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Hermann Fleury (senior)



Hermann Fleury

portrait painter


This portrait, signed "R. Fleury 1936", was painted by Hermann's eldest son
Robert Friedrich Fleury who was my grandfather



The following links to other pages of mine relate to Hermann Fleury's family:

Hermann Fleury junior life

Hermann Fleury junior postcard catalogue

Hugo Fleury life

Fleury family tree chart




Origins in Germany

( German words in red )

The earliest of my Fleury ancestors for whom I have been able to find records is Hermann's grandfather Germanius Fleury, Koch (cook) and Burger (citizen) of Stuttgart, capital of the state of Württemberg (now Baden-Württemberg), in southern Germany. I have the family record of Germanius from the Landeskirchliches Archiv Stuttgart (Württemberg Protestant Church Archive).

Parish records in Germany are held for each parish by the Catholic and Protestant Church authorities separately. I have not been able to acquire the Catholic records. Where Catholics appear in the Protestant record they are described as kath. The German parish records are recorded as family records which show a family headed by hausvater (housefather) and hausmutter (housemother) on a single sheet. Each event, birth, marriage and death, is added to the sheet over a long period of time. This makes it easier than with English parish records to be sure you have the right person. However, the records are written in antique German script which makes translation difficult.

Germanius is described as kath (Catholic) in his Stuttgart family record. He was born on 26th August 1777, but, unfortunately, his place of birth is not clear in the record, being near the edge of the sheet, but it looks very much like Lauffenberg. This town (modern spelling Laufenburg), at the time of Germanius's birth, was in the south-west of the German state of Baden in the Black Forest region, close to the border with Switzerland, and about 100 miles south-west of Stuttgart.

The ancient town of Laufenburg was built on both sides of the Rhine, which flows from East to West at this point, the two parts of the town being linked by a bridge. Thirty miles west of Laufenburg is the city of Basel and the border with France. South of the river was an area of valleys called The Fricktal which was bounded by alpine mountains to the south. As part of his rationalisation of national borders, Napoleon declared that the Rhine should henceforth mark the border between Germany and Switzerland. In March 1803, the Fricktal area, including the southern half of the town of Laufenburg, was awarded to the Swiss canton of Aargau, hence dividing the town between two nations. The northern half of the town remains in Germany in the modern state of Baden-Württemberg.

To find more information about Germanius it would be necessary to view the Catholic records for Laufenburg which, unfortunately, I have not been able to get hold of. All I know about Germanius's father comes from the Stuttgart Protestant record which does not name him but says he was Catholic, and Kunstgartner (gardener of flowers rather than vegetables). The move from Laufenburg to Stuttgart, sometime between 1777 and 1814, may have been made to escape a war-torn area during the Napoleonic wars. It has some resonance with the family story handed down to me by my mother that the Fleurys escaped from France at the time of the French Revolution, and that the name was originally "de Fleury". On 20th February, 1814, in Stuttgart, Germanius Fleury married Frederika Guckelberger. She was born in Stuttgart, daughter of Jacob Guckelberger, Perruckenmacher (periwig maker), and his wife Carolina.

New information about Gemanius Fleury

I have been contacted by Florian from Switzerland who is also descended from Germanius Fleury. He has managed to locate the marriage record (1814) for Germanius Fleury and Frederika Guckelberger in the Domkirche St.Eberhard in Stuttgart. I already had the family record for Germanius, but the marriage record has more information.

In the marriage document it says the groom was Germanus Wolheim, hier genannt (here named) Fleury. It is quite extraordinary. He appears to have used the marriage document to record a change of surname from Wolheim to Fleury. The document also says that he was a royal cook at court.

Florian has also located his birth record. He was born Germanus Wolheim in Hollerich, Luxembourg (not Lauffenberg) on the 26th August 1777, son of Claudius Wolheim and Margareta Zentner.

Florian has suggested a possible reason for this name change. The name Wolheim was a Jewish name. There were pogroms in the period of Napoleon's invasions and it is possible that he changed his name for his own safety either before or after moving south to Stuttgart.

I also have my own theory about the choice of the name Fleury. We know from his family record that Germanius's father was Kunstgartner (gardener of flowers). Perhaps he was known as "Mr Flowery" and so the surname Fleury was picked. This had one fortunate consequence for my grandmother. The name is French, not German. As a child, my mother and her siblings, growing up in London during WW-I, were told never to tell anyone that my grandfather was German. German families could be harassed and attacked.

I am very grateful to Florian for passing the new information to me. He is continuing the search for more.

