The Madras College Archive


Former Pupil Biographies

David Hay Fleming (1849 1931)

FLEMING, DAVID HAY: Scotch Presbyterian; b. at St. Andrews, Scotland, May 9, 1849. He studied at Madras College, St. Andrews and then engaged in business (his family had a china and stoneware business, which he sold in 1883 to devote himself to the study of Scotch history.

In 1904-06 he was lecturer on church history in New College, Edinburgh. In theology he was an old school Presbyterian and a staunch Calvinist.

Among his writings those of theological interest are The Martyrs and Confessors of St. Andrews (Cup-Fife, 1887); Mary Queen of Scots from her Birth to her Flight into England (London, 1897); The Scottish Reformation (Edinburgh, 1903); and The Story o f the Scottish Covenants in Outline (1904). He has also edited Register of the Ministers, Elders, and. Deacons of the Christian Congregation of St. Andrews, Comprising the Proceedings of the Kirk Session and of the Court of the Superintendent of Fife, Fothrik, and Strathearn, 1669-1600 (2 vols., Edinburgh, 1889-90); A. F. Mitchell's Scottish Reformation (Baud Lectures for 1899, 1900); and Patrick Walker's Six Saints of the Covenant (2 vols., London, 1901).

David Hay Fleming was an eminent local historian, antiquary, and critic. His papers are eclectic in nature, including 16th century trades books, 18th century University records, 19th century local records, personal correspondence, household accounts, newspaper cuttings, and notebooks, with an emphasis on local and ecclesiastical history. A prolific writer, Hay Fleming kept many notes from his preparations for publications, as well as drafts of works. He was also keen to document St Andrews' history, copying many of the manuscripts contained within the town archive. Much of Hay Fleming's archive is composed of correspondence, with topics ranging from archaeological finds, architecture, and Scottish history, to bibliographical matters, genealogy, and breeding horses. Many of Hay Fleming's letters to W A Craigie (1867-1957) discuss the meanings and spellings of words. The 'St Andrews Standard Guide' was published for many years and was based on his research, describing him as 'The Historian of St Andrews'.

An independent scholar, and eminent local historian and antiquary, upon his death in 1931 Hay Fleming bequeathed his personal papers, letters, and notebooks, together with around 13000 books, to the town of St Andrews. They were to form the nucleus of a public reference library, with the proceeds of an endowment to be spent on works which would encourage and facilitate the study of Scottish history. The Hay Fleming Reference Library opened to the public in November 1936. Accommodated first in Kinburn House, and then at the Town Library, it was transferred into the custody of St Andrews University Library in 2000.


The 'Old Boys Chronicle' in the Madras College Magazine for December 1904 reports:

"The 'Old Boys' of earlier and of later standing are everywhere giving a good account of themselves. Even while it is impossible here to refer to all who are eminent, the names of a few may now be set on record as bringing every credit to their former school .... Dr Hay Fleming is every day adding to his established repute as an authority on Scottish History ..."

In 'The Madras College' Dr Thompson wrote:

"Dr Hay Fleming, whose writings did so much to encourage the scholarly study of Scottish history, is remembered by the library he built up and left to the town."