6.1. Alexander Standish[10A1]

6.1. (6) AS Birth, Childhood and Siblings

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


(6) Birth, childhood and siblings

1570/1. AS was born as the fourth of five (recorded) sons to Thomas Standish, Lord of the Manor of Duxbury, born c.1531 and designated Thomas(1) henceforth, and Margaret Hoghton, illegitimate but recognised daughter of Sir Richard Hoghton, Margaret(1) henceforth. AS was the elder of only two sons still surviving in 1577: Alexander and Leonard. DP397/21/12 establishes the situation at this time and sorts out the previous confusing situation caused by two Thomas Standishes marrying two Margaret Hoghtons, and when one of each died, Thomas(1) and Margaret(2), the two remaining, Thomas(2) and Margaret(1) married! Simple, really, but very confusing until these events became clear. The first Thomas Standish to die was AS’s father, in mid-1577, after which his mother Margaret(1) married widower Thomas Standish of Duxbury and Heath Charnock, Thomas(2), a quarter-cousin of AS’s father Thomas(1).

[All male Standishes of Duxbury now have PIN numbers, in 2013 rather definitive. Thomas(1) can be found on the Family Tree as Thomas[9A1, with his birthdate subsequently established as 1532; and Thomas(2) as Thomas[9D1]. From now on these PIN numbers have been added after every male named. 2013 HM]

In this document (text below under 1577) it is stated that this second marriage had been challenged and that Thomas(2) of Duxbury and Heath Charnock therefore wished to establish that his (step)sons were now in any case his heirs. It was at this point that half of Heath Charnock came to the family in Duxbury, a fact that was highly relevant when establishing Myles’s claims to various estates long after AS’s death. No hint is given as to why this marriage had been challenged, but one can only suspect that it was somehow connected with the religious situation, which was still in flux after Queen Elizabeth’s excommunication by the Pope in 1570. It was still being debated whether marriage ceremonies performed anywhere other than in the local parish church were valid, and a whole series of anti-Catholic laws were starting to be enforced. AS thus grew up with this background. Most importantly, he was a nephew of all his Catholic Hoghton uncles, whose story, as the traditional hosts of young Shakespeare, provides the background to ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’.

The following will serve to make the immediate family situation clear and sort out muddles in any previous account of the family. We need first to go back to Sir Christopher Standish of Duxbury[6A1] (?c.1450-1495), who had two significant sons from his second marriage to Alice, daughter of William Poole of Poole in the Wirral, Cheshire, i.e. two sons who survived, married, had sons and grandsons and stayed in Duxbury: Thomas[7A1] (b. 1480/1) and James[7A2] (b. c. 1485). All dates here and below are accurate to within a year or so, as reported in the family papers or deduced from surrounding dates in documents. (Myles Standish was descended from Sir Christopher’s third wife Alice, daughter of Sir Alexander Standish of Standish, a picture made clear - I hope - in my articles on Myles Standish.) The Poole kinship was to prove of great interest in connecting them to their immediate neighbours in the Wirral, the Stanleys of Hooton, kinsmen of Mary Arderne. These knights and a few thousand contemporaries were in the Lancashire and Cheshire armies at Bosworth under the Earl of Derby and many gentry descendants kept in touch by marrying their children within the same group over and over again.

Sons of Sir Christopher Standish and Alice Poole of Poole in the Wirral who stayed in Duxbury

Family A                                                        Family C, later D

Lords of the Manor of Duxbury

The cadet line

Thomas[7A1] (1480/1-1517/18)

James[7A2/7C1] (c.1485-1560)

James[8A1] (1501-1566/7)

James[8C2/8D1] (c.1512-1588>)

Thomas(1)[9A1] (1532-mid-1577)

Thomas(2)[9D1] (c.1535-99)


These names in themselves reveal the reason for previous confusion, and separation of all the Jameses and Thomases was only possible from the family papers. This leaves us with Thomas(1)[9A1] and Thomas(2)[9D1], both born in the 1530s and marrying in the 1550s. They were both great-grandsons of Sir Christopher[6A1], and therefore quarter-cousins, which in the 16th century made them close kinsmen, tied together even closer by marriages into the same local gentry families. All families descended from Sir Christopher were dubbed long ago as Family A, because to confuse the situation in the 16th century even further, there was yet another Thomas(3) Standish of Duxbury, whose family was dubbed Family B. He was descended from a much earlier younger son Hugh, who died at the siege of Harfleur (probably of dysentery, like so many others), but whose son Hugh went on to fight at Agincourt, where he was knighted. Both families knew their ancestry very well and left enough records of this (in the family papers and Visitation Pedigrees) to leave no doubt that they were correct. For the moment, however, we concentrate on AS’s father and stepfather.

