6.1. Alexander Standish[10A1]

6.1. (38) AS 1622: Last Will and Testament

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


(38) 1622: last will and testament

1622, 31 March. AS wrote his will. (L.R.O. WCW Alexander Standish 1622.) There were few surprises in it, despite the fact that it was “too large to copy” (personal communication from the Lancashire Record Office), which resulted in the following notes made on a subsequent visit during perusal of the original MS. Everything was kept in the family. Its main function for posterity was to provide a complete picture of his nearest and dearest still living.

- He wished to be “buried in the chapel of Chorley above the steppes at the south of where my wife be buried near the north wall of the said chancel”. (This was to lead to a dispute with the Charnocks, see below).

- He first named “my manor and lands of Duxbury, Heapey, Whittle Woods, Heath Charnock and Anlazargh (Anglezarke)”. The first three were the core of the ancient Standish of Duxbury estates; half of the manor of Heath Charnock had come to him from his stepfather and AS had purchased Anglezarke c.1600 from William, 6th Earl of Derby.

- He appointed as executors “Rauffe Ashton, Rauffe Standishe, William Farrington and William Leighe”. Rauffe Ashton was his wife’s nephew, the current incumbent at Whalley Abbey. Rauffe Standishe[11A3] was his third son, which perhaps reveals that Richard[11A2] the second son was living away from home at the time? This is more than likely, as he appears in no further documents and had died before 1637 when brother Ralph wrote his will. This is the Richard that everyone else until now assumed was the future Colonel - he wasn’t, but just disappeared from records until he was buried at St Laurence’s as “Mr Richard Standish” in 1628 “the last day of August”. William Farrington was the current incumbent at Worden Hall, whose grandfather had been ‘Comptroller’ of the Earl of Derby’s household at the end of the previous century. William Leighe was presumably his friend the Vicar at Standish, although it is surprising that he is not given his title. (Perhaps he was a relative.) On the other hand he had been a family friend for so long that they must have been on Christian name terms, everyone knew this, and ‘Rev.’ was superfluous.

- “Standish, Langtree and Worthington”, with a “yearly value of one hundred pounds” was left “to Thomas Standishe my sonne and heire apparant and his assigns,” etc. for “Ann Standish wyffe of the said Thomas for the length of her natural life,” etc., “jointure and dower of the said Ann”. This estate in Standish, Langtree and Worthington was based on Bradley Hall, where they had been living since their marriage. Bradley was one of the original estates, a possession dating back to the early 14th century, when the first Standish established himself in Duxbury. A modern Bradley Hall still exists, but in the middle of an industrial estate (in which I managed to get myself locked in at closing time, until the security guard let me out). Ann was to die a few months later, but AS, of course, did not know this.

- “Concerning all my lands here distant in Scotforde, Burrow, Lancaster and Longton and all those lands, tenements”, etc. “in Goosnargh lately purchased of Sir Richard Houghton, and all lands”. etc. “in Heath Charnock which I lately purchased of Thomas Broadhurst, Clerke” . . . “to son and heir apparant Thomas”, etc., “then to Christopher Banastre of Grays Inn, Middlesex and Thomas Sargand of Denton, Co. Lancaster”. Scotforth and Burrow are near Lancaster and these estates had come into the family on AS’s grandfather James’s marriage in 1526 to Elizabeth Butler of Rawcliffe. Longton, near the Ribble estuary, had come to him from his stepfather. The important point is that all lands named in this clause of the will were among the most recent acquisitions, and AS seems to have been operating on the principle ‘last to come, first to go’. “Christopher Banastre of Grays Inn” was to become the second husband of AS’s eldest daughter Joan, who at this time was married to John Clayton of Crook (presumably Crook Hall in Clayton-le-Woods). In 1622 Christopher was an up and coming lawyer, who was later to achieve a prominent rank in the administration of the Duchy of Lancaster. His story was commemorated on a tablet in Garstang Parish Church, where he and Joan lived, and his story will be told in the biographies of AS’s children. “Thomas Sargand” (Sergeant) of Denton has not been identified as a relative. Perhaps he was another lawyer friend? [He has since become a likely candidate as the second husband of AS’s sister Jane and thus appears as such on the Family Tree. However, as he seems to have played no further significant role in the family, this is of minor importance. 2013 HM]

