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

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.2. (12) TMP 1642: The End

(and mopping up a few dangling ends)

Whether father Thomas was in London (where the Long Parliament was still in session) or Lancashire when his son was killed in Manchester on 26 September and buried in Chorley on 30 September is not known, but by 4 October it seems that he was in the North. It was on this day that he drew up his Will, naming his second son Alexander as his heir. One suspects that four days was less than the minimum time required for the news of his son’s death to reach him in London and for his return journey, both post haste, and thus one suspects that he might not have arrived in time for the funeral. One might therefore assume that he was already back in Lancashire for other reasons.

1642, Will, Thomas Standish, M.P., 4 October 1642; inventory 11 November 1642 (L.R.O. WCW).

1642, Inventory of Thomas the MP and Captain Thomas Standish, 11 November 1642 (L.R.O. WCW).

His will makes several situations very clear, but poses a few anomalies. With his apparently successful career, two marriages (with at least the first one boosting his assets enormously) and large estates, one might have expected to read the standard wording of the will of a wealthy man, but instead it reads more like a ‘settlement’ than a will. Obviously the circumstances were not the ‘normal’ ones of an elderly man on his deathbed, and equally obviously he felt a great need to set his house in order. The most immediate explanations that leap to mind are that the Civil War had just begun, with his family and kinsmen split down the middle, and his son and heir had been shot and buried just a few days before.

I confess that when I first read this Will it presented a great puzzle, as it deviated so much from the norm presented by dozens of other contemporary Wills. For a long time I even doubted whether it was his Will or that of another Thomas, as yet to be determined. Around the same time I was puzzling over Colonel Richard’s peculiar Will, which was finally at least partially solved after reading the rather significant 1655 document including Alexander[11A4] and re-reading about the 1657 Assize case with Gilbert Standish[12A4]. Certain details, however, finally made Thomas’s Will clearer and established beyond doubt that it was indeed his.

In his Will he called in debts and complained that he had still not received the complete marriage settlement agreed the previous year for the marriage of son Captain Thomas to Elizabeth, daughter of George Vaux, esquire. Given that Thomas Jr was now dead, it is not obvious why he should think he was still entitled to the remainder. The marriage settlement had been drawn up on 22 January 1641 (DP397/21/14), with an accompanying indenture as a guarantee of all the sums (DP397/21/15). Two of the guarantors were Sir Gilbert Hoghton of Hoghton (his half-cousin) and Sir Edward Wrightington of Wrightington (a lawyer), both fellow MPS and both soon to be ardent Royalist soldiers fighting under James Stanley, Lord Strange, during the Civil War. The marriage was to be to between:

Elizabeth Vaux, ‘daughter of George Vaux of the parish of St Martins in the ffields in the countie of Middlesex esquire for and concerning a marriage intended by gods grace to be had and solemnized by and betwixt the said Thomas Standish the sone and Elizabeth the daughter of the said George Vaux.’

  (L.R.O. DP397/21/14)

This marriage has caused many a previous muddle because an earlier Thomas Standish of Duxbury [Colonel Richard’s uncle Thomas[10B1], baptised 30 July 1566 at Chorley] also married “a daughter of . . . Vaux”. It is perhaps not surprising that these two Thomas Standish-Vaux marriages caused confusion, but there is no doubt that they were two separate marriages. The older Thomas was born in 1566 (with the marriage recorded on this Family’s Visitation Pedigree of 1613) and the younger Thomas was born in 1617. Wilson (1903), on his pedigree chart of the Standishes of Duxbury, (con-)fused them both and saw Thomas Jr married to “Elizabeth, d. of Tho: Vaux of Dotchet”, with “a daughter who died young at Exford”. [Where are Dotchet and Exford? I assume in the West Country, Devon? Maybe a local historian there will help out in future with the history of Vaux in this area?] My interim conclusion is that several people have been beguiled by random appearances of Thomas Standishes at about the right time (or not even at the right time), lumped them all together, and produced a few more muddles. Let us stick to a few facts.

