6.1. Alexander Standish[10A1]

6.1. (16) AS 1580-1: A Few Local and Continental Events

Helen Moorwood 2013

N.B. By clicking on the coloured title you can return to the original articles written in early 2004 and placed by Peter Duxbury on A Duxbury Family Website in March 2004, where it still is, under:

Helen's Story: from Duxbury to Shakespeare. The story of William Shakespeare's Lancashire Ancestry, by Helen Moorwood

10. The Biography of Alexander Standish

N.B. Most of this still stands, but where appropriate the 2004 version is now updated below by interspersed commentary in square brackets and italics. Some reformatting was necessary, and the occasional typo – whether by Peter or myself - has been silently corrected. Asap a shorter narrative version of his biography will appear, based, of course, on all details and documents in this file. Meanwhile, this is part (16) of (1) to (45) AS. [2013 HM]


(16) 1580-1: a few local and Continental events

1580 June. Thomas Hoghton ‘The Exile’ (AS’s uncle) died in Flanders and AH, TH and other Hoghton brothers back in Lancashire established a most peculiar trust fund. (Transcript and all references in Honigmann, 1985, Appendix A.) This Thomas Hoghton ‘The Exile’ is notable, not least because he built Hoghton Tower and his story takes him from Lancashire to the Spanish Netherlands, where he stayed (1569-80), despite the visit of an envoy in 1575 (brother Richard Hoghton of Park Hall in Charnock Richard) bearing an entreaty for his return to England from Queen Elizabeth. Whilst he was in exile he was a good friend of Cardinal William Allen, who had taught at Stratford Grammar School (c.1563-5) and been paid for his services by John Shakespeare, Chamberlain. He went on to found the school at Douai in 1568. The precise details of Thomas ‘The Exile’’s will, death, burial and memorial, the subsequent history of his reburial, etc. have been investigated by Sir Bernard de Hoghton, current owner of Hoghton Tower, but not so far published. The most accessible brief biography remains the one by Honigmann, Shakespeare: the ‘lost years’, 1985, 1998, Chapter II: Hoghton of Hoghton Tower.

In June 1580 many people (including Queen Elizabeth’s ministers) knew that the Catholic Mission to England under Jesuits Robert Parsons and Edmund Campion was on its way and about to land at various ports. The story of this mission has been told and published repeatedly by Catholic historians, the biographies of all involved appear in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and during the last few decades, some of these details have been noted by those interested in ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ (including Honigmann, of course). If young William Shakespeare did spend a couple of years with the Hoghtons, he must have arrived around this time at the latest, aged 16, to fit in the traditional two years before he impregnated Anne Hathaway in August 1582. 1580 would, in turn, have presented one opportunity when AS, aged 10 [13], might have met the (already budding?) Shakespeare at one of his Hoghton uncles’ houses.

1580 June. Edmund Campion arrived and during the next year spent much of his time in the North; he was in Lancashire between Easter and Whitsuntide 1581. After his arrest later this year he was reported as having left his papers at Richard Hoghton’s house, Park Hall in Charnock Richard, and having stayed with other locals, including Bartholomew Hesketh, AH’s brother-in-law, which led to their houses being searched. No papers were found. Were they hidden in another Hoghton house? Might they still be discovered? If so, this would be the best chance of throwing more light on surrounding events. Robert Parsons was the other leader of the mission, who stayed mainly in the south, eluded arrest and returned to Rome. He was later (1611) allied with Shakespeare by historian John Speed as “this papist and his poet”. Parsons was also very much concerned with the question of Elizabeth’s successor on the throne, and among his favourites were the Earls of Derby, first in the person of Ferdinando, 5th Earl, who died, apparently poisoned as a result of the Hesketh Plot of early 1594, and later his daughter Ann, who might be married to a Catholic prince. She wasn’t (she later married Lord Chandos). The main point here is that these are events that AS must have been very aware about during his tender years and later.

1580was also the year when Ferdinando, Lord Strange (born 1558/9) and Alice produced their first daughter Ann (born in May 1580) and brother William Stanley (born 1561) was on the first of his extended journeys. This first journey was just to France and Spain. The French visit is totally undisputed, as a letter has survived, written in the Loire valley in mid-1581 (reported in all Derby literature). The next part of his story, as related in prose and ballad, has been constantly disputed, and so we will barely meet this William again until his marriage in January 1595. AS, one might presume, knew about all these events in the Stanley family, as all the local gentry paid regular visits to Lathom Hall and Knowsley Hall whenever Earl Henry was in residence. (The only records that have survived are 1587-90. in the Derby Household Books, but no one would dispute that similar visits must have taken place during preceding years.)

