6.4. Alexander Standish of Duxbury[11A4] (1604-1662>1664)

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.4. (5) A4 1624-1637: Early Career & Marriage

Nothing is known of Alexander Jr’s subsequent career or even his whereabouts between 1624 (when he left Cambridge with a BA) and 1637, when he was named in his brother Captain Ralph’s Will as having a wife (who, alas, will probably always remain anonymous) and a daughter Joan. (Full text in WILLS, 5.3.1637 Captain Ralph.) Among the list of bequests were the following:

My brother Alexander xxs

Alexander his wife xs

His daughter Joan xxs

One might presume that he was living locally at this time, particularly because he was appointed as an executor of the Will. One might also reasonably presume that he was in contact with his older sister Joan (given that his daughter shared her name and might even have been named after her), who had recently married (as her second husband) Christopher Ban(n)aster of Garstang (of the family of Banaster of the Banke), who was Vice-Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (he died in 1649). It is perhaps significant that Joan and Alexander were by far the longest living of the ten children of Alexander Sr, with Alexander Jr living until at least 1662 and Joan until 1669 (she is commemorated in Garstang Church). This may or may not have kept them closely bonded together throughout all the family tragedies.

At the beginning of this period we know something about his elder brother Thomas[11A1], and these events must have affected Alexander in some way. Thomas served as MP for Liverpool from 1625-26. Given that we know that Alexander was living in Liverpool in 1662, he might even have moved here already at this time, as a local support to his brother when he was sitting in Parliament. Thomas’s fellow MP was James Stanley, Lord Strange, the son and heir of William, 6th Earl of Derby, both of whom were living at the family seat at Lathom House, not far from Liverpool. In brother Thomas’s biography it was speculated that the two MPs might have returned home to Lancashire from London when the plague broke out again in 1625-26, and that this might also have brought ‘cousin’ Captain Myles Standish north from his fund-raising mission in London to visit his Lancashire lands and perhaps also to visit his Standish ‘cousins’ in Duxbury. In this case Alexander Jr would presumably also have met him.

James Stanley, Lord Strange obviously played a significant role in the Standish family, because some time before 1637 brother Captain Ralph Standish had given him a set of pistols (mentioned in his Will in 1637) as well as having given brother Alexander a sword. This seems to connect these three together in some military interests during the period in question. Later nephew Thomas[12A1] was to join Strange’s ‘trained band’ of militia, becoming a Captain before the outbreak of Civil War. Given these and later Stanley-Standish connections, it is worth devoting one paragraph to some of James’s activities during the period in question, and some of the later consequences.

In 1626 James went to The Hague, where he married Charlotte de la Trémouille, a French Huguenot in exile, related to the French royal family. Whilst there he met another exile, Frederick of the Palatinate, King of Bohemia for a short time, married to Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England and sister of Charles I, known as The Winter Queen since the defeat of their army at the Battle of the White Mountain near Prague in 1620. Their son was Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who was later to join James Stanley in the Royalist army and conduct the Siege of Liverpool in 1644 and the Lancashire campaign. In 1627 James’s mother Elizabeth née de Vere died and his father William, 6th Earl went into semi-retirement, handing over the family estates and responsibilities to his son and retiring to Chester with an annual income of £1,000. James, Lord Strange, was now the virtual head of the most influential family in Lancashire and Cheshire, and was in the anomalous position of being firmly Protestant, with a Protestant wife, but also firmly Royalist and committed to the Stuart monarchy. James shared the distinction with King Charles of having a French wife, although Charlotte was Protestant and Henrietta Maria was Catholic. James’s younger brother Sir Robert Stanley named his only daughter Henrietta Maria. (Robert died in 1632/3, MI in All Saints, Chelsea, Shakespeare’s Stanley Epitaphs, pp. 99-100, where, I am ashamed to say, I spotted giving the wrong date too late before publication. Errata p. 99: for 1622/3 read 1632/3.)

This political and religious ‘brew’ was soon to have dire consequences for the Stanley family and was also echoed in the Standish family. One can only guess at where Alexander[11A4] stood in this scenario during these years, but, as hinted at above, it seems more than likely that he shared the allegiances of his friend James Stanley, Lord Strange and later his nephew Captain Thomas Standish, rather than those of his brother Thomas the MP, later described as a “zealous Parliamentarian”. During this period brother Thomas seems to have left politics to one side, married a second time and had two daughters Elinor (born 1627) and Ratcliffe (born c.1629) and a son Gilbert (born 1631). Ratcliffe found special favour with her Uncle Ralph, as we can read in the relevant extract from his Will, written on 21 December 1637:

To my brother Thomas Standish xxs and to every one of his children except Ratcliffe xxs

I bequeath after my debts &c. are paied all the residue of my said goods &c. unto Ratcliffe Standish daughter unto Thomas Standish to bee putt forth for her use by my executors until shee come unto yeares of discretion

And I desire that my brother Standish shall have nothing to doe with it . . .

And I doe hereby constitute &c. my brother Alexander S. and Edward ffarneworthe of Duxbury bestoweing of them tenn pounds apece for their paines executors of this my last will not doubting but they will trulie execute the same according to my desire and trust in them reposed

As Alexander was an executor he presumably continued to have close contact with niece Ratcliffe. Alas, we do not know if she even survived “unto yeares of discretion”. No further record has surfaced of her or her sister Elinor.

Because of his appointment as executor, it might be presumed that he visited Duxbury at least once every year from now on to oversee the distribution of the bequests. The other sentences in his brother Ralph’s Will that mention A4 are in a paragraph mentioning various gifts that he had already bestowed on friends and relatives:

Memorand that theis goods hereafter menƈoned were given by Captaine Raphe Standish in his lyffe tyme by word of mouth vizt

To my Lord Strange one case of pistolls and a dragoone

To his sister Banaster one beaver hatt one fur’d coate one cadowe and a seller of bottles

To his nephew Richard Clayton one case of pistolls three muskets a target a leading staffe powder bagg and two other little peeces

To his brother Alexander his sword

To Edward ffarneworth a little ffilde bed

We have no idea whether he made any use of the sword in the field while his co-executor slept on his “little ffilde bed”.


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