- “Bradley Hall” . . . “Standish, Langtree, Worthington”, and “Scotforth, Burrow, Lancaster, Longton, Goosnargh, Heath Charnock to be sould”. One can only deduce from this that AS, in consultation with his lawyers, sons, daughters and sons-in-law, decided that they would all be happier to have the money rather than the lands, to invest where they thought best. – “Whittle Woods and Heapey to be leased for three lives.” As mentioned above, these were among the heartlands of the original Standish of Duxbury estate and the Standish of Duxbury Muniments show that AS had taken a very personal interest in these. The catalogue of DP397/24/1-7: Whittle-le-Woods allows the tracing of some of this history from c.1290-1605. DP397/11/1-16: Heapey similarly allows the tracing of this history.

- “Richard Standishe, Rauffe Standishe the younger and Alexander Standish the younger my younger sonnes each and equally each yearly rent charge of £33, 6s 8d at Pentecost.” This is the Richard[11A2] who disappeared for six years after this without leaving a will, so we will never know what he spent his money on. He was presumably “Mr Richard” buried in 1628 at Chorley. We know where some of Ralph’s went: he bought a sword and a set of pistols, which in his will in 1637 were left to his brother Alexander and James, Lord Strange, who presumably used them a few years later in the Civil War, both on the Royalist side.

- “My sister Ellen Standish . . . £20 a year.”

- “Son in law John Clayton, Esq., unto the said Christopher Banastre and John Aynsworth . . . for one messuage and tenement in Heath Charnock in the possession of George Croston.”

- Son Thomas had a debt of £200 to AS, £100 on 20 April 1619 and “£100 for plate, beddings, house, when he went to live of himself at Bradley”.

- “My grandchild little Thomas Standishe two of the best pieces of plate: a crystal cup and the best salt.”

- “My daughter Ann Standishe” “seven(?) hundred pounds and yearly £20.” This seems a large amount, but it might have already become obvious that she would not marry, and would remain in charge of the household.

- “My daughter Clayton and husband £40.” This was Joan, married to John Clayton.

- “My daughter Ashton £10.” This was Alice, married to John Ashton.

- “My sister Ellen £10.” (Maybe he forgot he had already awarded her much more than this, with an annuity of £20?)

- “My cosin Bridgett Stanley the best white bowle of plate that I give for remembrance.” Two lines later she appears as “Briggitt Standley - for the money of her children, portions”.

This is the only real surprise in the will. Out of his dozens of Hoghton cousins - not to mention all his cousins and half-cousins from other families - he named only one. Bridget was the only daughter of his uncle Leonard Hoghton of Grimsargh. She married first Edward Stanley of Moor Hall near Aughton, one of several Stanley branches scattered around South Lancashire and North Cheshire, descended from younger sons of the junior line of the Earls of Derby or the senior Stanley line, their kinsmen in Hooton in the Wirral. There is no doubt about this marriage, not least because their children were baptised at Ormskirk Parish Church, all labelled fairly clearly (if idiosyncratically on occasion) as children of Edward Stanley of Moor Hall in Ormskirk Parish Register. We know that she had been a resolute Catholic, because she appeared on a recusant list in 1593/4.

Bridget Standley, wife of Edward Standley, lately of Moore-hall in the parish of Aughton, gent. £100 fine.                                 (Recusant Rolls, 2, 1593/4, (Ed.) H. Bowles, Catholic Record Society, 1965.)

This indicates that something or someone was “lately”, and records prove that it was husband Edward, who had died in 1590. So in 1593/4 Bridget was living as a recusant widow with her children, and her recusancy was apparently known widely enough for some local official to report this, which resulted in the fine. Whether she actually paid it or not we do not know.

