Jamie Fleeman - by Duncan Harley

Jamie Fleeman lies buried at Longside churchyard. Alongside the usual information one might expect to find on a gravestone are his last words which read “Dinna bury me like a beast”.
Known far and wide as “The Laird of Udny’s Fool” Jamie was employed by a local laird who, alongside paying him to look after his geese, looked upon him as a kind of family jester.

Described as having a “large round head with dull hair that stood on end giving the impression he had been scared out of his wits", Jamie is specifically mentioned in various publications including the New Statistical Account of Scotland of 1845:
“No offence is meant by introducing here the name of an individual who had a county - if not a national - reputation, and whose printed memorabilia have gone through several editions. This was Jamie Fleeman, the Laird of Udny's fool, who flourished here about the middle of last century. His name appears frequently in the session's list of paupers and his sayings and doings have been a theme of wonderment to a generation or two.”

There are countless tales relating to the man including one where he exchanges greetings with a local dignitary who unwisely asks him where he is going one fine morning: “I’m gaun’ to Hell Sir” replies Jamie.

Later in the day the two meet again and the gentleman asks Jamie “What are they doing in Hell today Jamie?” Jamie replies “ Just fat’ there doun’ here Sir, is lettin’ in the rich foulk an’ keepin’ out the peer”. Not content with this answer the gentleman probes further “and what said the Devil to you Jamie?”

Jamie’s reply startles the man “he said nae muckle to me Sir; but he wis’ far sair’ about you.”
On another occasion when condescendingly asked "And whose fool are you?" Fleeman famously answered "I'm the Laird o’ Udny's feel. An wha's feel are ye?”
Jamie Fleeman died in 1778 at his sister’s house at Kinmundy. His last words were “I’m a Christian man, dinna bury me like a beast.” Despite this, he was buried in an unmarked grave and it took a further 83 years for his last wish to be granted.

In 1861, a handsome obelisk was erected over his unmarked grave at Longside. The cost of the monument had been raised in Aberdeen by public subscription and many of the subscribers travelled to the graveside on inauguration day to pay homage to a man who, to this day, remains more famous than the laird who hired him as his fool.

In a further twist, 
Bram Stoker refers to Jamie in his tale Dracula’s Guest: “there is nae sic another fule in these parts. Nor has there been since the time o' Jamie Fleeman, him that was fule to the Laird o' Udny.”

There are many more tales such as this in my book The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire - available from Amazon and @ all good bookshops.


Duncan Harley is author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire plus the forthcoming title: The Little History of Aberdeenshire - due out in March 2019

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