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

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.4 (2) A4 Birth and Early Years

He was born in 1604, the last son born to Alexander Standish[10A1], Lord of the Manor of Duxbury, and Alice Assheton, daughter of Ralph Assheton of Gt Lever near Bolton and Whalley Abbey. They had married in 1592 and, it seems, had a very happy marriage, which produced ten children. Sadly for Alexander, the tenth and last child, his birth led shortly afterwards to his mother’s death. Unfortunately we do not have the dates of birth or baptism of Alexander himself and several of his older brothers and sisters. Some of them had been baptised in mother Alice’s childhood parish of Bolton, and some of them perhaps in a private chapel at The Pele in Duxbury, records of which have not survived.

The Pele in Duxbury was where his parents lived all their married life and where all their children grew up. The building of Duxbury (New) Hall still lay in the future. The position of The Pele on the north bank of the River Yarrow can be seen clearly on a map produced during his father’s lifetime (Saxton, 1577) and another one produced during Alexander’s own lifetime (Speed, 1611). This had been the home of his ancestors for three centuries, starting with Hugh[1A1], who had moved there from Standish via Heapey around 1300 and, it is generally assumed, built a ‘peel tower’ near the mill for protection against the Scots. They were starting to maraud again and in 1322 reached as far south as Chorley (Heyes, History of Chorley, p.15).It was precisely because of these regular incursions that Peel Towers were built all over Lancashire and the other Northern Counties, many of them still standing today. Gradually, Hugh’s descendants took over the Manor of Duxbury from the Duxburys of Duxbury, and by 1524 the takeover was complete when a Standish (albeit a Standish of Standish) bought Duxbury (Old) Hall, in the south of the township, with the last of the Duxburys of Duxbury moving to Orrell, near Wigan, the home of their new stepfather. The Duxbury of Duxbury story is on the Duxbury Family History Site. The Standish descent as Lords of the Manor of Duxbury can be seen most easily on the Family Trees 3. FT1. Family A, 1300-1500 and 3. FT2. Family A, 1500-1647.

It was thus into a rather ancient family and hall that Alexander was born in 1604. Sadly no trace remains of The Pele and only a few stones remain of the nearby mill, which did, however, still function until the 1960s, after which it was demolished. The whole site is now a woodland area with open hillside behind, part of which is covered by a Norweb training centre.

Those siblings whose records have survived in Parish Registers show the following, some of whom, alas, seem to have died very young, but some of whom were still alive to greet new baby Alexander. Those asterisked were still very much alive when brother Captain Ralph[11A3] wrote his Will in late 1637, in which they are all named.


Date of baptism/

presumed date of birth

Parish Register burials/

presumed date of death


1593 (no baptism recorded).

Bur. 30 September 1642 Chorley.


1594, 28 September, Whalley.

Bur. 1669,Garstang with 2nd husband Christopher Ban(n)aster, d. 1649.

Anne + 3 children who left no record of their names & died very young

All presumed born 1595-99; the 3 anonymous ones only appear in a record of “ten children”.

Anne in father A.S.’s 1622 Will; date of death unknown.


No record of baptism, but later reported as having married three times.

Still living after 1637 when reported married to (Thomas) Gillibrand (of Peel).


1600, 18 April, Bolton.

Buried in 1628 as “Mr Richard” in Chorley Parish Register.

Captain Ralph[11A3]*

1602, 25 June, Bolton.

Bur. 15 January, 1638 Chorley.


1604, born shortly before his mother’s death in late October.

No record; presumed between late 1662 & mid-1664.

So Alexander’s early years were spent in the company of his older brothers Thomas and Ralph and his sisters Joan, Anne and Alice. Thomas had presumably been named after his paternal grandfather Thomas[9A1]; second son Richard was named possibly after one of several (Sir) Richard Hoghtons, the maternal grandfather, a cousin and a nephew of his father Alexander Sr, the main branch of the Hoghton family residing at Hoghton Tower since it had been rebuilt in the 1560s. In any case Richard had been a family name in several previous generations. Ralph was presumably named after their maternal grandfather Ralph Assheton (his name probably pronounced ‘Rafe’, with a dipththong and without the l, as is the case with the all the Ralph Asshetons today, one being Lord Clitheroe). And Alexander was named after his own father, who had possibly been named after his uncle Alexander Hoghton. (This is the one who, by oral tradition, had been the host of young William Shakespeare at Hoghton Tower from 1579-81. This gratuitous information is thrown in now, not totally at random, but because his father Alexander[10A1] was involved in various ways in the ‘Lancastrian Shakespeare’ story, and it is difficult not to believe that young Alexander Jr grew up with some of the surrounding Shakespeare stories.)

His sister Joan was presumably named after her maternal grandmother, Joan. She had been married to William Radcliffe of Winmarleigh before marrying Sir Ralph Assheton, with whom she had several daughters, including Alice, mother of all Alexander[10A1]’s children. It is not obvious who sister Anne might have been named after, but sister Alice must have been named after her mother. It is possible that some of these names had already been given to the three children who had died young, with the survivors being given the same name again, following persistent local tradition.

In his Will in 1637, brother Ralph left a generous bequest to “My nursmam Jane Croston desireing her to wynd mee xls.” One might thus presume that Jane Croston was also the nurse of baby Alexander, born two years after Ralph. Father Alexander[10A1] never remarried, and so the “nursemam” presumably played the role of surrogate mother to all the young children. Father Alexander’s unmarried sister Aunt Ellen (1569-1649) was also still living with them and so was presumably also instrumental in their upbringing.

We have no records of visitors to The Pele, but one can easily imagine that several of his aunts came visiting with their children on occasion: Aunt Elizabeth with the Ogles from Whiston (on the way to Liverpool), Aunt Jane with the Mainwarings from wherever they were living, and Aunt Alice with the Longworths from Longworth over the moors on the way to Bolton. He might well also have spent time with his Hoghton half-cousins over at Hoghton Tower.


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