STANDISH OF DUXBURY

6. BIOGRAPHIES

6.3. Colonel Richard [11B1] (c.1597-1662)

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.3. (11) CR1655 Compensation 

In 2004 in my account of this ‘Dynamite Document’, as I called it at the time, I erroneously believed that the Alexander Standish involved was most plausibly Alexander, son and hair of Pilgrim Father Captain Myles Standish. I soon changed my mind, unbeknown to a certain learned American-Dutch Pilgrims expert, who published in early 2006 a vitriolic attack on my assumption. My reply to his article will appear asap in the folder MYLES STANDISH. Meanwhile, in CR’s biography, although it still very much takes its place as an absolutely Vital Document in solving later Myles Muddles and Mysteries, for the moment it is most important in explaining the period of reconciliation and licking of wounds after the recent bitter dissentions and splits in allegiance in the Standish of Duxbury family.

We will remember that “zealous Parliamentarian” Thomas the MP had died in 1642, just a month after the death of his son and heir Royalist Captain Thomas[12A1]. His younger brother Royalist Colonel Alexander[12A2] had thus succeeded as Lord of the Manor of Duxbury until his death in 1647 without a son and heir. At this point his widow Margaret had granted Duxbury Hall and all dependent estates to ‘cousin’ Parliamentarian Colonel Richard of Family B. At the time, and also with hindsight, this was probably an eminently sensible decision. Although the first part of the Civil War was over, the final result was still undetermined, but Lancashire, along with most of the North, was predominantly Parliamentarian. This was despite the leading local aristocrat James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, being a Royalist. In 1647, however, he was in self-imposed ‘exile’ on the Isle of Man, of which he was also Lord.

By 1651 the Civil Wars were finally over with Cromwell’s resounding victory at Worcester on 3 September. Colonel Richard returned to Duxbury, where his wife Elizabeth was expecting a child. Their first (surviving) son Richard had been baptised on 21 January 1651 and daughter Dorothy was baptised on 18 April 1652. During the next three years two more sons and a daughter were born. In 1654 Colonel Richard was elected as MP for Lancashire. At this point he must have been feeling at peace and more contented than for a long time.

But one problem had obviously been looming for quite some time. Although his ‘takeover’ of Duxbury Hall and Manor had been legal and agreed by all directly concerned, there was still one adult male Standish of Duxbury Family A who felt that the time had come to put in his protest. This was Alexander[11A4], the youngest brother of Thomas the MP, and the only brother to survive the Civil Wars. Although the validity of his claim must have been clearly recognized by all, he nevertheless found it necessary or at least expedient to employ a lawyer and take his case to the Assize Court at Lancaster. This duly happened on 24 March 1655 (modern calendar). The cursory abstract in the Catalogue of the Standish of Duxbury Muniments reads as follows:

21/17.                                                                            1655

Final Concord:   premises as 21/14.                                                        1654/55.

Section 21 consists of “Settlements, etc.” over the centuries. 21/14 referred to as including the same premises was, in fact, the marriage jointure on the forthcoming marriage of Captain Thomas[12A1], son & heir of Thomas the MP and so, of course, included all the core Standish of Duxbury lands.

21/14. Grant of jointure: out of manors (sic) of Duxbury, Heapey, Whittle-in-le-Woods, Heath Charnock, Anlezarch, Bradley Hall in Worthington, and estates in Standish, Langtree, Worthington, Chorley. 1640/41.

I examined the original of 21/17 in 1999, when I was writing the series of articles about Myles Standish for the Lancashire History Quarterly (PUBLICATIONS LHQ 1-6) and produced the following abstract for use in these articles:

DP397/21/17: a 1655 document
re Myles’s ancestry and his Duxbury inheritance 

This particular document was written on Saturday 24 March 1654 (1655 in the modern calendar) and on the outside of the folded document, in an early hand but not the same as the document itself, appears ‘Chirograph of fine by Rich: Standish Esq: and Eliz: his wife of all his Estates’. It was the judgment in a court case at the March Assizes in Lancaster and contained the following illuminating details, which I transcribed in 1999 as follows (sic apart from numbers not written out in full and the addition of a few commas): 

Betweene Edward May and Alexander Standish gent plaintifes and Richard Standish esq and Elizabeth his wife deforciants of the manors of Duxbury, Heapey, Whittle-le-Woods, Heath Charnock and Anglezarke with the apppurtenances and 120 messuages, 4 mills, 120 gardens, 50 orchards, 1000 acres of land, 200 acres of meadow, 400 acres of pasture, 50 acres of woods, 600 acres of moss, 200 acres of marsh, 400 acres of furze and heath . . . Whereupon a covenant . . . between them . . . that is to say that the said Richard and Elizabeth have acknowledged the said manors and tenements . . . to be the right of the said Edward and Alexander. . . six hundred pounds. (L.R.O. DP397/21/17) (The full text follows later.) 

