6.2. Thomas the MP[11A1] (1593-1642)

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.2. (8) TMP 1625: Early Parliamentary Career

Thomas was elected one of the two MPs for Liverpool and served from 6 February 1625 until 15 June 1626. (Another online list sees him not elected until January 1626, but all lists are in agreement that he was MP for Liverpool for part or most of 1625-6.) This was the last Parliament called by James I (died 27 March 1625). The other MP for Liverpool around the same time was James Stanley, Lord Strange, son and heir of William, 6th Earl of Derby.

The other MPs for Lancashire for 1625-6 were:

County:                       Sir Richard Molyneux, Bt (Thomas’s first wife’s cousin)

Sir John Ratcliffe (of Ordsall Hall, Salford, a kinsman)       

Preston:           Sir William Hervey (from Suffolk, the county of Thomas’s first wife)

                        Henry Banister (of London, but from a local Lancashire family; the father of

                         Christopher Banister/Banaster, Thomas’s brother-in-law)

Wigan:                         Edward Bridgman (from Warrington, a prominent family during the later Wars)

Francis Downes (of Wardley Hall near Manchester)

Clitheroe:        Sir Ralph Assheton (Thomas’s cousin, of Gt Lever and Whalley)

                        William Fanshawe (from Essex; Auditor for the Duchy of Lancaster)

Lancaster         Sir Humphrey May (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster & Privy Councillor)

                        Sir Thomas Fanshawe (brother of William; Auditor for the Duchy of Lancaster)

Newton                       Sir Miles Fleetwood (descended from the Fleetwood family of Lancashire)

                        Sir Henry Edmonds

(All have brief biographies on Wikipedia and some elsewhere online.)

As the Earls of Derby owned many lands around Liverpool, there were no problems in securing James’s election, but one might presume that Thomas’s was as much on ability as connections, because the Standish of Duxbury family had no obvious connections with Liverpool other than via the Earl of Derby. Their fathers and earlier ancestors had had many previous contacts, but this was the first time that a Standish and a Stanley had held public positions together. The Earls of Derby were still considered as virtual ‘Kings of Lancashire’, and particularly of the Hundred of West Derby, which contained their heartlands based on Lathom House and Knowsley Hall. They also owned Stanley Tower, a castle near the seafront in Liverpool, a convenient base when travelling to and from the Isle of Man, where they had been hereditary ‘Lords of Mann’ since Sir John Stanley in 1405. One might imagine that Thomas visited one or more of these Stanley seats during this period.

Another supporter of his entry into Parliament was presumably his deceased wife’s cousin Sir Thomas Gerard, who had followed his father Sir Gilbert into high political office and had meanwhile been created 2nd Baron Gerard of Gerard’s Bromley in Staffordshire. He had been MP for Liverpool the year before Thomas.

It remains unknown how actively Thomas participated in and continued in national politics, but because 1625-6 was a period which saw another outbreak of plague in London, he presumably spent much of the year back in Duxbury. He was not re-elected MP again until 1640, and nothing is known of any public activities during the decade after his first period of service.

Coincidentally, 1625-6 was also exactly the period of Myles Standish’s only return to England, in an effort to raise more funds for their fledgling colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was unsuccessful, partly because the plague was raging in London and partly because of the recent death of King James I and the uncertainty as to whether Charles I would introduce new policies. All this did not make for a booming economy and provide spare cash to invest in uncertain ventures. One can only presume that anyone who could leave London at this time did, and it would have provided an ideal opportunity for Myles to visit his lands in Lancashire (Ormskirk, Burscough, Wrightington, Mawdesley, Newburgh and Croston), which were mainly in Stanley territory. If he did, he might well have visited both MPs, including Thomas and his young family on a nostalgic visit to Duxbury, combined with curiosity to see the newly built Hall. Myles’s portrait was painted during this visit. Unfortunately he did not persuade ‘cousin’ Thomas to have his portrait painted. In fact no portrait of any of the Tudor and Stuart Standishes of Duxbury has survived. A few years later Captain Myles, back in America, moved away from Plymouth to found his own settlement, which he called Duxbury.

The dozen years following Thomas’s election as MP have left no trace in the Standish of Duxbury Muniments, but it was during this period that he married again and had a second family.


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