FLEMING, John (1747-1829), of Gloucester Place, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 1747. educ. ?Edinburgh. unm.
Asst. surgeon E.I. Co. (Bengal) 1768, surgeon 1771, head surgeon 1786; member, medical board 1786, pres. 1800-11; MD Edinburgh 1804; res. Nov. 1813.
According to his will, Fleming was an orphan brought up by a maternal uncle John Cleghorn of Granton in Cramond, Edinburgh, brother of George Cleghorn, professor of anatomy at Trinity College, Dublin, several of whose nephews were encouraged to take up medicine. Fleming himself entered the Indian medical service in 1768, aged about 21, and by 1786 was a junior member of the newly established medical board at Calcutta. He eventually became president of the board in December 1800 and held that post, with an interval of furlough, 24 Dec. 1802-31 July 1805, until 17 Dec. 1811, when he again returned to England on furlough. He retired on 10 Nov. 1813 after 40 years’ service. He had invested in East India Company stock.
Fleming was a keen scholar and naturalist and contributed to several journals, but the only individual memoir of his that is known is the Catalogue of Indian Medical Plants and Drugs, published in Calcutta in 1810 and later translated into Dutch and German. He corresponded with Sir Joseph Banks the naturalist and sent him specimens from India for his collection. He was also a member of the Medico-Botanical Society of London.1
At the election of 1818, Fleming was brought into Parliament for the pocket borough of Gatton by the owner Sir Mark Wood, together with Abel Rous Dottin,
under a clear understanding that both these gentlemen were friendly to government. Lord Liverpool having heard that Mr Fleming was an opposition Member, I [Wood] waited on Mr Fleming who assured me that there was no truth in the report.2
Despite this, Fleming was a frequent voter with opposition. He joined them in favour of a committee on the Bank, 2 Feb. 1819, and for adding Brougham to it, 8 Feb. He was, predictably, named for the committee on epidemics, 11 Feb. He was in the minority against the Windsor establishment, 22 Feb. He voted for a review of the criminal law, 2 Mar. He supported Admiralty retrenchment, 18 Mar., and opposed the royal household bill, 19 Mar. On 1 Apr. and 6 May he voted for burgh reform. True, he voted with ministers against Tierney’s censure motion on 18 May, but he was in the minorities against delays in Chancery, 20 May, and against the foreign enlistment bill, 3 June (again, by pair, on 10 June). In the ensuing session he joined the minorities of 20 and 23 Dec. 1819 against the newspaper stamp duties bill and the blasphemous and seditious libels bill. Such conduct sent him elsewhere in search of a seat in the next Parliament.
Fleming died 17 May 1829. By his will (proved on 26 May) he left bequests in excess of £80,000.3