I subsequently returned to the document to make a full transcription, which reads thus:

This is the finallagreement made in the Court at Lancaster on Saturday the four and twentieth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand hundred fifty four Before Richard Newdygate one of the Justices of the Upper Bench And Robert Hatton sergeant at Law Justices at Lancaster And others then come there and sent Betweene Edward May gent and Alexander Standish gent plaintifes And Richard Standish esquire and Elizabeth his wife deforciants of the mannors of Duxbury Heapey Whittle-le-Woods Heath Charnock and Anglezarke with the appurtenances and one hundred and twenty messuages four water corne mills one hundred and twenty gardens fifty orchards one thousand acres of land two hundred acres of meadow four hundred acres of pasture fifty acres of wood six hundred acres of moss two hundred acres of marsh four hundred acres of furze and heath fifty shillings rent and comon of pasture with the appurtenances in Duxbury Heapey Whittle in the Woods Heath Charnock Anlezarkh Standish Langtree and Chorley Whereupon a plea of covenant was sinnoned [signed?] betweene them in the same court, that is to say that the said Richard and Elizabeth have acknowledged the said manors tenements rent and comon of pasture with the appurtenances to be the right of the said Edward As those with the said Edward and Alexander have of the gifte of the said Richard and Elizabeth And those they have remised and quite claymed from them and their heires unto the said Edward & Alexander and the heires of the said Edward forever And moreover the said Richard and Elizabeth have granted for themselves and the heires of the said Richard that they will warrant the aforesaid mannors tenements rent and comon of pasture with the appurtenances unto the said Edward and Alexander and the heires of the said Edward against them the said Richard and Elizabeth and their heires for ever And for this acknowledgment remission quite clayme warranty fyne and agreement the said Edward and Alexander have given to the said Richard and Elizabeth six hundred pounds sterling (L.R.O) DP397/21/17)  

This presents several anomalies:

Wife Elizabeth is presented throughout on an equal footing with Richard.

This was unusual for the time, when a wife was always considered subservient. In the 1647 grant of settlement by Colonel Alexander[12A2]’s widow to Colonel Richard, the latter was the sole recipient, and quite understandably so: Richard was the most prominent adult male Standish of Duxbury, who was on the currently winning side in the conflict. Only he was mentioned also because he was at that time a widower, and not yet remarried. (Reminder: his first wife Ellen must have died before the end of 1646 or at the latest the beginning of 1647; and Elizabeth’s marriage jointure to Richard was dated 25 November 1647.) It is thus interesting that Richard was accompanied six times in this document by his wife Elizabeth, at a time when wives’ interests and property were totally subordinate to their husbands’. This document is unique (in my experience of 16th and 17th century settlements) in placing the wife on an equal footing with the husband. Elizabeth must have played some rather important role in this story, which we will probably never be able to unravel, but at least we now know exactly who she was:

Elizabeth née Legh, the third daughter & heiress of Piers Legh, Esq. of Lyme (1587-1624) (Adlington also comes into the story), Cheshire, son & heir of Sir Piers Legh IX of Lyme (1563-1636). All appear on Family Tree 3. FT 6. Colonel Richard’s in-laws: LEGH of Lyme. Her ancestry is also displayed in her coat of arms, quartered into husband Richard’s in a stained glass window in St Laurence’s, Chorley.  A full description appears in MISCELLANEOUS, Coat of Arms 2.

Of great interest in the current context is Elizabeth’s first cousin Richard Legh, Esq., who in 1655 was Lord of the Manor of Lyme (their fathers were brothers). Although son of a younger son, he was the only male in two generations to be still living in 1643, when he had thus inherited the Lordship from his uncle Francis. In 1656 he was to be elected MP for Cheshire and later served as Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire and Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire (Burke’s Commoners in Parliament). In 1657-61 he was also the recipient of four letters from Colonel Richard, which have survived among the Legh of Lyme Papers at the John Rylands Library, Manchester. I embarked on reading these with bated breath in January 2013, hoping to find another clue – any clue - about the 1655 Lancaster Assize Court Final Concord and any aftermath. Alas, there was none. The predictable finding was that these two were very much in touch and obviously good friends. “Predictable”, because they were already ‘cousins’ through CR’s mother, another Elizabeth Legh of Lyme, and both were very much concerned with County politics. Richard Legh started his public role rather later than CR, because only born in 1634. He had thus been too young to have participated actively in the fighting or politics during the Civil Wars. Luckily for him, this also meant that there had been no sequestrations and no problems to prevent his inheritance of the Legh family estates

Edward May and Alexander Standish are also presented on an equal footing.

