number in England today may be accounted descendants of William.
“The name in England is frequently encountered in Huntingdonshire and most frequently in Cambridgeshire where there were in 1890 as many by the name of Flanders as by the good old name of Jones (24 in every 10,000). A branch of the family, retaining the same coat of arms, changed the spelling of their name to Flanders. Thus in 1402 Margaret, dau. and co-heir of John Flanders (ar. a fess gu. in chief three mullets sa) of Co. Warwick, married Richard Whethill of Shepey, County Leicester. The name is included in Dooms Day Book (spelled Flandren in Latin) which makes it one of the “old families” in the British Isles.
“The crest on the coat-of-arms is that assigned to the family in “Fairbairn’s Family Crests,” the standard international reference work. The motto, “Patientia Vincit,” is that of the family of Hugh de Flandres’ mother. (see frontispiece.)
“In early times, before sur-names were in general use, the names le Fleming and de Flanders were used inter-changeably. Thus Baldwin le Fleming, 1124, had a grandson William de Flanders, who had a grandson Robert Fleming.”
Taylor's work illustrates the challenges of tracing family trees back across oceans and centuries. Consider the 356 years of absent documentation between Stephen, Sr. and William de Flanders. Also in places Taylor's own writing is unclear as to meaning. But I believe that he could be correct in assuming that in some cases, like that of Stephen Flanders, the best we can do is make some educated guesses. He seems to be searching for a family stock rather than an individual in Stephen's past. Maybe that is the best we can do. In any event it is fun to poke around. Oh, he also documents another old story that my uncle used to love telling - that Stephen was carried off a battlefield to safety in a pork barrel before stealing away to America. Taylor doesn't prove that Stephen is that person. I don't think we can either. But it made a good story!