Return to

ALEXANDER STANDISH Esquire Lord of the Manor of Duxbury 1587 - 1620

(1) Background: meandering around Duxbury

(23) 1590: Henry Butler and Lord Burghley

(2) Almost STOP PRESS
(24) 1592-3: marriage and the first child
(3) The future?
(4) The potential importance of Alexander Standish
(5) Sources for Alexander's biography
(27) 1596: a soldier
(6) Birth, childhood and siblings
(28) 1599: a few friends and relatives in war and peace
(7) The value of names

(8) All the siblings

(9) What happened between 1569 and 1573?
(31) 1601-2: with some Stanleys and other earls
(10) Where did he live?
(11) The Hoghton uncles
(33) 1603-5: a couple of local legends: (i) The Earl of Tyrone

(12) Thomas Conlan's letters re 'Shakespeare in Lancashire '

(13) 1575: at Rivington Grammar School ?
(35) 1605-22: Widowerhood
(14) 1577: an eventful year
(36) 1609-16: Alexander in Chancery courts
(15) A few relevant Radcliffes of Ordsall
(37) 1615-22: grandchildren
(16) 1580-1: a few local and Co ntinental events
(17) 1582-3: a few more local events
(39) Death and burial
(18) 1584: Queens' College, Cambridge
(41) The men involved
(20) 1586-8: back in Lancashire with Rev. William Leigh and the Earls of Derby
(22) c. 1590: a few relevant Heskeths
(44) A few notes on Lancashire legends

©Helen Moorwood asserts copyright on this and associated material. Helen expressly gives her permission for the material to be copied, circulated and distributed freely by any means, provided that copyright is acknowledged. March 2004.


(1) Background: meandering around Duxbury.

My first significant encounter with this particular Alexander Standish of Duxbury (A.S. from now on, to distinguish him from all the others with this name) as a potentially interesting character was when I first read (c. 1996) his inquisition post mortem ( ipm ) of 1623, which included the intriguing detail that he had installed Countess Alice of Derby rent-free for the remainder of her life in his manor of Anglezarke, near Duxbury in Lancashire. (The full text of his ipm appears below under 1623.) This ipm was the end of A.S.'s story (he was well and truly dead) and the beginning of several of mine, whilst trying to understand what might have happened in and around Duxbury in the 16th and 17th centuries. I have continued to meander through history books, several collections of unpublished documents, walked across and over many local fields and hills in the Duxbury area and visited many local halls.

I am still meandering, most recently through a thorough re-reading of everything on my shelves. Most of the people who helped in these early meanderings appeared on the Duxbury Family History web site under Acknowledgements and I have spoken on the phone to many since. You have been joined by a few more, whose names appear below.

A.S. emerged (for me and several years ago) as very obviously not just a local country squire, but also involved in events of national importance. He just seems to have been rather forgotten during the ravages of time, along with many of his relatives and friends. A.S. and Countess Alice have taken me on many 'magical mystery tours' up and down the country, literally and figuratively. A.S.'s very dates and family papers placed him in Lancashire and London during all the tumultuous events of the Counter-Reformation, with Catholic Plots, the Armada, threats of invasions by the Spanish via Ireland, Witch Trials and heaven knows what else happening all around him. Everyone seems to have been rather confused at the time (and many more than a little secretive), but A.S.'s family papers shed a little light in places.

His liaison with Countess Alice was startling enough in itself to lead to further research into Duxbury in general, the Standishes of Duxbury, the Earls of Derby, 'Shakespeare in Lancashire', 'Catholic Shakespeare', Captain Myles Standish and Countess Alice's family, given that she was née Spencer of Althorp (yes, Diana's family), as well as a patroness of several poets, including Shakespeare, and she was related to Edmund Spenser, who still has a 'Spenser's House' in Hurstwood near Burnley. What a heady mixture!

One could probably choose any little patch of England and find a similarly interesting group of people, whose stories still remain to be retold and connected. I just happened to hit on Duxbury. The latest news on 'Shakespeare's Lancashire Links' (all of whom must have been known to A.S.) is that all the earls proposed as Alternative Authorship Candidates for Shakespeare's Works have kept bumping into each other, the latest significant bumping being the Earls of Derby and Rutland in Tong in Shropshire, where Shakespeare dashed off a couple of epitaphs in c. 1600 (chiselled in stone and still there today), which has led to recent correspondence with the Venerable John Hall, Archdeacon of Salop, his secretary Mrs Anne Taylor and David Dixon, one of the guides. They have all been wonderfully helpful and I look forward to meeting them some time in 2004. John Hall, coincidentally, was the name of Shakespeare's son-in-law, husband of daughter Susanna, and Anne Taylor was governess of Lady Anne Clifford, who enters the background story because she was a cousin of the Earls of Derby and married two earls of relevance to Shakespeare. For the most scholarly accounts so far on Shakespeare's Stanley epitaphs in Tong Church , I refer to Honigmann, Shakespeare: 'the lost years' (1985, 1998) and the two latest titles to appear from Tong, quoted from below (1601-2).

My main questions when I read A.S.'s ipm were: What the flip was Countess Alice doing in Anglezarke in the early 1620s? Where did she live? What relationship did she have with Alexander Standish? How long did she stay on in Anglezarke before returning to her houses in Middlesex? If A.S. knew her so well, how many other prominent people did he know, and how involved was he in so many of the local dramatic events during his lifetime? Answers to many of these questions have gradually emerged, some definite, some probable and others still based on conjecture from surrounding circumstances.

While bringing a few people up to date recently I have spoken to several who appear in my Acknowledgements. One of the most hilarious chats was with Alan Duxbury. Alan had a long career at the Royal Ordinance Factory near Chorley, is therefore a bit of a bomb expert, and has provided me with so many local details, including that the dambuster bombs were stored in Duxbury Hall during the Second World War. He recently provided more information on bombs in the Falklands War, including the reason that many of the bombs didn't explode on the runway at Stanley airport was because there was too much mud! (I realise that I have still not understood the technical details as to whether they bounced when they shouldn't have, or didn't bounce when they should have: we were laughing too much at the time. Alan has read the technical details.) It is a tragic rather than funny story, and no offence is meant to anyone involved, but it seemed to provide a suitable recent backdrop to what I was writing at the time about 17th century Duxbury: Guy Fawkes popping up in Lancashire doing a bit of plotting with Standish of Duxbury relatives about 'bombs' (or rather gunpowder) that never went off (because it disintigrated); a bit more about soldier Myles Standish, who was fighting on the other side from Guy Fawkes against the Spanish in the Netherlands. Much of this history is also muddy.

I hardly dare to add that George W. Bush is a descendant of Myles Standish (via a female line), and we all saw him fly into Iraq with a huge turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving in November 2003 with some of his soldiers there, as a great morale booster; or at least we thought we did. He has his ancestor Myles Standish & Co. to thank for Thanksgiving. Many of us are not at all sure what we have to thank George W. Bush for, but he has certainly sent off a large number of bombs. My family found it quite hilarious (and sad) when the news broke that the huge turkey was plastic! I am still not sure whether Myles Standish should be turning in his grave.

This R.O.F. is no more; Duxbury Hall is no more; but A.S.'s family papers still are. The one thing I (think I) know is that his liaison with Countess Alice was significant, but has so far been overlooked by anyone interested in any of the surrounding stories. A.S. is therefore used below as a peg to hang many details onto. His background story is identical in many places, of course, to that of so many of his relatives and friends. We just need to put all these details together again and hence more meandering is required.

I have committed myself to giving a three day course 27-30 August at Alston Hall (Longridge, Lancashire, run by Lancashire County Council) entitled "Shakespeare's Lancashire Links", details of which appear in their latest brochure and on their web site (January 2004 onwards). I envisage a follow-up course on Myles Standish, but the timing must remain up in the air until after the Shakespeare course and an assessment by all concerned whether this should have its own follow up. In all cases, A.S. will appear as a significant character. My main aim, therefore, was to present his biography well in advance, so that I could refer to this and some who attend might even have read it. In the meantime I think it might be of interest to a few others, including Duxbury 'cousins' who regularly visit Peter Duxbury's web site. Maybe a few might even want to join in with the search for a few more details?

(2) Almost STOP PRESS.

I had a long chat in November 2003 to Dr Jonathan Sheard of Norwich , who two weeks earlier had bought a collection of original MSS at a sale in Chichester , including several mentioning Standish of Duxbury, about which he was kind enough to contact me. From his immediate information it seemed that these MSS might provide some icing on the A.S. cake, but not change the story below. The most interesting part of the news (for me) was that more Standish of Duxbury MSS had popped up and that people like Jonathan are buying them and interested enough to know more about A.S. & Co.

In brief, six of the MSS contain the following information, which will be incorporated in due course.

1. 1572/3 a tripartite document with a quitclaim.

2. A copy of this.

3. 1579 Oct 20 - marriage settlement between Thomas Standish and Margaret Hoghton. (This will be an interesting follow up to the 1577 marriage settlement.)

4. & 5. June 1581. Two copies of a tripartite agreement: Thomas Standish of Duxbury, Edward Standish of Standish and Richard Shuttleworth of Gawthorpe, with Thomas Hoghton and Alexander Rigby appearing.

6. 1603 May 14. A.S. sold half of the manor of Whittle-le-Woods to Sir Richard Hoghton. (It seems that this is probably a precursor of DP397/24/7 "Receipt: for £200: for moiety of manor of Whittle-le-Woods, 1605.")


Let us hope these all end up in the L.R.O. in Preston to join the main collection. (Really STOP PRESS. I received copies from Jonathan in January 2004, have perused them all and extracted many fascinating details, some of which appear below.)

I find that every time I have (re)read a book about any aspect in the 16th and 17th centuries, many sentences leapt off the page to allow more connections between A.S. and others. For example, two terse sentences in brackets in Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: radical ideas during the English Revolution , Penguin, 1975 (pp. 46-7): "Hostility to the clergy had been a striking element in the Robin Hood ballads. Pendle and Knaresborough forests harboured witches." In this book Hill (who died on 24 February, 2003 aged 91, obituary in The Guardian Weekly March 6-12 2003, p. 22) presented a new interpretation of events leading up to and during the Civil War, from a worm's eye point of view. A.S. was in the middle gentry part of this story, rather than a down-trodden worm, so the picture presented by Hill was more the world of some of his tenants rather than those of his sons and grandsons. This also seemed relevant, as he had so many of them and seems to have had a spot of bother with some of them on occasion. Robin Hood does not enter the story below (although he easily could, because there is at least one Robin Hood's Well in the vicinity); the Pendle Witch story appears briefly below; and Knaresborough appears below in the person of Sir William Ingleby of Knaresborough (Yorkshire), who was in court with A.S. in London around the time of the witch trials, while sorting out a few problems in the aftermath of the 'affray at Lea' in 1589, the 'Hesketh Plot' in 1593 and the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. Several in Sir William's family were certainly closely involved in the last.

The latest STOP PRESS news came with the announcement by Rev. Dr John Cree, Rector of St Laurence's Chorley for the past two years, of a series of celebrations planned for 2005 commemorating the 350 th anniversary of Myles Standish signing his will in March 1655/6. This has been widely reported in the local press (Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Preston Evening Post, Chorley Guardian) and all details will appear on the St Laurence's web site (in the making), with relevant links. We have been in contact and I am delighted by his initiative, which involves, among other intriguing matters, DNA tests among Myles Standish's descendants funded by the Mayflower Descendants Society in New England . I did point out in one phone call that in our modern calendar (switch between Julian and Gregorian in 1753) Myles actually signed his will in March 1656, and died later that year, so 2005 would be the 349 th rather than 350 th anniversary, but this hardly seems to matter.

(It certainly doesn't matter to Myles, who died in 1656. 2005 is going to be full of publications concerning the 400 th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, which involved so many in Lancashire, including many of Myles's and A.S.'s relatives and friends. The main experts today are still arguing amongst themselves.

(3) The future?

A bit of the future was predicted above. I will give my course at Alston Hall (27-30 August 2004) and, Rev. John Cree has set up his committee. I have no idea what the future might bring for A.S. or my Shakespeare book. In June 2003 I sent off the introduction and the first few pages to two publishers. In August I received rejections from both, for the following reasons. I quote:

(i) Sutton Publishing

5 August 2003

Dear Ms Moorwood,

Thank you for sending the proposal and outline for your book on Shakespeare's ancestry. I have considered it carefully and decided not to take the proposal any further. It struck me as a book that would appeal largly ( sic ) to a fairly dedicated audience of Shakespeare ancestry enthusiasts. As our books are intended for a broad general readership it would not make a very good fit for the range of marketing and selling approaches that we employ.

I wish you every success in placing the book with another publisher.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Feeney

Senior Commissioning Editor, History

(ii) Manchester University Press

19 August 2003

Dear Ms Moorwood

Re: Shakespeare's ancestry, life and Lancashire links

Many thanks for sending in the material. It is an intriguing read; unfortunately it is not one that MUP can take on.

I have talked about it with a colleague and with an academic. Although the material could be ground-breaking, MUP would not be best placed to exploit/promote your findings. You really do need a trade publisher, one with the resources to back up your findings and then be able to market them effectively. If the information you have unearthed is so explosive, MUP would probably be buried by the ensuing publicity.

Apologies for this somewhat brief response. I earnestly hope that you secure the interest of a larger publisher in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Frost

How extraordinary. As my husband Alan commented after reading both: "Do I understand that one rejection was because they thought they wouldn't sell enough books, and the other because they might sell too many?" Quite. My immediate thought about a publisher capable of coping with the publicity was Harry Potter, but I decided that the first logical place to start was with (materials for) A.S.'s biography and put this on a web site. Peter Duxbury was happy to oblige.

(4) The potential importance of Alexander Standish.

The main Duxbury puzzles (with some answers) have been the following.

(i) The history of certain buildings in Duxbury . Who lived at Duxbury (Old) Hall after the Duxburys left in 1524? Who built Duxbury (New) Hall in central Duxbury? And who built the cruck barn, still there today? And how did the moated site at Bretters Farm in neighbouring Heath Charnock fit into the picture? The main answers are that some of A.S.'s family lived at Duxbury (Old) Hall, Duxbury (New) Hall was almost certainly built and extended by A.S. and his son and heir Thomas, M.P., with the major building or extension in 1623; the cruck barn might have been built around this time or earlier; and Bretters Farm came firmly into the Standish of Duxbury family at the latest in 1577, when A.S.'s stepfather bought the northern half of the manor of Heath Charnock. One previous owner was Sir Thomas Banastre, leader of the Banastre Rebellion in 1315, which ultimately (but not immediately) led to the Duxburys losing the Lordship of the manor to the Standishes c. 1380. A book on buildings associated with the Duxburys and Standishes of Duxbury was envisioned years ago as one of 'The Duxbury Quartet', before Shakespeare entered my life and almost took it over. It will appear some time, but not yet awhile.

(ii) The history of the 16th and 17th century Standishes of Duxbury . Were they really solidly Protestant verging on Puritan, as previously claimed, but which I had increasingly come to doubt? The main answer is that various Standish of Duxbury families were split down the middle and that we need to distinguish two totally separate branches. Family A, A.S.'s, was split right through to the end of the Civil War, which saw this family dying out in the male line. Family B, a collateral family descended from Sir Hugh Standish de Duxbury, knighted at Agincourt , was firmly Protestant and Parliamentarian during the Civil War. One Protestant son of this family during Elizabeth 's reign moved to Protestant (later Parliamentarian) Manchester , with his son and heir Richard returning to Duxbury in 1647-8 to take over all estates ever owned by Families A and B: this was Colonel Richard (c. 1597-1663). His biography is now in place (from contemporary MSS), but will only make sense when A.S.'s biography has been digested by all interested, followed by biographies of his children and grandchildren. The fairly complete story of the Duxburys and Standishes of Duxbury before A.S. will follow asap.

(iii) Exactly how had Colonel Richard managed to acquire all the estates of Family A during the Civil War? And how did this fit into Myles Standish's claims in his Massachusetts will in 1655/6 and his son Alexander's pursuits later in Lancashire ? The answers lay in various documents written in Duxbury and at the Assize Court in Lancaster . Three particular documents from 1647, 1655 and 1657 were immediately dubbed 'Dynamite documents', because on their own they revealed the story and dynamited all previous accounts. Out of context, they would mean very little to anyone else, but will be reproduced in full in Colonel Richard's biography, in which they played a very important role, and also, indeed, for Myles's son Alexander. A.S. was meanwhile long dead, and the story is that of his grandsons.

(iv) The Lancashire end of the history of Myles Standish . Which lands exactly did he and his son Alexander keep trying to claim, on what basis, and what was the result? And why was Myles recorded nowhere in the genealogy of the two main Standish families of Standish and Duxbury? Years ago I had already come across strong hints of skulduggery on someone's part during the Commonwealth and after the Restoration, and finally read the proof and background to this when Colonel Richard was taken to court twice in 1655 and 1657 by lawyer Edward May (an interesting name, with several Mays in New England at the time) on behalf of Myles's son Alexander. My main conclusion now is that Colonel Richard was a gentleman and is now exonerated of any previous suspicions that he might have been anything else; the skulduggery lay elsewhere. The main puzzles were solved by the identification of two completely separate claims by Myles and his son Alexander of two completely different sets of estates, one from the Standishes of Standish and the other from the Standishes of Duxbury. I presented the basic story in my articles on Myles Standish and stand by everything claimed there; all that has changed in the meantime is that all details discovered then have been verified by details discovered since. Yet again, we first need to go back to A.S.'s biography.

(v) The rather amazing story of two sieges of Duxbury Hall and many other puzzling claims in the 19th century . On what basis did any of the numerous claimants of Duxbury Hall, including Myles's descendants, entertain even the remotest hope of gaining possession? The answer again goes back to A.S. and Colonel Richard, with vestiges of the Colonel's take over of the lands of Family A during the Civil War remaining in local folk memory - and also in the memory of Myles's descendants in New England . All were sure they were descended from one of A.S.'s family but could not prove it, the main reason being the disappearance of the family papers from Duxbury in the 1830s. Whether this was a deliberate or chance disappearance remains unknown, but disappear they did. How the MSS that Jonathan Sheard has just bought became separated from the rest will probably remain a mystery. Maybe they became separated from the Hoghton MSS? This query is based on the fact that Hoghtons appear frequently.

(vi) The tradition that Shakespeare spent time in Lancashire in his youth . If he really was with the Hoghtons and Heskeths (according to old and persistent and independent traditions in both families), what took him there? I was very doubtful from the beginning about Honigmann's tentative conclusion that John Cottam, the schoolmaster at Stratford and a ‘servant' of the Hoghtons, might have been the most important link. Important certainly, but not, I suspected, the most important. Some of the dates from the Midlands end of the story just did not fit with those at the Lancashire end. A.S. was obviously involved in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire ' story somehow, but how? His main links emerged from his being a nephew of all the relevant Hoghton brothers, with himself almost certainly named after his uncle Alexander Hoghton, who wrote the perplexing will in 1581 naming William Shakeshafte, the 'smoking gun' for Shakespeare researchers about young Shakespeare's 'lost years'. Other revelations were the intimate links of all these with the Earls of Derby, and the most intimate link for A.S. was the installation of a widowed Countess of Derby in one of his manors near Duxbury, rent-free for life. And thereby hangs another tale of 'everything connects'. This particular Countess

takes her place in our history because, in the course of a long and busy life, Lady Alice, patroness of the arts, knew personally four of the greatest poets of the English tongue, Spenser, Donne, Shakespeare and Milton. In this she is believed to be unique. Edmund Spenser claimed to be her kinsman and dedicated his “Teares of the Muses” to her. John Donne, foremost of English metaphysical poets, she helped out of a matrimonial scrape. Shakespeare was a member of the theatrical company of which her first husband was patron, while in her later years young John Milton composed “Comus” for the pleasure and delight of herself and her family. I recently went to Harefield to find out more about this lovely countess, who lived in the far-off dates of Elizabethan exploits. And in the ancient church I met her as she really was. The effigy on her painted monument is so lifelike that I expected her to sit up and tell me about that famous visit of 31st July to the 2nd August, 1602, when Queen Elizabeth came to stay and it rained all the time.

(Iva Howard, “The Lady of Harefield Place”, Middlesex Quarterly , Winter 1953, from a copy in the Local Studies Library of Ruislip.)


This little snippet (among many other lengthy offerings) was received with gratitude in September 2003 from Sylvia Ladyman, Secretary of the Local History Society. It provided a rather large amount of Middlesex icing on the cake already baked in Lancashire by A.S., the Hoghtons and the Earls of Derby. Sylvia has since visited Harefield Church , taken photos of Countess Alice's tomb from every possible angle, transcribed the MIs, and the results landed in my postbox in November 2003. Countess Alice's biography will follow as soon as possible.


(5) Sources for Alexander's biography.

Until now A.S.'s longest biography was the one in the Victoria County History of Lancashire , ( VCH ).

[Thomas Standish of Duxbury] died in 1599, leaving a son and heir Alexander, twenty-nine years of age . . . Alexander Standish seems to have had the family manors granted to him as early as 1583. He died in 1622, leaving a son Thomas, twenty-nine years of age. His will was proved in 1622; to his 'grandchild little Thomas Standish' he left 'two of the best pieces of plate, viz. a crystal cup and his best salt.' The family had become Protestant. (Farrer, VCH , vol. 6 (c. 1906), p. 210.)

Farrer was (of course) accurate in these reports of dates and provided many other vital references to surrounding documents. His brief history of Duxbury still stands (for me) as the most accurate so far and I salute him. It just requires supplementation.

He also made frequent reference to Kuerden's MSS, which survive in nine bound volumes, one of which Farrer had in his possession (now in Manchester Central Library), the others scattered between the College of Arms and Chetham's Library. A brief biography of Richard Kuerden (1623-90?), a Lancashire antiquarian from near Preston , and a brief history of his works and their current locations is available at Chetham's Library, ref. MUN.C.6.1-3. A brief summary is that Kuerden amassed a vast collection of transcriptions of extant documents, copied in a crabbed hand (which everyone who has ever read complains about as being more difficult to read than the original MSS - a bit offputting!), envisioning a publication from these of the first ever history of Lancashire, along with fellow antiquarian Christopher Towneley of Towneley Hall, Burnley (died 1654), which was never realised. (I understand their problem: when you have amassed such an enormous amount of information, where do you start? This formidable task was finally undertaken in the early 19th century by Baines, another remarkable character, with a biography in the DNB .)

These two also worked in close conjunction with two other antiquarians, Roger Dodsworth of Yorkshire, who married a Hesketh daughter of Rufford Old Hall, and Sir William Dugdale of Warwickshire (his father was from Lancashire ), Norroy King of Arms 1660-77. These were crucial years for the last Visitation Pedigrees of Lancashire and Cheshire during two visits in 1664 and 1665, the period when Myles's son Alexander was still pursuing his claim to Lancashire estates. Biographies of Dodsworth and Dugdale are in the DNB , which concentrate mainly on their erudition and publications, but are missing many relevant details from the Lancashire end of their stories. Just two of many details missing, but of great relevance to A.S.'s family, are that Dodsworth visited Duxbury Hall and recorded the inscription of the memorial of Baron Langton (died 1605, memorial moved from Wigan Church, who will loom rather large below in A.S.'s biography) and that Kuerden was the right hand man of Sir William Dugdale during his visitations of Lancashire and Cheshire in 1664-5. Into this 'Early Modern antiquarian Lancashire hotpot' of relevance for 'Duxbury to Shakespeare' we can also throw John Le(y)land (family from Leyland and visited Lancashire in the 1530s) and William Camden, who was involved in a few Shakespeare details in London c. 1600 after visiting Lancashire to write his history of Britain and before going on to write a biography of Queen Elizabeth (a copy of which was on Myles Standish's shelves). And for good measure let them be joined by Christopher Saxton from Yorkshire and John Speed from Cheshire , who produced such wonderful maps of Lancashire (and other counties) in the 1560s and 1610s respectively. Together they present a formidable knowledge of Tudor and Stuart folk and sooner or later they all appear in A.S.'s story and 'Duxbury to Shakespeare'.

Kuerden's MSS have survived but remain unpublished. If they are ever transcribed and published, maybe a few more details about A.S. will emerge - or not. At the very least they will produce more details about other families and documents in Lancashire deemed interesting by Kuerden. The expert on him at the College of Arms is Thomas Woodcock, current Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, whose grandfather wrote the history of Haslingden, which includes most of the details of the Holdens who enter the story. (These remain peripheral to A.S., but more than one Holden daughter married into relevant families, and they were the key to understanding the origin of the Darwen Duxburys in Holden territory.) It was Norroy Woodcock who provided relevant details of MSS at the College of Arms concerning the Shakespeare and Arderne arms. His book The Oxford Guide to Heraldry ( Oxford , 1988) is the main source for quotations concerning heraldic laws and particularly valuable as not only a completely new history by a herald, rather than a regurgitation of previous histories, but also because it provides so many details of Northern families held at the College of Arms . It also contains many gorgeous reproductions in colour and invaluable lists of the dates when various heralds held various offices.