1580, 30 October. “Margaret Standish” was buried at Chorley Parish Church. This might have been the fifth daughter of Thomas(1), although all other young children in the register are named as “son” or “daughter of”. She was certainly dead by 1593, however, as she was not named in Thomas(2)’s will, in which his wife Mrs Margaret was. We might assume, therefore, that from now on AS, aged 10, grew up with his younger brother Leonard and four older sisters, this number of surviving siblings staying constant for the next two decades.

One of the documents that has recently surfaced (via Jonathan Sheard, dated 26 June, 23 Elizabeth) states that Thomas Standish(2) and Margaret Hoghton(1) had a daughter Margaret from their second marriage: “Margaret begotten by the said Thomas Standish”. It is basically a repeat of the 1577 document, but now taking into account this new daughter and any other possible future children and grandchildren from this marriage. We know from Thomas(2)’s will of 1593 that his hopes for more children and grandchildren “begotten from his own body” were never realised. Perhaps the most interesting details are the incredibly detailed provisions that so many locals were taking around this time to ensure the inheritance of their estates. Anyone who has ever made a will and testament will understand this, quite simply because most people have usually wanted their own children to be the main beneficiaries. In the light of AH’s will (following below) my nose smelt a rat in the names involved in this particular document.

Indenture tripartite, 26th June, 23 Eliz. = 1581/2

Between Thomas Standysh of Duckesbury of the one party,

Edward Standyshe of Standish, William ffarington, Richard Chisnall and Richard Shuttleworth of the seconde party and

Thomas Houghton of Brynscoles in Wheelton and Alexander Rigby of the Burgh of the third party.

(Signed by all concerned.)

(This is the briefest possible abstract, and I have taken the liberty of adding a few commas. For the moment the sole repositories of this rather large document in February 2004 are Dr Jonathan Sheard in Norwich and myself in Bavaria. A full transcription will follow in due course, but I predict that it will actually add very little to the biography of AS.)

1581, 3 August. Catholic uncle AH wrote his will, proved 12 September 1581. This was the ‘smoking gun’ for the ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ controversy and enters AS’s story because he was AH’s nephew and almost certainly inherited his Christian name and certainly all the same relatives, if nothing else. The full text of the will and related documents appear in Honigmann (Shakespeare: the ‘lost years’, 1985, 1998, Manchester U.P., Appendix A) and any reader interested in this controversy will have to read this and Honigmann’s comments and conclusions sooner or later. AH’s will of 1581 included the same trust fund of 1580, to be paid twice yearly to eleven of thirty ‘servants’ named, which included, most intriguingly for Shakespeare researchers, William Shakeshafte, Fulk Gyllome and his father (?) Thomas Gyllome (they turn up later as father and son in Chester, and Fulk went to the Hesketh household at Rufford). A full commentary in the light of more recent documentary discoveries and claims and objections by others post-Honigmann will appear in my Shakespeare book, but all Honigmann’s conclusions in 1985 about the peculiarity of certain details in AH’s will of 1581 stood then and will continue to stand on very solid foundations.

[The complete text of A.H.’s 1581 will, with commentary by HM, will appear asap on this website in the folder LANCSTRIAN SHAKESPEARE. 2013 HM]

In the context of AS’s biography, the main interest was the names of the thirty servants and others in AH’s will. All surnames, apart from Gyllom, were local names; Gyllom stuck out like a sore thumb, as an obvious Welsh name (Gyllom = Welsh for William), with apparent confirmation of their Welshness from their Chester connection. This name led Enos (2000) to pursue other Gyllome/ Guillim names in Shakespeare circles. One of the local names was Dugdale - a relative of Sir William Dugdale’s father? Sir William was another 17th century antiquarian and herald, and after the Restoration, as Norroy King of Arms, he was to take a great interest in AS’s family in the hunt for Myles Standish’s ancestry. His biography in the DNB indicates that Dugdale senior departed for Oxford around the time of AH’s will, where he stayed on in many capacities, moving to Warwickshire later in life. Dugdale junior was a staunch Royalist during the Civil War. His father must have known many of the Lancashire schoolboys who studied at Brasenose, a partially Lancashire foundation and producer of several Stratford schoolmasters and Catholic and Jesuit priests. One of these was John Cottam, the Catholic schoolmaster at Stratford Grammar School (1579-81) from Lancashire, whose brother suffered the same fate as Edmund Campion. Intriguingly, when he was arrested, he was on his way to Shottery near Stratford with messages for the Debdale family, who had also sent a son abroad for his education. John Cottam had left Stratford in a hurry at the beginning of this year, and Honigmann sees this as perhaps not unrelated to his brother’s arrest and almost certainly identifies the ‘John Cotham’ in AH’s will. He remained in Lancashire, an openly practising Catholic and tutor (Honigmann, 1985 devotes a whole chapter to him and reprints his will). Enos claims to have identified three others in the list as Catholic priests (personal communication).

