Guild of One-Names StudiesPurpose

This website will show some of the progress and results of my research into the Fleming surname, a one-name study registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 1999.

 What is a one-name study?

I started by researching my genealogy. I discovered the names and dates of our ancestors and created a family tree. Yearning for more I gathered photos, newspaper  items and letters, any piece of information that helped reconstruct their lives and tell our family story.

A one-name study goes a step further and seeks to gather all the genealogies and other references to a single surname and it’s alternate forms, worldwide. We also create ‘big data’, data which has been aggregated, tabulated, charted or mapped to help us analyze and understand the history and geography of the surname as it travels through time and place.

For the Fleming surname, it’s not been done this way before.

Scope and Strategies

The Guild suggests the ultimate size of a study where the surname originates in the England and Wales can be estimated by multiplying the number of persons in the 1881 England/Wales census by seven and with just over 8,000 persons, Fleming falls into the 7,000 – 30,000 mid-size study range …. just in England/Wales. Ancestry.com suggests there are also 6,000 Flemings in the 1881 Scottish census and 31,000 in the 1880 US Federal census not forgetting the many who migrated from countries other than England and need to be added to the Guild study estimate. So the numbers get quite large.

Each study develops their own approach depending on the estimated size of the study; the number of countries involved; the availability of records and number of human hours or lifetimes available.

In the beginning I started by collecting Fleming references from around the world. It wasn’t long before I realised that without discovering how these lists interconnected I would only ever have many lists of ‘Fleming references from around the world’.

I resolved to be much more systematic, begin with the questions that inspired me to explore and gather the relevant record sets first: nineteenth and early twentieth century United Kingdom (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales); record transcriptions and family reconstruction.

I still have the lists but merge them into birth, marriage, death and census inventories of persons in each country and then add information from other sources relevant to each record. Typically sourced from parish registers, certificates, newspapers, books and your correspondence.


There are and have been a lot of people with the last name Fleming and the above image illustrates how I keep track of the various levels of information surety and ensure each event is ‘claimed’ by only one family. Here the base file is the General Register Office (GRO) index to marriage records in England and Wales. For each marriage record, spouse and location is added when discovered (white row). A green row indicates a full transcription of the register or certificate. Tan rows have been identified non-Anglican marriages and the only way to get full details is by purchasing the certificate. Another column (out of view) has all the source notes for each addition to a record. Finally a tree code is added when the family has been identified or reconstructed.

It’s all good fun! The tree code is matched to the family reconstruction in Legacy Family Tree  and to the full transcription stored in another database.

A number of these constructed Fleming indexes can be freely searched in the Guild Data Archive.