Four children of Germanius and Frederika Fleury are recorded in the family record, the youngest being Hermann's father, Eberhard Germanius Friedrich Fleury, born in Stuttgart on 29th August 1819. Because the only persons described as Catholic in the family record are Germanius and his father, I think it likely that the Guckelbergers were Protestant, and that the children were brought up as Protestants. I really need to try to get the Catholic records to confirm this.

I have obtained the family record of Eberhard Fleury from the Landeskirchliches Archiv Stuttgart. In this, Eberhard is Messerschmied, Eisenhandler (cutler or knife-smith, ironmonger). The hausmutter (Eberhard's wife) is Veronica Schmalzer, kath, born 7th January 1820 in Frankenthal, which is a small town in Pfalz, about 100 miles north-west of Stuttgart, near the city of Mannheim. Veronica's parents are recorded as Philipp Schmalzer, Tuchmacher (clothier) of Frankenthal, and his wife Dorothia. The Schmalzers were definitely Catholic. Four of Veronica's siblings were baptized at Sankt Dreifaltigkeit Katholisch, Frankenthal (records from the IGI).

Eberhard Fleury had two children in Frankenthal with Veronica Schmalzer before they were married. Friedrich Fleury was born 28th April 1848; Hermann Fleury was born 2nd February 1850. Eberhard and Veronica must, subsequently, have spent some time in Havre because a third child, Jean Fleury, was born there in 1851, and the couple were married there on 19th February 1853. Hermann's record states that he was "legitimised" by the marriage of his parents. Later, in 1853, another child, Anna Luise Fleury was born. I have not been able to trace a place called Havre in Germany, so it may have been Le Havre on the north French coast. The family returned to Stuttgart, and a further five children were born there between 1855 and 1864. The parents both died in Stuttgart, Veronica in 1887 and Eberhard in 1891.

I know nothing of Hermann Fleury's upbringing in Stuttgart. The next event I have documentation for is his marriage at age 23 to Margaretha Elisabeth Schalck on 14th July 1873 in Frankfurt. Most of the German documents I have describe Hermann as Maler which means painter (of pictures, not walls). In the civil marriage record, which is witnessed by the signatures of Veronica Fleury and Friedrich Fleury (Hermann's mother and older brother), Hermann is described as Photograph in Frankfurt (Photographer in Frankfurt).

Included in the marriage notes are the birth record of Margaretha, and the death record of her father Peter Schalck, Bäkermeister (Master baker), both documents certified by the Catholic priest of Wicker, which is a small village between Frankfurt and Wiesbaden/Mainz. Margaretha and her father were born in Wicker. Margaretha's mother was Anna Maria née Zeitrager.

Ten days after Hermann and Margaretha were married, their son (my grandfather) Robert Friedrich Fleury was born, on 24th July 1873, in Frankfurt. I have found the record of this in the civil registry of Frankfurt Am Main, obtained through the LDS on microfilm. Two more sons were soon born in Germany: Carl Fleury probably in 1874, and Hermann Conrad Fleury in 1876. I have no German records for these births, but records in England give Mainz as the place of birth for Hermann Conrad Fleury.

All the people mentioned above appear on my Fleury family genealogy chart which can be viewed by clicking here.




Emigration to England

Soon after the birth of his third son, Hermann brought his wife, three babies, and mother in law, Anna Maria Schalck, to England arriving at Liverpool, probably in 1876. The family settled in Liverpool probably until about 1888/89 when they moved to Bradford, Yorkshire.

The first event I have in Liverpool is the birth of their fourth son Friedrich (Frederick) Fleury on 10th December 1878. On the birth certificate, the address is given as 64 Selwyn Street, Kirkdale. In June of the following year, Friedrich was baptized at the German Evangelical Church, Liverpool. The spelling is Friedrich in the baptismal record, but Frederick in the civil registration record. The baptismal record describes the father Hermann as portraitmaler (portrait painter) of 99 Houghton Road.

The fifth son Wilhelm (William) Fleury was born in Liverpool on 19th November 1879. The address on the birth certificate is 99 Hawthorne Road, Bootle, and the occupation of father is Artist. Wilhelm was baptized six months later in the same church as Friedrich. The spelling is Wilhelm in the baptismal record, but William in the civil registration.

The family is recorded in the 1881 census living at 99 Hawthorne Road North, Bootle cum Linacre, Liverpool. Hermann is age 31, Portrait Painter (Artist), Margaretta is 30, Anna M. Schalk is 65, and the children are Robert (7), Charles (6), Hermann (5), Friederch (2), and William (1), spellings here as they appear in the census. Germany is given as the birth place for all apart from the 2 youngest who were born in Liverpool.

