6.1. Alexander Standish[10A1]

6.1. (35) AS 1605-22: Widowerhood

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


(35) 1605-22: Widowerhood

1605-1622. Few documentary records of AS appear in the family papers during this period, but his will of 1622 and Inquisition post mortem of 1623 reveal his most valued relatives and friends and the names of many of his tenants.

Letter: the King to Alexander Standish, requiring him to pay £20 to James Anderton, esq., collector for the King (Printed). 31 July 1605. (Catalogue: DP397/16/6.)

This was one of King James’s many attempts to replenish the royal coffers. It also identifies James Anderton’s role at the time. I assume for the moment that he was most likely the same James Anderton whose name appears in several other Standish of Duxbury family papers written in Lancashire and London, but this family and name appears in many local areas at the time.

Receipt: for £200: for moiety of manor [of Whittle-le-Woods]. 1605. (Catalogue: DP397/24/7.)

Why would he wish to sell this? At the moment this is a question with no obvious answer, unless he needed the money for something else. Jonathan Sheard’s document of 1603 reveals that AS had sold this to Sir Richard Hoghton two years earlier. A comparison of the text of these two documents might shed more light, or maybe this was just the second payment.

One interim conclusion from AS’s dearth of references in Lancashire during this period, and at least two visits to London (see below) might imply that he was more often in London than Lancashire after the death of his wife. Mixing in Shakespeare circles? Dallying with Countess Alice, whose current marriage to Baron Ellesmere seems to have been a little stormy? It seems that he was not at home on a certain day in 1613.

1613. In this year Richard St George, Norroy King of Arms 1604-23, undertook a Visitation of Lancashire. His main duty, as usual, was to visit as many gentry families as possible, ascertain from previous Visitation Pedigrees, family papers, and actually interviewing the head of the family, whether or not they were entitled to bear the coats of arms they used. (His Visitation Pedigrees survived in Harleian MS volume 1437 and were printed by the Chetham Society Old Series, vol. 82, 1872.) What a pity AS was not at home that day; if he had been and had given all details in 1613, to add to the VP presented by his father in 1567, it would have saved a lot of muddles during the following centuries.

Part of the Standish story in this year is clear. Two ‘new’ Standish families presented their pedigrees for the first time: the Standishes of Burgh in Duxbury, quite straightforward, descended from Thurstan, a younger brother of Standish of Standish; and the Standishes of Walton-on-the-Hill near Liverpool, also descended from a younger brother of Standish of Standish. Also for the first time Standish of Duxbury Family B presented their pedigree, Colonel Richard’s family, although he was only a teenager at the time. This was also quite straightforward for the three generations still alive, who presumably all knew who they were, who they were married to and the names of their children. They were a cadet branch descended from Sir Hugh at Agincourt; in the middle of all their lineal ancestors named James and Hugh they missed out two generations at the top end (their existence emerged from the family papers), but otherwise were accurate.

The problem came with AS’s family. Either he really was not at home that day, or found it unnecessary to pay money to confirm a coat of arms that his family had borne for three centuries, or some other explanation. Whatever the reason, he did not present his pedigree, and it was to be Sir William Dugdale in 1664/5 who tried to establish it (after AS’s male line had died out). Dugdale’s version of the descent stops at his father Thomas(1), married to Margaret(2), with neither AS nor his children appearing. Dugdale was obviously as confused as everyone at the time and ever since about two Thomas Standishes of Duxbury marrying two Margaret Hoghtons and then one of each, as widow and widower, marrying each other.

When I first read this VP I immediately smelt a rat, and the smell ultimately lead to the source of this in the 1577 document above, which sorted out the situation in this year. It became increasingly obvious that Dugdale’s interest in recording this VP was not to establish a right to a coat of arms for Family A (the males in Duxbury were all dead), but for some other reason, and the only plausible explanation (given the date of 1664/5) was that he had been asked to investigate the position of Myles Standish in this family and the Standishes of Standish, in the middle of Myles’s son Alexander continuing to claim one of his father’s rightful inheritances (the lands named in Myles’s will). Dugdale never succeeded, but this is now irrelevant, because the (almost) complete story has emerged from the family papers.

I exonerate Colonel Richard from any suspicion of skulduggery in 1664/5 and later, not least because he and his second wife had both died in early 1662 (burials in Chorley Parish Registers). The main sources of complicity, conspiracy or whatever else in denying Myles his hereditary due lie in the history of the staunchly Catholic and Royalist Standishes of Standish (perhaps aided and abetted by the staunchly Royalist Sir William Dugdale), who presumably had no desire to lose some of their lands to a distant cousin in a Puritan settlement in New England, who had no thought of returning to Lancashire. They had suffered enough from sequestration during the Civil War and during the Restoration period were still licking their wounds, but hoping to re-establish their estates.

Back to AS. Maybe he was lucky, in one sense, to die in 1622 and be spared the knowledge of the destiny of his children and grandchildren, kinsmen and friends, fighting against each other in the Civil War. The main muddles about his family came when Farrer was writing his history of the family for the Victoria County History (c.1906) and Porteus writing everything he could find about Myles Standish and other Standishes (c.1914-40s). I emphasise yet again that they both did a magnificent job and no future version of any Standish branch of the past can avoid a thorough reading of all their works. The main muddle came because neither realised that Family A and Family B in Duxbury were two different families, they both assumed that there had been some mistake and that they were actually the same family, with one version inaccurate. They did not, of course, have access to the family papers, which (to repeat ad nauseam) had disappeared from Duxbury in the 1830s [or already in the 1780s?] and only turned up in London in 1965.


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