Marriages and children of Thomas(1) and Thomas(2)

Thomas(1) son of James son of Thomas (b.1532), Lord of the Manor of Duxbury

Thomas(2) son of James son of James

(b. c.1535), living in Duxbury

= c.1557 Margaret Hoghton(1), daughter of

Sir Richard Hoghton

= (?date) Margaret Hoghton(2), daughter of

Thomas Hoghton of Pendleton

5 sons and 9 daughters (recorded)

No (recorded or surviving) children

Thomas(1) d. mid-1577, Margaret(1) survived him

Margaret(2) d. >1577, Thomas(2) survived her


Children of Thomas(1)[9A1], Lord of the Manor of Duxbury, and Margaret(1), daughter of Sir Richard Hoghton, in Chorley Parish Registers.

N.B. The first Parish Register starts in 1548, but there are no Standish baptisms 1548-52, complete gaps in the Register 1553-56 and 1599-1611 inclusive and no Standish burials recorded 1587-1611 inclusive. The following is the most plausible explanation of the extant entries, combined with details in later documents, mainly stepfather Thomas(2)’s document in 1577 (mentioned above, with the text below under this date) and his will of 1593, where all living children were named. In the second column, d = daughter, s = son, merely to establish the most likely order of birth of daughters 1-8 and sons 1-5/6.

[N.B. 2013. This list has been slightly re-arranged from the 2004 one, to put all more in order. HM] 




Buried young



d 1

1558 Sep 14


Married John Ogle


d 2

1559 Sep 24


Married Philip Mainwaring & Thomas Sergeant


s 1

1561 Jan 6

1561 Jan 15



d 3

1562 Apl 13


Married Christopher Longworth


s 2

1563 Oct 14

1565 Sep 29



d 4


1564 Oct 6

Might have been born earlier


d 5

1565 Jul 17

1571 Sep 30



s 3


1565 Nov 7

1 or 2 Thomases? Mistranscription of


s 4?




Alexander (A.S.)*

s 4/5

*1567 Nov 8


Son & heir, d. 1622


d 6

1569 Jan 14


Bap. at Standish, docs. 1593, 1622 and 1637, d. 1649 unmarried


d 7

1570 Oct 17

1580 Oct 30


Alexander (A.S.)*

s 4/5



*born ?1570/1, son & heir, d. 1622


d 8

1572 Jun 2

1572/3 Mar 8

Same problem as with the Thomases?


s 5/6

1573 Nov 28


liv. 1600, then disappeared

AS’s birthdate is established by his being ‘aged 29 years’ in the probate of his stepfather Thomas(2)’s will on 29 September 1600. (Farrer, VCH gives a brief summary of the will and probate in his section on Duxbury, vol. 6, p. 210, reproduced below under 1600.) [The full transcription and commentary is in 5.2. 1593 Will, Thomas[9D1] HM]. This would allow a birthdate at the end of 1570 or early 1571, but establishing the precise date is impossible and would be a mere quibble. The most important fact seems to be that his baptism was not recorded in Chorley Parish Register,* which in itself might be highly significant as far as his family’s religion is concerned, when put together with some of the appearances and non-appearances of Standish of Duxbury baptisms, marriages and burials at Chorley.

[An explanation of AS’s two birthdates asterisked* above: 1567 and 1570/1. The later one was still the one calculated/ accepted by HM in 2004, for reasons given above, with the 1567* baptism attributed to Alexander[10B2]. However, subsequent reconsideration leads to accepting the baptism in 1567 in Chorley as almost certainly that of AS. If the earlier date is correct, then the ‘aged 29 years’ in 1599 might have arisen as a mistake when referring back to similar information in previous settlements, which had been copied wrongly into the Will. Or a straight mistranscription somewhere along the line? This does not, actually, change anything very much, but it was the cause of much head-scratching. For better or worse, the 1567 date is used from now on. It also makes more sense for him to have been at Rivington Grammar School in 1575, when he would have been a more normal eight years old, rather than five. Normal school age at the time was 7-14. 2013 HM]

AS was almost certainly named after one of several local kinsmen with this name, and the strongest candidate is his uncle Alexander Hoghton (AH from now on), his mother’s brother, who had no son and heir (he left just one illegitimate daughter), and who was the host (by Hoghton tradition) of young William Shakespeare and the certain host of William Shakeshafte, named in AH’s 1581 will. (The only complete transcription so far of AH’s will is in Honigmann, 1985, Appendix A.) The discovery of this by Shakespeare scholars (first noted by E. K. Chambers in 1923) sparked off the controversy, still ongoing, as to whether Shakespeare was ever in Lancashire and therefore probably a Catholic. Anyone who watched Michael Wood’s recent telly series In Search of Shakespeare (BBC, 2003) saw him and Sir Bernard de Hoghton reading the original at Hoghton Tower and pondering over the William Shakespeare/ Shakeshafte conundrum. Sir Bernard is convinced that they were one and the same, Michael Wood is not, I am. Professor Honigmann has almost retired from this puzzle (but has provided many wise comments, and another article in the Shakespeare Quarterly, Spring Issue, 2003).

[Sadly, Professor Honigmann died in 2011. 2013 HM]

No doubt the debate will continue. We all agree that Shakespeare was a ‘slippery character’ and a genius at the same time. In the middle of this, it has become absolutely certain that AS was involved in one way or the other and that AH was his uncle.


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