On 25th May 1888, Hermann's mother in law died age 75 years at 28 Wordsworth Street, Liverpool. The address of Hermann (informant on the certificate) is given as 25 Wordsworth Street. The cause of death was hepatic cancer.

In the following year, the family moved to 252 Whetley Lane, Manningham, Bradford, Yorkshire, where on 9th August 1889 their only daughter Anna Margarate Fredricka Fleury was born.

The family is recorded in the 1891 census at the same address in Bradford. Hermann age 41 is Artist. Margaretta is 40. Robert age 17 is Artist. Carl age 16 is Commercial clerk. Hermann age 15 is Apprentice to artist. The preceding 5 are all recorded born in Germany. Frederick (12) and William (11) are Scholars born in Liverpool. Anna is age 1 born in Bradford.

The last child Hugo Fleury was born at the same Whetley Lane address on 23rd January 1893. The father's occupation on the birth certificate was Artist painter.

The next recorded event I have is the marriage of the second son, Carl Fleury, to Jessie Turner Learoyd on 18th July 1899, in Bradford Parish Church. The groom's occupation is Merchant's carrier, father Hermann Fleury, Painter (artist). The bride's father is Tom Learoyd, Manufacturer (retired). Jessie was born in Bradford. Her father Tom was born in Huddersfield.

The family (apart from Carl and Jessie) must have moved to London because they are recorded in the 1901 census living at 88 Pellatt Grove, Wood Green. Fortunately, the census enumerator has entered in the place-of-birth column, the towns within Germany for the four German-born people present. Hermann age 50 is Artist Picture Painter (at home), born Stuttgart. Margaretta is age 49, born Wicker. Robert age 27 is Art Student (at home), born Frankfort. Hermann age 24 is Art Student (at home), born Mayence. Frederick age 23 is Wood carver (at home), born Liverpool. William age 22 is Lithographic Artist, born Liverpool. Anna is age 11, born Bradford. Hugo is age 8, born Bradford. The house must have been either large or very crowded with three painters and a wood carver all working at home.




Art of Hermann Fleury

I have read that Hermann exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, at the Manchester City Art Gallery, and at a gallery in Bradford, but I have not yet investigated this. The National Portrait Gallery has one painting by Hermann Fleury. The NPG homepage is here. The reference number of the portrait is 3167.

The painting is oil on canvas, dated circa 1890, measures 17½" by 13½", and is not currently hung. The sitter is Hugh Owen Thomas (1834-1891), surgeon. Born on Angelsey, Thomas was a pioneer in orthopedic surgery. He advocated rest and immobilization for bone disorders and invented the "Thomas splint" which reduced mortality in the treatment of compound fractures of the femur. He studied in Edinburgh and London before joining his father in Liverpool, where he spent most of his professional life treating the poor.

I visited the NPG to look up Hermann Fleury in their library but found nothing in the books there. They do have a folder on him, but it had just 4 letters in it , all relating to the portrait. The earliest was dated 1943 from Maxwell Wimpole to the NPG:

Maxwell Wimpole
Bembridge Hotel,
11 Dorset Square,
London, N.W.1.
4th Nov. 1943.

H. M. Hake, Esq.,
National Portrait Gallery,
London, W.C.2.

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your letter of 1st inst. and am glad that your Trustees have accepted the portrait of the late Hugh Owen Thomas, I well remember when he and Mrs. H.O. Thomas sat for Fleury. This was for three-quarter length portraits. As to these Sir Arthur Probyn Jones could no doubt give you information and possibly also some about the artist. Sir Arthur is the son of Sir Robert Jones, who succeeded Hugh Owen Thomas in practice and who was a nephew of Mrs. H.O. Thomas.

I can only recollect that Fleury painted some other portraits in Liverpool round about 1889 & 1890. He was a Frenchman.

As an item of possible interest to you I should mention that Hugh Owen Thomas always wore the peak cap as portrayed to shield his left eye, which had been injured by a piece of coal entering it from a toy pistol fired by a boy. This picture was exhibited soon after Thomas's death in the window of a Liverpool art dealer. I have a hazy recollection that the artist had painted it for himself. My father bought it but his cheque was returned by the dealer on the ground that he had not been authorised to sell it at the price, which he had asked for it. But all turned out well as it arrived at my parents' house the following Xmas as a present from Sir Robert and Lady Susan Jones. As a likeness it is outstandingly good.