Other details of A.S. have appeared in local publications, particularly T. C. Porteus, A History of the Parish of Standish , 1927, but A.S.'s story, as presented below, emerged mainly from the family papers, The Standish of Duxbury Muniments . These were not available to Farrer or Porteus, because they had disappeared from Duxbury in the 1830s, when the male line at Duxbury Hall finally died out, and did not reappear in Lancashire until 1965, when they turned up in the Portobello Bookshop in London and were bought by the Lancashire Record Office. They were subsequently calendared in twenty-six pages by an anonymous archivist, now included in Volume DP (=Deeds Purchased) 397 in the Lancashire Record Office. These remain unpublished, but are available to any visitor to the L.R.O. Photocopies of the catalogue and most of the original MSS relevant to A.S., Colonel Richard and their families are on my shelves, ordered and received in batches over the years, as one story after another seemed potentially relevant. The vast majority are agreements with tenants and rather prosaic, but buried in the middle were a few gems, to which I refer below.

No documents relating to Myles Standish's or William Shakespeare's potential youth in Lancashire have ermerged, or at least not surfaced so far, and any reconstruction of their early biographies is thus based on later reports and traditions from descendants of relatives, friends and neighbours. A.S.'s biography is based on the reverse situation: very few traditions survived into the 19th century, but many of his family documents did. One or other of these situations applies to several others important to A.S., who therefore appear below, most importantly Countess Alice, William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, Rev. William Leigh, and a clutch of contemporary Hoghtons, Standishes of Standish, Asshetons, Gerards of Bryn, Ince and elsewhere, Radcliffes of Ordsall and elsewhere, Egertons of North Cheshire and elsewhere, etc..


(6) Birth, childhood and siblings.

1570/1. A.S. was born as the fourth of five (recorded) sons to Thomas Standish, Lord of the Manor of Duxbury, born c. 1531 and designated Thomas(1) henceforth, and Margaret Hoghton, illegitimate but recognised daughter of Sir Richard Hoghton, Margaret(1) henceforth. A.S. was the elder of only two sons still surviving in 1577: Alexander and Leonard. DP397/21/12 establishes the situation at this time and sorts out the previous confusing situation caused by two Thomas Standishes marrying two Margaret Hoghtons, and when one of each died, Thomas(1) and Margaret(2), the two remaining, Thomas(2) and Margaret(1) married! Simple, really, but very confusing until these events became clear. The first Thomas Standish to die was A.S.'s father, in mid-1577, after which his mother Margaret(1) married widower Thomas Standish of Duxbury and Heath Charnock, Thomas(2), a quarter-cousin of A.S.'s father Thomas(1).

In this document (text below under 1577) it is stated that this second marriage had been challenged and that Thomas(2) of Duxbury and Heath Charnock therefore wished to establish that his (step)sons were now in any case his heirs. It was at this point that half of Heath Charnock came to the family in Duxbury, a fact that was highly relevant when establishing Myles's claims to various estates long after A.S.'s death. No hint is given as to why this marriage had been challenged, but one can only suspect that it was somehow connected with the religious situation, which was still in flux after Queen Elizabeth's excommunication by the Pope in 1570. It was still being debated whether marriage ceremonies performed anywhere other than in the local parish church were valid, and a whole series of anti-Catholic laws were starting to be enforced. A.S. thus grew up with this background. Most importantly, he was a nephew of all his Catholic Hoghton uncles, whose story, as the traditional hosts of young Shakespeare, provides the background to 'Shakespeare in Lancashire '.

The following will serve to make the immediate family situation clear and sort out muddles in any previous account of the family. We need first to go back to Sir Christopher Standish of Duxbury (?c.1450-1495), who had two significant sons from his second marriage to Alice, daughter of William Poole of Poole in the Wirral, Cheshire, i.e. two sons who survived, married, had sons and grandsons and stayed in Duxbury: Thomas (b. 1480/1) and James (b. c. 1485). All dates here and below are accurate to within a year or so, as reported in the family papers or deduced from surrounding dates in documents. (Myles Standish was descended from Sir Christopher's third wife Alice, daughter of Sir Alexander Standish of Standish, a picture made clear - I hope - in my articles on Myles Standish.) The Poole kinship was to prove of great interest in connecting them to their immediate neighbours in the Wirral, the Stanleys of Hooton, kinsmen of Mary Arderne. These knights and a few thousand contemporaries were in the Lancashire and Cheshire armies at Bosworth under the Earl of Derby and many gentry descendants kept in touch by marrying their children within the same group over and over again.

Sons of Sir Christopher Standish and Alice Poole of Poole in the Wirral

who stayed in Duxbury

Family A

Lords of the Manor of Duxbury

The cadet line



Thomas (1480/1-1517/18)

James (c. 1485-?1550-60)



James (1501-c. 1571)

James (c. 1515-liv. 1583)



Thomas(1) (c. 1531-mid-1577)

Thomas(2) (c. 1535-99)

These names in themselves reveal the reason for previous confusion, and separation of all the Jameses and Thomases was only possible from the family papers. This leaves us with Thomas(1) and Thomas(2), both born in the 1530s and marrying in the 1550s. They were both great-grandsons of Sir Christopher, and therefore quarter-cousins, which in the 16th century made them close kinsmen, tied together even closer by marriages into the same local gentry families. All families descended from Sir Christopher were dubbed long ago as Family A, because to confuse the situation in the 16th century even further, there was yet another Thomas(3) Standish of Duxbury, whose family was dubbed Family B. He was descended from a much earlier younger son Hugh, who died at the siege of Honfleur (probably of dysentery, like so many others), but whose son Hugh went on to fight at Agincourt , where he was knighted. Both families knew their ancestry very well and left enough records of this (in the family papers and Visitation Pedigrees) to leave no doubt that they were correct. For the moment, however, we concentrate on A.S.'s father and stepfather.

Marriages and children of Thomas(1) and Thomas(2)


Thomas(1) son of James son of Thomas (b. c. 1531), Lord of the Manor of Duxbury

Thomas(2) son of James son of James (b. c. 1535), living in Duxbury

= c. 1550 Margaret Hoghton(1), daughter of

Sir Richard Hoghton

= (?date) Margaret Hoghton(2), daughter of

Thomas Hoghton of Pendleton

5 sons and 9 daughters (recorded)

No (recorded or surviving) children

Thomas(1) d. mid-1577, Margaret(1) survived him

Margaret(2) d. before 1577, Thomas (2) survived her

Children of Thomas(1), Lord of the Manor of Duxbury, and Margaret(1), daughter of Sir Richard Hoghton, in Chorley Parish Registers.

N.B. The first Parish Register starts in 1548, but there are no Standish baptisms 1548-52, complete gaps in the Register 1553-56 and 1599-1611 inclusive and no Standish burials recorded 1587-1611 inclusive. The following is the most plausible explanation of the extant entries, combined with details in later documents, mainly stepfather Thomas(2)'s document in 1577 (mentioned above, with the text below under this date) and his will of 1593, where all living children were named. In the second column, d = daughter, s = son, merely to establish the most likely order of birth of daughters 1-9 and sons 1-5.





Buried young



d 1


1564 Oct 6



s 1


1565 Nov 7



d 2


1572 Mar 8



d 3

1558 Sep 14


Married John Ogle


d 4

1559 Sep 24


Married Philip Mainwaring


s 2

1561 Jan 6

1561 Jan 15



d 5

1562 Apl 13


Married Christopher Longworth


s 3

1563 Oct 14

1565 Sep 29



d 6

1565 Jul 17

1571 Sep 30



d 7

1569 Jan 14


Bap. at Standish, liv. 1593, 1622 and 1637, unmarried


d 8

1570 Oct 17

?1580 Oct 30

d. between 1577 & 1593

Alexander (A.S.)

s 4



b. 1570/1, son & heir, lived till 1622


d 9

1572 Jun 2


d. before 1577


s 5

1573 Nov 28


liv. 1600, then disappeared

A.S.'s birth date is established by his being 'aged 29 years' in the probate of his stepfather Thomas(2)'s will on 29 September 1600. (Farrer, VCH gives a brief summary of the will and probate in his section on Duxbury, vol. 6, p. 210, reproduced below under 1600.) This would allow a birth date at the end of 1570 or early 1571, but establishing the precise date is impossible and would be a mere quibble. The most important fact seems to be that his baptism was not recorded in Chorley Parish Register, which in itself might be highly significant as far as his family's religion is concerned, when put together with some of the appearances and non-appearances of Standish of Duxbury baptisms, marriages and burials at Chorley .

A.S. was almost certainly named after one of several local kinsmen with this name, and the strongest candidate is his uncle Alexander Hoghton (A.H. from now on), his mother's brother, who had no son and heir (he left just one illegitimate daughter), and who was the host (by Hoghton tradition) of young William Shakespeare and the certain host of William Shakeshafte, named in A.H.'s 1581 will. (The only complete transcription so far of A.H.'s will is in Honigmann, 1985, Appendix A.) The discovery of this by Shakespeare scholars (first noted by E. K. Chambers in 1923) sparked off the controversy, still ongoing, as to whether Shakespeare was ever in Lancashire and therefore probably a Catholic. Anyone who watched Michael Wood's recent telly series In Search of Shakespeare (BBC, 2003) saw him and Sir Bernard de Hoghton reading the original at Hoghton Tower and pondering over the William Shakespeare/ Shakeshafte conundrum. Sir Bernard is convinced that they were one and the same, Michael Wood is not, I am. Professor Honigmann has almost retired from this puzzle (but has provided many wise comments, and another article in the Shakespeare Quarterly , Spring Issue, 2003).

No doubt the debate will continue. We all agree that Shakespeare was a 'slippery character' and a genius at the same time. In the middle of this, it has become absolutely certain that A.S. was involved in one way or the other and that A.H. was his uncle.

(7) The value of names.

The brothers born before A.S. have left behind only their names and burial dates, yet even these are significant in confirming naming patterns at the time in Lancashire . Long ago I deduced what these were and confirmation came from a section in The Ormerods , by Dr Milton Ormerod, published by the Lancashire History and Heraldry Society in August 1996 (ISBN 1 870277 53 8), "Childrens' Names and their value in Genealogy" (pp. 39-43). In this he reported that when he published his conclusions in 'Family Tree' magazine, "I found that I had been reinventing the wheel" and "the resulting correspondence revealed that the system had been virtually mandatory in both Scotland and Ireland at least into the nineteenth century and was reported to have been in use in Cornwall 'until biblical names superseded the system, probably with the rise of Methodism'". He (and others) attributed this to Celtic belief in an afterlife and thus perpetuated in the Celtic fringe, to which Lancashire belongs inasmuch as it was one of the last areas in England to be settled by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings.

I would add to this that many friends from Catholic countries have reported that it is still mandatory today in some families that the first son should be named after the paternal grandfather and the first daughter after the maternal grandmother. Some ancient habits die hard. Basically, in 95% of the families Ormerod investigated, the rule until c. 1800 was that the first three sons were named after the two grandfathers and the father, and the first three daughters after the two grandmothers and the mother; after that one turned to uncles and aunts, particularly unmarried ones with no children, in order to perpetuate their name. One statement I have read on many an occasion, "the first son was always named X", just does not hold water. In a case where the first son survived generation after generation and had the same name, it was always the grandfather's name, which of course was the same as the father's. As soon as the first son did not survive, however, one finds alternating names in succeeding generations, following the convention of naming after the grandfather. In 5% of cases perceived by Ormerod, any deviation was because of some peculiar situation in the preceding generation, usually involving a rich uncle or aunt who had died childless, the couple had already benefited and this aunt or uncle was therefore commemorated first.

One main change seems to have arrived in Lancashire in the 16th century with the introduction of using the mother's (or occasionally the grandmother's) maiden name as a Christian name for a later child, which in the case of the Standishes and other local gentry saw Radcliffe being used for a younger son or daughter, the Radcliffes having produced the current Earls of Sussex. This seems to have been one public way of proclaiming their close affinity with an ennobled family. Other prestigious surnames as forenames sprinkled throughout Visitation Pedigrees in Lancashire in families related by marriage to the Standishes were Holcroft, Fleetwood and Gerard. It seems to be relevant that the Holcrofts had provided a bride for an Earl of Rutland and the Fleetwoods and Gerards had produced several sons who rose to distinction in the service of Elizabeth I.

The use of the names of godfathers and godmothers from outside the family for early children was, in the case of Lancashire families mentioned below, restricted to the Earls of Derby, who present a special case, with their connections to royalty. Henry the 4th Earl (1531-93) almost certainly received his name from Henry VIII; his son and heir Ferdinando the 5th Earl (1558-94) almost certainly from the current Holy Roman Emperor; William the 6th Earl (1561-1642) inherited a traditional family name but married Elizabeth de Vere, one of many goddaughters of Elizabeth I; their son and heir James the 7th Earl (1607-51) received his name from his godfather James I, which led to his losing his head; and his son and heir Charles, the 8th Earl (died 1672), received his name from Charles I, with one of his sisters named Henrietta, which leaves little doubt about the origin of her name. (Biographies of all appear in the standard literature on the early Earls of Derby by Seacome, Coward and Bagley, titles given in my Bibliography on the Duxbury web site in March 2002.) I have already commented on several little Lancashire lads named Ferdinando at the end of the 16th century, and, pending future possible research, assume that they were most likely younger sons and godsons of Ferdinando Stanley. All I report for the moment is that this name struck me as one of very few non-Lancashire names when I read through the 1613 and 1664/5 Visitation Pedigrees several years ago, and there seemed to be only one likely source.

Lower down the social scale in the 16th and 17th centuries, among the local gentry and their tenants, the same names appear again and again. No statistical analysis, as far as I know, has ever been undertaken, but any reading in local history produces a predominance of John, William, Thomas, James, Henry, Richard, Robert and other favourite names today, which have been traced back many times to Norman French names. Read any pedigree chart ever produced so far of the Standishes or other Lancashire families mentioned below and we find in addition to these a few more standard favourites of the time (this time in alphabetical order): Alexander, Christopher, George, Hugh, Lawrence, Nicholas, Peter, Ralph. My main conclusion is that every single male given one of these names was named after someone in the previous generation and in no way a random name selected by the parents.

This makes the appearance of other not obviously Norman French male names in local families in the 16th and 17th centuries very interesting, amongst which perhaps the most important for A.S. are Ughtred/ Oughtred, Thurstan/ Thurston and Hamlet/ Hamblett (along with many other variations of spelling).

The most important Ughtred for A.S. was the father of Thomas Duxbury, who sold all the Duxbury estates to the Standishes in c. 1524, which ended up with A.S.'s stepfather Thomas(2) living at Duxbury (OId) Hall. Other Ughtreds turn up in local families, most particularly in the Shuttleworths of Gawthorpe, a family that appears in the Standish story because one of them appears in a Standish MS and one of A.S.'s grand-daughters married a Shuttleworth. Their history has been related many times, Gawthorpe Hall is open to the public and has a web site.

Thurstans were in abundance in Lancashire in the 16th century; Hamlets also, with some too early to have had any connection with Shakespeare's Hamlet ,. A.S. must have known quite a few of them and they must have been amused when their name became so famous.

(8) All the siblings.

Every son in A.S.'s family was obviously named after someone in a previous generation. The first recorded son Thomas left behind only his burial date, and was presumably named after his Standish father and great-grandfather; the second son James was presumably named after his Standish grandfather. There might, of course, have been a previous James who left behind no record. The third son Richard was presumably named after his Hoghton grandfather Sir Richard. By the time their fourth son was born, they turned to uncles, so A.S was presumably named after one Hoghton uncle who had no sons (A.H.), and Leonard was presumably named after another uncle, Leonard Hoghton, yet another illegitimate younger brother of A.H. (All children of Sir Richard Hoghton born in wedlock appear on their Visitation Pedigrees, and those out of wedlock in Lumby, L.C.R.S., 1926, vol. 88, Deed no. 45, footnote, which appears below under 'The Hoghton uncles'. Honigmann, 1985, Appendix A, gives a simplified Hoghton family tree, although omitting many of the illegitimate younger half-brothers and sisters. He was totally justified in simplifying this in the context of Shakespeare's 'lost years', but perhaps we can now cope with the more complex story in A.S.'s biography.)

The same sort of pattern applies to the daughters: Anne (x2), Mary (x2), Elizabeth, Jane, Alice, Ellen and Margaret. 'Cherchez la femme' and we find all these names in previous generations of Standishes and in-laws.

A.S. thus grew up as the son and heir from the age of seven, with definitely four older sisters and one younger brother surviving until 1593 and some way beyond. The surviving sisters who married were Elizabeth (bap. 1558 September 14), Jane (bap. 1559 September 24) and Alice (bap. 1562 April 13), who were all baptised at Chorley and married into local gentry families, produced children, and are recorded under histories of the husbands' families. No doubt they visited Duxbury on occasion for various family events, but have so far not revealed any documentary details that need to be incorporated into A.S.'s biography. They must have stayed in close contact, because all of them and their children appear in his will in 1622.

The fourth sister Ellen (bap. 1569 January 14) presents a rather different story. She was baptised at Standish, the first Standish of Duxbury baby not to be baptised at Chorley , and she never married. Her baptism at Standish Parish Church is the first herald of religious problems in the family, which perhaps resulted in A.S. not being baptised at Chorley in 1570/1. Her survival as a spinster aunt gives her a potentially important role in A.S.'s biography, when we finally arrive at 1604 and the death of his wife.

(9) What happened between 1569 and 1573?

Something must have happened between 1569 and 1573 to take the Standishes of Duxbury away from Chorley Parish Church (briefly to Standish) and then to return, and the only plausible explanation lies in the local history of the times, the background history of the Counter-Reformation, the history of Rectors of Chorley and Standish Parish Churches, and perhaps other details still awaiting research. A few geographical details are also relevant. The township of Duxbury was at the extreme northern end of the ancient Parish of Standish, which stretched seven miles in a long thin line north to south, with Standish at the southern end. Still today there is a Duxbury Chapel in St Wilfrid's, Standish and several Standish of Duxbury memorials have survived. Duxbury was, however, much closer to St Laurence's, Chorley Parish Church and - presumably mainly for convenience - they used this over centuries as their main church for baptisms and burials. (The most detailed and fairly definitive published history of the parish of Standish still remains that by Porteus, 1927 and the most definitive history of St Laurence's also that by Porteus, c. 1946, quoted from below.)

Two rather important local events in 1569 were the Northern Rebellion (pro-Catholic) and the departure into exile of A.S.'s uncle Thomas Hoghton 'The Exile', which all Hoghton researchers have assumed might not be unconnected. It may be a total coincidence that Durham Cathedral was the scene of the most blatant anti-Protestant demonstration during the Rebellion and that a Lancashire man, James Pilkington, was at that time the first Protestant Bishop of Durham appointed by Elizabeth . (The story of 'Thomas the Exile' has been told many times, with a summary and full references by Honigmann, 1985; the story of James Pilkington most thoroughly so far by Margaret Kay in The History of Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School .)

Various strange financial settlements within A.S.'s family were recorded during this time (DP397/21/7-11, 1565-73). Further close scrutiny and full transcription might well reveal a similar situation as with the Hoghtons, with recusancy playing the largest role. (Documents 1 & 2 of 1572/3 bought by Jonathan Sheard, when put together with these, might shed a little more light on the biographies of A.S.'s father and grandfather.)

1570 also saw a hare-brained scheme to free Mary, Queen of Scots from Chatsworth in Derbyshire or Sheffield Castle , two homes of the current Earl of Shrewsbury, Mary's guardian and a Talbot with his origins in the Ribble valley. The plan was apparently to spirit her away to the Isle of Man (governed by the Earl of Derby via a succession of relatives), from where she could have sailed to France or Spain or wherever else she might have been welcomed. It failed, like all later 'plots and plans' to save her. Several of A.S.'s relatives were involved, most importantly Sir Thomas Gerard of Bryn and several Stanleys, who were imprisoned and fined heavily for their participation and thus subsequently termed as 'traitors'.

Details of all these are scattered throughout Lancashire literature and need drawing together, including all later 'plots'. I have yet to read any 'national' account of the various 'plots' in Elizabeth 's and James's reigns that emphasises the number of Lancastrians involved. The closest so far is Antonia Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot , who at least mentions Lancashire several times. She also relates the story of James I knighting Thomas Gerard of Bryn Jr because his father had been so active on behalf of his mother (James's mother Queen Mary) (Fraser, p. xxxiv). These Gerards also owned lands in Brindle near Duxbury. Another is Francis Edwards, Plots and Plotters in the reign of Elizabeth I , 2000. Fraser is Catholic and Edwards a Jesuit, which lays them both open to the accusation of being partisan in their sympathetic pro-Catholic interpretations.

Another expert on 'plots', particularly the big one in 1605, is Dr Mark Nicholls, Librarian and Fellow at St John's , Cambridge . I was privileged to meet him in the summer of 2002 when I popped into St John's library, mainly in pursuit of all the Lancashire lads who studied there in the 16th century. He differs somewhat in his conclusions from Antonia Fraser. I leave it up to the academics to continue this debate and only hope that this Lancashire input might be of use somehow.

Thomas Hoghton 'The Exile' was married to a Gerard of Bryn daughter, and other Gerard daughters married into many local gentry families, including the Ardernes of Cheshire, Mary Arderne's family. One of the Stanleys involved in 1570 was Sir Thomas, brother of the 4th Earl of Derby, for whom Shakespeare later wrote an epitaph. (See Honigmann, 1985, Ch. VII for a simple family tree of this Stanley branch and a full account of Shakespeare's Epitaphs.)

This, then, was the world in which A.S. spent his early years. Catholic plots involving relatives, a Catholic uncle just flown into exile, his grandfather James making strange settlements, the family fairly obviously torn between remaining Catholic or conforming, three older brothers already dead or about to die, leaving A.S. as the son and heir of Duxbury Hall and dependent estates. He also had dozens of Catholic Hoghton cousins and endless kinsmen in Duxbury and neighbouring manors. He was probably oblivious to most of the political and religious background and just enjoyed his early childhood wandering through Duxbury Woods with children of his father's tenants.

(10) Where did he live?

1571, 15 May. At least we know where his father and his future stepfather were living when A.S. was a young boy.

Bond: in £100: Thomas Standysshe of Duckesbury, gent. to John Aynsworth of Staple Inn , co. Middx., gent. - Thomas Standysshe to pay to John Aynsworth £50, as follows: - on 20 Sep., £20, at St. Stephens' day, £10, and 1 Sep. 1572, £20, in ('the porche of the parishe church of Chorley ' erased) 'the mancion house' of Thomas Standysshe called Duxbury Hall. 15 May 1571. (Catalogue: DP397/4/22.)

"Thomas Standysshe, gent" was A.S.'s future stepfather, living at the time, it seems, in the south of Duxbury, in the Duxbury (Old) Hall that had been sold to the Standishes by Thomas Duxbury in 1524, with his wife Margaret née Hoghton of Pendleton but no children. His brother Christopher(2) had a large family (baptised and some buried at Chorley ), who are mentioned in his will of 1593.

1572, 8 August. It has been established that A.S.'s father was Thomas Standish(1), Esquire, who also very confusingly had a brother Christopher(1). One can only presume that this name perpetuated the memory of their great-grandfather Sir Christopher. In this family it was the other way round: Thomas(1) Esquire had a large family and Christopher(1) no children. The following document makes it clear that these two were the sons of James, Esquire, A.S.'s grandfather, who was dead by 1572. As Sir Richard Hoghton had died in 1559, A.S. never knew either of his grandfathers. The following was one of the documents that finally sorted out the two Thomases, as they both appear, although rather confusingly in the abstract in the catalogue:

Bond: in 100 marks: Christofer Standishe of Heathe Charnocke, gent. to Thomas Standyshe of Duckesburie, esq. - Christofer Standishe not to expel or fine Oliver Totehill and Katherin, late wife of William Totehill, mother of Oliver Totehill, tenants of a tenement in Anlazarghe and Hepaye or George Asteley, tenant of another tenement in Hepaye (both tenements held by Christofer Standishe for life by gift of James Standish, esq., decd, his father, conveyed to John Aynesworth, who mortgaged them to Thomas Standysshe) if redeemed from Thomas Standish, with consent of Thomas Standysshe, William Chorley, sen., and James Anderton, esqs. 8 Aug. 1572. (Catalogue: DP397/4/23.)

We will meet James Anderton again. Totehill/ Toothill is another Lancashire name to conjure with. Could this family possibly have produced the Richard Tottell who published the best seller Tottell's Miscellany in 1557? We will probably never know, but it would not surprise me if a copy of this found its way to Duxbury.

Tottel's Miscellany The first of the poetic miscellanies popular in the later 16th century, brought out in 1557 by the printer Richard Tottel in collaboration with Nicholas Grimald. Its formal title was Songs and Sonnets Written by the Right Honourable Lord Henry Howard Late Earl of Surrey and Other (i.e. others). Thomas Wyatt is generously represented as is Surrey , the first time that the work of either poet had appeared in print. Other writers include Grimald himself, Sir John Cheke and Thomas Vaux . There was a second edition in 1557 and many subsequent editions with additions and deletions in the 16th century. ( The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English , 1988, p. 997.)

This Thomas Vaux was 2nd Baron Vaux of Harrowden (1510-56), whose family was later to be involved in many plots, particularly the big one in 1605. We will meet some of these when we finally arrive there.

1574, 25 May. The following establishes that A.S.'s father had close connections to William Gerard, a lawyer in London (who appears again later), and possibly indicates that Thomas(1) might have travelled there on occasion. This William Gerard happened to be the brother of Sir Gilbert Gerard, soon to become Elizabeth's Master of the Rolls, and cousin of Sir William Gerard, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (the Gerards are well documented in Baines, Farrer).

