Helen Moorwood 2013

1.1. General Introduction

This folder STANDISH OF DUXBURY just grew and grew during the assembly of all material, much of which has been sitting in my computer for many years. All needed to be checked, particularly against more recent documentary discoveries. As a printed book it would contain about 400 pages, if including an Index. Presenting it in the present form qualifies it as an Ebook in its own right, with all the inherent advantages (mainly, it’s free!) and disadvantages (too numerous to mention). One big disadvantage is that there are no page numbers, so a conventional Index is useless. And putting in links between everything and everyone would be unmanageable. I thus tried very hard to keep each section as short as possible, with every section numbered and with a title, hoping that this would allow any readers to find their way through the rather daunting digital maze. The complete Contents List provides, I hope, the best possible overview.

This family produced many interesting characters, the one of most interest today being Pilgrim Father Captain Myles Standish of Duxbury, Lancashire and Massachusetts, regarded in America as one of the Founding Fathers of the USA. He has thus received his own separate folder MYLES STANDISH.

In this folder on Standish of Duxbury we concentrate, in their own right, on the most important events and characters in the family, who first arrived in the Manor of Duxbury in the early 14th century in the person of Hugh de Standish[1A1] (d. >1326). He was the son of a sister of the Lord of the Manor of Standish and Robert de Haydock, Rector of Standish. Hugh soon built The Pele, a ‘peel/pele tower’, as defence against the marauding Scots, who managed to get as far south as Chorley in 1322. Hugh was always known in Duxbury as Hugh de Standish, and his descendants continued for centuries to have close links with their ‘cousins’ in Standish. However, the two families, Standish of Standish and Standish of Duxbury, developed as completely separate branches.

The Senior branch of Hugh’s direct descendants (Family A) gradually took over ownership of the Manor from the Duxburys of Duxbury during the 14th century, and therefore the title of Lord of the Manor of Duxbury. They remained Lords of the Manor until the middle of the Civil Wars, on the death in 1647 of Colonel Alexander Standish[12A2] without a son and heir.

At this point the main Junior branch (Family B), meanwhile living in Manchester, took over the Lordship of the Manor in the person of Colonel Richard Standish[11B1], whose direct male line continued until the 19th century. Our story here, however, stops in 1756 with the death of Sir Thomas Standish Bt[14B1]. The story from then onwards has been thoroughly researched and told by William Walker, Duxbury in Decline 1756-1932: A story of the decline of a Lancashire Estate and the families associated with it, Carnegie Publishing, Preston, 1995.

 The story of the early Standishes of Duxbury was told in the Victoria County History of Lancashire, Vol. 6,1911,(Ed.) William Farrer, building on the sterling work of the 19th century by other historians. It was also told by a local postman/historian, John Wilson, Verses and Notes (Chorley, 1903); despite its elusive title, this is full of many gems. The Standishes of Standish received great attention in the early 20th century from the Revd Thomas Cruddas Porteus, Vicar of nearby Coppull and later Canon and Vicar of St George’s, Chorley. One major achievement was in producing the first serious and lengthy account of the history of families within the parish, A History of the Parish of Standish (1927). The township of Duxbury was anciently always within the Parish of Standish, with Duxbury in the extreme north and Standish the extreme south. Urban re-organisation in the 20th century redesignated Duxbury rather more logically as a suburb of Chorley, by which time Chorley had many separate parishes, St Laurence’s being the most ancient. Another of the Revd Porteus’s achievements was in transcribing and publishing The Standish of Standish family papers, now in Wigan Archives (1933). Yet another main achievement was in tentatively proposing the ancestry of Myles Standish in the Standishes of the Isle of Man, something he never even managed to convince himself of before his death in 1948, but which was taken up enthusiastically by others later in the 20th century (most notably by Manxman G. V. C. Young in 1984, Pilgrim Myles Standish: first Manx American). This side-step in the story is put to one side for the moment, as it has little or nothing to do with the Standishes of Duxbury. It is covered under MYLES STANDISH.

