6.1. Alexander Standish[10A1]

6.1. (24) AS 1592-3: Marriage and the First Child

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 (24) of (1) to (45) AS. [2013 HM]


(24) 1592-3: marriage and the first child

1592 May 30. AS married Alice Assheton at Bolton-le-Moors Parish Church, the youngest daughter of Sir Ralph Assheton, Bt. of Great Lever near Bolton and Whalley, and Joan Rat(d)cliffe (Visitation Pedigrees of the Assheton family and Registers of Bolton Parish Church). This is the first record that a Standish of Duxbury turned to a Protestant family for his wife. The Asshetons originated in Ashton-under-Lyne but already by this time were well on the way to adopting Assheton as the standard (and modern) spelling of their surname (as used by the current Lord Clitheroe, another Ralph Assheton). They were another of the leading gentry families of Central Lancashire. The male line at Ashton had died out half a century earlier with the death of Sir Thomas Assheton, leaving three heiresses, one of whom, also Alice Assheton, had married Sir Richard Hoghton and was the mother of Thomas ‘The Exile’ and Alexander ‘AH of the 1581 will’. Through this marriage the Hoghtons acquired half of the manor of Ashton-under-Lyne and still owned it at this time, finally selling out to Sir George Booth of Dunham Massey, the owner of the other half, in 1605. (All histories of Ashton give these details, including Farrer, VCH. I have been in contact for the last few years with two historians in Ashton, Roy Parkes, Blue Badge Guide, and Alan Bacon, historian of the Parish Church. I have great hope that they will unearth more local details that might allow a more realistic reconstruction of the several intriguing mysteries presented by Ashton: for starters, a former Globe Tavern, Shakespeare’s coat of arms in two stained glass windows and a bust looking suspiciously like Shakespeare. So far these have turned out to be red herrings, but fascinating ones nonetheless.)

The two senior Assheton branches at this time were those of Alice’s family of Bolton and Whalley, and the Asshetons of Middleton near Oldham. They were well aware of their common origins and just one of many examples comes from Nicholas Assheton’s diary. He was an Assheton of Whalley, who had meanwhile acquired nearby Downham Hall, where Nicholas lived (and Lord Clitheroe now does). Two entries from his diary for 1617 read:

Dec. 26 Word came that Sir Richard Assheton was very dangerously sick.

Dec. 27 I with my Coz. Assheton [Ralph Assheton of Whalley] to Middleton. Sir Richard had left his speech and did not know a man. . .

(Bagley, Lancashire Diarists, p. 8)

Sir Ralph, the head of the family at Middleton, was on his deathbed; luckily Nicholas of Downham and Ralph of Whalley arrived in time to be present at his death at 8 o’clock that evening. Ralph of Whalley was the brother of Alice, married to AS, who had been created a baronet by James I. There was one surviving younger brother Radcliffe, named after his mother’s Radcliffe family, who married “Elizabeth daughter of . . . Hide, citizen of London” and lived at Cuerdale near Preston; and two sisters, Jane married to Richard Towneley of Towneley, Esquire and another married to George Preston of Holker.

In marrying Alice Assheton, AS therefore strengthened his links to the Hoghtons. Not only was the earlier Alice Assheton of Ashton the mother of his Hoghton uncles Thomas ‘The Exile’ and AH, but the latter had married Dorothy Assheton of Middleton as his first wife. Also, AS’s mother-in-law was Joan Radcliffe of Winmarleigh, a cadet branch of the Radcliffes of Ordsall in Salford, families that very much stayed in touch and provided daughters for many local gentry families, many of them Catholic, and not a few sons and daughters who were later to hit Elizabethan headlines. (See quotes under 1599.) The current Earls of Sussex were Radcliffes, who maintained close connections with their kinsmen back in Ordsall, and their Sussex Players performed early Shakespeare plays. Father Conlan certainly saw the Radcliffes as significant somehow.

1593. AS and Alice’s son Thomas was born. There is no record of his baptism, but he was aged 29 at his father’s inquisition post mortem in 1623. Again, a baptism by Rev. William Leigh in the chapel at Duxbury Hall would be one possible explanation. This Thomas was to have a national career, and will be labelled henceforth as ‘Thomas the MP’ He was presumably named after his grandfather Thomas(1), whom he never knew, and Thomas(2).


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