Bond: in £200: William Gerrarde of Ince, esq., and Thomas Standishe of Duckesbury, esq. to William Sherington citizen and haberdasher, of London - William Gerrard and Thomas Standishe to pay to William Sherington £110 on 4 May next at his house in 'Fanchurche strete.' 25 May 1574. (Catalogue: DP397/4/24.)


(11) The Hoghton uncles.

A.S.'s mother Margaret Hoghton(1) was one of six illegitimate, but fully recognised and acknowledged daughters of Sir Richard (de) Hoghton (1498-1559). Two of these turned out to be crucial in bringing the Standishes to centre stage in the Hoghton and 'Shakespeare in Lancashire ' stories: one was Margaret(1), A.S.'s mother, and another was one of the Elizabeths , who had married another Standish of Duxbury. This marriage was to Lawrence , the uncle of A.S.'s stepfather Thomas(2), to confuse all these relationships even more. This, indeed, was one of the confusions that led to 19th century muddles, as it was not recognised that this was a marriage contracted when Lawrence and Elizabeth were very young. They did consummate the marriage, but the male line died out when their only surviving son Lawrence left no children. (Records in Chorley Parish Registers.)

Sir Richard had four wives: by his first wife Alice, daughter of Sir Thomas Assheton of Ashton there were two surviving sons, Thomas 'The Exile' and Alexander 'of the 1581 will'. By his second wife Alice Morley there were also at least two sons: Thomas (T.H., potential host of Shakespeare and later killed at the 'affray at Lea') and Rowland (who played no further part in the story). It seems there were no surviving sons by his third wife Elizabeth Gregson of Balderstone and that most of the illegitimate children were by his mistress Anne, daughter of Roger Browne (place of origin unknown but presumably local), who became his fourth wife when the third one died. At this point the illegitimate children were legitimised retrospectively.

The husbands of five illegitimate daughters of Sir Richard Hoghton are given as "Cuthbert Clifton of Lytham, Nicholas Skillicorne of Preese, Standish of Duxbury, William Haydock of Cottam and Robert Talbot, natural son of John Talbot of Salesbury", in J. H. Lumby, A Calendar of the Deeds and Papers in the possession of Sir James de Hoghton, Bart. of Hoghton Tower , Lancashire (LCRS, 1926, vol. 88), Deed no. 45, note at the bottom of the page. Honigmann (1985, p. 146) gives "at least two" illegitimate daughters: Elizabeth, wife of Robert Talbot, a trustee of the fund in Alexander Hoghton's will of 1581 that was to provide annuities to William Shakeshafte, etc., and another Elizabeth. This second Elizabeth also married a Standish of Duxbury - marriage settlement Lawrence Standish and Elizabeth Hoghton 20 November 1531, Lumby, no. 1391 (also abstracted by Farrer under his account of the Standishes of Duxbury, VCH vol. 6).

The same document also gives details of six illegitimate sons of Sir Richard:

Richard Hoghton the elder, commonly called of the Cawsey; Leonard Hoghton of Grimsargh whose daughter Bridget married Stanley of the Moor Hall [Lumby adds: ? in Woodplumpton, but it was definitely Moor Hall in Aughton, according to Ormskirk Parish Registers, which gives baptisms of Edward Stanley's children], who had Peter and Thomas; Richard Hoghton the younger who had issue William who had issue John now of the Parkhall; Arthur Hoghton of Grimsargh who hath issue male; Gilbert Hoghton of Stanworth who had issue Richard of the Red Lee (in Tockholes); and Edward of Smithybottom (in Ribchester) of both of whom there is issue remaining.

This information was given "in a volume of pedigrees now in the British Museum (BM Addl. MSS 32114, ff o 85d & 86), by Towneley on information supplied to him by William Hoghton of Grimsargh" (perhaps one of the "issue male" of Arthur of Grimsargh?).

One vital point is that this information was given by a close member of the Hoghton family of the next generation, who actually knew these families, and was almost certainly recorded by Christopher Towneley, whose reputation as a meticulous recorder was impeccable at the time and has been fairly impeccable ever since. His informant William Hoghton of Grimsargh seems to have had one slip of memory in his accounting for all of Sir Richard Hoghton's illegitimate children. He gave only one daughter as marrying a Standish of Duxbury, when extant documents prove that two of them married into this family. A slight slip, and totally forgivable, as Lawrence and Elizabeth's family in Duxbury had died out by the end of the 16th century. Meanwhile, we can only be grateful for William Hoghton's otherwise presumably sound personal knowledge, and Towneley's recording of this.

Another vital point was that this provided a list of A.S.'s uncles and aunts from his mother's side and among them were three extremely interesting names: Clifton , Talbot and Haydock. The Cliftons were the largest land-owning family in the Fylde and the Talbots of the Ribble Valley were the family that produced the Earls of Shrewsbury. The first one and his son had prominent roles in Henry VI Part 1 , and the current one, married to Bess of Hardwick, was the guardian of Mary Queen of Scots at Chatsworth.

The Haydocks were interesting for several reasons: (1) they were Catholic, (2) they provided a Catholic priest, George, who became a martyr, (3) he provided another piece of folklore when his father Evan had a vision of his head floating in front of him at the moment of his death, (4) it was a Haydock (the same Evan?) that Thomas Hoghton 'The Exile' consulted before taking his decision to flee, (5) A.S.'s grandfather James had married a daughter of Evan Haydock (the same or his father?) as his first wife, (6) a Haydock appears in Captain Ralph Standish of Duxbury's will in 1637, and (7) they were the owners of Cottam Hall near Preston, a name already in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story because of John Cottam, schoolmaster at Stratford Grammar School. Did these somehow connect A.S. to 'Catholic Shakespeare in Lancashire ' yet again? In any case, the Haydocks became another 'signpost'. Their story was largely told by Joseph Gillow, The Haydock Papers: a glimpse into English Catholic life (1888). They deserve more research.

(12) Fr Thomas Conlan's letters re 'Shakespeare in Lancashire '

The Haydocks caught the interest of Thomas Conlan, a Jesuit priest (1912-2002). One highly relevant Haydock detail spotted in his search for 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' in the 1960s, was that one daughter by Sir Richard Hoghton's third wife Elizabeth Gregson was Bride (Bridget?), who married William Haydock, son of Vivian (=Evan?) Haydock, and cousin to Ven. George Haydock (the one whose ghostly head floated in front of his father's eyes), who was an in-law of Cardinal William Allen, who has become a key figure in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire ' story.

This Haydock part of Fr Conlan's 'news' reached me posthumously, buried in the middle of nine letters written in 1967 to Peter Milward in Tokyo, who never quite knew what to do with them, mislaid them until rediscovered in a pigeon-hole in May 2003, which resulted in two photocopies flying round the world to Carol Enos and myself. I would love to be able to report that they arrived via pigeon-post, but of course they came more normally, via airmail. They became an important part of another ongoing story, with copyright problems still to be resolved.

Fr Conlan was a Jesuit priest, who died in May 2002 in a nursing home in London , very deaf and almost blind, aged ninety. I think I managed to convey to him via his carers that his work on Shakespeare had not been unappreciated, and that the 'missing link' for 'Shakespeare in Lancashire ' had been discovered. During the 1960s and 1970s he undertook an enormous amount of genealogical research in an attempt to trace Shakespeare's route from Stratford to Lancashire , mainly via the Arde(r)n(e)s. This was largely as a support to the rather recent early publications by Peter Milward, also a Jesuit priest, and appointed to a teaching post in Tokyo . Father Peter (as we decided I should address him) subsequently became Professor of English Literature at Sophia University in Tokyo, founder of the Renaissance Institute in Tokyo and the leading authority in the world on Catholic Shakespeare. The latter 'fact' had always been apparent to him from The Works. He has published about five hundred articles and books, many on 'Catholic Shakespeare', but the one that has received the most attention and references was the seminal Shakespeare's Religious Background (1973). At that time and for two decades, this was judged to be interesting, but generally dismissed by Shakespeare academia as partisan. This situation did not change until the late 1990s, with the upsurge of interest in 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' inspired largely by the conference at Lancaster University and Hoghton Tower in July 1999, which produced a large amount of local and (inter)national publicity.

For the moment Carol and I remain the sole repositories of copies of these letters. The sequence of events over the last few months was: we received copies from Father Peter's pigeon-hole in Tokyo in May 2003; Carol typed her interpretation of the handwritten text onto her computer and sent a printed copy to me in June; I checked her version against the handwritten copies and was able to help in the interpretation of many place-names. I sent a copy back to her, covered with comments and in July added various handwritten footnotes on my copy. Since then we have both been just too busy with other matters to put all these details together. Our joint enterprise was first destined to appear (perhaps) as an appendix in my Shakespeare book, but might well appear on an appropriate web site before then and before the course at Alston Hall in August 2004. Before this might happen, however, we need to clarify copyright details, obtain one missing page from Father Peter, reproduce family trees, etc.. We believe that they will be of great interest to several others and they certainly contain the names of many of interest to A.S.

(13) 1575: at Rivington Grammar School ?

(and a little meander around Grammar Schools and other matters)


1575. A.S. was perhaps a pupil at Rivington Grammar School and it has been suggested that Myles Standish might also have attended. (The latter left a rather impressive library, which seems to prove that he received an education, either at school or later self-educated.) It was founded in 1566 by James Pilkington, first Protestant Bishop of Durham and one of several from Lancashire who fled into exile during the reign of Catholic Mary, returned to preferment under Protestant Elizabeth and subsequently founded Protestant Grammar Schools in Lancashire .

These included Edwin Sandys, Bishop of Worcester then Archbishop of York (founded Hawkshead Grammar School in the Lake District), Matthew (Nosey) Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury (founded Middleton Grammar School, the home at that time of the senior branch of the Asshetons) and Alexander Nowell, teacher at Westminster School and Dean of St Paul's (helped with Middleton Grammar School and took an interest in Burnley Grammar School). (Kay gives some details of these and a survey of other Tudor Grammar Schools in Lancashire . Biographies of Sandys, Parker and Nowell are in the DNB .)

Some of the most important background details in the context of A.S.'s biography and his links to Myles Standish and Shakespeare seem to be that Sandys was Bishop of Worcester, the diocese in which Stratford lay when John Shakespeare was rising through the civil ranks. It was also here that William Shakespeare obtained his marriage licence to marry Anne Hathaway in 1582, with Sandys meanwhile replaced as Bishop of Worcester by John Whitgift, who went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Sandys, as Archbishop of York, seems to have done a lot of travelling up and down between York and London, often staying in a house at Scrooby on the Great North Road in North Nottinghamshire, an area that was to produce many Separatists, who later fled to the Netherlands and even later took Captain Myles Standish with them on the Mayflower as their Military Commander. The museum in Retford, Notts. is a good starting point for buying booklets and picking up leaflets of various Pilgrim Father trails. I was first alerted to these by Moorwood research in the Sheffield area and the realisation that Joseph Hunter, in the early 19th century, was the dominant figure in research on the history of this area, which led to his discovery of the families of several Pilgrim Fathers and also publications relevant to Shakespeare biography. All his discoveries deserve a thorough re-reading.

What seems to be missing so far in the standard histories of the English end of the story of the Pilgrim Fathers is the potential role and connections between these Protestant Deans, Bishops and Archbishops, with their origins and foundations of Grammar Schools in Lancashire, careers elsewhere, and they and their children popping up in so much literature during Elizabeth's and James's reigns in the right places and at the right times to perhaps have been important in influencing the lives of A.S., Myles Standish and William Shakespeare (amongst many others). For example, two of Sandys 's sons (George and another Edwin) achieved fame as poets/ travel writers/ diplomats and much else, and some of their books ended up in libraries in Lancashire and Cheshire , including possibly one on Myles Standish's shelf in Duxbury , Massachusetts . Biographies of all three Sandys mentioned above are in the DNB ; Myles Standish's books appear in the Inventory of his possessions, a facsimile of the original readily available from the Mayflower Society, and one published list given by Porteus (1920), who attempted to identify the titles. He was probably right in most cases, as they were mainly standard works, but might have been wrong in a few cases, and he actually omitted two of them. I put in a considerable effort a few years ago by writing to and visiting James Pilkington's diocesan library in Durham (when one of my daughters was very conveniently at Durham University ). A complete report will appear when I finally get around to writing the latest version of the Lancashire end of Myles's story. This will be no different in outline from the one in my articles, but will have the support of the biographies of A.S.'s family and Colonel Richard.

Two other more recent names that kept cropping up during reading about the Pilgrim Fathers were Alexander B. Gros(s)art, Vicar in Blackburn, and W. A. Abram, another eminent citizen and historian in Blackburn, who together published so many articles and books about Blackburn, Preston, the Pilgrim Fathers and many other places and people. They were both living in Blackburn in the mid-late 19th century, seeing the results of the Industrial Revolution all around them, and both realised that historical details were in desperate need to be recorded before any more relevant documents disappeared. Grosart dedicated his research efforts to publishing many texts of poets and others in the Renaissance period, which is why he appears in so many references in the DNB . We can probably thank him as the first person in England who realised that Myles Standish was somehow involved in many important stories. He started to collect all books recently published in New England about the Pilgrim Fathers, and these were placed at the disposal of Abram. Abram subsequently went on to transcribe and publish all documents relating to Lancashire history that he found. Some appeared as articles in the local press, but his main research relevant to A.S. was published in two volumes, The History of Blackburn and The Preston Guild Rolls .

While reading through the Pilgrim Fathers Collection in Chorley Library, I was extremely surprised to read the suggestion that Captain Myles Standish might have been a Catholic. This, of course, had later resonances in all the suggestions that William Shakespeare might have been a Catholic. It seemed rather amazing (to me and not a few others) that anyone interested in Myles Standish might have even dreamt that he might have been a Catholic, given his documented history in New England . On the other hand, the history of Lancashire at this time was one of Catholicism, recusancy, Catholic plots in rural areas on the one hand, and the rise of Puritanism in some towns on the other hand, which were all mixed up together in the English Civil Wars (1642-51) with cousins fighting on opposing sides. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the history of the Standishes, whose family papers finally revealed four Alexander Standishes in the Civil War, three of them Colonels. Their biographies will be presented as soon as possible, with the following a brief summary in advance. The relevance for A.S. is that it was only after establishing the identity and role of all these Alexanders in the next generation that allowed the conclusion that A.S. was most probably the one at Rivington Grammar School in 1575.

The Colonel of a Royalist Cavalry regiment, a grandson of Edward Standish of Standish (in A.H.'s 1581 will as supervisor and dear friend), was very clear. All authorities agree on this. He appears as such on their VP by Sir William Dugdale in 1664/5, with Dugdale himself a Catholic and Royalist, recording all Catholic Royalist details with enthusiasm.

The other three were Standishes of Duxbury, who have so far been lumped together as one person, but were very obviously three. One was A.S.'s youngest son Alexander (born 1604), who was on the Royalist side with the Earl of Derby and disappeared from Duxbury during the Civil War, perhaps killed, perhaps died a natural death somewhere else, perhaps in exile. His later story is full of 'perhaps' because he just disappeared from records, although before his disappearance he left many recorded traces, None of them named him as Colonel, but he inherited his Royalist brother Captain Ralph's sword, according to Ralph's will in 1637. He was thus dubbed (by me) 'Royalist Alexander Standish of Duxbury with the sword'. It appears he also attended Rivington Grammar School .

Another Alexander, who definitely was a Colonel, was A.S.'s grandson, son of Thomas the M.P., whose allegiance during the Civil War is uncertain, but he was certainly buried as a Colonel in Chorley in January 1647, and shortly afterwards his widow handed over Duxbury Hall and all dependent estates to Parliamentarian Colonel Richard. This particular event was at the heart of sorting out Myles Standish's later claims to Duxbury Hall.

The third Alexander Standish of Duxbury was a Lieutenant-Colonel, from Family B, uncle of Colonel Richard, to whom he left all his Duxbury-based estates when he died shortly after the Battle of Preston in August 1648. This resulted in Colonel Richard becoming the owner of the largest number of estates ever owned by a Standish of Duxbury until then and his permanent move from Manchester back to Duxbury until his death. The biographies of all these Alexanders and Colonel Richard are almost complete and will be published as soon as possible.

Myles Standish and 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' increasingly came to symbolise (for me, at least) the Puritan and Catholic elements of the Counter-Reformation in Lancashire, not least because Myles ended up in a Separatist/ Puritan community in Massachusetts and Shakespeare "died a papist", with A.S. left somewhere in the middle. The history of Elizabethan Grammar Schools in Lancashire provided a similar dichotomy, with most Protestant schools sending their bright pupils to Cambridge and most Catholic schools sending theirs to Oxford . In Cambridge , the main destinations were St John's and Queens' Colleges, both Lancastrian foundations and during Elizabeth 's reign hotbeds of Protestant and Puritan activity (including several future Pilgrim Fathers and Shakespeare's future son-in-law Dr John Hall). In Oxford the main destination was Brasenose College, a partially Lancastrian foundation, and during Elizabeth's reign a hotbed of Roman Catholic activity (producing several Catholic schoolmasters from Lancashire at Stratford Grammar School and others who became Catholic priests, Jesuits and more than a few of them martyrs).

Rivington Grammar School was firmly tied to St John's , Cambridge , James Pilkington's college, which thus allowed many Lancashire lads to meet there. Pilkington's subordinate and successor as Bishop of Durham was Richard Barnes, of Lancashire or North Cheshire , one of whose sons was Barnabe Barnes the sonneteer and contemporary of Shakespeare. (Biography in the DNB .). Over in Burnley Dean Alexander Nowell's brother Robert set up a scholarship fund, which benefited many schoolboys from Burnley and elsewhere. One of these was poet Edmund Spenser, who via various other routes is firmly tied to the Spencers of the Burnley area and Countess Alice - and one of his patrons was Sir Philip Sydney, another sonneteer. Several Nowell scholars ended up as eminent English Catholics in exile or martyrs back in England . (Bennett, History of Burnley .)

Finally, back to A.S.. 'Alexander Standish' appears on the first extant list of pupils at Rivington Grammar School (transcription of the full list in Kay, Appendix IV, pp. 194-6), along with a seventeen-year-old cousin James (bap. 1558 January 12 at Chorley as son of Christopher Standish, younger brother of A.S.'s stepfather Thomas(2)). The entry reads, "Alexander Standishe filius et heres apparens Thome Standishe de Ducsberi, Armigeri" (Kay, p. 195). This seems to be pretty definitive, but the problem is that there were two Alexanders. One, of course, is A.S., aged 4/5 in this year, and a brief glance at the table above, which includes all recorded details of his older brothers, reveals that in 1575 his three older brothers had indeed been buried several years earlier, leaving A.S. as the son and heir of Thomas. But then we have the other Alexander Standish of Duxbury, baptised at Chorley on 8 November 1567 as "Alex:" Standish, son of "Tho: of Dukesburie Esquire". These two have been totally confused until now, but there were definitely two. This Alexander was three years older than A.S., aged 8 in 1575. The Visitation Pedigree of this family in 1613 reveals that his father was also Thomas and his mother a daughter of Sir Alexander Radcliffe of Ordsall. This Alexander had an elder brother called Thomas, however, who lived long enough to marry a "dau. of Vaulx", so in 1575 Thomas Jr would have been the son and heir, not Alexander. With this established, it seems fairly certain that the Alexander at Rivington Grammar School was indeed A.S. and we are just left wondering why his parents chose this school - for any reason other than it was the closest? Or were they just hedging their bets? Several other pupils there were from Catholic families.

1576. Uncle Richard Hoghton of Park Hall visited Thomas Hoghton 'The Exile' in Catholic Flanders, with instructions from Queen Elizabeth to try to persuade him to return. (Story and references in Honigmann, 1985.) He didn't, but stayed on and helped William Allen of Rossall with his school in exile at Douai, to which a steady stream of Lancashire schoolboys had departed for a Catholic education, with some now starting to return as priests. A.S. must have been fully aware of this and of the returning priests, often hidden in priest-holes specially built for this purpose.

(14) 1577: an eventful year.

1577, 27 March. From the following document we have confirmation that Thomas(1) Esquire was still alive in March, living at The Pele ("Pyle") in the north of Duxbury, the main home of the senior line (Family A) since the early 14th century.

Bond: in £200: Robert Woorsley of Boothes, co. Lancs, esq., and Thomas Standisshe of the Pyle of Duckesberie, esq., to James Prescott, gent. - Robert Woorsley and Thomas Standisshe to pay to James Prescott, gent. - Robert Woorsley and Thomas Standisshe to pay to Prescott £100 in hall of the house of Edward Standisshe of Standisshe, esq. on Lady Day next. 27 March 1577. (Catalogue: DP397/4/25.)

It is not clear what these bonds and payments were about, but it is very clear who was involved. I have not pursued "Robert Woorsley of Boothes", nor "James Prescott" (he turns up in A.S.'s ipm ), but the Edward Standish named here was the current Lord of the Manor of Standish, who had recently built a brand new hall in Standish in 1574 in Elizabethan style. The story of his documented activities in Standish was told by Porteus (1927, 1933), from which it is eminently clear that he and his descendants were staunchly Catholic at this time, and remained so throughout the Civil War and on to active participation in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Some documents refer to the Standishes of Duxbury as "close kinsmen", an indication that they were all well aware that the Standishes of Duxbury had their origins in the Standishes of Standish. The two families had also constantly married into the same local gentry families, making them 'cousins' or kinsmen via many intricate routes.

This Edward Standish was to be one of the supervisors of A.H.'s enigmatic will four years later (1581), named as "my dear friend", and so deserves a paragraph. He had married the young widow Ellen Aughton of North Meols in the early 1550s and they had a large family, providing many older 'cousins' for A.S.. Ellen was a daughter of Sir William Radcliffe of Ordsall, a family that was to enter A.S.'s life in many ways. She married first John Aughton of North Meols , who died in 1550. (The Aughton story has been told most recently and rather definitively by Peter Aughton, North Meols and Southport: A History , Carnegie Press, 1988; John and Ellen's marriage and Ellen's second marriage to Edward Standish pp. 43-6. The Radcliffes of Ordsall appear in many places below.)

1577, 22 October. Between March and this date A.S.'s father Thomas(1) had died, peculiarly with no local burial recorded, and his mother had married Thomas(2), with strong hints of (religious?) problems about the validity of their marriage. There is no doubt about this marriage, as the document immediately below proves. Where did Thomas(1) die and where was he buried? So far, there is only silence. There might be some intriguing story behind this that we will never know, quite simply because the records have not survived. The only fact we have is that his widow married Thomas(2) within six months. One might tentatively conclude that this was a marriage of convenience that seems to have been successful, as they remained married until Thomas(2)'s death in 1599 (if his widow Margaret was still the same Margaret). It also makes clear that in 1577 Thomas(2) still hoped to produce children of his own, but his will of 1593 proves that if he did, there were no survivors. One puzzle is that he now calls himself Thomas Esquire, when he had previously been Thomas Gentleman. Perhaps his recent marriage had raised his status, now that he had stepped into the shoes of the Lord of the Manor of Duxbury until A.S. came of age?

No record of the date of this marriage has survived - indeed no record of the precise date of any earlier male Standish of Duxbury has survived. One might assume that they had their own private chapel, like so many local gentry families, and called in their favourite clergyman to officiate. Or one might assume that they married in the parish church of their wives, where records have not survived. In the case of this particular marriage in mid-1577, given that both were Standishes of Duxbury, that records of marriages in Chorley and Standish Parish Churches around this date have survived, and that this marriage is not recorded in either, I can only conclude that this marriage most probably happened in Duxbury in a chapel at one of the homes of the Standishes of Duxbury, whose records have not survived.

To all Christian people to whom this present writing shall come. I Thomas Standyshe of Dukesbury Esquire have married and taken to my wife Margaret Bastard daughter of Sir Richard Houghton knight and that I take her to be my lawfull wife . . . whether the said Margaret is lawful by the same law or not and therefore the said Thomas Standyshe mynding that my moytie or half of the manor of Heath Charnock . . . appoint Thomas Houghton, Alexander Rigby, William Chorley and Roger Rigby (son of Alexander) [as trustees] . . . then to Alexander son male of the bodie of the said Margaret, Leonarde another son male of the body of the said Margaret, heirs of me to be begotten in default of heirs of me male of the body of me, etc. (Extracts from MS DP397/21/12.)

He then continues to include the five daughters still living: "Elizabeth, Jane, Alice, Ellyn and Margaret daughters of the said Margaret Bastard daughter" and "heirs of the girls to be lawfully begotten". In effect, this served as an early will, and shows that he had 'adopted' his new family completely. This was in accordance with the custom of the times, when children from a previous marriage of a new spouse were regarded in civil law as children of the new father, with the term stepchildren never used. The abstract in the catalogue lists his other lands, and reveals why the full contents of this document were not exactly obvious from this:

Settlement: moiety of manor of Heath Charnock and other property there and in Hyndley, Little Crosby, Lancaster , Scotforth, Burroo, Preston, Chorley , Longton, Gosenarghe and Threlfall. 1577 (Catalogue: DP397/21/12)

This list is all revealing as a list of lands overlapping in part with those owned by Thomas(1) Esquire, Margaret's first husband, and yet rather different. A complete analysis of all Standish of Duxbury lands, as given in all wills and inquisitions post mortem down the centuries, will be given in the future. Meanwhile, we now know that these lands were added to A.S.'s inheritance from his own father. Thomas(2) was obviously concerned that his declaration to "all Christian people" should be known, as an exact copy stayed in the family papers (Catalogue: DP397/21/12a: "Another, as 12"). How many more copies were produced and who received these we will probably never know, but two more have now turned up in the batch purchased by Jonathan Sheard, one in Latin and one in English.