What neither Farrer nor Porteus had access to was the Standish of Duxbury family papers. These had disappeared from Duxbury towards the end of the 18th century (the last document is from 1782) and via (as yet undiscovered) mysterious routes found their way in 1965 to the Portobello Bookshop in London, from where they were bought by the Lancashire Record Office and duly abstracted and catalogued as DP 397 (Deeds Purchased), Standish of Duxbury Muniments. Hardly surprisingly, a close perusal of these allowed a fairly accurate reconstruction of the history of the Standishes of Duxbury, which differed in several places from the ‘conventional’ story in the Victoria County History. Most surprisingly, I seemed to be the first person to have taken a close look at these, particularly those from c.1220 (the earliest document) to c.1700 (when my immediate interest stopped). Among the major differences from the ‘conventional story’ were the following:

1) The takeover of the Manor of Duxbury by the Standishes from the Duxburys by no means happened almost overnight in 1315 as a consequence of Henry de Duxbury’s participation in the Banastre Rebellion. It certainly started then, and continued throughout this century, as a result of a Standish-Duxbury marriage in c.1350 and possibly the later arrival of an outbreak of plague in 1381. But although no longer Lords of the Manor, the Senior Duxbury family stayed on at Duxbury (Old) Hall until 1524, when they relinquished it to a Standish of Standish, not a Standish of Duxbury, which rather complicated matters. 1524, however, was the real beginning of the Duxbury Diaspora all over Lancashire, which had ended up in my case with my Grandma Duxbury in Darwen, over a few hills but no so far away as the crow flies from Duxbury.

2) In the 14th and 15th centuries, with so many Standishes fighting in the Hundred Years War, not enough attention had been paid to separating the Standishes of Duxbury from the Standishes of Standish. One revelation was that fairly early on one Junior Branch in Duxbury had very much established its own history as a separate entity. This resulted in my labelling them unimaginatively as Family A and Family B. This in itself was crucial in tracking their histories over the centuries and understanding all the muddles that had occurred in previous accounts of their roles in the Civil Wars (1642-1651).

3) At the end of the 15th century the Standishes of Duxbury and Standish allied themselves with each other again, and very much so, by intermarrying twice within a few years. One of these marriages was already in the ‘conventional story’, but the other one was only revealed by the family papers. The story originates in the camaraderie of Sir Alexander Standish of Standish and Sir Christopher Standish of Duxbury, who were both knighted in 1482 at Hutton Field near Berwick (in yet another foray against the Scots). They were both in the Lancashire army commanded by Thomas, 2nd Baron Stanley under Richard, Duke of Gloucester (soon to become Richard III), which was also called upon three years later in the final battle of the Wars of the Roses at Bosworth, 1485. As a result of them supporting Henry VII at the last minute, Stanley was created 1st Earl of Derby and awarded vast lands, and Sir Alexander was awarded a handsome annual pension. Soon after that Sir Christopher’s second wife died, and for his third wife he chose Sir Alexander’s eldest daughter Alice (marriage in 1490). (Incidentally here, this marriage produced Alexander[7A5], the strongest possible candidate for Myles Standish’s great-grandfather, mentioned in his Will.) This must have been agreeable to both families, because in 1498 Sir Christopher’s son and heir Thomas (by his second wife) married Katherine, youngest daughter of Sir Alexander. This produced a rather complicated set of relationships, but most important of all, it sealed a knot of alliance between the two families that lasted for a century. Relations then suffered somewhat as they took different religious sides after Queen Elizabeth’s ex-communication in 1570, which lasted right up to the Civil Wars and beyond. The Standishes of Standish remained devout Catholics, whereas the Standishes of Duxbury adopted the new Protestantism, although finding themselves split between the Royalist and Parliamentarian armies. The latter fact deviated from the ‘conventional’ story, which saw all the Standishes of Duxbury tarred with the same brush as Thomas the MP, a “zealous Parliamentarian”. His first son and heir was a Royalist and after his death his brother became a Colonel in the Royalist army.

