Lancashire History Quarterly Vol. 4, No. 3, September 2000 (pp. 12-18)

This article appears online here for the first time. For unknown reasons, when Phil Hudson transmitted the series of Myles Standish articles to Peter Duxbury, only Parts One to Five went through. Illustrations included in the original article were exactly as appear at the end, with apologies for the quality, after several photocopyings before the final scan (some time I will try to dig out my originals from the depths of some folder):

  1.  Isle of Man farm at the confluence of the (modern courses of the) Yarrrow and the Douglas. Photograph, George Birtill.
  2. John Smith’s map of New England.
  3. Duxbury Hall, circa 1905

 

PILGRIM FATHER CAPTAIN MYLES STANDISH OF DUXBURY, LANCASHIRE AND MASSACHUSETTS

(Part Six)

Helen Moorwood

MYLES STANDISH – ROSE, HIS FIRST WIFE

At the end of the last article (Part Five) we saw Myles and his wife Rose on the Mayflower, leaving Plymouth on 6 September 1620 after various previous inauspicious attempts, but now finally sailing towards the brave new world of Virginia. It was mentioned that his marriage to Rose was the only established fact from Myles’s ‘lost years’ 1609-20, and that her Christian name is all we know for certain about her identity.

As so often in Myles’s early story, we need to piece together a little jigsaw puzzle from hints and clues, whizzing backwards and forwards over the centuries, to discover a little more about Rose. This means that we must embark on a detective story about Rose before we can continue with the Atlantic crossing. We have no idea when they married, but if Myles was abroad soldiering for most of his ‘lost years’, and as they had no children with them on the Mayflower, one might assume that hey had married not too long before the voyage. It would have been natural for Myles to wish to take a wife with him, as there were not going to be too many chances of finding one in America.

Myles’s own name is one of the clues, and three others are family traditions about Rose, which were passed down orally for over two centuries before being recorded in writing:

  1.  She was somehow related to Myles (a cousin?),
  2. she was somehow connected to the Isle of Man (married Myles there?) and
  3. she was related to his second wife Barbara (a cousin? a sister?).

Could the name Myles have come from an earlier generation of Rose’s family, thus giving some relationship?

When we paid a sick-visit to a hospital in Leyden in late 1601, it was suggested that the “Myles Stansen” who died there might well have been Myles’s namesake uncle. The name Myles never appeared in other Standish families, which indicates that one of the three previous generations before our Myles must have married the daughter of a Myles, or at least into a family that had members with this name. If it really was his Uncle Myles who died in Leyden, then the likelihood is that our Myles’s grandfather or great-grandfather’s wife was the one to introduce this name into the Standish family, so one would need to hunt for a family with one or more Myleses in the first half of the 16th century. This in itself would not take us very far, as there were so many with this name in the area; but at this point we can call again on Mr Bromley, whose bungling led to so many disasters: the souring of Anglo-American relations, the invention of the ‘Manx Myles Myth’ and the loss of Myles’s portrait, to name but a few.

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