6.1. Alexander Standish[10A1]

6.1. (5) AS Sources for Alexander’s Biography

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


(5) Sources for Alexander's biography

Until now AS’s longest biography was the one in the Victoria County History of Lancashire, (VCH).

[Thomas Standish of Duxbury] died in 1599, leaving a son and heir Alexander, twenty-nine years of age . . . Alexander Standish seems to have had the family manors granted to him as early as 1583. He died in 1622, leaving a son Thomas, twenty-nine years of age. His will was proved in 1622; to his ‘grandchild little Thomas Standish’ he left ‘two of the best pieces of plate, viz. a crystal cup and his best salt.’ The family had become Protestant.

(Farrer, VCH, Vol. 6 (c.1906), p. 210.)

Farrer was (of course) accurate in these reports of dates and provided many other vital references to surrounding documents. His brief history of Duxbury still stands (for me) as the most accurate so far and I salute him. However, it requires supplementation and change in the light of the resurfacing of the Standish of Duxbury Muniments.

He also made frequent reference to Kuerden’s MSS, which survive in nine bound volumes, one of which Farrer had in his possession (now in Manchester Central Library), the others scattered between the College of Arms and Chetham’s Library. A brief biography of Richard Kuerden (1623-90?), a Lancashire antiquarian from near Preston, and a brief history of his works and their current locations is available at Chetham’s Library, ref. MUN.C.6.1-3. A brief summary is that Kuerden amassed a vast collection of transcriptions of extant documents, copied in a crabbed hand (which everyone who has ever read complains about as being more difficult to read than the original MSS - a bit offputting!), envisioning a publication from these of the first ever history of Lancashire, along with fellow antiquarian Christopher Towneley of Towneley Hall, Burnley (died 1654), which was never realised. (I understand their problem: when you have amassed such an enormous amount of information, where do you start? This formidable task was finally undertaken in the early 19th century by Baines, another remarkable character, with a biography in the DNB.)

These two also worked in close conjunction with two other antiquarians, Roger Dodsworth of Yorkshire, who married a Hesketh daughter of Rufford Old Hall, and Sir William Dugdale of Warwickshire (his father was from Lancashire), Norroy King of Arms 1660-77. These were crucial years for the last Visitation Pedigrees of Lancashire and Cheshire during two visits in 1664 and 1665, the period when Myles’s son Alexander was still pursuing his claim to Lancashire estates. Biographies of Dodsworth and Dugdale are in the DNB, which concentrate mainly on their erudition and publications, but are missing many relevant details from the Lancashire end of their stories. Just two of many details missing, but of great relevance to AS’s family, are that Dodsworth visited Duxbury Hall and recorded the inscription of the memorial of Baron Langton (died 1605, memorial moved from Wigan Church, who will loom rather large below in AS’s biography) and that Kuerden was the right hand man of Sir William Dugdale during his visitations of Lancashire and Cheshire in 1664-5. Into this ‘Early Modern antiquarian Lancashire hotpot’ of relevance for ‘Duxbury to Shakespeare’ we can also throw John Le(y)land (family from Leyland and visited Lancashire in the 1530s) and William Camden, who was involved in a few Shakespeare details in London c.1600 after visiting Lancashire to write his history of Britain and before going on to write a biography of Queen Elizabeth (a copy of which was on Myles Standish’s shelves). And for good measure let them be joined by Christopher Saxton from Yorkshire and John Speed from Cheshire, who produced such wonderful maps of Lancashire (and other counties) in the 1560s and 1610s respectively. Together they present a formidable knowledge of Tudor and Stuart folk and sooner or later they all appear in AS’s story and ‘Duxbury to Shakespeare’.

Kuerden’s MSS have survived but remain unpublished. If they are ever transcribed and published, maybe a few more details about AS will emerge - or not. At the very least they will produce more details about other families and documents in Lancashire deemed interesting by Kuerden. The expert on him at the College of Arms is Thomas Woodcock, current Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, whose grandfather wrote the history of Haslingden, which includes most of the details of the Holdens who enter the story. (These remain peripheral to AS, but more than one Holden daughter married into relevant families, and they were the key to understanding the origin of the Darwen Duxburys in Holden territory.) It was Norroy Woodcock who provided relevant details of MSS at the College of Arms concerning the Shakespeare and Arderne arms. His book The Oxford Guide to Heraldry (Oxford, 1988) is the main source for quotations concerning heraldic laws and particularly valuable as not only a completely new history by a herald, rather than a regurgitation of previous histories, but also because it provides so many details of Northern families held at the College of Arms. It also contains many gorgeous reproductions in colour and invaluable lists of the dates when various heralds held various offices.

Other details of AS have appeared in local publications, particularly T. C. Porteus, A History of the Parish of Standish, 1927, but AS’s story, as presented below, emerged mainly from the family papers, the Standish of Duxbury Muniments. These were not available to Farrer or Porteus, because they had disappeared from Duxbury in the 1830s, when the male line at Duxbury Hall finally died out, and did not reappear in Lancashire until 1965, when they turned up in the Portobello Bookshop in London and were bought by the Lancashire Record Office. They were subsequently calendared in twenty-six pages by an anonymous archivist, now included in Volume DP (=Deeds Purchased) 397 in the Lancashire Record Office. These remain unpublished, but are available to any visitor to the L.R.O. Photocopies of the catalogue and most of the original MSS relevant to AS, Colonel Richard and their families are on my shelves, ordered and received in batches over the years, as one story after another seemed potentially relevant. The vast majority are agreements with tenants and rather prosaic, but buried in the middle were a few gems, to which I refer below.

No documents relating to Myles Standish’s or William Shakespeare’s potential youth in Lancashire have emerged, or at least not surfaced so far, and any reconstruction of their early biographies is thus based on later reports and traditions from descendants of relatives, friends and neighbours. AS’s biography is based on the reverse situation: very few traditions survived into the 19th century, but many of his family documents did. One or other of these situations applies to several others important to AS, who therefore appear below, most importantly Countess Alice, William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, Rev. William Leigh, and a clutch of contemporary Hoghtons, Standishes of Standish, Asshetons, Gerards of Bryn, Ince and elsewhere, Radcliffes of Ordsall and elsewhere, Egertons of North Cheshire and elsewhere, etc..


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