6.1. Alexander Standish[10A1]

6.1. (12) AS Fr Thomas Conlan’s Letters re ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’

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


(12) Thomas Conlan's letters re 'Shakespeare in Lancashire'

The Haydocks caught the interest of Thomas Conlan, a Jesuit priest (1912-2002). One highly relevant Haydock detail spotted in his search for ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ in the 1960s, was that one daughter by Sir Richard Hoghton’s third wife Elizabeth Gregson was Bride (Bridget?), who married William Haydock, son of Vivian (=Evan?) Haydock, and cousin to Ven. George Haydock (the one whose ghostly head floated in front of his father’s eyes), who was an in-law of Cardinal William Allen, who has become a key figure in the ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ story.

This Haydock part of Fr Conlan’s ‘news’ reached me posthumously, buried in the middle of nine letters written in 1967 to Peter Milward in Tokyo, who never quite knew what to do with them, mislaid them until rediscovered in a pigeon-hole in May 2003, which resulted in two photocopies flying round the world to Carol Enos and myself. I would love to be able to report that they arrived via pigeon-post, but of course they came more normally, via airmail. They became an important part of another ongoing story, with copyright problems still to be resolved.

Fr Conlan was a Jesuit priest, who died in May 2002 in a nursing home in London, very deaf and almost blind, aged ninety. I think I managed to convey to him via his carers that his work on Shakespeare had not been unappreciated, and that the ‘missing link’ for ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ had been discovered. During the 1960s and 1970s he undertook an enormous amount of genealogical research in an attempt to trace Shakespeare’s route from Stratford to Lancashire, mainly via the Arde(r)n(e)s. This was largely as a support to the rather recent early publications by Peter Milward, also a Jesuit priest, and appointed to a teaching post in Tokyo. Father Peter (as we decided I should address him) subsequently became Professor of English Literature at Sophia University in Tokyo, founder of the Renaissance Institute in Tokyo and the leading authority in the world on Catholic Shakespeare. The latter ‘fact’ had always been apparent to him from The Works. He has published about five hundred articles and books, many on ‘Catholic Shakespeare’, but the one that has received the most attention and references was the seminal Shakespeare’s Religious Background (1973). At that time and for two decades, this was judged to be interesting, but generally dismissed by Shakespeare academia as partisan. This situation did not change until the late 1990s, with the upsurge of interest in ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ inspired largely by the conference at Lancaster University and Hoghton Tower in July 1999, which produced a large amount of local and (inter)national publicity.

For the moment Carol and I remain the sole repositories of copies of these letters. The sequence of events over the last few months was: we received copies from Father Peter’s pigeon-hole in Tokyo in May 2003; Carol typed her interpretation of the handwritten text onto her computer and sent a printed copy to me in June; I checked her version against the handwritten copies and was able to help in the interpretation of many place-names. I sent a copy back to her, covered with comments and in July added various handwritten footnotes on my copy. Since then we have both been just too busy with other matters to put all these details together. Our joint enterprise was first destined to appear (perhaps) as an appendix in my Shakespeare book, but might well appear on an appropriate web site before then and before the course at Alston Hall in August 2004. Before this might happen, however, we need to clarify copyright details, obtain one missing page from Father Peter, reproduce family trees, etc.. We believe that they will be of great interest to several others and they certainly contain the names of many of interest to AS.

[These letters have (in theory) been sitting in our computers ever since, although a computer crash caused its little problems. They will appear asap on this website. 2013 HM]


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