4) In the 16th century the family story was very much complicated by two Thomas Standishes of Duxbury marrying two different Margaret Hoghtons, (1) of Hoghton and (2) of Pendleton. Margaret(1) married Thomas[9A1], let us call him Thomas(1); and Margaret(2) married Thomas[9D1], let us call him Thomas(2). Thomas(1) died in 1577, leaving Margaret(1) as a widow with a large family. Margaret(2) died in 1580, leaving Thomas(2) as a widower with no children. As a very convenient solution, widower Thomas(2) then married widow Margaret(1), which provided stability in the family until young Alexander[10A1], the son and heir, came of age and could take over the reins.

5) This Alexander Standish of Duxbury[10A1] (1567-1622) provided many interesting surprises and additions to the ‘conventional’ story, not least because of his having a Hoghton mother from the same family that had preserved the oral tradition that “young Shakespeare spent a couple of years with us” at Hoghton Tower; and Alexander’s son and heir Thomas[7A1] (1593-1642) was born just a few years after their ‘cousin’ Myles Standish over in Ormskirk. Alexander himself had attended Protestant Rivington Grammar School and sent his own sons there. It seems more than likely that Myles might also have acquired his love of learning (as indicated by all the books in his inventory) and his basically Protestant sympathies (as proved by his joining the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower in 1620), in the same Protestant school attended by his Protestant ‘cousins’ over in Duxbury. It was also obvious that, in his widowerhood after 1604, Alexander popped down to London on occasion. Intriguingly, Alexander’s Ipm also contained a stunner: in his widowerhood he provided a home in Anglezarke, a manor owned by him en route between Duxbury and Hoghton, to twice-widowed Countess Alice Stanley née Spencer! She was a patroness of the arts and one of the most colourful characters at Elizabeth’s and James’s courts. Her first husband had been Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, until his death by poisoning in 1594; and her second husband had been widower Thomas Egerton (from Cheshire), 1st Viscount Brackley, Elizabeth’s and James’s Attorney-General and Master of the Rolls and later Lord Chancellor, Lord Ellesmere. Her third and last now-known relationship was back in Lancashire with Alexander Standish of Duxbury! The implications of this still require considerable ratiocination, with no doubt a strong dose of speculation. Maybe relevant, or maybe not, is that the only other females mentioned in his will were one daughter Ellen, and his presumably favourite Hoghton niece Bridget. She was a daughter of his uncle Leonard Hoghton, whose name was also shared by Alexander’s brother Leonard[10A2]. More food for thought.

6) Yet another matter pretty well sorted out through the family papers was the date of construction of Duxbury (New) Hall. All hints converged on a construction in c.1623 by Thomas[11A1] after his father’s death in 1622, thus confirming the stone dated 1623 reported by Farrer.

7) Finally, having sorted out Families A and B, many previously ‘mysterious’ events during and after the Civil Wars started falling into place. Most remarkable was the handing over in 1647 of Duxbury (New) Hall and all dependent estates by the widow of the last in the male line of Family A, Royalist Colonel Alexander[12A2] to Parliamentarian Colonel Richard[11B1] of Family B. This was despite there still being three living males in Family A. The repercussions from this were to echo down the centuries with the many claims to Duxbury (New) Hall and estates in the 19th century, which in turn produced several Sieges of Duxbury Hall and accusations of skullduggery all round.

The documentation behind many of these ‘new’ discoveries appears in 2. DP397 Standish of Duxbury Muniments. The newly emerged biographies of 6.1. Alexander[10A1] (1567-1622) and 6.3. Colonel Richard[10B1] (c.1597-1662) are the most important for further relevant discoveries on LANCASTRIAN SHAKESPEARE and MYLES STANDISH. The titles of other files and folders speak for themselves.


Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.