A brief recent history of Heath Charnock, including Thomas's purchase of half of the manor, is given in the Victoria County History :

With other Harrington estates it was obtained by the first Lord Mounteagle, and descended in his family during the 16th century, being sold in 1574 by William Lord Mounteagle to Thomas Walmesley the younger and Robert Charnock. Three years later Walmesley sold his moiety to Thomas Standish of Duxbury, and in subsequent inquisitions the 'manor of Heath Charnock' was considered to be held by Standish of Duxbury and Charnock of Charnock Richard in moieties. (Farrer, VCH , vol. 6, p. 213.)

It was actually the Charnocks of Astley Hall in Chorley , as we will see later. For anyone not familiar with the geography of this area, the following might be useful. There are two Charnocks, separated by several miles: Heath Charnock to the immediate east of Duxbury, and Charnock Richard, which anyone who travels up the M6 might have noticed because it has a service-station. At this time Heath Charnock was very much divided into North and South, the manor house of the northern part being Bretters Farm (modern name, next to a previous moated manor house) and the southern part Hall o'th Hill, owned by the Asshawes (today the clubhouse of Chorley Golf Club). The manor house of Charnock Richard was Park Hall, owned by Richard Hoghton, A.S.'s uncle who visited Thomas 'The Exile' in Flanders in 1575. The senior branch of the Charnock family was meanwhile at Astley Hall in Chorley .

The other names in the document above are interesting, not least because two were to meet later because of the Gunpowder Plot. The first Lord Mounteagle was a younger brother of the 1st Earl of Derby and this William in the document above was the 3rd Lord Mounteagle (died a Catholic in exile), whose grandson William Parker, the 4th Lord Mounteagle, was later the 'saviour of the nation' when he 'uncovered' the Gunpowder Plot. Thomas Walmesley the younger of Dunkenhalgh, also a Catholic, was beginning his career as a lawyer at this time, was later to rise to be a judge in the Court of Common Pleas, was knighted, and was on the bench at the trial of the Gunpowder Plotters. 'The saviour of the nation' was the phrase coined by Ben Jonson, Shakespeare's friend, who pops up several times below.

To recapitulate, Thomas(2), A.S.'s new stepfather in 1577 was a quarter-cousin of Thomas(1) the father, descended from two sons of Sir Christopher, who was knighted in 1482 and was also the ancestor of Myles Standish. A.S.'s stepfather appointed Thomas Hoghton (T.H.), another uncle of A.S., as one of the supervisors of his estate in Heath Charnock, which he had bought earlier this year. T.H. was the younger half-brother and heir of A.H., who was to write the enigmatic will in 1581, in which T.H. was requested to receive William Shakeshafte into his household with all 'play clothes' and 'instruments of musics'. Until 1581 T.H. was living in Brinscall, half way between Duxbury and Hoghton. A recent visit to Brinscall (September 2003) produced the intriguing details that it is hoped to excavate some of the 'secret tunnels' that lead from the cellars of Brinscall Hall to the surrounding woods (personal communication from a local resident). If there is any truth in the existence of these, then their most obvious purpose (apart from drainage) would have been as escape routes for priests, which in turn suggests that some members of the Hoghton family living there were Catholic (and we know from Honigmann that T.H.'s wife was). In any case this provides another family with sons around the age of A.S., whom he must have known during his school years. The son and heir of T.H. was Richard, later Sir Richard Hoghton, who has been perceived as playing a central role in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story, not least as the main dedicatee of John Weever's Epigrammes in 1599. (His basic story is given in Honigmann, the 'lost years' , 1985 and Weever , 1987.)

1577 saw the arrival of another batch of Catholic priests returning from their education at Douai. Their numbers were later to reach as many as four hundred. Two hundred were to die as martyrs during Elizabeth's reign, many of them from Lancashire. (Brief biographies of all these appear in the standard Catholic literature. Hilton, Catholic Lancashire is a good place to start for a dense summary.)


15) A few relevant Radcliffes of Ordsall.

As noted above, Edward Standish of Standish was married to Ellen, daughter of Sir William Radcliffe of Ordsall. Because the Radcliffe of Ordsall family will appear rather significantly later, it is perhaps worth noting Ellen's parents, brothers and sisters, as just one example of marriages in neighbouring (and distant) counties that bound the Catholic gentry together during Elizabeth's reign. Many of those named here also became A.S.'s relatives or were near neighbours, and some of the names below appear in the Standish of Duxbury MSS .

Sir William was thrice married. After the death of Margaret Trafford, who bore him three sons and two daughters, he married Ann, the daughter of Ralph Catterall, the widow of Sir John Towneley of Towneley, High Sheriff of Lancashire from 1531 to his death in 1540. This marriage, of which there was no issue, took place about 1542, and Lady Anne died in 1551. Some time after this Sir William married a third wife in Lady Katherine Bellingham, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Sir Robert Bellingham of Burneside, in the county of Westmorland, the widow of Sir Richard Assheton of Middleton. Sir William was buried in Manchester Church, and on his monumental brass was inscribed

"Sandbach cor retinet, servat Mancestria corpus,

Caelestem mentem regna superna tenent."

His issue was as follows:

ALEXANDER, eldest son, a young man of striking presence and splendid courage, who was knighted during the Scottish expedition in 1560. He married Frances, the daughter and heiress of Christopher Wymbush, Esquire, of Nocton in Lincolnshire, and widow of Sir Richard Towneley of Towneley. Alexander's marriage took place in 1555, but had no issue. By her first marriage, Frances had an only daughter, Mary, who married her cousin John Towneley, in which family her mother's inheritance descended.

JOHN, who succeeded his father at Ordsall.

RICHARD, on whom was settled the manor of Newcroft. His first wife was Bridget, daughter of Thomas Caryll of Warnam in Sussex. He married, secondly, Margaret, daughter and heiress of John Radclyffe of Foxdenton.

ALICE, married to Francis Tunstall of Thurland Castle, a descendant of Sir Brian Tunstall, the "stainless knight of Flodden Field."

ELLEN, married to Edward Standish of Standish, who rebuilt Standish Hall in 1574, and by whom she was the mother of four sons.


JOHN RADCLYFFE, second son of his father, succeeded to Ordsall on his father's death in 1568. He was born in 1536, and came to his inheritance in his thirty-third year. To the wide domains and fair possessions of his patrimony were now united the extensive lands which his marriage to the Asshawe heiress had brought him. His wife was Anne, the only daughter and heiress of Thomas Asshawe, of Elston. Anne was the great-granddaughter of Isabel Radclyffe and Sir James Harrington of Wolfege, whose younger daughter and co-heiress, Margaret, was married to Christopher Hulton. They had an only daughter and heiress, who was married to Roger Asshawe of Hall-on-the-Hill in Higher Charnock. Thomas Asshawe, son and heir of Jane Hulton and Roger, married Mary, daughter of James Anderton of Euxton, and Anne Asshawe was the only child of this marriage. ( The Book of the Radclyffes , pp. 150-1.)

1577 also saw the departure of John and Mary Shakespeare from Stratford for long periods. It has been suggested elsewhere that they had married about two years earlier, and that their departure was most plausibly connected to their Catholicism and ancestries. For the moment, this remains merely as a conclusion presented in my Interview via FAQs on the Duxbury web site. A presentation of all the evidence and proof for their ancestries, late marriage and subsequent absences from Stratford is in my Shakespeare book. For the moment, any reader might believe this or not. Here, I am merely seeking a plausible explanation for A.S.'s very obvious later involvement with so many in Shakespeare circles. If John and Mary Shakespeare were to have spent time in the North West, this would have provided the first occasion when young William might also have appeared here, and would partially explain why he later turned up in the Hoghton household - according to local tradition. This would also provide the first plausible occasion on which A.S. might have met him. John Shakespeare, as Chamberlain in Stratford, had paid William Allen as an 'usher', i.e. junior schoolmaster, in 1564, the year of William Shakespeare's birth. (Enos, 2000, was the first in Shakespeare biography to point this out as potentially relevant to the Shakespeares' Catholicism. Correspondence with her and Peter Milward, following up all references, has established beyond all doubt that the William Allen in Stratford was indeed the one who founded the school in Douai and was later Cardinal in Rome. All references are in my Shakespeare book. Allen's basic biography is in the DNB .)

(16) 1580-1: a few local and Continental events.

1580 June. Thomas Hoghton 'The Exile' (A.S.'s uncle) died in Flanders and A.H., T.H. and other Hoghton brothers back in Lancashire established a most peculiar trust fund. (Transcript and all references in Honigmann, 1985, Appendix A.) This Thomas Hoghton 'The Exile' is notable, not least because he built Hoghton Tower and his story takes him from Lancashire to the Spanish Netherlands, where he stayed (1569-80), despite the visit of an envoy in 1575 (brother Richard Hoghton of Park Hall in Charnock Richard) bearing an entreaty for his return to England from Queen Elizabeth. Whilst he was in exile he was a good friend of Cardinal William Allen, who had taught at Stratford Grammar School (c. 1563-5) and been paid for his services by John Shakespeare, Chamberlain. He went on to found the school at Douai in 1568. The precise details of Thomas ‘The Exile's will, death, burial and memorial, the subsequent history of his reburial, etc. have been investigated by Sir Bernard de Hoghton, current owner of Hoghton Tower, but not so far published. The most accessible brief biography remains the one by Honigmann, 1985, Chapter II: Hoghton of Hoghton Tower.

In June 1580 many people (including Queen Elizabeth's ministers) knew that the Catholic Mission to England under Jesuits Robert Parsons and Edmund Campion was on its way and about to land at various ports. The story of this mission has been told and published repeatedly by Catholic historians, the biographies of all involved appear in the Catholic Encyclopedia , and during the last few decades, some of these details have been noted by those interested in 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' (including Honigmann, of course). If young William Shakespeare did spend a couple of years with the Hoghtons, he must have arrived around this time at the latest, aged 16, to fit in the traditional two years before he impregnated Anne Hathaway in August 1582. 1580 would, in turn, have presented one opportunity when A.S., aged 10, might have met the (already budding?) Shakespeare at one of his uncles' houses.

1580 June. Edmund Campion arrived and during the next year spent much of his time in the North; he was in Lancashire between Easter and Whitsuntide 1581. After his arrest later this year he was reported as having left his papers at Richard Hoghton's house, Park Hall in Charnock Richard, and having stayed with other locals, including Bartholomew Hesketh, A.H.'s brother-in-law, which led to their houses being searched. No papers were found. Were they hidden in another Hoghton house? Might they still be discovered? If so, this would be the best chance of throwing more light on surrounding events. Robert Parsons was the other leader of the mission, who stayed mainly in the south, eluded arrest and returned to Rome. He was later (1611) allied with Shakespeare by historian John Speed as 'this papist and his poet'. Parsons was also very much concerned with the question of Elizabeth's successor on the throne, and among his favourites were the Earls of Derby, first in the person of Ferdinando, 5th Earl, who died, apparently poisoned as a result of the Hesketh Plot of early 1594, and later his daughter Ann, who might be married to a Catholic prince. She wasn't (she later married Lord Chandos). The main point here is that these are events that A.S. must have been very aware about during his tender years and later.

1580 was also the year when Ferdinando, Lord Strange (born 1558/9) and Alice produced their first daughter Ann (born in May 1580) and brother William Stanley (born 1561) was on the first of his extended journeys. This first journey was just to France and Spain. The French visit is totally undisputed, as a letter has survived, written in the Loire valley in mid-1581 (reported in all Derby literature). The next part of his story, as related in prose and ballad, has been constantly disputed, and so we will barely meet this William again until his marriage in January 1595. A.S., one might presume, knew about all these events in the Stanley family, as all the local gentry paid regular visits to Lathom Hall and Knowsley Hall whenever Earl Henry was in residence. (The only records that have survived are 1587-90. in the Derby Household Books , but no one would dispute that similar visits must have taken place during preceding years.)

1580, 30 October. "Margaret Standish" was buried at Chorley Parish Church. This might have been the fifth daughter of Thomas(1), although all other young children in the register are named as "son" or "daughter of". She was certainly dead by 1593, however, as she was not named in Thomas(2)'s will, in which his wife Mrs Margaret was. We might assume, therefore, that from now on A.S., aged 10, grew up with his younger brother Leonard and four older sisters, this number of surviving siblings staying constant for the next two decades.

One of the documents that has recently surfaced (via Jonathan Sheard, dated 26 June, 23 Elizabeth) states that Thomas Standish(2) and Margaret Hoghton(1) had a daughter Margaret from their second marriage: “Margaret begotten by the said Thomas Standish”. It is basically a repeat of the 1577 document, but now taking into account this new daughter and any other possible future children and grandchildren from this marriage. We know from Thomas(2)'s will of 1593 that his hopes for more children and grandchildren “begotten from his own body” were never realised. Perhaps the most interesting details are the incredibly detailed provisions that so many locals were taking around this time to ensure the inheritance of their estates. Anyone who has ever made a will and testament will understand this, quite simply because most people have usually wanted their own children to be the main beneficiaries. In the light of A.H.'s will (following below) my nose smelt a rat in the names involved in this particular document.

Indenture tripartite, 26 th June, 23 Eliz. = 1581/2

Between Thomas Standysh of Duckesbury of the one party,

Edward Standyshe of Standish, William ffarington, Richard Chisnall and Richard Shuttleworth of the seconde party and

Thomas Houghton of Brynscoles in Wheelton and Alexander Rigby of the Burgh of the third party.

(Signed by all concerned.)

(This is the briefest possible abstract, but I have taken the liberty of adding a few commas. For the moment the sole repositeries of this rather large document in February 2004 are Dr Jonathan Sheard in Norwich and myself in Bavaria. A full transcription will follow in due course, but I predict that it will actually add very little to the biography of A.S.)

1581, 3 August. Catholic uncle A.H. wrote his will, proved 12 September 1581. This was the 'smoking gun' for the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' controversy and enters A.S.'s story because he was A.H.'s nephew and almost certainly inherited his Christian name and certainly all the same relatives, if nothing else. The full text of the will and related documents appear in Honigmann ( Shakespeare: the 'lost years' , 1985, 1998, Manchester U.P., Appendix A) and any reader interested in this controversy will have to read this and Honigmann's comments and conclusions sooner or later. A.H.'s will of 1581 included the same trust fund of 1580, to be paid twice yearly to eleven of thirty 'servants' named, which included, most intriguingly for Shakespeare researchers, William Shakeshafte, Fulk Gyllome and his father (?) Thomas Gyllome (they turn up later as father and son in Chester, and Fulk went to the Hesketh household at Rufford). A full commentary in the light of more recent documentary discoveries and claims and objections by others post-Honigmann appears in my Shakespeare book, but all Honigmann's conclusions in 1985 about the peculiarity of certain details in A.H.'s will of 1581 stood then and will continue to stand on very solid foundations.

In the context of A.S.'s biography, the main interest was the names of the thirty servants and others in A.H.'s will. All surnames, apart from Gyllom, were local names; Gyllom stuck out like a sore thumb, as an obvious Welsh name (Gyllom = Welsh for William), with apparent confirmation of their Welshness from their Chester connection. This name led Enos (2000) to pursue other Gyllome/ Guillim names in Shakespeare circles. One of the local names was Dugdale - a relative of Sir William Dugdale's father? Sir William was another 17th century antiquarian and herald, and after the Restoration, as Norroy King of Arms, he was to take a great interest in A.S.'s family in the hunt for Myles Standish's ancestry. His biography in the DNB indicates that Dugdale senior departed for Oxford around the time of A.H.'s will, where he stayed on in many capacities, moving to Warwickshire later in life. Dugdale junior was a staunch Royalist during the Civil War. His father must have known many of the Lancashire schoolboys who studied at Brasenose, a partially Lancashire foundation and producer of several Stratford schoolmasters and Catholic and Jesuit priests. One of these was John Cottam, the Catholic schoolmaster at Stratford Grammar School (1579-81) from Lancashire, whose brother suffered the same fate as Edmund Campion. Intriguingly, when he was arrested, he was on his way to Shottery near Stratford with messages for the Debdale family, who had also sent a son abroad for his education. John Cottam had left Stratford in a hurry at the beginning of this year, and Honigmann sees this as perhaps not unrelated to his brother's arrest and almost certainly identifies the 'John Cotham' in A.H.'s will. He remained in Lancashire, an openly practising Catholic and tutor (Honigmann, 1985 devotes a whole chapter to him and reprints his will). Enos claims to have identified three others in the list as Catholic priests (personal communication).

One of A.H.'s supervisors was "my dear friend" Edward Standish of Standish, whom we met above. Others in the list have been identified as long standing 'servants', but without discovery of their religious allegiance. However, the presence of so many Catholics in the household of a known Catholic family, the very peculiar provisions, the openly expressed suspicion that the authorities might try to meddle in the fulfilment of the provisions, all seem to add up to a picture that includes staunch Catholicism. It is certainly not a straightforward will with the intention of rewarding long-standing retainers, because nineteen of the thirty receive no bequest at all, which makes it a puzzle as to why they were mentioned in the first place. This definitely falls into a category dubbed 'strange wills = peculiar circumstances'.

Of most interest to A.S.'s life is that his stepfather Thomas(2) does not appear in A.H.'s will, which may or may not be a hint that A.S.'s family had by this time conformed. However, A.H.'s attorney in another case soon afterwards was Robert Swansey of Brindle, gent. (Honigmann, 1985, p. 140) and he appears to have lived in a Standish of Duxbury house in Whittle-le-Woods soon afterwards, as exemplified by the following abstracts:

4 & 5 are copies on one sheet of paper, made c. 1590, by Robert Swansey, with notes that originals delivered to Thomas Hoghton, esq. late father to the now Lord of Hoghton.

Grant: Richard Howghton, kt., to Robert son of Adam of Clayton - his half part of 7 acres of waste lying between the new intacke of the aforesaid Robert and the Blackbroke and ditch next to Haliwall Syke in Whitthull in the Woodes - annual rent: 2s 4d. of silver.

Witn:- John Farington, John son of Adam of Clayton, Richard of the Croke, John of Leyland, Ralph of Kerden, etc. At Whitthull in the wuddes, Sat. bef. Epiph. 22 Ric.II. 4 Jan. 1398/9 (Catalogue: DP397/24/4.)

Grant: John Butler of Rawcliffe, kt. - his half part of premises as 4; grantee and all other particulars as 4. (Catalogue: DP397/24/5)

Both 4 & 5 refer to property that c. 1590 was called Swansey House, according to endorsement.

Later in life A.S. was to be closely allied to his uncle T.H. of Brinscall, later of Hoghton Tower and Lea Hall as A.H.'s brother and heir, and T.H.'s Protestant son and heir Sir Richard Hoghton. (These are "Thomas Hoghton, esq. late father to the now Lord of Hoghton” in c. 1590 below.) Later still, however, A.S. was to reveal in his will that at the end of his life he had but one favourite first cousin, Bridget Stanley, daughter of his uncle Leonard Hoghton, who had married into a Catholic Stanley family and was herself a known and fined recusant. We have no idea where this leaves A.S. during his schooldays, but he must have been as confused as any other 11-year-old as to what the future (in religion and education) might hold for him, and was presumably currently being submitted to the rigours of Nowell's Catechism (written by a friend of the family, Alexander Nowell from the family at Read Hall near Burnley) and Lily's Latin Grammar being thrust down his throat. (The complete and detailed curriculum of Rivington Grammar School, as prescribed by Bishop Pilkington in 1566, has survived and appears in full in Kay's history of the school. This gives us a fairly complete picture of A.S.'s life six days a week for most of the year, as long as he was in attendance.)

As Anthony Burgess delightfully wrote in his Shakespeare biography, this was mainly Latin rather than English:

School was grim. Those bottom-worn benches were no beds of roses, though Lilies lay on the desk. . . To learne to wrytte doune Ingglisshe wourdes in Chaxper's daie was notte dificulte. Nobody rapped you for orthographical solecisms, for there were none. Anything went, from Queen Elizabeth downwards.

(Burgess, Shakespeare , 1970, Vintage pb. 1996, p. 28).

1581 also saw a round up of recusants in Lancashire, possibly including Sir Thomas Hesketh of Rufford, another vital person in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story. There is some uncertainty whether it was in this year or 1584, or both, that he was incarcerated. (Yet again, Honigmann, 1985 relates this story, with full references.) The round up certainly included many Standish gentry relatives, including John Towneley of Towneley.

(17) 1582-3: a few more local events.

1582, 30 August. A.S. attended Preston Guild with stepfather Thomas and younger brother Leonard (Abram, Preston ). Everyone else in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story was also there, including Henry, 4th Earl of Derby, with sons “ffardinands D'ns Straunge, Willms Stanley frater eius, ffranciscus Stanley Armig: frater eius”, plus Earl Henry's younger brother Sir Edward (later to be called “The Traitor”, who died in exile in 1609) and their nephew Sir Edward Stanley, for whom Shakespeare was later to write an epitaph (about which we will read when we finally reach 1600-02). The Hoghton and Hesketh clans were all there and a whole batch of Shakeshaftes, including John Shakeshafte, glover, the oldest brother in one of the Shakeshafte families, with a younger brother William and his son William. Was this John Shakespeare, glover of Stratford? Was nephew William the William Shakeshafte in A.H.'s will? Almost certainly not, as he stayed in Preston and had six sons. (I need a whole chapter in my Shakespeare book to present all these, but come to the inevitable conclusion - purely on the evidence - that it is far more likely that the two John Shakes- were one and the same than that they were not. Stratford records show that he had disappeared almost completely from there several years earlier. He must have gone somewhere and - so far, at least - has not turned up anywhere else in England. The North West would have been the most logical place, with the ancestries of him and Mary Arderne here, and the presence of so many Catholic relatives.)

Was William Shakespeare here, acting in the revels with Strange's Players? If he was, it would certainly explain an awful lot about his shotgun marriage in November. (I need a rather long article to explain the reasons behind this suspicion - and that is all it remains for the moment.) If by any chance he was at Preston Guild, this would have been the next opportunity for A.S. to have met Shakespeare. In any case, A.S. would certainly have met the Earl of Derby and sons, including William Stanley, back in Lancashire from France and Spain before setting off again for Germany and Italy.

1583, 15 August. The following document suggests that Thomas(2)'s family was disputing various internal financial arrangements. It also presents another contact with the Gerards, and the second appearance of William Gerard in the Standish of Duxbury MSS confirms that he was the lawyer used by Thomas(2) as well as Thomas(1) in London.

Bond: in £300: Thomas Standishe of Duckesburie, esq. to Christopher Standishe of Chorley, gent., his brother, - Thomas Standishe to fulfil award of Syr Gilbert Gerrard, kt., master of the Rolles, and of William Gerrarde. esq., brother of Sir Gilberte Gerrard concerning all matters between James Standish and Christofer Standishe. 15 Aug. 1583. (Catalogue: DP397/4/26.)

This William Gerard appears in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story mainly as the father of Rev. Richard Gerard, Rector of Stockport for nearly forty years, married to Ursula Arderne of Arderne Hall in Cheshire, a kinswoman of Mary Arderne, William Shakespeare's stepmother. Rev. Richard's biography, with full references, is in my Shakespeare book, largely from Henry Heginbotham, History of Stockport , readily available in Stockport Local Studies Library.

(18) 1584: Queens' College, Cambridge.

1584. A.S. matriculated at Queens' College, Cambridge. (Kay, History of Rivington Grammar School , accepted the details given below in Venn, Alumni Cantabrigiensis ). He was 14 at this time, a normal age for proceeding to university, so this may well have been him, although it might have been the other Alexander from Family B. A Radcliffe document illustrates the age of 14, from the will in 1589 of Sir John Radcliffe of Ordsall.

I would have these children brought up in learning so that after they accomplish 14 years I would have them sent to Oxford or Cambridge, there to continue till one of them be able to go to the Inns of Court, if it be his pleasure, or to tarry and reside in the University.

( The Book of the Radclyffes , Constable, Edinburgh U.P., 1948, p. 154.)

A list of contemporaries at Cambridge might well reveal interesting potential connections. As mentioned above, the favourite destination for Lancashire schoolboys was St John's, a Lancastrian foundation by Lady Margaret Beaufort, second wife of the 1st Earl of Derby, and mother of Henry VII. The second favourite destination was Queens', chosen by the Standish family, for whatever reason. This is revealed by the several dozen Standish entries in Venn, whose entry for A.S. is:

STANDISH, ALEXANDER. Matric. pens. from QUEENS', Easter, 1584. Of Lancashire. Doubtless s. and h. of Thomas, of Duxbury, Esq. (and Margaret, dau. of Sir Thomas Hoghton , of Hoghton Tower). Adm. at Gray's Inn, Nov. 1, 1586. Married Margaret , dau. of Sir Ralph Assheton, of Whalley Abbey , Bart. doubtless father of the next and of Thomas (1607-8).