Thomas the MP desired “to be buried in the chapel of Chorley in my burgage place”. He divided his property “into two equal parts”, one half for himself to pay all his funeral expenses and, one assumes, all his debts (which are mentioned in the 1647 document by his daughter-in-law, given in Colonel Richard’s biography, who states that Colonel Richard had helped him). The other half he bequeathed “unto my children to be divided amongst them”, without naming them. No wife is mentioned, from which it might be assumed that his second wife had died. Indeed, as she was not mentioned in his brother Captain Ralph’s Will in 1637, one might perhaps assumed that she had already died before then. As executors he named “Alexander Standish soone and heire of the said Thomas Standish and Edward Farnworth of Euxton yeoman”, and as supervisors: “Sir Gilbert Hoghton of Hoghton, Sir Edward Wrightington, Baronet, Thomas Breres of Rivington, George ??? and George Allenson of Adlington, gentlemen”. He then recites his claim to the remainder of the marriage settlement with George Vaux and lists a few more debts owing. He mentions the names “Tootell, Carne (?) and Bordman of Heath Charnock, Mr Charles and Mr Ratcliffe Gerrard”. One might presume that the last one was somehow connected with his second wife and his daughter Ratcliffe.  

Just one month after his son Captain Thomas was killed, and within weeks after writing his will, Thomas the MP died. The son was buried at Chorley on 30 September with the record “Dux Thomas Standish de Duxbury sessiderit apud Manchester” and the father on 29 October “Thomas Standish de Duxbury Arr:”. The circumstances of Thomas the MP’s death remain unknown and might have been for any reason, but one suspects that it might have been accompanied by yet more tragic circumstances. The Parish Record remains silent, but we know that by the latest at this point Colonel Richard had entered the scene by providing great aid to the family, including, it seems, financial aid to Thomas Sr and son and heir Alexander. (The 1647 document DP397/21/16.) Help for Thomas the MP, coming from a fellow-Parliamentarian kinsman, one can only assume, must have been gratefully accepted. Little could he have foreseen that this would lead to Colonel Richard taking over the whole estate five years later.

The inventory is extremely long, giving a description of his house, including “four chambers, Ellen’s chamber, Ann’s chamber, the main chamber in the gatehouse, the great parlour, the little parlour, other rooms, the little ground parlour, kitchen, pantry, hall and brewing house”. Ellen, one can only presume, was his Aunt Ellen, mentioned in his brother Captain Ralph’s will in 1637, who, it was suggested above, was probably the maiden aunt who brought up the children after their mother died in 1604. The identity of Ann remains a mystery, but she was presumably the one who was later ‘adopted’ as sister by Colonel Richard when he moved into Duxbury Hall around 1647, and who wrote a very detailed and helpful will in 1651, mentioning all Colonel Richard’s family and many friends and neighbours. 

The final echo in the story of Thomas the MP for the moment is that his youngest son Gilbert did obtain a certain satisfaction for the loss of the estates (in 1657, see in Colonel Richard’s biography), and that although none of Thomas’s sons produced children to continue the line, his two daughters did. The elder, Margaret (born some time before 1616), had married Nicholas Shuttleworth of Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham near Burnley before the Civil War and produced three sons. This would have been a solace for Thomas the MP, as the Shuttleworths were to be among the leading lights in the local Parliamentary army. Nicholas was one of three sons who became Colonels, along with Colonel Richard Standish, all of them serving with Colonel Shuttleworth Sr, and all of them survived the war, although the Shuttleworths lost another brother at the siege of Lancaster in 1643. (These all appear on Visitation Pedigrees and Abram, History of Blackburn presents a good account of the local Civil War. A more recent account of the whole picture is by Stephen Bull, The Civil Wars in Lancashire, 1640-1666, 2009.)

Thomas’s younger daughter, Kathleen/ Katherine (born 1623), made a late but good marriage, to Ellis Heyes of Chorlton, the marriage taking place at St Laurence’s, Chorley on 24 October 1656. The Heye(s) Visitation Pedigree recorded by Sir William Dugdale in 1664 shows that at that time they had a son and heir and two daughters. Thomas the MP’s sister Joan (baptised on 28 September 1594 at Whalley) also continues to appear in records until her burial at Garstang in November 1669. Her second husband Christopher Ban(n)aster had been buried there in 1649 and both were commemorated with an MI. Given that he was a lawyer and involved with the Duchy of Lancaster, future research on this family might be fruitful. Joan appears in Colonel Richard’s biography in DP 397/1/7 in 1658 in a receipt for a rent of £60.

There remain a few interesting ‘ifs’. If the situation in England in 1642 had not seemed so precarious from the other side of the Atlantic, Myles might well have visited again. He was planning to, but was warned against it because of the danger of being incarcerated or killed. If Thomas the MP had survived the war, the history of the Lordship of the Manor of Duxbury would have been rather different. If only any correspondence between them had survived, what gems might these letters have revealed?

And so we leave Thomas the MP, RIP. The story of his immediate family is continued in the biography of his youngest brother, who survived them all: 6.4. Alexander[11A4] (1604-1662>1664).


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