How could this be? No one from outside the Standish family could possibly have any claims to Duxbury Hall, Manor and dependent estates. One reasonable initial explanation was that Edward May was a lawyer, engaged by Alexander[11A4], who expected to be confronted by problems before a court of law. We know that in 1655 Alexander was already turned fifty (he was born in early 1604), and might not expect to live too much longer. This raises the additional question as to why he even bothered to go through this whole process, which left him £600 poorer and brought him no apparent benefits, other than a sense that justice had been done. Establishing the identity and position of Edward Mary might well be useful in attempting to explain all these anomalies. Not only he is mentioned as a “plaintife” of equal standing, but “the heires of the said Edward” are to benefit in future. (An attempt to identify Edward May is postponed for the moment. He appears in more detail in BIOGRAPHIES 6.4. Alexander[11A4].)

Edward and Alexander gave six hundred pounds to Richard and Elizabeth,

i.e the “plaintiffes” paid the “fine” to the “deforciants”. How could this be justified? If Alexander was entitled to the estates by right of inheritance, why should he pay for them? This would be adding insult to injury. In any case the rest of the text makes it very clear that the case was conducted against the “deforciants” Richard and Elizabeth. (This has implications for the possible reasons behind Alexander’s nephew Gilbert[12A4] following suit two years later; but in 1655 presumably no one yet knew about this. It is pursued in the next ‘chapter’.)

Edward’s heirs were due to inherit all, but in fact Richard & Elizabeth’s son & heir Richard[12B1] inherited.

In 1655 no one could predict the future course of events, but with hindsight we know that Duxbury Hall, etc. stayed with Colonel Richard and Elizabeth’s direct descendants for several generations. The main questions that arise (again) are ‘Who exactly was Edward May?’, ‘Who were his heirs?’ and ‘Why did they never inherit Duxbury Hall, etc.?’

One potential clue to possible inaccuracies in copying.

One clue is the very date on which this settlement was copied, i.e. 24 March, the very last day of the year 1654-55 (the new year started on 25 March, Lady Day, until the calendar reform of 1753). This date appears so often in documents that one suspects it was the day when copies of many documents concerning court cases during the preceding Assizes were drawn up from notes made during the hearings. In this case, it would indeed have been a copy ‘after the event’, with all the potential for inaccuracies that copying involves. Another clue is that there are no signatures on the document, which seems to confirm that it was a copy made by the clerk of the court some time after the case itself. It will presumably always remain a mystery why, if the award was presented the wrong way round and all concerned knewthis, Colonel Richard made no effort to have it corrected. Or perhaps he did? This document needs to be compared with the 1657 document discovered by Farrer in the Feet of Fines. Although I have the greatest of faith in the integrity, intentions and skills of clerks of the time (unlike others, who have called them ‘nincompoops’ and similar when confronted with apparent inaccuracies in copying) mistakes did happen. It seems that one logical interim explanation here is that this particular clerk might have misread his own (or someone else’s? shorthand?) notes and produced the 17th century equivalent of a typo by awarding the fine the wrong way round. The fact that it is a “Final Concord” and that a previous “covenant” was involved implies that the case lasted a considerable time. 

Among other additional and interesting pieces of information emerging from the complete text is that obviously several people were called as witnesses or to provide further information in writing: “others then come there and sent”. We can only guess (although this is the only plausible conjecture) that these were local friends of the family whose memories stretched back to include knowledge of the family’s ancestry and all about the recent disastrous deaths. Edward May seems to have fulfilled his commission from “Alexander Standish gent” admirably by conducting his legal and genealogical investigations thoroughly, not only by locating relevant witnesses, whose testimony was obviously convincing enough to the two judges concerned, which resulted in his winning the case, but also by accepting future responsibility via himself and his heirs to guarantee the final satisfactory conclusion of the agreement. Perhaps this is a clue that Edward May and his heirs were living locally?  More emerges in Colonel Richard’s Last Will & Testament in 1657 and his Codicil in 1661/2.

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