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

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.2. (9) TMP Second marriage & Family

As we read earlier, Thomas buried his first wife Anne on 5 May 1623. The Parish Record of St Laurence’s, Chorley reads “Anne wife of Mr Thomas Standish of Dukesburie”. Thomas was now a widower with five small children and a grand new hall under construction. We will remember that his son Thomas[12A1] was not yet six, Alexander[12A2] only four and Richard[12A3] only eighteen months old. Daughter Margaret, the eldest child, was still only about seven or eight and Kathleen/ Katherine was still a babe in arms.

After a period of mourning, it would have been natural for Thomas to seek a second wife. This he duly did, and must have married her, another Ann, within the next few years. We only know her first name because of the baptism on 8 July 1631 at Standish of their third child Gilbert as son of Thomas and Ann “of Ducksbur”.

Unfortunately we do not know who she was, because the only other trace of her in records is through her three children. The baptisms of only two of these have survived: Elinor on 8 April 1627 at St Laurence’s, Chorley and Gilbert on 8 July 1631 at St Wilfrid’s, Standish. (This discrepancy in itself tells us potential reams about the religious allegiances within the Standish families at Duxbury and Standish – more at the end of this section.) We know about another daughter, Ratcliffe, only because she was singled out for a special bequest in her Uncle Ralph’s Will in 1637, when she had not yet reached “the years of discretion”. Assuming this meant 14 (the minimum age for marriage at the time), this could place her birth any time from 1624 onwards, but perhaps most likely in 1629, two years after sister Elinor’s birth and two years before brother Gilbert arrived.

The identity of his second wife presents another puzzle. Some previous researchers have presumed that she was Ann(e), the daughter of Christopher Whittingham, Esq. “of London and Suffolk” (according to several Pedigree Charts in the 19th century). Or was she? This marriage was reported in Burke’s Peerage, Heraldry (1838) and repeated most recently in the biography of Thomas Standish MP on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, both of them (and their sources) seem to have totally (con)fused two (not even contemporary) Thomas Standishes of Duxbury. These were Thomas[11A1] (‘our’ MP) and Thomas[9B1] (c.1545-?>1613). The 1613 Visitation Pedigree of the latter’s family - presented by his son Richard[10B3], who presumably knew the identity of his own mother and stepmother -  gives his first wife as “. . .  dau. of Sir Alexander Radcliffe of ........ ”, who was the mother of his three sons Thomas[10B1], Alexander[10B2] and Richard[10B3], as well as sisters Ann and Ratcliff. His second wife is given as “Ann, dau. of . . . Whitingham of …….. London. [second wife.]”, who had no children. It seems that 19th century historians, in search of the second wife of Thomas the MP, saw this entry on this Standish family’s Visitation Pedigree and assumed (wrongly) that this was the same Thomas. This is understandable in one sense, because both Thomas[9B1] (a Standish of Duxbury, although of a junior branch and not Lord of the Manor) and Thomas[11A1] the MP (also a Standish of Duxbury, but in his case Lord of the Manor) had three sons named Thomas[10B1] & [12A1], Alexander[10B2] & [12A2] and Richard[10B3] & [12A3]. Both sets of brothers also had a sister Ratcliffe, although the names of the other sisters differ. To repeat ad nauseam, many assumptions about the family were made during the time when the family papers, the Standish of Duxbury Muniments, had disappeared. The separate descent of Family B has now been sorted out beyond all reasonable doubt.

Whoever Thomas the MP’s second wife was, she bore the three children mentioned above, and their very names indicate that she might well have been from a family which used these names. Elinorhas not (so far) revealed any helpful clues (although may possibly be the name of her maternal grandmother, if the normal convention was followed). Second daughter Ratcliffe’s name strongly suggests another link with the family with this surname. The custom of using surnames for forenames in gentry families was a fairly recent innovation, which ‘caught on’ and which can be seen in many Visitation Pedigrees of the 16th and 17th centuries. One of many such, as a local example, is Holcroft Hesketh, who married Roger Dodsworth the historian (VP 1664 Hesketh of Rufford).

The main Lancashire branch of the Ratcliff(e)/ Radclyffe family had their seat at Ordsall Hall in Salford, with their Tudor hall recently (2009-2011) lovingly restored and reopened to the public by Salford City Council (Ordsall Hall| Salford Community Leisure). The head of the family until 1627 was Sir John Radclyffe (the spelling used in their new Guidebook), followed by his son Sir Alexander Radclyffe, who was to play a significant role in the later Civil War, dying in 1654. Standish of Duxbury had been previously allied with this family by the marriage in c.1360 of Hugh[3A1] to a Ratcliff(e)/ Radclyffe daughter, which remained childless, but was followed in the next generation by the marriage in 1396 of Hugh’s daughter Clemency Standish to John, the son and heir of Sir John Radclyffe of Ordsall, the builder of the Star Chamber in the house we see today. The Radclyffe family produced many junior branches, and it might have been into any one of these that Thomas married. Family Tree 5 shows another more recent marriage alliance with the Radcliffe family of Winmarleigh. Two other Gilberts contemporary with Thomas’s last son Gilbert(Sir Gilbert Gerard and Sir Gilbert Hoghton) can be seen on the same Family Tree, and it would be a remarkable coincidence if these shared names did not indicate some relationship. Gilbert was the only one to survive his father and also survive beyond the Civil War. He will enter the story later in 1657, in his Uncle Alexander[11A4]’s biography.

The baptism of Gilbert[12A4] at Standish Parish Church on 8 July 1631 was mentioned above as significant in itself, because of the Vicars at that time in Chorley and Standish. From this, we might guess where Thomas the MP’s religious allegiances were at the time. Henry Welch, appointed curate of Chorley in 1628, had distinctly Puritanical leanings.

Chorley’s best known Nonconformist of the time was, of course, Henry Welch, curate of the parish church of St Laurence. Although he was a minister in the Established Church Welch’s outlook was fundamentally Puritan. He was appointed to St Laurence’s in 1628 as curate, and Welch’s superior as Vicar of Croston was James Hyett, BD, an even stronger supporter of Presbyterianism than Welch himself.

(Heyes, History of Chorley, p. 60.)

The Vicar at Standish was a long-standing friend of the Standishes of Duxbury, sharing their Protestant leanings, but rather more tolerant. He was the long-serving RevdWilliam Leigh(Vicar of Standish 1586-1639), whose life was important enough to be included in the first Dictionary of National Biography (and the New/Oxford DNB, of course). This covers his publications (perhaps the most famous being his inclusion of Queen Elizabeth’s speech to the troops at Tilbury in 1588 at the time of the Spanish Armada), his public services, including being chaplain and preacher to the Earl of Derby and chaplain to Prince Henry, his being on the jury at the trial of the Pendle witches in 1612, and other matters. It does not include his relations with some of his local parishioners, including the Standishes of Standish and the Standishes of Duxbury. Porteus’s History of Standish gives details of his disagreements with the Catholic/ Recusant Standishes of Standish and rather more amicable relationship with the Protestant Standishes of Duxbury.

The general picture of religious tensions in Lancashire at this time is given in J. A. Hilton, Catholic Lancashire (1994). Thomas Standish must have been aware of all local events and differences in religious and political allegiances, which were soon to split his family down the middle.


Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.