Mr. C.K. Adams wrote to me on 28th Sept. that your gallery could photograph the portrait and allow me to purchase prints. I should be grateful, if you could let me have six prints and let me know the price.

Yours faithfully,

(signed) Maxwell Wimpole

The second and third letters, both dated 2nd November 1949, are from G. K Adams of the NPG. One is to Frank Lambert, Director of the Liverpool Walker Art Gallery, asking if he has any information on H. Fleury, the artist of the Thomas painting. He explains that he wants this information for Sir Reginald Watson-Jones who is very shortly reading a paper on Thomas and wants to know something about the artist, and because of the urgency could he write direct to Watson-Jones. The other letter from Adams is to Watson-Jones himself, explaining he has written to Lambert.

The fourth letter, dated 3rd November 1949, is to Adams from Frank Lambert of the Walker Gallery, and says:

Dear Adams,

Thank you for your letter of yesterday. I am very sorry to say that we have again drawn a blank, for I have never heard of H. Fleury and he does not appear in the directories of about 1890. The local records department of the Library has no reference to him elsewhere and I do not know any other line of approach.

Yours sincerely,
(signed) Frank Lambert


I have located another portrait by Hermann Fleury, and it is of the same sitter Hugh Owen Thomas. I found out about it at the Witt Library in the Courtauld Institute, Somerset House. This library has a folder on Hermann Fleury which is even thinner than the NPG one. It has a single sheet of paper in it which is a photocopy of the second Thomas painting. This painting (below) is hung in a corridor at the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Hugh Owen Thomas

by Hermann Fleury

48" by 35"

This is the Royal College of Surgeons picture,
not the NPG one.

I went to see the painting. Apart from the head and hands the painting is very, very dark. Even from close up it is very difficult to make anything out in the rest of the painting. The painting is much larger than the NPG one. The pose is similar except the cap is missing, the cigarette is in Thomas's hand instead of in his mouth, and the painting is three-quarter length rather than head and shoulders.

The image above is of a print of a painting by Hermann Fleury. The print was published in 1899 by H. L. Riemschneider of 36 Great Portland Street, London, and was printed in Berlin. It measures 33 by 26 inches. I have not got a title for the picture, but my guess is that the subject is soldiers and sailors of the Boer War period listening to tales of siege and conquest from an old-timer. The image has been kindly provided by Bill Chapman of Norwood, Ontario, who informs me that it was originally hanging at the Armory in Peterborough, Ontario.

The image below is of a watercolour of a hunting scene by Hermann Fleury entitled The Presentation of the Brush to Ma'am.

The image below is of an oil by Hermann Fleury the subject being a boy with violin. (Image kindly provided by Shirley Rowarth.)




Later years

Hermann's sons were all married, but Anna remained single and lived with her parents (at 50 The Avenue, Bruce Grove, Tottenham) until they died. According to my mother, who remembers visiting them, Anna had a shop which sold dress materials. Hermann died in 1933 of pneumonia following influenza. His wife Margaretha died in 1936 of heart disease.

Robert Fleury (Hermann's eldest son) married a servant from Norfolk, Edith Emma Gould, in 1907, in Islington. The work Robert did included marquetry and mother-of-pearl work to decorate clock cases. They had seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Robert and Edith were my grandparents.

The second son Carl was already married and living in Bradford with his wife Jessie. He became a wool merchant. They had no children.

Hermann's third son, Hermann Conrad Fleury, was married in Marylebone, in 1905, to Frances Annie West, whose family were from Woodstock in Oxfordshire. Hermann (the son) was also an artist. He is known for coaching scenes which are reproduced in prints, and was also a postcard artist signing his work "H. Fleury junior". Hermann and Frances had no children. Click here for information about Hermann Fleury junior and his postcards.

The fourth son, Frederick Fleury, married his sister in law's sister, Emily West, in Islington, in 1920. He worked as a wood carver. They had one child.

The fifth son, William Fleury, married Jane Elizabeth Burrows in 1906 in Wood Green. He started as a lithographic artist, but later became a house decorator and woodworker. They had four children.

The youngest of Hermann's children, Hugo Fleury, married Henrietta Levy in 1923 in Edmonton. Hugo became a designer for Waterlow and Son. Some of his designs were used for stamps and banknotes. They had no children. Click here for information about Hugo Fleury and his stamps and banknotes.



Hermann Fleury at work


These images showing Hermann Fleury (senior) have been kindly provided by Phyllis Levy.