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

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.2. (2) TMP Siblings

Thomas’s early years must have been dominated by the arrival of a new sibling every year or two. First came sister Joan, baptised at mother Alice’s family Parish Church in Whalley on 28 September 1594, named after her maternal grandmother Joan. Then followed five children, only two of whose names have survived: sisters Anne and Alice. We only know about Anne because she was later mentioned in father Alexander’s Will in 1622, unmarried. We only know about Alice because she was later reported as having married three times, always into local families (Ashton, Charnock and Gillibrand). Whether these were all the same Alice Standish or not we shall never know. We only know about the other three anonymous siblings because of a later record of parents Alexander and Alice having had ten children in all (Walker, Duxbury in Decline, p. 13) and must sadly assume that they died at birth or soon afterwards.

Finally came three younger brothers: Richard[11A2] was baptised on 18 April 1600 and Ralph[11A3] on 25 June 1602, both at Bolton-le-Moors, the Parish Church of mother Alice’s family when they were living in their hall at Great Lever near Bolton. The last son Alexander[11A4] (at last one named after his father), was another to survive to adulthood. He was born shortly before mother Alice’s death and one might presume that these two events were related. Mother Alice was buried on 21 October 1604 in the North Chancel of St Laurence’s Parish Church, Chorley, the closest church to Duxbury.

A quote (already given under his father Alexander[AS]’s biography) leaves us with a little puzzle about why Thomas was not mentioned in his mother’s dying words.

There is a curious document which gives an account of her last moments by a doctor, who was probably a clergyman as well. It includes an acrostic poem on her virtues, and records her final request to her husband, “Love, God be with you. I pray you bring up my boys in the fear of God, and let them have learning I pray you. And marry whom you will, and when you please, but when you look on Ralph and Alexander, think on me”.

(T. C. Porteus, A Short History of Chorley Parish Church, c.1946, p. 35.)

Father Alexander did not remarry. He made several trips to London during the following years and was involved there in sorting out at least one Lancashire inheritance, that of Baron Thomas Langton of Walton-le-Dale, who had been a perpetrator of ‘the affray at Lea’ back in 1589 in which Alexander’s Uncle Thomas Hoghton had been killed. Also involved in the court-cases in London was aspiring poet and historian John Weever from Preston, several of whose Epigrammes in 1599 had been dedicated to father Alexander’s relatives, including three in the list of High Sheriffs of Lancashire given in the previous section: Sir Richard Hoghton, Sir Richard Molyneux and Sir Cuthbert Halsall. (The story of these events is told in many places, including E. A. J. Honigmann, Shakespeare: the ‘lost years’, 1985, 1998.) Weever was a nephew of Henry Butler of Rawcliffe, a cousin of Alexander[10A1]’s grandmother.

One might assume (or not) that young Thomas Standish was fairly aware of these various connections and developments, which provide some of the background details to ‘Lancastrian Shakespeare’. One presumes that he was brought up at home by his maiden Aunt Ellen (1569-1649) and the “nursmam” Jane Croston mentioned in his brother Ralph’s Will.


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