The underlinings are mine. The two ' Doubtless ' are by no means 'doubtless', but might have referred to the other Alexander, three years older than A.S.; if it is A.S., ' Sir Thomas Hoghton ' should be replaced by 'Sir Richard Hoghton'; and ' Margaret ' by 'Alice' Assheton. I have never fathomed how this 'Margaret' Assheton entered the picture, as A.S.'s wife is very clearly Alice in all local documentation, including their marriage record at Bolton, at which we will arrive shortly. ' Whalley Abbey ' should perhaps be supplemented by 'and Great Lever near Bolton', which explains their marriage at Bolton Parish Church. Venn detected no record of A.S. obtaining a degree at Cambridge, which might simply mean that no record has survived, or might be a hint that he did not swear the Oath of Allegiance. We will probably never know. At least we know from Venn that one Alexander Standish matriculated at Queens' at Easter 1584 and. on a balance of probabilities, it seems more likely that this was indeed A.S., followed there by sons Thomas and Alexander.

1584 also saw another round up of recusants in Lancashire, including many Standish and Hoghton relatives. Sir Thomas Hesketh (host by tradition of Shakespeare for a while) was released because of a petition to the Earl of Leicester, at that time Chamberlain of Chester. (Honigmannn, 1985 gives this story and full references.)

1585 January-March. Henry, 4th Earl of Derby was on a mission to France with several Standish and Hoghton relatives, ostensibly to award the Order of the Garter to Henri III, but in reality also to discuss the situation in the Netherlands, where the Protestant Dutch were fighting the Catholic Spanish. Coward, The Stanleys reports on this mission and gives a list of Henry's personal entourage (p. 150). (An extensive commentary appears in my Shakespeare book.) A.S. was presumably still studying in Cambridge but would have heard the details at the latest on his next return to Lancashire.

1585 September. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, departed for the Netherlands, in charge of the troops sent to fight against the Spanish. This was the beginning of English participation in the war in which Myles Standish and his father and/ or uncle would later appear. There has been much speculation in Shakespeare biography literature as to whether he might have accompanied Leicester. Either he did or he didn't and we will almost certainly never know. I have not come across any mention in Shakespeare literature that the Earl of Leicester at this time was Chamberlain of Chester, which would have made this county (and Lancashire) an obvious mustering area in addition to the Midlands, with his main residence at Kenilworth. He also happened to be Lord of Denbigh, which might have brought a few Welshmen into his army. Denbigh certainly enters the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story in the form of The Phoenix and the Turtle (see Honigmann's chapter on this, 1985).

Was this when Myles Standish's father or uncle was recruited? One or other of them was certainly there later in the century, by the latest c. 1601, as the only way to account for later written reports about Myles from New England.

Meanwhile, it seems that A.S. did not "tarry and reside in the university", but proceeded from Cambridge to London, leaving little or no possibility that he participated in Leicester's campaign, but he must have heard many details about it.

(19) 1586: Gray's Inn

1586, 1 November. A.S. was recorded as admitted at Gray's Inn, London (see Venn above). As he was only 16, this might seem a little young, and it might have been the other Alexander, aged 19. However, let us assume for the moment, along with Venn, that it was A.S., who was laying down the family tradition of progression from Rivington Grammar School to Cambridge to Gray's Inn, followed by A.S.'s sons Thomas and Alexander. A list of contemporaries at Gray's Inn at relevant times might reveal a few interesting potential acquaintances. It has often been noted that this was the favourite Inn of Court for any Lancashire men studying law. It is also the one that appears most frequently in Shakespeare literature as later staging Shakespeare's plays and was also the Inn attended by many young aristocrats, including Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's dedicatee of his two major poems in 1593 and 1594. Perhaps we can assume that A.S. stayed here for a couple of years or more, enjoying all the pleasures offered by London, as well as studying law?

As far as I am aware, no one has produced a list of all recorded as attending Gray's Inn in 1586-88, who had arrived there from Queens' College, Cambridge along with A.S., but offer the following snippet for starters, buried deep in a myriad of entries in a much valued book:

Misfortunes of Arthur, The A tragedy by Thomas Hughes, first performed by the Gentlemen of Gray's Inn for Elizabeth at Greenwich in 1588. It was published the previous year. The full title, The Misfortunes of Arthur (Uther Pendragon's Son) Reduced into Tragical Notes , gives a hint of the form. It begins with the begetting of Arthur on Igerna by Uther and traces the story of King Arthur's reign and death in five acts and an epilogue. Thomas Hughes of Gray's Inn had been a fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge.

( The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English , ed. Ian Ousby, 1988, p. 670.)

One might presume that A.S. would have been aware of this publication and production, whether or not he took part. One might also presume that he took an interest in all the legends that associated Arthur with Lancashire.


(20) 1586-8: back in Lancashire with Rev. William Leigh and the Earls of Derby.

1586. Rev. William Leigh became Rector at Standish, and the Standish of Duxbury family was to be connected to him regularly until his death in 1639. He might well be the explanation for so many missing Standish baptisms at Chorley, if, as seems likely, he performed many Standish ceremonies at their private chapel at Duxbury Hall. As no records have survived, this must remain as speculation, but it is the most plausible explanation in the light of all surrounding evidence, and would account for Myles leaving no record of his baptism in 1587/8 (not 1584, as in the 'conventional' story, with arguments and references presented in my articles on Myles). Rev. William certainly performed several Standish of Duxbury ceremonies, as revealed by Standish Parish Registers. He was also a frequent preacher to the Earl of Derby (he appears in the Derby Household Books on many Sundays), was presumably recommended by him to King James, and therefore appointed chaplain to Prince Henry. (At the moment his main biographies appear in the DNB , which approaches this predominantly from his years in Oxford and his surviving publications, and Porteus, 1927, who provided many Lancashire details. He deserves a new one. Let us see if he receives one in the New DNB .)

He has emerged as another key figure, as his presence at Prince Henry's court put him into direct contact with all others in his entourage, many of whom have been directly connected to Shakespeare. His long years at Brasenose, Oxford, also put him into direct contact with so many who became schoolmasters at Stratford Grammar School and/ or Jesuits. He has so far been totally overlooked by Shakespeare biographers, including those writing on 'Shakespeare in Lancashire', and also by biographers of Prince Henry. (See, e.g. Roy Strong, Henry Prince of Wales , Thames and Hudson, 1986, Pimlico 2000, pb. This is a magnificent presentation of Renaissance art, but Rev. William doesn't even get his nose in.)

He also might well have played an important role for Myles Standish in finding a suitable second wife for him, prepared to take the tremendous step of departing for Plymouth across the Atlantic Ocean to marry a man she did not know. Or did Barbara know him? Someone in England must have known her and Myles well enough to think that this marriage might work, as indeed it did. The strongest possible candidate so far for this 'someone' is Rev. William Leigh. But Barbara did not sail until 1623, by when A.S. was dead, so this story, with all details and references, is postponed.

1587-90. This is the period covered by the Derby Household Books , with the record of visitors kept by William Farington of Worden, which shows all the local gentry turning up at the various Lancashire residences of the Earl of Derby, including a few Standishes. A.S. is not mentioned by name during these years, but it would probably not be too wild a speculation to assume that he accompanied his stepfather on occasion, particularly because his favourite cousin from his mother's side (in A.S.'s will) was Bridget Stanley née Hoghton, married to a Stanley who lived very close to Lathom and Ormskirk. Also recorded are the visits of several groups of Players. Was Shakespeare in one of these groups? Was he in the Queen's Players in the autumn of 1589, whose movements around the North of England and on to James's court in Scotland are fairly well documented? At the very least one can assume that A.S. was aware of some of these comings and goings on his various returns to Lancashire during this period.

1588, spring. Henry, 4th Earl of Derby departed on a mission to the Netherlands to negotiate with the Spanish in an attempt to delay or avert the Spanish Armada. In this he was unsuccessful, but when he returned to Lancashire after the debacle was greeted as a hero. This mission and his return are reported in literature on the Earls of Derby but I have yet to read it featured prominently in 'national' literature. It might or might not be of relevance that Earl Henry's close kinsman Sir William Stanley 'The Adventurer/ Traitor' was at the head of several hundred English Catholic exiles, poised to cross the Channel after the Spanish had invaded and install his friend from Lancashire, Cardinal William Allen, as Archbishop of Canterbury. We all know that this did not happen, but it might be at least one reason why Earl Henry was sent on this mission, rather than another earl. It might or might not be of relevance that this Sir William Stanley was of the Stanley family of Hooton in the Wirrall, which regularly married into the Arderne family of Cheshire and the Hoghton family of Lancashire.

I plead no case here, but merely report: Ormerod (in the first half of the 19th century) established the fairly definitive ancestry of this Stanley family; Mary Arderne's family were kinsmen; this Sir William Stanley was definitely in close contact over the years with Cardinal William Allen; and Earl Henry's role in the events of 1588 seems so far to have been overlooked in most accounts of the Armada. At the very least we can be fairly certain that Shakespeare and A.S., wherever they were in this year, had every opportunity to stay abreast of events, like everyone else. Myles Standish was still a baby.

(21) 1589: the 'affray at Lea'

1589, 28 November. The 'affray at Lea' occurred, in which T.H., A.S.'s uncle was killed. Lea Hall (pronounced Lear, as in King) was the main residence of the Hoghtons before Hoghton Tower was built and is still there today, west of Preston and close to the banks of the Ribble, much changed over the centuries but nevertheless still there. Any version of this story reads rather like the apocryphal one (by Bulwer Lytton) beginning "It was a cold, dark and stormy night and three . . ." This story was for real, it happened on a cold, dark (perhaps not stormy) night and involved eighty men under Baron Langton and thirty under Thomas Hoghton (T.H.). It affected the lives of many, provided many riddles at the time and has remained as a puzzle for anyone ever since who has tried to understand what it was all about. It resulted in such a furore and a court case in Lancaster so remarkable that it reached the ears of Queen Elizabeth, who wrote a scathing letter in her own hand, protesting that the aggressors had so far escaped scot-free (her letter is in Honigmann, 1985, p. 13, which also provides a photo of Lea Hall).

The story has been widely reported in Lancashire literature, Honigmann (1985) detected it as possibly relevant to 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' and possibly (1987) relevant to the biography of John Weever, the poet from Preston, who wrote an epigram "ad Gulielmum Shakespeare". Enos (2000) considered it relevant enough to 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' that she transcribed and published the list of participants on Baron Langton's side from "English MS 213. Letters of Richard Hoghton. John Rylands University Library. University of Manchester" (Enos, pp. 165-7). The current situation is that everyone interested in this particular episode is still searching for any details that might provide further insight into the possible significance of the 'affray at Lea' for Shakespeare or anyone else. It was certainly significant for T.H., who lost his life. Maybe a more detailed version will appear when all relevant extant documents have been transcribed and published. Some 'new' documents have been detected, which A.S. took home with him to Duxbury from London. (These are referenced in appropriate years below, mainly in: Alexander in Chancery courts 1609-16, when A.S. was involved in sorting out the mess left behind after Baron Langton's death in 1605.)

One of many versions of the 'affray at Lea' is reproduced below, from a source perhaps not so readily available to anyone outside Lancashire. This includes the whole of the section on the Banastres and Langtons of Walton in one of many books written by Jessica Lofthouse, a doyenne of local history and country walks in the 1970s (and earlier and later). I regret that I never met her (I had meanwhile flown the family nest), but my parents did and I either bought or inherited several of her books. She never gave any references but her research was pretty sound and she knew the areas she walked and talked about like the back of her hand. There might be a few quibbles about the facts, but none about the connections of various families mentioned below, who provide the background to the 'affray at Lea'.

Early in the twelfth century the Hoghtons, quietly settled on their manor by Darwen banks, had new neighbours downriver: Banastres who said they were with William at Hastings and did so well in the Conquest they were given lands in North Wales, just beyond Offa's Dyke. They kept the Welsh so firmly on the right side of the border defending the English/ Norman settlement that the King offered them as reward rank of baron and the Fee of Makerfield. In 1130 Robert Banastre, very well-in with De Lacy, the great baron and landowner in these parts, received Walton from his hands and built his hall there. His land stretched far up the Darwen towards the moors.

To give them credit they gave away acres too, oak woods at Walton where the Stanlaw abbey porkers grew fat; and as thanks to the good prior of Penwortham, young Robert, who had been brought up by him as a child, gave more property in 1280.

Robert later found a suitable match for his granddaughter with John Langton, the son of good neighbours, the Barons of Newton, next to their Fee of Makerfield. Young John's brother was Bishop of Chichester and as Edward I's Chancellor had the King's ear. When the king was in a merry mood after the birth of the first Prince of Wales, he readily granted to his Chancellor, for his brother John, fair charters for Newton and Walton.

Eight generations of Langtons lived at Walton, and their Banastre kinsmen south at Bank on the Douglas river, dangerously close when this truculent branch were up to the neck in rebellion, bringing half the families of south-west Lancashire into strife and bloodshed with them. The Walton cousins trod warily, and survived.

Each generation was extremely well connected by marriage. In 1500 the infant heir was handed into Henry VII's protection and he duly chose his stepbrother Edward Stanley as the little Langton's guardian - which provided him with an infant bride, a 'natural' Stanley daughter. Were parents philosophical and resigned when their little ones died like flies? Six sons of this marriage died, five daughters survived; and a grandson at eight years of age inherited his grandfather's lands and title. He held them only twenty years, losing the Manor of Walton and bringing dishonour on an ancient name. He was lucky, thanks to the Earl of Derby's intercession, to save his life.

Neighbour feuds connected with straying cattle were the only reason for the tragedy. In November 1589 Widow Thomazine Singleton discovered a greedy brother-in-law had driven off her kine and oxen. A kinsman, Anderton of Forde, obligingly found them, then drove them to Lea, Hoghton's pastureland. Hoghton's servants found them and impounded them at Lea. So, as the next move, Anderton asked Thomas Langton to help him recover them, which he did with great vigour. He at once armed himself, tenants and friends, other gentlemen and yeomen of the Fylde with "long pikes, guns, Welsh hooks on long staves, swords, daggers, bows, arrow, bills" - the complete armoury from his hall?

Thomas Hoghton was not caught napping. Also with friends and servants, "with staves, one pike, one gun charged with hail shot, 2 pistols, bows, arrows, swords and daggers", they waited from 9 p.m. at his 'mansion house'. The Langton party arrived from Preston Marsh one hour after midnight when with war cries of, "The crow is white," from his side, and "Black, black," from Hoghton's, battle commenced.

"Richard Baldwin of Langton's company and Thomas Hoghton were there and then slain but by whom it does not appear." So wrote the distracted Hoghton widow next day to the Earl of Derby at Lathom and to friends, Sherburnes of Stonyhurst.

Thomas Langton had disappeared. Later he was apprehended at his hiding place, John Singleton's house, Broughton Tower, "where sore wounded he lay in a bed of sickness". It was the earl's responsibility as Lord Lieutenant to see justice done. He was engrossed with Baron Walton's business for some time; at the first trial it proved well nigh impossible to swear in sufficient impartial jurors. Eventually Langton was tried by the Star Chamber and, though he had merited the death penalty, 'frumgeld' was substituted. The Manor of Walton was given to the heir of the man he had slain.

That was not the end of the 29-year-old Langton. He found favour with James I, as a baron attending him at his coronation. When he died in 1605 he was buried with the royal and great at Westminster Abbey, but Wigan Church has his memorial. "To Oblivion and ye true bones of Sir Thomas Langton of ye honorable Order of ye Bath, Baron of Newton Makerfield ye last of his name descended from a most ancient famous and far renowned family in the county. A Gentleman yt many times tugged with extremities and made warre with the worst of misfortunes."

Today Walton Hall farm stands near the Darwen, all that remains of the place where Hoghtons lived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where Prince Charles Edward had his H.Q. in 1648.

(Jessica Lofthouse, Lancashire's Old Families , 1972, reprint 1979, ISBN 0 7091 3330 8, pp. 118-120.)

Whatever the background to this affray, one must suspect it might have been about something more serious than cattle and grazing rights, and various suspicious minds (including mine) have recently thought that it might have been more to do with local politics and the religious situation at the time. This affray (or the Armada?) seems to have acted as a trigger for several local families to conform. It certainly led to A.S.'s cousin Richard Hoghton, son and heir of T.H., to conform, if he had not already. He had recently married a daughter of Sir Gilbert Gerard, Master of the Rolls, who was appointed his guardian after the death of his father, because Richard was still underage (19 at the time). The marriages of Sir Gilbert's other daughters to Sir Piers Legh, Sir Richard Molyneux and Sir Thomas Wingfield of Suffolk brought A.S. into this circle, because A.S.'s son and heir Thomas (later M.P.) was to marry a daughter of Sir Thomas Wingfield, granddaughter of Sir Gilbert Gerard.

The marriages to the three sons-in-law in Lancashire and Cheshire have been noted in 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' literature (Honigmann, 1985 and Weever , 1987), but the Wingfield marriage not. The Standish-Wingfield marriage has been noted in literature on Duxbury ( VCH , Walker) but without any report of the connection to Sir Gilbert Gerard. Sir Gilbert appeared, however, along with his brother William, a lawyer in London, in DP397/4/26 on 15 August 1583 (see above), sorting out a dispute between three Standishes. These same Gerards are at the heart of the story of the Cheshire Ardernes, because this William Gerard's son Rev. Richard Gerard, Rector of Stockport, was married at this time to Ursula Arderne, of the family that were Mary's closest relatives in Cheshire. Only when the whole Gerard story has been investigated will all the relationships become clear. Meanwhile, A.S. obviously grew up knowing many of the relevant Gerards and very much aware of the 'affray at Lea'.

The intriguing presence in the Baron's gang of John Weever and Hugh Arden (and many other interesting names) was noted by Enos in 2000, who saw this list as potentially containing clues to more connections. Honigmann had also previously seen it as containing potential clues to revealing some of John Weever's biography (Honigmannn, Weever , 1987). It certainly provides another list of names in Hoghton, Standish and 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' circles in 1589. After the death of Baron Langton in early 1605, A.S. was involved in several Chancery suits concerning the Baron's estate, and the tablet in Wigan Church commemorating the Baron turned up later at Duxbury Hall, transcribed there by antiquarian Roger Dodsworth (1585-1654), who was married to a Hesketh of Rufford. (The Dodsworth 'tablet story', with references, will be given under the biographies of A.S.'s grandsons during the Civil War. The text appears above in Jessica Lofthouse's account.)

This story might take a few more years to sort out to the satisfaction of all interested today. We are all still in a muddle and trying to see some way out of this. We might never succeed, but at least we are trying. One thing is certain: the manor of Walton was not a recompense for the murder of T.H., but had a much more complicated story, in which A.S. was involved. (See Alexander in Chancery courts.)

(22) c. 1590: a few relevant Heskeths.

The Heskeths enter Myles Standish's, A.S.'s and 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' stories at so many points that it is difficult to know where to begin, but 1590 is as good a year as any other between 1581, when William Shakeshafte probably arrived at Rufford Old Hall from Hoghton Tower, and 1617, when widow Jane Hesketh married Sir Richard Hoghton (second wife, third husband) and moved from Rufford Old Hall to Hoghton Tower. The traffic between these two halls must have been rather dense.

Let me begin with a brief report of my latest visit to Rufford Old Hall in September 2003, when I spoke to several guides and officials and explained why I have omitted a visit to Rufford during the course at Alston in August 2004. Of all the halls relevant to 'Shakespeare in Lancashire', this is the most accessible (thanks to the National Trust). They have a magnificent guide book, audio commentary and education programme. To appreciate and do justice to all these, one needs to spend several hours there, rather than a quick flip through in a group. The only negative side (but this is really not negative, just fact) is that the Heskeths finally abandoned Rufford Old Hall in the 1930s and the furniture (if not the fittings) on view today are largely imported. Most of the paintings are on loan from the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and much of the furniture has been acquired during the last half-century. It is a museum, not a home, but a museum well worth visiting and wonderfully maintained (thanks in large part to all the dedicated volunteers). Do visit their web site and the hall itself. The main gems from A.S.'s (and Shakespeare's) time are the main hall, with its superb carved oak screen, and a copy of the Hesketh Pedigree Roll of c. 1600, which includes portraits from life of many at this time. The other main gem (for me) is the portrait of Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-65) hanging in the dining room. He was a little late to be of direct relevance to A.S. or Shakespeare, but his father Sir Everard enters the story as a gunpowder plotter and his wife was Venetia Stanley, who appears below in 1600-1, with her name on a tomb in Tong, Shropshire and a poem by Ben Jonson, Shakespeare's friend. The Digby portrait is not on loan, but an old family possession.

Honigmann (1985) devoted a chapter (III) to the relevant Sir Thomas Hesketh, mentioned in A.H.'s will of 1581 as the potential host of William Shakeshafte, who would either keep him in his household or see that he came to a "good master". They also passed down the tradition that William Shakespeare was with them in his youth. I continue with details of relevance to the Standishes.

Deane, Guide Book to Rufford Old Hall , (any recent edition) gives Roger Dodsworth's place in this family: he was the second husband of Holcroft Hesketh (died 1639), who had previously been married to Lawrence Rawsthorne of New Hall, Tottington, who appears in Standish of Standish MSS (Porteus, 1933). This is hardly surprising, because Holcroft's brother Robert (died 1653) was married to Margaret, daughter of Alexander Standish of Standish. She was a granddaughter of Edward Standish (in A.H.'s 1581 will) and these Heskeths were grandchildren of Sir Thomas Hesketh (also in A.H.'s will). He died in 1588. The Hesketh family tree provides another list of names of many who must have been known to A.S. (and therefore Myles Standish and Shakespeare?).

Holcroft's sister Mary married (as her 2 nd husband) Thomas Stanley of Eccleston, an illegitimate but fully acknowledged son of Henry, 4th Earl of Derby and his mistress Jane Halsall. This Thomas Stanley was therefore a half brother of 'matchless' Ferdinando, the 5th Earl, and William 'the great traveller', 6th Earl, fellow-playwright with Shakespeare in London in the 1590s; and full brother of Dorothy Halsall/ Stanley, married to Sir Cuthbert Halsall of Halsall (whose grandmother was noted by Honigmann, 1985, p. 12 as having been involved in the lead up to the 'affray at Lea') and Ursula Halsall/ Stanley, married to Sir John Salisbury/ Salisbury, for whom Shakespeare wrote his enigmatic poem The Phoenix and (the) Turtle , published by Robert Chester in Love's Martyr in 1601.

(Honigmann, 1985 devoted chapter IX to the The Phoenix and the Turtle , with very convincing arguments for this reader that Shakespeare most probably wrote this poem on the occasion of the Ursula Stanley/ John Salisbury marriage in December 1586. This was the most disputed chapter of his book, as he revealed in his preface to the second edition of Shakespeare: the 'lost years' , 1998. The controversy is still raging and new candidates for the phoenix and the turtle have been proposed. All, of course, were connected to Shakespeare and based on research in contemporary MSS, and all therefore throwing much needed light and details on many contemporary persons. (I have followed this controversy mainly in the Times Literary Supplement . My money is still on Honigmann's identification of the phoenix and turtle as Ursula and Sir John at their wedding.)

Holcroft and Mary Hesketh were two of the last of a dozen or so recorded children of Robert Hesketh (1560-1620), who had three wives. The Hesketh tree by Deane gives them as children of his first marriage to "Mary (married 1567, died 1586), daughter and heiress of Sir George Stanley of Cross Hall, Lathom". His second wife was "Blanche (died 1602), daughter and co-heiress of Henry Twyford of Kenwick, Shropshire; widow of William Stopforth". This William Stopforth/ Stopford/ Stockport was one of the major characters in Porteus's investigation of Myles Standish's lands (Porteus 1914, 1920), where he became the real villain of the piece. When I followed in Porteus's footsteps, reading many of the Hesketh MSS (DDHe at the L.R.O.), William Stopforth appeared more as an astute businessman, Secretary to the Earl of Derby, with a good eye for buying up property, most particularly from Hugh Standish of Ormskirk, who seemed to have got himself hopelessly into debt. It was his lands that were confused with those named in Myles's will. Whatever the 'truth', his widow Blanche brought a rather large amount of property to her second husband Robert Hesketh. They did not have any children together, but they did leave their portraits behind on the magnificent Hesketh pedigree chart, which has been perceived as potentially significant by more than one investigator into 'Shakespeare in Lancashire'. Eric Sams, The Real Shakespeare (Yale, 1995) sees it as one possible product of Shakespeare's hand.

The third sample may well prove even more contentious, because it relates to speculations such as the young Shakespeare's possible connection with the Lancashire Catholic clans of Houghton and Hesketh in the early 1580s (Honigmann 1985). The Pedigree Roll of Sir Thomas Hesketh (BL Add. MS. 44026, excerpted in Keen and Lubbock 1954, 36) is penned in a style very like that of the 1579 deed of sale and the Ironside MS. That 1954 book (anticipated in Wadman 1941 and McLaren 1949) is about a copy of Hall's Chronicle 1550 with annotations identified as Shakespeare's, as also on different and independent grounds by Pitcher (1961); this volume too is now housed in the British Library. These ascriptions have never been contested by any accredited expert; on the contrary, close and informed analysis (H. Rhodes in Keen and Lubbock 1954, 151-63) supports them.

