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

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 this one still is, under:

Helen's Story: from Duxbury to Shakespeare. The story of William Shakespeare's Lancashire Ancestry, by Helen Moorwood

12. Colonel Richard Standish of Duxbury (c. 1597-1662)

An outline biography

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. PIN numbers have also been added to all the names, to aid their identification on the Family Trees. Some reformatting was necessary, and the occasional typo – whether by Peter or myself - has been silently corrected. Asap a full narrative version of Colonel Richard’s biography will appear, based, of course, on all details and documents in this file, with full references. Meanwhile, this is part (2) of (1) to (16) CR. [2013 HM]

6.3. (2) CR An Outline Biography (1647 ff)

He almost certainly grew up in Manchester, where he was living when the Civil War broke out. This placed him in a town firmly on the Parliamentarian side, which Royalist James Stanley, Lord Strange (later 7th Earl of Derby) besieged in the autumn of 1642 as the first major military event in the North West.  

The first casualty during the siege was his close kinsman Captain Thomas Standish of Duxbury[12A1], son and heir of Lord of the Manor Thomas MP[11A1], a “zealous Parliamentarian”. Royalist Captain Thomas was shot while he was washing his hands in a trough by a marksman in a local church tower and his Parliamentary father died within the month. This was followed by the deaths of all remaining adult males in Captain Thomas’s family, all of whom (although Protestant) adopted the Royalist cause under the Earl of Derby (also Protestant), along with their Catholic Standish kinsmen of Standish.

[This now requires modification to include that one older relative Alexander[11A4] (b. 1604) and one younger relative Gilbert[12A4] (b. 1632) had survived the Civil Wars, although making no claim to Duxbury Hall in 1647.]

The last Lord of the Manor at Duxbury Hall to die was Colonel Alexander[12A2] in early 1647 (younger brother of Captain Thomas), soon after which his widow handed over all the estates to Colonel Richard and departed, never to be seen in the family papers again. The Lancashire Parliamentary army finally won locally, defeating the Scottish and local Royalist army at the Battle of Wigan Lane, before the final defeat at Worcester. By this time all the older members of Colonel Richard’s family had also died, the last being his uncle Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander,* who had died after (during?) the Battle of Preston in August 1648, leaving Colonel Richard as his heir.  

[*This identification was well-meant and still possibly accurate, but after close re-perusal of the whole situation, Alexander[11B3]has emerged as a more likely candidate. The problems are discussed in WILLS, ADMONS & IPMS,5.1. List 1648.]

The result in mid-1651 was that James, 7th Earl of Derby had lost his head, the Standishes of Standish were desperately trying to retain as many lands as possible, and Colonel Richard was the acknowledged owner of the lands of all Standish of Duxbury families - the large estates dependent on Duxbury Hall as well as the much smaller estates owned by his own family. At the end of the war he was therefore one of the largest local landowners and one of relatively few on the winning side. Presumably mainly because of this he became MP for the county and then for Preston.    

He had not escaped other personal tragedies. During the war his first wife (Ellen Lees of Middleton) and the last of the children from this marriage died, although he did marry again (Elizabeth Legh of Lyme) and had a second large family. There is documentary evidence that he was a forceful and at the same time compassionate character, who tried to heal some of the wounds left behind after the fighting. He re-established local ‘poor funds’, helped to refound Chorley Grammar School by sacrificing wages due to him and looked after the surviving females from the Duxbury Hall family. He also supported St Laurence’s Chorley by at least commissioning a stained glass window with his coat of arms impaled by Legh, still there today.  By 1654 at the latest he was, therefore, thoroughly established as the local squire and magnate, the county MP and a local benefactor, with a growing second family. In that year, one can only presume, life must have seemed a little rosier than a few years previously.  

Then in 1655 and 1657 he had a nasty surprise: two distant ‘cousins’ turned up to reclaim the main Standish of Duxbury estates, took him to the Assize Court in Lancaster via a lawyer – and won! The first was Alexander, son and heir of Myles Standish*, who had departed on the Mayflower in 1620 and had since founded Duxbury, Massachusetts. His claim was that he was the last surviving descendant of Sir Christopher Standish of Duxbury, and therefore had a more legitimate entitlement to Duxbury Hall and the main estates than Colonel Richard, from a collateral family.*

[*This should now be rewritten to change the Alexander making the claim into Alexander[11A4], whose first-ever biography is given in 6.4. Alexander[11A4]. The documents covering the Assize Court cases are covered in full in 6.3. (11) CR 1655 Compensation & 6.3. (12) CR 1657 Worrying Six Months. I have deliberately left the paragraph above in place because this will be the subject of a future ‘debate’ – I can only hope harmonious rather than acrimonious. HM 2013]

The second was Gilbert[12A4], the youngest brother of Captain Thomas, a little boy at the outbreak of war, who had fled from Duxbury with his widowed mother [or been looked after by her relatives, if she was no longer living] and had so far not returned to claim any inheritance. He now claimed (via the same lawyer) all the estates that Alexander son of Myles [actually Alexander[11A4]] had not already claimed. Financial settlements were agreed upon and Colonel Richard retained all the estates, but much impoverished - as revealed by his Will of 1657.  

After the Restoration (in his early sixties) he retired from public life. He and his wife died within a week of each other in early 1662 and were buried in St Laurence’s, leaving their young family in the care of surviving relatives. His son and heir Richard followed in his father’s footsteps as head of the local militia and an MP, and was rewarded by his loyalty to Charles II with a baronetcy. After this the family fortunes improved and judicious marriages increased the family estates. One ironic twist in the later story is that one Standish of Duxbury widow became Countess of Derby.*

[*This requires correction/ modification to her becoming the stepmother of a future Earl of Derby, after her second marriage as a widow to Sir Thomas Stanley of Bickerstaffe, a junior branch, whose son succeeded as 11th Earl on the death the 10th Earl in 1735 without a son and heir. Lady Margaret Stanley (formerly Standish née Holcroft) had already died in 1733.]


Update 2013

A few details from Manchester have emerged, which confirm that father Richard did indeed own land there (in Dr John Dee’s Diary, see at the end of the next section). The major new discoveries since 2004 are already indicated above. We will meet them all again in the appropriate years.


Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.