One of AH’s supervisors was “my dear friend” Edward Standish of Standish, whom we met above. Others in the list have been identified as long standing ‘servants’, but without discovery of their religious allegiance. However, the presence of so many Catholics in the household of a known Catholic family, the very peculiar provisions, the openly expressed suspicion that the authorities might try to meddle in the fulfilment of the provisions, all seem to add up to a picture that includes staunch Catholicism. It is certainly not a straightforward will with the intention of rewarding long-standing retainers, because nineteen of the thirty receive no bequest at all, which makes it a puzzle as to why they were mentioned in the first place. This definitely falls into a category dubbed ‘strange wills = peculiar circumstances’.

Of most interest to AS’s life is that his stepfather Thomas(2) does not appear in AH’s will, which may or may not be a hint that AS’s family had by this time conformed. However, AH’s attorney in another case soon afterwards was Robert Swansey of Brindle, gent. (Honigmann, 1985, p. 140) and he appears to have lived in a Standish of Duxbury house in Whittle-le-Woods soon afterwards, as exemplified by the following abstracts from the Standish of Duxbury Muniments:

4 & 5 are copies on one sheet of paper, made c. 1590, by Robert Swansey, with notes that originals delivered to Thomas Hoghton, esq. late father to the now Lord of Hoghton.

Grant: Richard Howghton, kt., to Robert son of Adam of Clayton - his half part of 7 acres of waste lying between the new intacke of the aforesaid Robert and the Blackbroke and ditch next to Haliwall Syke in Whitthull in the Woodes - annual rent: 2s 4d. of silver.

Witn:- John Farington, John son of Adam of Clayton, Richard of the Croke, John of Leyland, Ralph of Kerden, etc. At Whitthull in the wuddes, Sat. bef. Epiph. 22 Ric.II. 4 Jan. 1398/9 (Catalogue: DP397/24/4.)

Grant: John Butler of Rawcliffe, kt. - his half part of premises as 4; grantee and all other particulars as 4. (Catalogue: DP397/24/5)

Both 4 & 5 refer to property that c. 1590 was called Swansey House, according to endorsement.

Later in life AS was to be closely allied to his uncle TH of Brinscall, later of Hoghton Tower and Lea Hall as AH’s brother and heir, and TH’s Protestant son and heir Sir Richard Hoghton. (These are “Thomas Hoghton, esq. late father to the now Lord of Hoghton” in c.1590 below.) Later still, however, AS was to reveal in his will that at the end of his life he had but one favourite first cousin, Bridget Stanley, daughter of his uncle Leonard Hoghton, who had married into a Catholic Stanley family and was herself a known and fined recusant. We have no idea where this leaves AS during his schooldays, but he must have been as confused as any other 11-year-old as to what the future (in religion and education) might hold for him, and was presumably currently being submitted to the rigours of Nowell’s Catechism (written by a friend of the family, Alexander Nowell from the family at Read Hall near Burnley) and Lily’s Latin Grammar being thrust down his throat. (The complete and detailed curriculum of Rivington Grammar School, as prescribed by Bishop Pilkington in 1566, has survived and appears in full in Kay’s history of the school. This gives us a fairly complete picture of AS’s life six days a week for most of the year, as long as he was in attendance.)

As Anthony Burgess delightfully wrote in his Shakespeare biography, this was mainly Latin rather than English:

School was grim. Those bottom-worn benches were no beds of roses, though Lilies lay on the desk. . . To learne to wrytte doune Ingglisshe wourdes in Chaxper's daie was notte dificulte. Nobody rapped you for orthographical solecisms, for there were none. Anything went, from Queen Elizabeth downwards.

(Burgess, Shakespeare, 1970, Vintage pb. 1996, p. 28.)

1581 also saw a round up of recusants in Lancashire, possibly including Sir Thomas Hesketh of Rufford, another vital person in the ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ story. There is some uncertainty whether it was in this year or 1584, or both, that he was incarcerated. (Yet again, Honigmann, 1985 relates this story, with full references.) The round up certainly included many Standish gentry relatives, including John Towneley of Towneley.


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