But argument is no match for prejudice, as the history of the fifth item confirms. This has been known since 1939, when the inscription 'W. Shakespere' was found in the Folger Library copy of a 1568 legal text-book, William Lambarde's Archaionomia (Knight 1973; Schoenbaum 1981). But Schoenbaum (1981, 109) feels that Archaionomia 'seems an odd choice for Shakespeare's library'. This opinion is echoed from the Folger paleographers's report on the original discovery (Dawson 1942), which concludes that the poet himelf indeed signed the volume 'perhaps because he owned the book - a strange volume indeed for his library'. Thus pundits decide, up to 400 years after the event, what books Shakespeare ought not to read - exactly as they determine what plays he ought not to write, and even how he ought not to sign his own name (Cox, 1984). (Sams, 1995, p. 194.)

Could Sams be right?

Robert Hesketh's third wife was "Jane (died 1658), daughter of Thomas Spencer of Rufford; widow of Richard Haresnape; m. 1617; m. 3rd Sir Richard Hoghton, Bt.", which took her from Rufford to Hoghton Tower. One of Robert's brothers was Thomas Hesketh (1561-1613), "Herbalist", whose work was highly praised by John Gerard, the writer of the Herball published in 1597, which drew greatly on the work by the Dutchman Dodoens, a copy of whose "Earball" was on Myles Standish's shelf in Duxbury, Massachusetts (Myles's inventory, Porteus, 1920). This John Gerard also designed gardens for prominent people in London, including Lord Burghley, who took a great interest in affairs in Lancashire.

(23) 1590: Henry Butler and Lord Burghley.

One can perhaps minimally assume that by this time A.S. had started to take an active interest in local events.

c. 1590. Around this time Thomas(2) had a dispute with Henry Butler. The dispute is not important, but Thomas's contact to Henry Butler is.

Interrogatories relating to Copthurst in Heapey, in dispute between Thomas Standisshe esq. and Henry Butler, esq. c. 1590. (Catalogue: DP397/13/14.)

Henry Butler, Esquire was of Outer Rawcliffe, between Preston and Lancaster, but obviously had lands in Heapey near Chorley. He was identified as potentially important in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story by Honigmann, who gives a simplified pedigree chart of the family (Honigmann, 1985, p. 147.) The main importance for Honigmann was that John Weever claimed him as an uncle and dedicated an epigram to him in 1599. The main importance for Thomas Standish(2) was that they owned lands in the same place, which led to a dispute. The main importance in general is that they obviously met, which brings the Standishes of Duxbury yet again into the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' story. The main ancestral connection, which had perhaps led to this dispute, was that A.S.'s grandfather James Standish of Duxbury had married one of four Butler of Rawcliffe co-heiresses in 1526, and the division of the estates involved many gentry families during the following generations. Farrer gives the basic details in VCH , vol. 8, p. 52, under his account of Ashton with Stodday, near Lancaster, where the four heiresses inherited some of their lands. The other daughters and their children married into all the usual families.

1590. In this year Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth's chief minister, had a map of Lancashire drawn up, marking known recusants with an ominous cross. Stepfather Thomas(2) did not receive a cross, whereas his kinsman Edward Standish of Standish did. Confusingly, Thomas was also named Edward, although 'of Duxbury' and firmly placed in Duxbury. Might one detect from this that Thomas was not as prominent locally as Edward, nor known nationally as a prominent recusant, and that he had already decided to conform? Or might one not? At the very least, this map has been detected by all exploring Lancashire history as vital in one way or another, has been reproduced in many places (Bagley, Maps and Enos, for starters), and the biographical notes in the first publication of it desperately need updating in some cases, certainly those on Thomas Standish. (Joseph Gillow, Lord Burghley's Map of Lancashire , with notes on the Designated Manorial Lands, Biographical and General Brief Histories of their estates, Coligite Fragmenta ne Pereant, London, printed privately, 1907, 206 copies, 8s. Several of these 206 copies are in Lancashire libraries.)

1590 was also the year that saw A.S. aged nineteen turning twenty, with a solid education behind him, including a sojourn in London with many fellow students from Cambridge. He had relatives back in Lancashire split between staunch Catholic recusants, who sent their sons to be educated at Douai/ Rheims, others who were Church Papists, i.e. remained Catholic in their hearts but were prepared to attend Anglican services as required, and some who had espoused Protestantism and already moved several steps towards Puritanism. At the same time, he must have been under some pressure from his parents to marry as soon as possible and produce a son and heir.

1591. More severe anti-recusant laws, largely directed at Lancashire.

591-2. Whichever of these were uppermost in A.S.'s mind, he returned to Lancashire and marriage.

(24) 1592-3: marriage and the first child.

1592 May 30. A.S. married Alice Assheton at Bolton-le-Moors Parish Church, the youngest daughter of Sir Ralph Assheton, Bt. of Great Lever near Bolton and Whalley, and Joan Rat(d)cliffe (Visitation Pedigrees of the Assheton family and Registers of Bolton Parish Church). This is the first record that a Standish of Duxbury turned to a Protestant family for his wife. The Asshetons originated in Ashton-under-Lyne but already by this time were well on the way to adopting Assheton as the standard (and modern) spelling of their surname (as used by the current Lord Clitheroe, another Ralph Assheton). They were another of the leading gentry families of Central Lancashire . The male line at Ashton had died out half a century earlier with the death of Sir Thomas Assheton, leaving three heiresses, one of whom, also Alice Assheton, had married Sir Richard Hoghton and was the mother of Thomas 'The Exile' and Alexander 'of the 1581 will'. Through this marriage the Hoghtons acquired half of the manor of Ashton-under-Lyne and still owned it at this time, finally selling out to Sir George Booth of Dunham Massey, the owner of the other half, in 1605. (All histories of Ashton give these details, including Farrer, VCH . I have been in contact for the last few years with two historians in Ashton, Roy Parkes, Blue Badge Guide, and Alan Bacon, historian of the Parish Church . I have great hope that they will unearth more local details that might allow a more realistic reconstruction of the several intriguing mysteries presented by Ashton: for starters, a former Globe Tavern, Shakespeare's coat of arms in two stained glass windows and a bust looking suspiciously like Shakespeare. So far these have turned out to be red herrings, but fascinating ones nonetheless.)

The two senior Assheton branches at this time were those of Alice 's family of Bolton and Whalley, and the Asshetons of Middleton near Oldham . They were well aware of their common origins and just one of many examples comes from Nicholas Assheton's diary. He was an Assheton of Whalley, who had meanwhile acquired nearby Downham Hall, where Nicholas lived (and Lord Clitheroe now does). Two entries from his diary for 1617 read:

Dec. 26 Word came that Sir Richard Assheton was very dangerously sick.

Dec. 27 I with my Coz. Assheton [Ralph Assheton of Whalley] to Middleton. Sir Richard had left his speech and did not know a man. . .

(Bagley, Lancashire Diarists , p. 8)

Sir Ralph, the head of the family at Middleton, was on his deathbed; luckily Nicholas of Downham and Ralph of Whalley arrived in time to be present at his death at 8 o'clock that evening. Ralph of Whalley was the brother of Alice , married to A.S., who had been created a baronet by James I. There was one surviving younger brother Radcliffe, named after his mother's Radcliffe family, who married "Elizabeth daughter of . . . Hide, citizen of London" and lived at Cuerdale near Preston; and two sisters, Jane married to Richard Towneley of Towneley, Esquire and another married to George Preston of Holker.

In marrying Alice Assheton, A.S. therefore strengthened his links to the Hoghtons. Not only was the earlier Alice Assheton of Ashton the mother of his Hoghton uncles Thomas 'The Exile' and A.H., but the latter had married Dorothy Assheton of Middleton as his first wife. Also, A.S.'s mother-in-law was Joan Radcliffe of Winmarleigh, a cadet branch of the Radcliffes of Ordsall in Salford, families that very much stayed in touch and provided daughters for many local gentry families, many of them Catholic, and not a few sons and daughters who were later to hit Elizabethan headlines. (See quotes under 1599.) The current Earls of Sussex were Radcliffes, who maintained close connections with their kinsmen back in Ordsall, and their Sussex Players performed early Shakespeare plays. Father Conlan certainly saw the Radcliffes as signficant somehow.

1593. A.S. and Alice's son Thomas was born. There is no record of his baptism, but he was aged 29 at his father's inquisition post mortem in 1623. Again, a baptism by Rev. William Leigh in the chapel at Duxbury Hall would be one possible explanation. This Thomas was to have a national career, and will be labelled henceforth as 'Thomas the M.P.' He was presumably named after his grandfather Thomas(1), whom he never knew, and Thomas(2).

(25) 1593-4: an eventful year.

1593. A.S.'s stepfather Thomas wrote his will. (Rev. Piccope transcribed this in the 1850s, and the following details come from his transcription in the Piccope MSS in Chetham's Library.) The contents were straightforward enough, as he left a third to his widow, a third to A.S. "to his own use" and a third to provide for everyone else: stepson Leonard "if obedient to the said wife until he accomplishes age 21", the three married daughters and their children, and unmarried Ellen "for her marriage, to be approved by my wife Margaret or son Alexander", his brother Christopher and all his children, his "sister Clemens" (actually the sister of Thomas(1), whom he had 'adopted' along with the rest of the family) and all his servants. If anything was left over, it should go to A.S.. As supervisors he appointed Christopher Longworth and Philip Mainwaring (husbands of two of the daughters), "Richard Houghton of Houghton" (the son of T.H., slain at the 'affray at Lea"), and "my loving brother-in-law". The last is not named, but he only had one still alive: John Yate(s) of Chorley, gent., Clemence's husband.

The puzzle comes from the timing. Why did he write this six years before his death and not on his deathbed, the normal practice at the time? There is probably an innocent explanation: he was ill at the time, but recovered, or he was just highly organised and was obviously never going to have any children of his own, so thought he might as well get it over and done with.

Or maybe he was influenced by another local and remarkable event - the Hesketh Plot. This weird and wonderful story has been told many times during the last four centuries, most recently by Francis Edwards, S.J. in Plots and Plotters in the Reign of Elizabeth I (2002, Chapter 7, 'Richard Hesketh's plot', pp. 169-192), giving full credit to Christopher Devlin, Hamlet's Divinity and other essays , London 1963 and Ian Wilson, Shakespeare: the evidence , 1993. I was alerted to Edwards's book by Father Peter in Tokyo , which somehow made the story even more weird and wonderful, because Edwards is an Oxfordian, i.e. believes that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote some or all of Shakespeare's works. He is entitled to his opinion, of course, but this is a theory that I (and many others, including Father Peter) find impossible to accept. For me, the main de Vere-Shakespeare connection comes from the marriage of Elizabeth de Vere to William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, who has also been proposed as an Alternative Authorship Candidate. We probably need a few more years to sort this out, with 'new' biographies of William Stanley, his sister-in-law Countess Alice and her admirer A.S. perhaps contributing to this. Maybe a few conspiracy theories will be revised in the process. There is no doubt that there were many Catholic Plots leading up to the biggest one.

Meanwhile, back with the Hesketh Plot of 1593, Edwards is very sympathetic to the main protagonist, Richard Hesketh of Aughton, brother of A.H.'s widow Elizabeth (and therefore A.S.'s aunt), a businessman in Flanders, who arrived back in Lancashire bearing the offer of the crown to Ferdinando as the first choice as Elizabeth's successor of the English Catholics in exile. This happened to coincide with the death of Earl Henry on 25th September, which left Ferdinando as the 5th Earl and Alice, Lady Strange, thus became Countess of Derby. Also involved in the story were Dr John Dee and Sir Edmund Kelly in Prague , the Cecils in London , and pretty well everyone who was anyone in Lancashire, London , Flanders and Rome at the time. Whatever the 'truth' behind this episode, it certainly involved many who appear in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire ' story, caused a national scandal and the news must have reached Shakespeare's ears as well as A.S.'s. Several Heskeths were involved in Lancashire and London, Baron Langton was arrested as an accomplice (echoes of the 'affray at Lea'), Richard Hesketh was executed in November and a few months later Ferdinando was dead, by witchcraft or poisoning - take your pick. During this period Shakespeare published his two long poems in London and became the darling of the London literary scene. I am but the latest of many who have tried to make sense of some of these events and how they might be interrelated. Maybe they weren't, but A.S. must have known all the main protagonists.

1594, April. Ferdinando, 5th Earl of Derby, died in agony, leaving widow Countess Alice and three young daughters, and Shakespeare lost his patron. Shortly afterwards she had a still-born son, which meant that brother William became the 6th Earl of Derby. One might imagine that many of the local gentry visited to express their commiseration and attended Ferdinando's funeral in Ormskirk Parish Church . Whether A.S.'s wife Alice attended is uncertain, because she was pregnant again.

1594, 28 September. A.S.'s daughter Joan was baptised at Whalley, the only one of their children to be baptised at this Assheton family church, presumably during a visit to Alice 's mother Joan.


(26) 1595-99: personal tragedy and some local magic.

1595-99. Three children were born to A.S. and Alice during this period and all died young, plus daughter Anne, who survived. No names or baptisms of the three who died young have survived, but we can hazard a guess that if one was a daughter she would have been named Margaret after A.S.'s mother and if two were sons they would have been named Ralph after his Assheton grandfather and Alexander after his father. We only know about them today because of an elusive report that Alice had ten children. (See under 1604, Alice 's death.) Daughter Anne is known because she was named in her father's will in 1622, at which time she was not married, nor left any later record of marriage, nor, indeed, any other record. She was not named in her brother Captain Ralph's will in 1637, so might well have died before then. With such regular appearances of children, it seems that A.S. was probably playing the role of squire for most of the time, but he must have kept abreast of national events and various eminent visitors to Lancashire .

1595, 26 January. William Stanley, meanwhile 6th Earl of Derby, married Elizabeth de Vere at Greenwich Palace , in the presence of the Queen. There is no suggestion that A.S. was present, but given his later relationship with William's sister-in-law Countess Alice, he must have continued to have contact with the Stanleys . Honigmann (1985) presents convincing arguments for this wedding being a strong candidate for the first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream .

1595. Dr John Dee, mathematician, astrologer, alchemist, necromancer, friend of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Earls of Derby and, it seems, all luminaries of the time, was appointed Warden of Manchester College, where he stayed for many years. This brings his biography ( DNB ) into the local story, not least because of his previous necromancy act with Edward Kelly alias Talbot in the churchyard at Walton-le-Dale, owned by Baron Thomas Langton. The last told the story to J ohn Weever, who, Honigmann proposes ( Weever , 1987), might have been his nephew (he had an Uncle Thomas as sponsor), and who soon afterwards started writing his epigrams (he arrived in Cambridge in 1594), including one each 'ad Gulielmum Shakespeare', to Edward Alleyn the actor and Edmund Spenser the poet, the last two from Lancashire families and all three rather famous in London by the mid-1590s. Alleyn's mother was a Towneley of Towneley, Spenser still has a house in Hurstwood, near Towneley, named 'Spenser's House' and firmly associated with him by local tradition, and Towneley Hall acquired its current front door from Standish Hall, because of a later Towneley-Standish marriage, merely the last of so many previous links by marriage. Spenser also claimed kinship to Countess Alice and Alleyn was the leading actor in her first husband's Strange's Players. It seems that another close look at all these in the North might shed more light.

Thomas Conlan discovered Edward Alleyn's immediate ancestry, which takes us round in a few more circles.

I have at long last discovered Edward Alleyn's provenance, a question which has long nagged me! I found it in the first book I picked up here - 'History of Prior Park College' by Rev. Br. J. S. Roche (Irish Christian Brother) (Burns Oates, 1931, Appendix B, pp. 286-7. The Appendix consists of a quotation from 'The Bath and Wilts Chronicle & Herald' (Dec. 11, 1925) - it concerns Ralph Allen, who built Prior Park (his dates 1684-1764). A correspondent who is a descendant of Ralph Allen quotes his pedigree. Ralph Allen is described as "The Man of Bath" [he built a lot of it], postal reformer, philanthropist, friend of [Alexander] Pope & [novelist] Fielding (& of Quincey & Garrick!] & original of Squire Allworthy in 'Tom Jones [by Fielding]. Ralph Allen [son of innkeeper] was the great-grandson of William Alleine, brother of Edward Alleyn of Willen (died 1570) who was the father of Edward Alleyn (1566-1626), the founder of Dulwich College . The writer appears to be unaware that this is Shakespeare's co-actor! Now this means that Margaret Towneley, who married Edward Alleyn of Willen, gave birth to Edward Alleyn there, lived at Willen & Willen is only 7 miles from Grafton Regis (SW of it and S. of Newport Pagnell (Bucks. I think). [The question arises: Is the Grafton Portrait that of Edward Alleyn?] Now Margaret Towneley married (2) Robert Browne (actor-manager of Derby's men) & Sir Richard Hoghton, as I pointed out in a previous letter, married a daughter of Roger Browne (their illegitimate son was Richard Hoghton of Park Hall . . . who kept a series of Catholic Schoolmasters for a least 20 years & was arrested at Lyford because of Campion's books. (Letter to Peter Milward, from Bath, 9 April 1967.)

Now there is some food for thought. These Alleyns seemed to produce actors and friends of actors over a couple of centuries, with Ralph's acquaintances in the 18th century the equivalent of Edward's in the 16th and 17th. Cardinal William Allen's family of Rossall in Lancashire originated further south (biography DNB ), which might give them the same origin as the Willen Alle(y/i)ns (there must have been some connection for Margaret Towneley to find her first husband there). The Grafton portrait (of Shakespeare? Alleyn?) is today in the John Rylands Library in Manchester , having been bought by a Stockport businessman in the 19th century and bequeathed to this library. (This is closed at the moment for two years for restoration, but the history of the portrait has been widely reported, including Schoenbaum, Shakespeare's Lives , 1975, who was as sceptical and humorous as always. We will probably never know the 'truth', but all the various owners and buyers over the centuries seem to have been convinced that it was Shakespeare.) The Towneleys were very much allied to the Standishes and Hoghtons, and with Edward Alleyn's established presence as a son of a Towneley, this raises some interesting questions as to whether (and where?) A.S., Shakespeare and Weever might have first seen Alleyn in performance. It seems ever more likely that this might have been when he was on tour in Strange's Players and before they all landed in London . Another jigsaw puzzle for someone here?

(27) 1596: a soldier.

1596. Alexander Standish was at the head of troops, "in command of a force to face potential Irish invasion" (Walker, Duxbury in Decline , p. 15). Was this A.S. from Family A or the other Alexander from Family B? It hardly seems to matter. At the very least it connects Standish of Duxbury with military activities and musterings by William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, whose published history so far provides conflicting reports about being proposed for a command in The Netherlands and/ or Ireland, being forbidden to depart for either country, leaving the country again at some point in the company of John Donne in France, not leaving the country, busy writing plays in London in 1599, etc..

His very first dedicated biography is due to appear in 2004 in The New DNB . I have great faith that this will come as close as possible to whatever of the truth is still detectable today, written by Professor Leo Daugherty, who is a Shakespeare biography expert, has read widely about the proposal of William Stanley as an Alternative Authorship Candidate for some of Shakespeare's works and has followed closely the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' controversy. My faith comes from extended correspondence with him on several William Stanley matters and conundrums, which we have attempted to thrash out together. His conclusions will remain his, but at long last we will have the biography of another enigmatic figure who was so obviously an integral a part of Shakespeare's and A.S.'s lives.

Meanwhile, in 1596, we have A.S. (or his kinsman Alexander?) at the head of troops mustered by William Stanley, along with a few thousand more - Lancashire records show that the county could drum up about 7000 within a few days throughout the whole of the 16th century. (All surviving lists were published by Harland, J., ed., 'The Lancashire Lieutenancy under the Tudors and Stuarts', parts i and ii, Chetham Society Old Series, xlix and l, 1849.) The Standishes of Duxbury were always there with about 200 troops, and everyone else (gentry) in the 'Duxbury to Shakespeare' story was also there, with varying numbers that indicate the number of able-bodied tenants.

In 1595-9 Shakespeare was busy writing plays for performance in London (and dodging taxes in London and buying property in Stratford ) and John Weever was busy studying in Cambridge and perhaps already writing some of his epigrams. A.S. was busy producing a few children, who died young, and he was all set to defend Lancashire from an Irish invasion. The Irish did not invade England , but the other way round.

(28) 1599: a few friends and relatives in war and peace.

1599. There is no hint in the family papers that A.S. actually fought in any battle, but it is certain that many of his relatives and friends fought in Ireland and many were killed. Just two are mentioned here, of particular interest to A.S.. First, Sir Alexander Radcliffe of Ordsall, one of whose family was married to Edward Standish of Standish and another married to Thomas Standish of Duxbury(3), father of the Alexander three years older than A.S.. Sir Alexander Radcliffe's mother was Anne Asshawe of Heath Charnock, whose family owned the southern half of this manor when Thomas Standish(2) and A.S. owned the northern half with the Charnocks. This Sir Alexander Radcliffe (1573-99), in a roundabout way, provides several connections to 'Shakespeare in Lancashire '. The following is quoted in full, as the story of two young hero(in)es and beauties from the North West at Elizabeth 's court. Sir Alexander and his twin sister Margaret had the fortune to be so well known at court that many contemporary writings have survived.

Alexander Radclyffe, eldest son and heir of Sir John, was born at Ordsall, and baptized at Manchester on 26th January 1573. He was sixteen years old when his father died. He had already been introduced to the Court under the patronage of his FitzWalter cousins, and was one of the eager youths, "bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs," who accepted Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, as their natural leader. Alexander took part in the famous exploit against Cadiz in 1596, and was amongst those knighted by Essex at the end of the great adventure. He and his sister, Margaret, were amongst the most intimate friends of Essex , as they also enjoyed the loving favour of the Queen. In the summer of 1598 the rebel Earl of Tyrone inflicted a disastrous defeat on the English forces in Ireland , and Essex persuaded the Queen and the Council to grant him the command in Ireland and the task of subduing Tyrone. Sir Alexander's brother, Captain William Radclyffe, had fallen in the Battle of Blackwater, and the young knight of Ordsall was eager to avenge his brother's death and freely offered his service to his friend, Essex, in the tremendous task he had undertaken. On 22nd March 1599 he made his will, and the following day rode forth to Chester, there to join Essex, who sailed from the Dee at the head of the greatest expedition Elizabeth had ever sent abroad, 16,000 foot and 100 horse, levies voluntarily raised throughout the land at the call of national honour and by the magic of the leader's name. Arrived in Ireland Essex paid too much heed to the persuasions of the Irish Council, anxious to secure the preservation of their own estates, and instead of proceeding against Tyrone in Ulster led his army into Munster . Disease attacked his forces with disastrous results, and he was compelled to return to Dublin with nothing noteworthy accomplished in the months of his campaign, but with his army broken and weary from their lengthy sojourn in the misty boglands. Severely wounded, and ravaged by a fever, Sir Alexander Radclyffe died on the 5th of August 1599 . . .

Margaret Radclyffe was twin to Alexander and, as is not uncommon in such cases, their natural relationship was reinforced by a strong bond of mutual affection. As children they were inseparable companions, and when Alexander came to Court he brought his sister with him. The arrival of the two young people so wondrously alike in their striking physical beauty created something of a mild sensation at the Palace of Whitehall . . . Margaret was immediately claimed by the Queen to adorn the privy chamber as a Maid of Honour . . . Margaret was elevated above all other ladies of the Court as the Queen's prime favourite, and all who would sue for Gloriana's favours sought the aid of merry Margaret as their intermediary . . . Her bosom friend was Anne Russell, granddaughter of the second Earl of Bedford, and later married to Lord Herbert, son of the fourth Earl of Worcester. . . Margaret bade goodbye to her brother . . . Five months went by, and one day in late August a courier came riding to Court bearing news from Ireland. The English army had suffered a severe defeat and Sir Alexander Radclyffe was amongst the slain. The Queen would not suffer anyone but herself to bear the news to Margaret. The girl's grief was terrible to behold. Nothing would comfort her, and when her sobbing had subsided she lay on her bed in a state of complete exhaustion. The royal physicians whom the Queen summoned to attend her reported that her malady was of the heart, not of the body, and their medicines would be unavailing. When the Court moved to Nonsuch, Margaret returned to Ordsall, bereft of her smile and lively charm, her sad heart breaking with a great sorrow, to be alone with her grief in the home of her fathers . . . News of her condition was sent regularly to the Queen, whose anxiety for her dearly loved friend insisted on Margaret being brought to Richmond Palace that she might tend her in person. It was a ghost who obeyed the Queen's command, and the courtiers were shocked to see the change which had come upon the former merry maid. Even the ministrations of the Queen and of dear Anne Russell could not rouse Margaret to an interest in life, and on the morning of the 10th November she died. Her tragic passing was the sole topic of conversation for days. In one of Philip Gaudy's Letters he writes:

"There is news besides of the tragycall death of Mistress Ratcliffe the Mayde of honor, who ever synce the death of Sir Alexander her brother hathe pined in such strange manner, as voluntarily she hathe gone about to starve herself, and by the two days together hathe receivyed no sustinence, which meeting with extreame greife hathe made an end of her Mayden modest days at Richmond uppon Saterdaye last, her Majestie being present, who commanded her body to be opened and found it all well and sound, saving certyne strings striped all over her harte."

