Lancashire History Quarterly Vol. 4, No. 1, March 2000 (pp. 20-26)

LHQ changed its format in 2000 from A4 to A5, with concomitant smaller illustrations and different layout. For a note on errata, etc. see Part One. Footnote numbers have been restored in this article below, as in the original, and the full text in the original notes given. The last few paragraphs, which had gone a little haywire in transmission, are now as in the original. Illustrations included in the original article were:

  1. A map showing Leyden, Ostend, Nieupoort, Grave.
  2. Early 17th century Dutch soldiers.
  3. Leyden Town Hall, old print.
  4. A Dutch city with canal and 17th century houses, old print.

 

PILGRIM FATHER CAPTAIN MYLES STANDISH OF
DUXBURY, LANCASHIRE AND MASSACHUSETTS

(Part Four)

 Helen Moorwood

LANCASHIRE TO LEYDEN

Part Three presented Myles's “new” birthdate of c.1587, his soldier father probably named Alexander, his baptism almost certainly at the Standish private chapel in Duxbury, his most likely attendance for some years at Rivington Grammar School, his continuing intimacy with his Standish relatives at Duxbury Hall, and his departure to the war in Flanders as a rather small young drummer in c.1601, most likely accompanying a relative, probably part of a Lancashire contingent in the English army recruited to aid the Dutch against the Spanish.

We know, from a brief biography written shortly after his death in 1656, that “in his younger time he went over into the low countries, and was a soldier there”. That is all that we know for certain about his military career in Europe, other than that he was later promoted to Lieutenant and Captain, but historical events provide parameters for a reconstruction, and details from his later life provide several hints.

If we are correct in sending Myles marching off to the Low Countries in mid-1601, it would probably have been as a result of recruitment for the Siege of Ostend. His eagerness to participate would presumably have been bolstered by his family's military tradition, their fervent Protestant beliefs and the news of the recent victory at Nieu(w)p(o)ort, which at last heralded the end of a long period of doom and gloom. The nineties had been a decade of depression, with poor harvests, soaring prices, high taxes, general unrest, a stale-mate and escalating costs in the war against Spain, and the constant threat of invasion from Ireland by the Spanish and Irish, which saw Alexander Standish of Duxbury at the head of 200 troops in 1596.(1)


Now, at last, there was a new victory. On 2nd July 1601, an army of 4,350, including 1,600 English under Sir Francis de Vere (1569-1609), won the battle of Nieuport, a few miles SW of Ostend. The cost was high - 800 English killed or wounded, including the death of a Capt. Duxbury,(3) presumably a Lancashire lad. The Spanish launched an immediate counter-attack and on 5th July, with 20,000 men and fifty guns, laid siege to Ostend, which was thereafter provi­sioned entirely by sea. All England rang with the praises of de Vere and an immediate recruitment campaign re­sulted in thousands of English flocking to Ostend over the summer.The Irish campaign of 1599 had been costly, bloody and a failure; Essex (1567-1601)(2) returned in disgrace and many English soldiers returned to Flanders with their commanders to continue the fight there. The only heroic and inspiring national event since the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 had been the destruction of the Spanish fleet at Cadiz in 1596 by Sir Walter Raleigh (1554?-1618) & Co..

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