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

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.4. (3) A4 School

His mother’s dying words to his father had included baby Alexander and her desire for him to “have learning”:

There is a curious document which gives an account of her last moments by a doctor, who was probably a clergyman as well. It includes an acrostic poem on her virtues, and records her final request to her husband, “Love, God be with you. I pray you bring up my boys in the fear of God, and let them have learning I pray you. And marry whom you will, and when you please, but when you look on Ralph and Alexander, think on me”.

(Porteus, A Short History of Chorley Parish Church, c.1946, p. 35.)

One might thus assume that father Alexander followed his wife’s dying wishes. Indeed, it is almost certain that Alexander Jr attended Rivington Grammar School, following recent family tradition. Kay (Rivington Grammar School) provides the complete list of 1575, in which Alexander Sr appears, but just mentions that he was followed by his sons, including Alexander. The normal length of time for attending a Grammar School at this time was about seven years, from about the age of 7-14. Rivington was far enough from Duxbury (a couple of miles or so from The Pele to the school over the moors) to assume that the Standish boys, along with many others, boarded in lodgings close by. The curriculum is given in great detail by Kay, and was as rigorous as all other grammar schools of the time.

The school had been founded in 1566 by James Pilkington, Bishop of Durham and an ardent Protestant. He had been ‘dissenting’ enough to flee England during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary and her husband Philip II, King of Spain. Whilst abroad he had been in the company of other notable English Protestant exiles. When he returned on Queen Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 he soon rose in the ranks of the Anglican Church. At the time of his return from the Continent another Standish was teaching boys in Lancashire, as a chaplain to the Earl of Derby. He was Dr Henry Standish of Standish, a devout Catholic and known as “a passionate preacher” (Shakespeare’s Stanley Epitaphs, p. 207). His role as favoured chaplain to the Earls of Derby had, however, been replaced more recently by the current Rector of Standish, Protestant Revd William Leigh, who appears several times in the Standish story, leaving the impression that he favoured those in Duxbury more than their Catholic ‘cousins’ in Standish. Slightly anomalously, Duxbury was actually in the Parish of Standish, with Duxbury at the extreme north of a very long parish, and Standish at the southern end. Duxbury was, however, geographically much closer to Chorley, and it was St Laurence’s in Chorley that hosted most of their baptisms and burials.

With this set of teachers and local Vicars, one can imagine that A4, along with his brothers and following in their father’s footsteps, received a thoroughly Protestant education, with his Catholic Standish ‘cousins’ following a different educational path.


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