The Court went into mourning and by the Queen's command Margaret was buried with all the ceremonies of a great lady's obsequies in the Church of St. Margaret at Westminster . A magnificent monument was erected over her grave at the Queen's expense, and Ben Jonson wrote the inscription for it. When, and for what reason, this monument was removed it has been impossible to discover, but no trace of it now remains in the church. The record of Jonson's tribute has, however, been preserved.

M arble weep, for thou dost cover

A dead beauty underneath thee,

R ich as nature could bequeath thee:

G rant, then no rude hand remove her.

A ll the gazers on the skies

R ead not in fair heaven's story

E xpresser truth or truer glory,

T han they might in her bright eyes.

R are as wonder was her wit;

A nd like nectar ever flowing:

T ill time, strong by her bestowing,

C onquered have both life and it.

L ife whose grief was out of fashion

I n these times. Few have so rued

F ate in a brother. To conclude,

F or wit, feature, and true passion

E arth, thou hast not such another.

(The Book of the Radclyffes , Constable, Edinburgh U. P., 1948, pp. 156-9.)

Whether A.S. and Alice visited Margaret when she was pining away at Ordsall will never be known; nor is it known whether they travelled to London during this period. But if they did, they would have had the Radcliffes, among others, to introduce them at court. One might also deduce from the above that Ben Jonson met Margaret Radcliffe more than once, and if he met her, it is more than likely that Shakespeare did too. We know at least that she was a Shakespeare fan.

Margaret was one of Elizabeth's Maids of Honour, together with Mary Fitton of Gawsworth, Cheshire, and Elizabeth Vernon of Hodnet, Shropshire, a cousin of Essex . . . and the bride of Shakespeare's patron Southampton . . . These Northern maids and their gallants evidently enjoyed a private joke, now somewhat obscure, which had a Shakespearian foundation. Professor Hotson recently found among the uncalendared papers at the Public Record Office a note from Essex to Sir Robert Cecil, dated 25-28 February 1598, carrying this postscript:

I pray you commend me also to Alex Radcliff and tell him for news his sister is marryed to Sr Io. Falstaff.

Margaret in fact never married. Professor Hotson suspects a jibe at the susceptibilities of Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham, an enemy of Essex, who had made Shakespeare change the family name of 'Oldcastle' in Henry IV to the immortal one of Falstaff, and whose notorious lechery ill became his grey hairs.

The joke was revived by Elizabeth Vernon in a letter of 1599, now among the Cecil Papers, to her husband Southampton.

All the nues I can send you that I thinke wil make you mery is that I reade in a letter from London that Sir John Falstaf is by his M(rs) Dame Pintpot made father of a godly milers thum (a boye thats all heade and veri litel body). But this is a secrit.

Sir Edmund Chambers thinks that this again was a tilt at Lord Cobham, notoriously childless, for all his pestering of young women.

(Keen, The Annotator , 1954, pp. 61-2)

It seems obvious that Margaret Radcliffe and Elizabeth Vernon had both seen Henry IV and, one would suspect, all other Shakespeare plays performed at court, and news of these must have seeped back to Lancashire in the form of letters, apart from them being performed around the country by touring companies. With Mary Fitton and Elizabeth Vernon we also have two candidates for the Dark Lady, although both have been dismissed by all but their supporters. In the context of A.S.'s biography, however, the most important fact is that both were from the North West , the Fittons of Gawsworth closely related to the Heskeths of Rufford, and the Vernon family was related to many Lancashire and Cheshire gentry. They belong more appropriately in Mary Arderne's than A.S.'s biography, but the main point is that whenever anyone from the North West visited London , they would have found many familiar faces there.

The second one killed in Ireland in 1599 of relevance to A.S. was Sir Thomas Egerton, son and heir of Sir Thomas Egerton from Cheshire , Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, who the following year was to marry Countess Alice, Ferdinando's widow, and the lady whom A.S. was later to install next door. She also married her second daughter Frances to Sir John Egerton, the second son, later 2nd Baron Ellesmere and 1st Earl of Bridgewater. If A.S. knew Countess Alice well enough to persuade her to move in almost next door, one can only presume he knew most of her family as well. Sir Thomas Egerton Jr received an obituary poem from the poet John Weever (Honigmann, Weever , 1987, p. 119).

1599. At last we reach the year of publication of Weever's Epigrammes , which Honigmann published in 1987 (Manchester U.P.) under the title John Weever: a biography of a literary associate of Shakespeare and Jonson , together with a photographic facsimile of Weever's Epigrammes (1599). A.S. did not receive an epigram, but the list of Lancashire and Cheshire luminaries who did reads almost like a family reunion at the Hoghtons' or Stanleys' and, as such, must surely present a list of people also well known to A.S. (and Shakespeare?). A detailed analysis appears in my Shakespeare book under 1599.

1599. Stepfather Thomas(2) died. His burial is not recorded, presumably lost in the gap in Chorley Parish Registers from 1599-1611.

(29) 1600-1601: another busy year.

1600. This is the generally accepted earliest date for young Myles Standish's departure to the Netherlands as a drummer boy. No records have been found in Lancashire or the Netherlands about any precise date or any participation by Myles in any military event, and we are thus largely dependent on later reports from New England of his early life, gleanings from documents in the Netherlands and other histories of various campaigns in Europe at the time, in which he might or might not have participated. He must have participated in some of them to rise to the rank of Captain and be chosen as Military Governor of Plymouth . All New England documents concerning Myles appear on Caleb Johnson's Mayflower web site, with links to other highly relevant sites; details from records in the Netherlands , particularly those of the Separatist English community in Leiden / Leyden, are on the web site of the city of Leiden . Given this date, and all the intense local military activity in Lancashire preceding this, one might venture to guess that he was inspired by this to make his own career in the army. One might also venture to guess that A.S. knew about this and followed his progress.

1600, 18 April. A.S. baptised his son Richard at Bolton Parish Church . The very least that this proves is that A.S. and Alice were prepared to ride over to Bolton to baptise one child. Added to the fact that they had baptised daughter Joan at Whalley, we can only conclude that they made every effort to keep in touch with Alice 's Asshetons at family events.

1600, 29 September. Stepfather Thomas(2)'s will was proved. The basic details and references are given by Farrer:

[Thomas] died in 1599, leaving a son and heir Alexander, twenty-nine years of age. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvii, no. 54; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 43, m. 35. The will of Thomas Standish, made in 1593 and proved in 1600, is in Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.) ix, 295. (Farrer, VCH , vol. 6, p. 210.)

1600. The Catalogue for DP397/21/13 gives "Quitclaim: for £20 annuity from manor of Heapey - estates in Dukesburie, Heapey and Anglezarke. 1600." The MS text reveals the date of 10 November 42 Elizabeth (1600) and that A.S. was here making provision for an annual income for younger brother Leonard, according to the provisions of Thomas(2)'s will. The following is an extract:

Alexander Standishe of Ducksburie Esquire and Leonard S of D and younger brother to aforesaid Alex: . . . by a deed bearing the date of fifth day of October . . . Thomas Standishe of D. Esq. late father of the said Leonarde . . . pastures, woods, waters, meers, etc. Witnesses Phillip Manwarynge, Leonard Hoghton, Roger Leyland. (DP397/21/13.)

The quitclaim indicates the agreement that Leonard Standish would have no further claim on the family estates; the sum granted was the one mentioned in Thomas's will; the deed of 10 November proves that they acted soon after probate in September; and the witnesses almost become old friends, with the interesting appearance of uncle Leonard Hoghton of Grimsargh in person (thus Leonard Standish's almost certain godfather).

The only puzzle comes from brother Leonard himself. He was now nearly 27 (baptised on 28 November 1573) and one can only wonder what he had been doing with himself, and why he had not received this annuity from the age of 21, as specified in Thomas's will in 1593. Had he not been “obedient to the said wife”, as enjoined in the will? One must continue to wonder, because after this he is never mentioned again in the family papers, nor is there a burial record in Chorley . Perhaps he departed elsewhere and died soon afterwards? He does not appear in A.S.'s will of 1622.

1601, 4 March. For whatever reason, A.S. decided to sell lands in Preston .

Bargain and sale, - Great Avenham, the Waterwyllows, Causey meadows, the Cliffe, the great Cliffe, the Woodhoolme, Albenhey. 4 Mar. 1600/1. (Catalogue: DP397/18/1.)

The MS text makes it clear that he sold them, the main other party involved being "Willm Garstange of Preston yeoman" and the sum involved was "three score and ten pounds". Anyone who knows Preston will recognise many of these names as prime sites today, including Avenham Square and the site of the Lancashire County Council Offices. He seems to have inherited this property from his stepfather ( Preston was mentioned in the 1577 document). Why he decided to sell in this year remains a mystery, but sell them he did. At least it confirms an interest in Preston property until this time and many of the local gentry (and the Earl of Derby) had a town house there. The sale might be related to the following purchase.

1602 or later, A.S. bought Anglezarke Manor indirectly from William, 6th Earl of Derby. Coward, The Stanleys gives the details of the purchase on 30 November 1600 by Frances Mosley of London and Edward Mosley of Gray's Inn (Appendix A, including sales of many other estates). Mosley is a Manchester name, and one might assume that they were lawyers acting on behalf of someone else, as their name never appears in Lancashire in connection with Anglezarke. (One of the ‘new' batch of MSS in 1602 gives very detailed provisions for tenancies in Anglezarke, naming William, Earl of Derby and George, Earl of Cumberland – his uncle. This almost certainly places A.S.'s purchase later.) In any case A.S.'s ownership of Anglezarke is proved in his will of 1622 and inquisition post mortem . The Standishes already owned property there (DP397/11/9-16: Anglezarke) but until now the Lord of the Manor had been the Earl of Derby.

These transactions occurred during the long wrangle between William Stanley and his sister-in-law Countess Alice, which dragged on for over a dozen years after Ferdinando's death in 1594 and forced William to sell about half of his lands to provide payments to Alice and her three daughters. She was helped in her demands by her new husband (since 1600), Sir Thomas Egerton of Cheshire , Elizabeth 's Lord Keeper and later James's Lord Chancellor. He also bought one of William Stanley's estates, Ellesmere in Shropshire , a name he adopted as Baron Ellesmere. Sir Francis Bacon and several more in Elizabeth and James's council were also involved in these long drawn out disputes. Coward, The Stanleys , gives the most detailed account of these, concentrating on court cases and which estates and sums were involved. Edwards, Plots and Plotters , portrays Alice as a poor victim manipulated by the Cecils into her marriage with Egerton; (for me) any manipulation seems to have been more via Alice 's hand. She was a feisty lady, a winner rather than a victim.

c. 1600. A.S. might have started to build Duxbury 'New' Hall in the centre of Duxbury around this time, unless it had already been built by his step-father Thomas before this, or still remained to be built by his son Thomas after his marriage in c. 1614 to a rich heiress. Details are given in A.S.'s will of son Thomas setting up on his own in Bradley, a hall and estate near Standish, already in the possession of the Standishes of Duxbury for several centuries. This implies that father A.S. was very much in charge in Duxbury until after Thomas's marriage and until his own death in 1622. The only solid evidence for the construction of Duxbury (New) Hall is the lintel with the Standish-Wingfield arms and the date 1623 (reported by Farrer c. 1906, when the Hall was still standing and inhabited), but this might have been added later to a construction pre-1623. The previous decades had seen much building of new halls: amongst many others, the Hoghtons had built Hoghton Tower in the 1560s and Edward Standish a brand new Tudor hall in Standish in 1574. Building a hall in the centre of Duxbury was certainly a logical move. Until now A.S. had lived at The Pele in the north, and presumably rented Duxbury (Old) Hall in the south to a tenant - by the following century, on the first detailed estate map of 1757, it had acquired the name Farnworth House and there was certainly a Farnworth family there in the middle of the 17th century, with one of them acting as steward for the family. The date of construction of the Cruck Barn near the new hall (and still there today), is similarly uncertain, but would have served as the barn for the home farm behind the new hall.

(30) The Standish pew.

c. 1600. A.S. commissioned the magnificent oak Standish Pew for Chorley Parish Church , with the Standish of Duxbury arms impaled by the Assheton arms, still there today. It was almost certainly produced before 1604 when A.S.'s wife died.

The most notable monument of the Standishes in the church is their ornate family pew at the entrance to the chancel on the south side of the nave. It is four feet high, and the blocked holes on the top suggest that there was once a metal rail and curtains to raise the height and screen the occupants from those outside. There are two recessed seats for the squire and his lady separated by Ionic columns with a light entablature having a frieze with strapwork panels. At the top of the canopy around and above the seats on the east side is a shield of 12 quarters, Standish impaling Ashton. On either side are figures and a pediment above.

(Porteus, A Short History of Chorley Parish Church , c. 1946, p. 32.)

Since its creation, the pew has been moved around the church, the last time during rather recent renovations, but it is still there in all its glory, as a permanent memorial to A.S. and his wife. The Standish and Assheton arms depicted on it were recorded and described by Jock Scott (deceased), an enthusiastic member of the Lancashire History and Heraldry Society, in an undated pamphlet on heraldic details in Chorley Parish Church .


The Standish (of Duxbury) arms

The As(s)h(e)ton arms

1. Standish. Azure, 3 standishes (standing dishes, i.e. circles filled in) argent.

1. Ashton. Argent, a mullet sable charged with annulet of field, in dexter chief a crescent for difference.

2. Duxbury. Argent, a cross voided gules.

2. Barton of Middleton. Ermine a fess gules charged with 3 annulets or.

3. Butler of Rawcliffe. Azure, a chevron between 3 covered cups or.

3. Hopwood of Hopwood. Paly of 6 argent & vert.

4. Lawrence of Ashton. Argent, a cross raguly gules.

4. Lever of Lever. Argent, 2 bends sable, the uppermost engrailed.

5. Washington of Washington . Gules, 2 bars argent in chief 3 mullets of the last.

5. Cunliffe of Billington. Azure, a St. Catherine wheel or.

6. Standish. As 1.

6. Ashton. As 1.

The Duxbury arms entered the shield of the Standishes of Duxbury after an ancestor had taken over the manor from the Duxburys c. 1380. The Butler , Lawrence and Washington arms all entered when A.S.'s grandfather James married a Butler heiress in 1526. A simplified pedigree chart of this Butler family appears in Honigmann, 1985 (p. 147), who detected that this family was relevant in the 'Shakespeare in Lancashire ' story. His main concern was an attempt to ascertain how the poet John Weever of Preston could have been the nephew of Henry Butler of Rawcliffe, to whom he dedicated an epigram in 1599 as his uncle. Honigmann gives three Butler daughters and heiresses, Elizabeth, Ellen and Isabel. Isabel's daughter Ann married Sir Gilbert Gerard, Queen Elizabeth's Master of the Rolls, who appeared in a document above. Honigmann did not perceive that Isabel's sister Elizabeth Butler married James Standish of Duxbury in 1526, but it seems that this marriage brings A.S. yet again into 'Shakespeare in Lancashire' as one of the (so far) missing links.

Let us note a few more details pertaining to the Standish pew in Chorley . Any visitor today will be impressed by this, but may perhaps be perplexed by the Stars and Stripes above it. (This has moved about over the past half-century, following the movements of the Standish pew.) The reason for the flag is Myles Standish:

(i) During the Second World War many American troops were stationed in the vicinity of Chorley . Many of them visited Duxbury, 'knowing' that one of their founding fathers had come from here. Many also attended a Thanksgiving ceremony in Chorley Parish Church in 1942. As a result of this, a flag arrived in Chorley twenty-five years later, with the accompanying letter:




December 4, 1967

Honorable James R. Grover, Jr.

House of Representatives

Washington, D. C.

My dear Congressman Grover:

This is to certify that the

accompanying flag has flown over the

United States Capitol.

Sincerely yours,


J. George Stewart

Architect of the Capitol

(The original letter is preserved at St Laurence's, Chorley )

(ii) There was apparently an American flag hanging in Chorley before this:

Above the Standish pew there is hung an American flag, the gift of a U.S.A. contingent in acknowledgement of the kindness of the Rector in placing the church at their disposal for a service on thanksgiving Day, 1942.

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

(iii) The main reason for this reverence by American soldiers lay partly in the elevation of Myles Standish during the latter part of the 19th century to the status of an American National Hero, mainly as a result of Longfellow's poem The Courtship of Myles Standish , and the erection of a huge monument to Myles in Plymouth, plus the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

(iv) Another reason for this reverence in Chorley lay in A.S.'s coat of arms on his pew, which included the arms of Washington .

One interesting feature in the coat-of arms is the 5th quarter on the Standish side, the arms of Washington, which may be popularly explained as "three silver bars above and three silver stars below, all on a red ground:" There is a tradition that this coat was the origin of the Stars and Stripes of the U.S.A. flag. There was no direct marriage between members of the Washington and Standish families, but the Standishes were allied to the Butlers .

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

Much has been written about the origin of the stars and stripes in the U.S. flag, the Washington family has been researched exhaustively, from its origins in Washington, County Durham, to a later branch near Lancaster (George's, although his own branch moved to the Midlands), which resulted in his older brothers attending Appleby Grammar School, just over the border in Westmorland, and George's regret that he was not able to attend this. He did keep up other Lancashire connections, however. I am left with a sneaking suspicion that the Washington coat of arms, as on the Standish pew in Chorley (and many other places, including Durham Cathedral), might well have provided some inspiration for the lady who produced the first stars and stripes flag for the U.S.. How else might she have dreamt up the idea that stars and stripes would be appropriate? Why not circles or diamonds or squares or various types of crosses, or anything else? My main conclusion is that basically it does not matter, but wouldn't it be interesting to know? We probably never will. Has another 'tradition' bit the dust in the dearth of surviving documentation?

Meanwhile, the U.S. have their flag, with a few more stars than Washington's three; St Laurence's in Chorley has one distinguished by having flown over the Capitol; the main shrine to George Washington in England has been established in Washington, Co. Durham (even though he never lived there, but it is well worth a visit, following in the footsteps of a few U.S. Presidents); and George Washington and Myles Standish have the two highest monuments to an individual in the U.S., with George's in Washington, D.C. (of course). Myles Standish has meanwhile been almost forgotten in England and is commemorated nowhere in Lancashire , but A.S. left us his pew, which includes the Standish coat of arms Myles was entitled to.


(31) 1601-2: with some Stanleys and other earls.

1601, 13 March. A.S. busied himself this month with some estate management in Heath Charnock, before becoming indirectly involved the next year with a few earls.

Agreement: for £10: Robert Chernocke of Astley, esq. to Alexander Standishe of Duxburie, esq. - Alexander Standishe to have and enjoy the first part, Charnock, belonging to both Robert Chernocke and Alexander Standishe, lately divided by Robert Chernocke - under 5 heads, with detailed schedules of both parts attached. Reference to stones from the Slate Ridge feeld. 13 Mar. 1600/1. (Catalogue: DP397/12/3.)

Robert Charnock lived at Astley Hall in Chorley , the local stately home, still there today and well worth a visit. The Charnocks were another important gentry family, who provided, amongst many others, a Catholic martyr, a one-eyed Royalist Colonel in the Civil War and a husband for one of A.S.'s daughters. Their history is in Heyes, The History of Chorley .

1602, 25 June. A.S. baptised his son Ralph at Bolton . He must have been named after father-in-law Ralph Assheton and this was presumably during a family reunion at the estate in Great Lever.

1602, 30 August. A.S. attended Preston Guild with sons Thomas, Richard and Ralph (all registered, in Abram, Preston Guild Rolls ). As Ralph was only two months old at the time, one might presume mother Alice was also there. Or maybe he was registered just to ensure that he would qualify for privileges when he came of age, shortly before the next one in 1622?

Everyone else notable was there, as usual, including William, 6th Earl of Derby and his cousin Sir Edward Stanley of Winwick and Tong, for whom Shakespeare had just written or was about to write an epitaph for his tomb in Tong church, as also for Sir Thomas Stanley, his father, who had died. (Honigmann, 1985, Chapter VII, 'The Shakespeare epitaphs and the Stanleys', estimates the date of composition as 1600-3.) Sir Edward's mother was Margaret Vernon and his wife was Lucy Percy, which brings a few more interesting families and places into the background picture. My excuse for including them in A.S.'s biography is merely that I am using him as a peg to hang another fascinating story onto, which includes some people he must have known - certainly Sir Edward.

GEORGE VERNON, KNIGHT, of Tong and Haddon, "the king of the Peak", born 1514, married

(1) Margaret, daughter and heiress of Gilbert Talboys, knight, and by her had Margaret, born 1540, and Dorothy, born 1545.

(1) Margaret inherited Tong, and married in 1558, Thomas Stanley, Knight, second son of Edward, Earl of Derby.

(2) Dorothy inherited Haddon, and married, circa 1568, John Manners, second son of the Earl of Rutland. Her eldest child George was born in 1569 and she died 24 June 1584. John Manners died 4 June 1611.

George Vernon married (2ndly) Matilda daughter of Ralph Longford, knight, but by her had no issue. He died in 1565 and was buried at Bakewell.



Apparently he did not take up his residence at Tong for about 9 years after he inherited the property in 1565. For in the Taylor mss. in the Shrewsbury School Library, (also quoted in Owen and Blakeway's History of Shrewsbury (p. 365), is the following note:-

"A.D. 1575 Now latlie by credible report Sir Thomas Stanley is cum to dwell in this cuntrie, and many papists gentilmen resorte unto hym."

His son and heir Edward Stanley was born in 1562, and on his birth Thomas' father, the Earl of Derby, made a deed of settlement granting to Sir Thomas for life all his manors and lands in the counties of Chester, Warwick, Oxford and Devon with remainder to his wife Margaret for life, with remainder to their son Edward for life.

Sir Thomas Stanley died 21 December 1576, being succeeded by his only son, Edward, then aged 14. Of the vast possessions of Sir Edward Stanley, Erdeswick writing circa 1596, speaks of him as "now Lord of Harlaston", and says of Cubleston "Edward Stanley is now owner thereof," and of West Bromwich, "now one of the Stanleys hath the seat of his house there". But in 1603 he sold Harlaston to Sir Edward Brabazon, and about the same time, the manor of West Bromwich to his cousin Sir Richard Sheldon, and Tong to Sir Thomas Harris.

Sir Edward Stanley married Lucy, 2nd daughter of Thomas, Earl of Northumberland, by whom he had one son and seven daughters, of whom only 3 daughters grew up:-

(?was the son buried in the vault with his grandfather?)

Venetia , born 1600, married Sir Kenelm Digby, died 1633.

Frances , married Sir John Fortescue.

Petronella, died unmarried.

Sir Edward Stanley died in 1632, at Eynsham, co. Oxford , aged 70, leaving his property to his daughter Petronella.

( A History of Tong , Volume 1, notes on the Parish of Tong collected by J. E. Auden, Vicar of Tong, 1896-1913, typed and arranged by Joyce Frost, 2003, pp. 3-4.)

The latest guide book to Tong Church provides the full MI and more information:

The monument was originally beside the high altar, beneath which the Stanleys are buried in lead coffins. Sir Thomas Stanley was the Governor of the Isle of Man. Sir Edward Stanley, their son, was married to Lady Lucy Percy whose father was executed by Elizabeth I in 1572 for plotting against her. Her grandfather had been executed by Henry VIII. Sir Edward Stanley, who was regarded by the Puritans as a dangerous papist, died in 1632 having sold Tong Castle to Sir Thomas Harries in 1613. The inscription on the side of the tomb reads:

Thomas Stanley, second son of Edward Earl of Derbie, Lord Stanley and Strange Descended from the Familie of the Stanleys Married Margaret Vernon one of the daughters and cohairs of Sir George Vernon of Nether Haddon in the Countie of Derbie Knight. By whom he had Issue Two Sons Henry and Edw: Henry died an infant and E survived to whom Thos Lordships Descended and Married the La Lucie Percie second daughter to Thomas Earl of Northumberland by her had issue 7 daughters and one soone Shee and her 4 daughters 18 Arabella 16 Marie 15 Alice and 13 Priscilla are interred under a monument in ye Churche of Waltham in ye countie of Essex. Thomas his soone died in infancie and is Buried in Ye parishe Church of Winckle in Ye Countie of Lanca: Ye other Three Petronella Francis and Venesie are living.

( St Batholomew's Church Tong Shropshire , text researched and compiled by the Very Reverend Dr Robert Jeffrey, Vicar of Tong 1978-87, latest reprint 2002.)

So now we know that little son Thomas was buried in Winwick (Winckle) in Lancashire and his wife and four daughters at Waltham in Essex (why there?). Sir Edward, although he died in Oxfordshire, having sold Tong Castle, chose to be buried in Tong Church and erected a magnificent monument with effigies of himself and his parents, still there today, replete with two epitaphs by Shakespeare. It would be interesting to know more about Sir Edward and his "dangerous papist" activities. Was he involved in a few plots, like his father? He must have known Sir Everard Digby, one of the Gunpowder Plotters, because his son Kenelm fell in love as a teenager with his daughter Venetia . Sir Edward's main role in Lancashire (as detected so far) seems to have been visiting his cousin William, the 6th Earl. Aubrey told Venetia 's story quaintly later in the century:

Venetia Digby (1600-33)

Venetia Stanley was daughter of Sir Edward Stanley. She was a most beautiful desirable creature; and being of a mature age was let by her father to live with a tenant and servants at Eynsham Abbey (his land, or the Earl of Derby's) in Oxfordshire; but as private as that place was, it seems her beauty could not lie hid. The young eagles had espied her, and she was sanguine and tractable, and of much suavity (which to abuse was great pity).