19th and 20th century accounts of the Stanleys of Hooton around this period tend to go a little haywire, because several sons were not mentioned in Visitation Pedigrees and often two of the same name (particularly various Williams and Peters), but of different families, were confused. The most plausible explanation for this is the existence and career of Sir William Stanley[Generation 10] (1548-1630), ‘The Adventurer/ Traitor’, military commander of the English Catholic forces in exile, who had surrendered Deventer to the Spanish in 1586 and had been in the pay of the Spanish ever since (his basic biography is in the DNB). His younger brother John was also living in exile as a Jesuit, therefore considered by the senior administrators in Elizabeth’s and James’s governments as another ‘traitor’. Meanwhile, back in Cheshire and Lancashire, all those who stayed behind (whether Catholic or not and whether they regarded Sir William and brother John as an Adventurer, a Traitor or anything else) were desperately trying to avoid confiscation of their lands, a constant threat merely because of their blood ties to ‘traitors’. This they could not deny, but they seem to have avoided mentioning their association with Sir William in public records as often as possible. This is another perfect example of what seems to have been a veil of secrecy (not conspiracy) drawn over the complete split in the family as to how they should behave and react in private and public to their religious views, their allegiance to the monarch of England, and all the schisms created by the Counter-Reformation. Some Stanleys of Hooton were fighting for their lives, one at least for a foreign power, some for their religious beliefs, some for retention of their estates in Lancashire and Cheshire. Sir William ‘The Traitor’ was the nephew of Edward and William of Moor Hall, all about the same age, because the last two were late younger sons of Sir William[Generation 9]. All that has survived from this period is what was contained in public records. One can only suspect that these present the mere public tip of a private iceberg of constant anguish about the future.

Extant public records reveal at least the following story. All authorities in the 17th to 20th centuries agree that Bridget’s husband Edward was the son of Peter Stanley, a younger son of Sir William Stanley of Hooton[Generation 9], some time Sheriff of Cheshire (b. ?c.1495). For the moment we can forget about other confusing Peter Stanleys of Moor Hall, and concentrate on those obviously known to AS during his lifetime. The most important was Edward, son of Peter Stanley, who married AS’s cousin Bridget Hoghton, whom he remembered in his Will. The most important aspect of this marriage is that a Hoghton daughter married a Stanley son, thus cementing yet again all the ancestral ties between the Hoghtons and Stanleys (with AS and his family involved at one remove).

This much was clear long ago after reading published histories of the Earls of Derby, the Stanleys of Hooton, the Hoghtons and Standishes. The main puzzle was how so many previous recorded details of the family at Moor Hall had been overlooked. Hope in finally sorting these out is at hand, in the form of a magnificent Stanley website-in-the-making, by Brian S. Roberts. This gives details from the will and Inquisition post mortem of William Stanley of Moor Hall, Edward’s brother.

[Since 2004 this website has been my main source of Stanley details. You will find many references and acknowledgements to it and Brian in my book on Shakespeare’s Stanley Epitaphs. 2013 HM]

Edward died in 1590 (which explains the “lately” in 1593/4) and widow Bridget married his brother and presented him with a son and heir Peter in 1599. William wrote his will and died on 30 March 1610, revealed by his Inquisition post mortem on 9 October 1610, in which appears “Bridget, his wife who survives him” and “Peter, his son and heir, who was married in his father’s life time to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Woodfall, is now aged 11 years, 2 months and 13 days”. This was an arranged child marriage. So at last most of the pieces of Bridget’s life have been put together. She must have been the fourth and last wife of Edward before marrying William and was a widow for the second time when she was named in AS’s will.

This one glimpse of Bridget in his will indicates that AS, even if himself Protestant, certainly had contact with Catholics - indeed, it would have been difficult to avoid them. Family links seem to have been more binding than religious views. One can only surmise the bond that made him single her out. Perhaps he and brother Leonard had often visited Uncle Leonard as children and, as he had no sons, had regarded AS and Leonard as his closest blood relatives in the next generation, and had remembered AS in his will? Or perhaps she and Alice had got on well together when they visited each other? We will never know. We do know, however, that AS had a close bond with a cousin married to two uncles of two “traitors”. At the end of his will he also gave £15 for the poor in some of the parishes where he owned estates.

The other slight surprise is that he did not mention Countess Alice, when she was living almost next door to him. For this, we need to read his Inquisition post mortem. She is, however, mentioned in the will of Rev. William Leigh in 1639 (Porteus, 1927, p. 103). Countess Alice had presented him with a silver gilt bowl before she died in 1637, which he bequeathed, “a gift from Countess Alice”, to his brother-in-law Edward Wrightington of Wrightington, yet another who had received a dedication and an epigram from John Weever in 1599.


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