FLEMING, Sir Daniel (1633-1701), of Rydal, Grasmere, Westmld.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 24/25 July 1633, 1st s. of William Fleming of Coniston Lancs. and Rydal by Alice, da. of Roger Kirkby of Kirkby Ireleth, Lancs. educ. Crosthwaite (Messrs Wheelwright and Radcliff) to 1639; privately (Mr Nathaniel Edgar and Mr Southwick); Irton (Mr Bartle) 1644; Penrith (Mr Thomas Milborne); Crosthwaite (Mr Sanderson) 1648; Bank (Mr Dodgson) 1649; Queen’s, Oxf. 1650-2; G. Inn 1652-3. m. 27 Aug. 1655, Barbara (d. 13 Apr. 1675), da. of Sir Henry Fletcher, 1st Bt., of Hutton Hall, Cumb., 11s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1653, kntd. 15 May 1681.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cumb. and Westmld. Mar. 1660-June 1680, Cumb. Nov. 1680-May 1688, Oct. 1688-d., Westmld. Nov. 1680-d., Lancs. 1663-Apr. 1688, 1689-?d.; commr. for militia, Cumb. and Westmld. Mar. 1660, oyer and terminer, Northern circuit July 1660, assessment, Westmld. Aug. 1660-80, Cumb. Aug. 1660-1, 1663-80, Lancs. 1664-80, Cumb., Lancs. and Westmld. 1689-90, sheriff, Cumb. Nov. 1660-1; lt. of militia lt. Cumb. and Westmld. Nov. 1660, capt. 1661, maj. 1668 lt.-col. 1674-Apr. 1688, Oct. 1688-1700, col., 1700-d.; commr. for corporations, Westmld. 1662-3; dep. lt. Cumb. and Westmld. 1662-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., Lancs. 1674-?Apr. 1688; commr. for charitable uses, Cumb. and Westmld. 1670, recusants 1675; freeman, Kendal and Lancaster 1684.2


Fleming’s ancestors had been powerful landowners in the north-west since the 12th century, and provided an MP for Carlisle in 1326. His father fought for the King in both Civil Wars, but since he had not yet inherited the Rydal estate he escaped with the comparatively modest fine of £160. Fleming was sent to Oxford during the Interregnum, where his tutor was Dr Thomas Smith, subsequently bishop of Carlisle, and his servitor Joseph Williamson, the future secretary of state. Pricked as sheriff in 1658, he was excused on the intercession of Charles Howard and his brother-in-law, Sir George Fletcher. He refused all office before the Restoration, nor would he accept the invitation of Sir John Lowther I to stand for Westmorland at the general election of 1660. On 21 May he proclaimed Charles II at Cockermouth, and as sheriff of Cumberland he was responsible for the 1661 election. He was proposed for the order of the Royal Oak with an estate of £1,800 p.a.3

Fleming’s reluctance to enter the parliamentary arena was not due to lack of either capacity or commitment, both of which he demonstrated at county level. A strong churchman and loyalist, he was an active militia officer and took a leading part in the repression of Quakers and other nonconformists. A competent antiquary, he was ‘so versed in the northern laws and customs as to be constantly requested by the judges of assize to sit as their assessor on circuit’. Moreover, his correspondence with Smith and Williamson kept him in touch with national politics. When the latter entered Parliament Fleming took the trouble to draw up a whole legislative programme. An Act was needed, he thought, to modify the law on church attendance, so that the fines might be diverted from relieving the poor, ‘who are little better for them’, to the public service:

namely, four-fifths to the use of the navy or herring fishery and one-fifth to the use of the train-bands in each county, to be divided among the officers (who have now no pay) and the soldiers for their encouragement. If all conventiclers were punished as rioters and their fines so disposed of, it would strengthen the King at the charge of his enemies.

Other measures that he proposed concerned legal fees, tithe, heralds’ visitations, and the establishment of county land banks and registers. Williamson commented:

Mr Fleming’s discreet and active care expressed in his letters is very well liked here, the King having had the reading of them. Indeed, we wants everywhere such steady, sober heads.

In 1675 he wrote to Williamson, listing all ‘the chargeable and troublesome offices’ he had held:

I shall not be so vain as to think I deserve anything of his Majesty, since I know the performances of subjects deserve no reward. There are few that have so good a friend as you at Court but they will be encouraged sometimes to act the part of a beggar... God having blessed me with thirteen hopeful children all living, and my estate being but small, I have as great reason to look after interest for the providing for them as many other persons.

His application brought no results, and in June 1680, after a quarrel with Lord Morpeth (Edward Howard), he was left out of the Cumberland commission of the peace, but soon restored on the intervention of Sir John Lowther III. He was presented at Court by (Sir) Christopher Musgrave on 15 May 1681 and knighted, an honour for which he had expressed little desire.4

Fleming appears to have played an active part in the quo warranto proceedings in the north-west in 1684, when he prevailed on the corporations of Kendal and Lancaster to surrender their charters. In 1685 he again declined an invitation to stand for the county, probably because with his large family he could not afford the expense, but he was returned on the Fletcher interest at Cockermouth. The contested election cost him only £10 5s. A very active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed to 18 committees, of which the most important was on the bill for the general naturalization of Huguenot refugees (1 July). At a meeting convened at Penrith by Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme) on 24 Dec. 1687, Fleming returned the same negative answers as Lowther on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. Sir Thomas Strickland urged him unsuccessfully to ‘consider if the best way to preserve the Protestant religion is not to comply with the King’. Lord Thanet (Thomas Tufton) offered him a seat at Appleby in the next Parliament, but he had found that ‘absence from home in London is very prejudicial to [my] large family of young children’. He never stood again, and sought to deter his eldest son William from accepting nomination for Westmorland in 1696, though he had taken the oaths to the new regime. He died on 25 Mar. 1701, and was buried at Grasmere. His son represented the county in three Parliaments as a court Whig, and was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1705.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Gillian Hampson / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Fleming Mems. (Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. Tracts, xi), 73-76.
  • 2. Ibid. 78-79; HMC Le Fleming, 27, 96, 174, 210, 355, 372, 378, 401-3; CSP Dom. 1673-5, p. 246; Eg. 1626, f. 7; Westmld. RO. D/Ry1124.
  • 3. Fleming Mems. 5-6, 71-77.
  • 4. Wotton, Baronetage, iv. 20; HMC Le Fleming, 31-32, 44, 168-9, 174; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 60; 1673-5, p. 521. 1681, p. 285.
  • 5. HMC Le Fleming, 209, 343, 401, 403; HMC Kenyon, 225.