In those days Richard Earl of Dorset (grandson and heir to the Lord Treasurer) lived in the greatest splendour of any nobleman of England . Among other pleasures that he enjoyed, Venus was not the least. (Samual Daniel: 'Cheeks of roses, locks of amber, To b'enprisoned in a chamber etc.) This pretty creature's fame quickly came to his lordship's ears, who made no delay to catch at such an opportunity.

I have now forgotten who first brought her to town, but I have heard my uncle Danvers say (who was her contemporary) that she was so commonly courted, and that by grandees, that it was written over her lodging one night in uncial letters,

Pray come not near,

for Dame Venetia lodgeth here.

The Earl of Dorset , aforesaid, was her greatest gallant, who was extremely enamoured of her, and had one if not more children by her. He settled on her an annuity of £500 per annum.

Among other young sparks of that time, Sir Kenelm Digby grew acquainted with her, and fell so much in love with her that he married her, much against the good will of his mother; he would say that 'a wise man, and lusty, could make an honest woman out of a brothel house'. Sir Edmund Wyld had her picture (and you may imagine was very familiar with her), which picture is now at Droitwich in Worcestershire, at an inn, where now the town keep their meetings. Also at Mr Rose's, a jeweller in Henrietta Stree in Covent Garden , is an excellent piece of her, drawn after she was newly dead.

She had a most lovely and sweet-turned face, delicate dark brown hair. She had a perfect healthy consitution; strong; good skin; well proportioned; much inclining to a wanton (near altogether). Her face, a short oval; dark brown eyebrow, about which much sweetness, as also in the opening of her eyelids. The colour of her cheeks was just that of the damask rose, which is neither too hot nor too pale. She was of a just stature, not very tall.

Sir Kenelm had several pictures of her by Vandyke, etc. He had her hands cast in plaster, and her feet and her face. See Ben Jonson's second volume, where he made her live in poetry, in his drawing of her, both body and mind:

'Sitting, and read to be drawn,

What makes these tiffany, silks, and lawn,

Embroideries, feathers, fringes, lace,

When every limb takes like a face!' - etc.

When these verses were made she had three children by Sir Kenelm, who are there mentioned, viz Kenelm, George and John.

Her picture drawn by Sir Anhony Vandyke hangs in the queen's drawing room, at Windsor Castle , over the chimney.

( John Aubrey: Brief Lives , ed. Richard Barber, Boydell, 1975, 1982, pp. 105-6.)

The account continues, preceded in this edition by a biography of Sir Kenelm. Venetia must have been quite a lady! The portrait of her on her deathbed is on the cover of the 1982 edition, the original now in Dulwich Picture Gallery. As seen above, Ben Jonson wrote a poem about her, as did Samuel Daniel, which leads to another interesting connection. Daniel was tutor to Lady Anne Clifford, another cousin of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby; she was the daughter of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, brother of Margaret Clifford, wife of Henry, 4th Earl of Derby. In 1602 she was only 12 and Venetia had not yet been born, but later their lives were to become entangled, because Lady Anne married Richard, Earl of Dorset, who had Venetia as his mistress. Lady Anne's biography has been told several times (the one on my shelf is by Martin Holmes, Proud Northern Lady , Phillimore, 1975, 1984). She was another formidable lady, who enters Shakespeare's story inasmuch as her second husband (1630) was Philip, Earl of Montgomery, one of the brothers to whom Shakespeare's First Folio was dedicated in 1623.

James Wright, The History and Antiquities of the County of Rutland (p. IX) provides the position of the John Manners above in relation to the Earls of Rutland. His elder brother was Henry, the 2nd Earl (died 17 September 1563), who had two sons Edward, the 3rd Earl (died 14 April 1587 o.s.p.) and John, the 4th Earl for a short time (died 21 February 1588), and his sons inherited the Earldom. The eldest of these was Roger, the 5th Earl, who has often been associated with Shakespeare circles as a very good friend of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton and dedicatee of his two long poems. John Michell, Who Wrote Shakespeare? gives Roger's biography (p. 211 ff.) while considering his case as an Alternative Authorship Candidate (failed). Roger went to Queens' Cambridge in 1587 (too late for him to have overlapped with A.S.); Wriothesley was at St John's at the same time, they both joined Essex on some of his campaigns, with Rutland on the expedition to the Azores in 1597 and Ireland in 1599. Rutland also accompanied the Earl of Northumberland to the Netherlands in 1600 in the war against the Spanish, joined in with Essex 's Rebellion in 1601, was imprisoned but escaped with a hefty fine. He also happened to marry the only daughter of Sir Philip Sidney, who had died of his wounds in that war in 1586 and who had attended Shrewsbury Grammar School along with his friend Sir Fulke Greville. Rutland had large estates in Cheshire, which took him there quite often, his uncle Edward had married a daughter of Thomas Holcroft of Vale Royal, Lady Elizabeth Manners had married Sir John Savage of Rock Savage, and one of their daughters married Baron Langton (of the 'affray at Lea'). This takes us straight into the circle who had received epigrams from the poet John Weever in 1599. Also notable fact is that Rutland received James I at Belvoir in 1603, where he was entertained with a Ben Jonson play, and in December joined the king at Wilton House at the same time as Shakespeare is reported to have been there. They must all have known each other rather well. Maybe A.S. knew them all too?

(32) 1604: Alice 's death.

1604, ?c. 17-20 October. A.S.'s last son Alexander was born, which left Alice on her deathbed. No baptismal record of Alexander has survived, perhaps lost in the gap in Chorley Parish records until 1611. "By October 1604 she (Alice) bore her tenth child, a son; she died on 21 October at eight o'clock in the morning. She was thirty years old." (Walker, Duxbury in Decline , p. 13.) Porteus noted elsewhere:

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".

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

A.S. never married again, despite Alice 's expectation that he would, but he did let his sons have learning. One wonders who wrote the acrostic poem. Might it have been A.S. himself, indulging in the same fashionable pursuit as Ben Jonson about Margaret Radcliffe and Sir John Salusbury about his sister-in-law Dorothy? And who was the doctor cum clergyman? Might it have been Rev. William Leigh? It seems likely that Porteus's original source might be a manuscript buried somewhere in thirty boxes of Porteus MSS deposited by his son in the 1950s at the L.R.O.. Maybe these will be catalogued some day and reveal a few more gems?

1604, 21 October. Alice was buried in the north chancel of St Laurence's, Chorley , according to A.S.'s will of 1622, in which he expressed a desire to be buried near her.

As he did not take another wife, one automatically looks around his family to see who might have brought up his little sons and daughters, and the most obvious candidate is his sister Ellen, who never married. She was certainly remembered with affection by A.S.'s son Ralph as Aunt Ellen when he wrote his will in 1637.

(33) 1603-5: a couple of local legends: (i) The Earl of Tyrone.

One of the reasons for Essex's failure in Ireland and later disgrace was his main opponent Hugh O'Neale/ O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, traditional originator of the bloody hand on the flag of Ulster . Intriguingly, Tyrone turns up in the Derby Household Books as a visitor of the Earl of Derby, and even more intriguingly, he appears in an extremely plausible piece of Lancashire folklore, which tells the story in great detail, including a dell still known in the 19th century as 'Tyrone's Bed'. The basic story is that he fled from Ulster to Lancashire (after his final defeat?), hid in a wood near Rochdale and played a romantic role in rescuing a local female from drowning in a river, who subsequently hid him in a hiding-hole (built, of course, to hide Catholic priests) when the Sheriff's men were after him, made a dramatic escape, and left behind yet another young lady pining away and dying of a broken heart. I offer this merely as information. Strip away any romanticising, but we are left with the kernels that Tyrone was definitely in Lancashire on one occasion in the late 1580s (visiting the Earl of Derby), and may well have been the one hiding in 'Tyrone's Bed' near Rochdale at some unknown date.

His story has been told many times and it is not clear at which period in his life the Lancashire episode might have occurred. The Tyrone story was printed by John Harland and T. T. Wilkinson, two eminent Victorian antiquarians, who were sceptical, but nevertheless considered it worth retelling in their Lancashire Legends: traditions, pageants, sports, &c. with an appendix containing a rare tract on the Lancashire Witches , George Routledge and Sons, London, 1873 (facsimile reprint by Llanerch Publishers, Felinfach, 1993, reprint 1999). They saw it as taking place during Elizabeth 's reign. At the very least it is a rattling good yarn that must have been told in A.S.'s house and many others in Lancashire as the news gradually trickled through from soldiers returning from Ireland, and whatever really happened in Tyrone's bed. Many young Lancashire and Cheshire men were among the fifteen hundred slain at Blackwater (1598), mentioned below, including William Radcliffe, brother of Sir Alexander and Margaret, mentioned above as dying in 1599.

Tyrone's bed, by Harland and Wilkinson

In a bend of the Roach, to the north of Morland or Merland, is Tyrone's Bed, a woody glen, admired for its picturesque scenery, which is said to have been the retreat of one of the Earls of Tyrone in the reign of Elizabeth . The craggy rocks on the one side of this lovely valley, and the steep wooded slopes on the other, with the rivulet in the channel below, are not inappropriately termed "the bed;" but the chief interest of this "romantic dell" centred in the ancient home of the Holts of Grizelhurst, but of which not a vestige now remains. At the period of the legend it was surrounded "by dark and almost trackless woods," which would furnish a refuge for the wanderer, "secure from hostility or alarm." The Earl of Tyrone who claimed to be a King in Ireland , by his rebellions harassed Queen Elizabeth and her armies for years during the latter period of her reign. His history would fill a volume. Hugh O'Neale was nephew to Shan (John) O'Neale, or "the great O'Neale," as he was more commonly called. He was well known for his great courage, a virtue much prized by the half-civilised hordes he commanded. He was created Earl of Tyrone by Queen Elizabeth; but disliking the allegiance this implied, and desirous to liberate his country from the English yoke, he entered into a correspondence with Spain, procured from thence a supply of arms and ammunition; and having united many of the Irish chiefs in a dependence upon himself, he soon proved himself a formidable enemy of English rule in Ireland. The first English commander that opposed him, Sir John Norris, after a war, and purposely protracted negotiations with Tyrone, died at length, it was said, of vexation and discontent. He was succeeded by Sir Henry Bagnall, who, going to the relief of Blackwater, was surrounded; fifteen hundred men and the general himself were slain on the spot, and the rest put to flight. This victory raised the renown of Tyrone, who was hailed as the deliverer of his country, and the restorer of Irish liberty. The unfortunate Earl of Essex was afterwards appointed to take command of the English army; but his troops were so terrified at the reputation of Tyrone, that many of them counterfeited sickness, and others deserted. Tyrone asked a conference, and Essex received from him a proposal of peace, in which Tyrone had inserted many unreasonable and exorbitant conditions. Essex, anxious to return to England , nevertheless accepted the proposal, which led to a suspicion that he had betrayed his high trust. From this time the beam of his royal mistress's favour was obscured, and the result was his disgrace and death. Meanwhile Tyrone broke the truce, and overran almost the whole of Ireland . Essex being recalled, the Queen appointed Mountjoy as Lord Deputy of Ireland . He defeated Tyrone in Ulster . Four thousand Spaniards, under Don Juan d'Aguila, landed and took Kinsale; Mountjoy besieged it; and on Tyrone and many other Irish chieftains marching to its relief, he intercepted them, and attacked and put them to flight, slaughtering twelve hundred men. Tyrone and the other chiefs fled, and the Spaniards capitulated. It is supposed that at this period the outlawed Earl crossed the sea into England , and remained for some time concealed in the neighbourhood of Rochdale . The site of a few cottages in a romantic dell by the river Roach is still associated with the memory of the unfortunate Earl, and yet bears the name of "Tyrone's Bed". Upon this fact Mr Roby has based a fictitious love story,* there being a prediction that -

- "Woman's breast

Thou shalt darken o'er with woe;

None thou lookest on or lovest

Joy or hope hereafter know.

Many a maid thy glance shall rue:

Where it smites it shall subdue."

Tyrone is made to save from drowning Constance the daughter of Holt of Grizelhurst; they love; she conceals him from pursuit by the sheriff and posse in a hidden chamber, the entrance to which is from her own bedroom. He escapes, and she wastes away and dies, the victim of the prophecy. Tyrone eventually secured a pardon from Queen Elizabeth. One incident is related, illustrative of his character. Appearing in person to execute a treaty, immediately on the issue of some sanguinary engagement, Tyrone was requested to sign the terms. "Here is my signature," said he, laying his bloody hand on the deed; "'tis the mark of the Kings of Ulster." Hence, tradition gravely asserts, was the origin of "the bloody hand," the arms of Ulster , and in heraldic shields, the badge of knighthood. It is scarcely necessary to add that this derivation for the arms is altogether a fable.

* It would be more correct to state that the tradition in Mr Roby's work is really derived from a ballad by Mr William Nuttall, of Rochdale , entitled "Tyrone and Constance, or the Outlaw in the Dell of Grizelhurst." The story was first told to Mr Nuttall, as he states, by a Mr Ralph Holt, formerly steward to the late William Bamford of Bamford, Esq. In his "notes" to the ballad, Mr Nuttall relates the story at considerable length.

(Harland and Wilkinson, pp. 60-63.)

A few explanatory notes from 19th century Lancashire history and publications are perhaps in order here.

(i) This note begins and ends with "Mr Roby", mentioned in the asterisked note above, taking in many details on the way that so far do not seem to have penetrated beyond the old borders of Lancashire. He was John Roby, who published two volumes on Lancashire legends in the early 19th century, with many reprints and therefore many dates attached. The earliest seems to be 1812, but 1829 appears frequently. (At least one of various reprints is held by many Lancashire libraries.) His versions were inspired by the era of Romanticism. He was the precursor of several novelists who were later to draw on Lancashire legends and take the Victorian Novel to ever new heights. William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-82), born in Manchester and attended Manchester Grammar School, was the towering figure, who produced a steady output of novels from 1834 onwards and in his day was perhaps more popular (in Lancashire, at least) than his contemporary Charles Dickens (1812-70). Roby might well have been inspired by the novels and poems of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), who "read voraciously and devoured antiquarian lore, ballads, fairy-tales, chivalric romances and exotic tales of distant places". ( The Cambridge Guide to English Literature , ed. Ian Ousby, 1988 edition, p. 881.) Scott was also a great fan of Shakespeare (an engraving of him standing in awe before Shakespeare's monument in Stratford Parish Church has appeared in many places). His poem Marmion (1808) included details of the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, an event that loomed large in Scottish tragic history and legend, and also in Lancashire successful history and legend, because it was Sir Edward Stanley's final surprise attack over the hill, with his Lancashire and Cheshire bowmen and billmen, that won the day for Henry VIII and the title of 1st Lord Mounteagle for Sir Edward. One gathers from all accounts of the battle that no one was more surprised than Sir Edward that he should suddenly be in the potential position of winning the battle, but win it he did and the exploits of this day appear all over Lancashire history, in family traditions, memorial tablets and stained glass windows (the most notable windows still there today are in Middleton Parish Church, home of the contingent of archers under an Assheton). Sir Walter Scott also used another Lancashire legend, the story behind Mab's cross in Wigan , for his short story The Betrothed (1825). One can only imagine that he might have read this in Roby's publication of 1812.

(ii) Roby was widely held until the middle of the 19th century as the depository of ancient wisdom, and his stories from folklore were on the whole accepted as historical fact. Then came the great wave of Victorian antiquarians, the foundation of Record Societies, the desperate (and admirable) attempt to rescue, transcribe and publish all surviving documents before they disappeared under the ever-advancing demolition and building work of what we now call the Industrial Revolution. The next generation or two (after Roby) were true Victorians, fact-seekers, no longer Romantics, and two perfect examples are Harland and Wilkinson. They were absolutely correct to query the origin of the Tyrone legend (and all other legends they came across) and insist on a few documentary facts. On the whole, as we read above, they were sceptical about any legend, but nonetheless accepted them as part of Lancashire 's cultural history and folk-memory.

(iii) The Mab's Cross legend is set at the beginning of the 14th century, with the cross itself still there today. Roby told the story, this was queried in many details and published by Harland and Wilkinson in 1873 (pp. 45-7), investigated in documents by Porteus in the 1940s and the latest version appeared in Wigan in 1992. The relevant later titles are: "The Mab's Cross Legend: and the True History of Sir William de Bradshaigh", an article in Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society , Vol LVI for 1941 and 1942 (pp. 1-40); and a summary of this and all surrounding events by Fred Holcroft, Murder, Terror and Revenge in Medieval Lancashire: the legend of Mab's Cross , Wigan Heritage Service Publications: 2, 1992. Basically, Roby's version has been proved to be rather accurate, even if somewhat Romanticised.

(iv) The "ballad" by William Nuttall of Rochdale seems to have been dismissed as fiction by Harland and Wilkinson, even though he apparently heard the details from a rather respectable Holt (steward of a local gentry family), presumably a descendant of the Holts who passed down the tradition in the family over only two centuries, and not four, as in the case of Mab's Cross. It may be of interest to note another publication at the beginning of the 19th century, with another Nuttall involved. This was by an anonymous author: A brief account of the travels of the celebrated Sir William Stanley as an appendix to a reprint and update of Seacome's History of the Earls of Derby of the 1740s, with a new title on the spine: The Travels of Sir William Stanley , (Liverpool, 1801), printed by J. Nuttall. My conclusion about this account of Sir William's story is that it is wrong in many places, and right in many others (which is fully referenced in "materials for a biography of William, 6th Earl of Derby"). This therefore contributes to my conclusion about the Tyrone story. It was probably based on a few kernels of truth, the most basic one being Tyrone actually did hide for a while in Tyrone's bed deep in the woods. All else might be later accretions. This in turn leaves me wondering about these two Nuttalls, both active in recording local legends, neither of whom had strayed very far from Nuttall, the origin of their family name, and whizzed past many a time on the M66. Maybe some local historian could help out here?

The moral behind these notes is that it is foolhardy to dismiss a legend or family tradition as a total fabrication, because wherever documents are extant they tend to prove at least a kernel of truth. Wherever documents are no longer extant, there is no hope of proving anything, but it is just as likely that the tradition was based on a kernel of truth. Nowhere is this more valid than in early reports from Stratford and elsewhere about Shakespeare's life, and early reports from New England about Myles Standish's early life. The main pity for A.S. is that no traditions or legends survived into the 20th century. A few Victorian judges bonked those on the head in the 19 th century, and quite rightly, when it came to the various claims to Duxbury Hall. But along with the dismissal of the claims went a dismissal of the folk memories, which the Standish family papers have now revealed to be based on something like the truth.

(34) 1603-5: a couple of local legends: (ii) Guy Fawkes.

1605. The Gunpowder Plot. I have known about this 'legend' for many years, have read the dismissal of it by local historians, but have come to believe that it might actually have been true - or at least a little bit of it. The Radcliffes of Ordsall are reputed to have provided refuge for Guy Fawkes during his plotting, with a Radcliffe daughter involved and others helping him to escape via a tunnel. The tunnel was certainly there, rediscovered when building a carpark. This legend was elaborated on by William Harrison Ainsworth (from Manchester ) in his Romantic novel Guy Fawkes , a best seller in the 19th century. Most legendary details relating to the Radcliffes have been subsequently (predictably?) dismissed as fable by historians in the 20th century. If there were, however, to be a grain of truth in this one, then we can be fairly sure that A.S. would have heard about it at the time, particularly as it involved relatives of his wife's family. I therefore hang it on his peg.

Any reader who has survived the course so far will have gathered that I suffer interminably from the belief that most 'legends' are probably based on at least a kernel of truth, rather than invented out of nowhere. l bequeath any further investigation of this story to someone local (someone actually involved with Ordsall Hall, now the local museum?), with the following information perhaps of relevance. I have just been cherry-picking around 'Guy Fawkes at Ordsall' for a few years, but some of the 16th and 17th century cherries were yummy. Some of them were in my cheek when I popped into St John's College , Cambridge a couple of summers ago and spoke to Dr Mark Nicholls, an expert on the Gunpowder Plot, who confirmed yet again that we know so little about Guy Fawkes and his movements. I would quite happily accept a dismissal as a cherry-picker, but some of these seemed to contain rather solid stones. I merely report. One short version and dismissal of the story is as follows; the underlinings are mine, of names that leapt off the page.

In his romantic novel of Guy Fawkes , which many people have accepted as authentic history, Ainsworth introduces us to one Viviana Radclyffe, the sole representative of her family at Ordsall during the absence of her father, Sir William Radclyffe, who is away attending a meeting of Catholic gentry at Holt in Cheshire . Viviana is represented as a fair maid of eighteen, whom Catesby comes in secrecy to woo, and at Ordsall encounters Guy Fawkes, who has come to secure the support of the Radclyffes in the Plot. When the hall is raided by pursuivants, Catesby, Fawkes, and the priest are all rescued by the timely intervention of Humphrey Chetham , who conducts them by a secret passage running beneath the moat to a summer-house in the grounds, and thence through Old Trafford to Chat Moss. Humphrey Cheham is portrayed as in love with Viviana, but differences of religious faith make their marriage impossible, and the story closes with Humphrey left solitary, his life "tinged by the blighting of his early affection . . . true to his love, he died unmarried."

Records fail to reveal that the Radclyffes had even the most remote association with the Gunpowder Treason. Ordsall in 1605 was in possession of Sir John, the last Sir William, his grandfather, having died in 1568. There was never any female of the house named Viviana and the only surviving sister of Sir John was Jane, then thirty years of age, and married to Sir Ralph Constable. It is a fact that Humphrey Chetham was a friend of the family, and in later years advanced them money on mortgage when their fortunes fell on evil days, though whether he had cherished any romantic attachment to a daughter of the Radclyffes, possibly Anne, who died in 1601, has not been recorded in the story of his life. Picturesque though Ainsworth's story is, and glamorous the atmosphere of romance it spreads about the ancient hall of Ordsall, it must be dismissed as purely the figment of the author's imaginative mind, though indeed the Radclyffes as much as any family had cause for bitterness in the heavy penalties inflicted upon them for their alleged recusancy. But this never tempted Sir John Radclyffe to depart one whit from his loyalty and patriotic service.

( The Book of the Radclyffes , Constable, Edinburgh U.P., 1948, pp. 161-2.)

The account continues in a similar vein, reverential towards the family, dismissive of any 'legend'. The story of Guy Fawkes at Ordsall presents more questions than answers. It might well have been a fabrication, but why on earth? By whom? And if fabricated here, why not more visits by Guy Fawkes fabricated at many more halls? They weren't, and this 'fabrication' seems to remain unique. William Harrison Ainsworth prided himself, and was praised by others at the time, for his intensive research into historical details. He might well have romanticised in his novels, but he certainly believed that he was basing these on the historical truth, because of his knowledge and research. He lived exactly half-way between A.S. & Co. and us today, therefore two centuries closer to the original characters. Was he really so hopelessly wrong? Maybe. A few facts and questions:

- Ainsworth is not only the surname of the novelist but appears in many documents in Lancashire , including some in the Standish of Duxbury family papers. Might one dare to assume that various Ainsworths passed down a few family traditions over a couple of centuries, some of which reached the ears of William Harrison?

- Viviana , the name of the relevant female at Ordsall, is perhaps unique, and maybe she never existed, but I could not stop wondering whether it was connected somehow with the Vivian/ Evan Haydock (and others with this forename), who crop up so frequently in Lancashire history at the time. Is there really no record at all of a Viviana in this family? If not, how and why did Ainsworth dream up this name?

- Holt in Cheshire . Could this have been the one just over the border in Flintshire, which had been the home of Sir William Stanley, victor at Bosworth, younger brother of Thomas, 1st Earl of Derby, who was executed in 1495 by Henry VII for apparently rather spurious reasons, the main official one being a charge of treason for something he had said about Lambert Simnel (who never visited Lancashire, as opposed to Perkin Warbeck, who did. Shades of 1066 and All That , but Derby literature gives the details.) One apochryphal follow-up to this story is when the court jester of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, accompanied his master onto the roof of Lathom House along with Henry VII, who was visiting his stepfather in 1497, and said something along the lines of "Tom, remember Will". Will was his younger brother, who had lost his head and the jester, it seems, was worried that his master might be pushed over the edge. He wasn't and lived on until 1504 to die in his bed. Who did Will's confiscated lands go to? The very memory of this story might have been enough to make Holt a centre of dissent against the Tudors and Stuarts. Has anyone ever investigated this? This Sir William Stanley of Holt was brushed out of Tudor history and did not appear in Shakespeare's Richard III . Who were all the Catholic gentlemen meeting in Cheshire shortly before the Gunpowder Plot? They seem to have remained remarkably elusive for most investigators at the time and ever since.

- Catesby should probably have gone down in history as the leader of the Gunpowder Plot, rather than Guy Fawkes. Has anyone ever investigated his possible connections with Lancashire and Cheshire ? He must have passed through Cheshire on the group pilgrimage to St Winifred's Shrine in Holywell (one recorded event agreed on by all authorities, but still shrouded in mystery).

- Humphrey Chetham was the founder of Chetham's Library in Manchester , and as such his public life is rather well documented, but it seems, some of his private life remains mysterious.

Heaven knows how all these details might connect, but if Harrison Ainsworth invented their connection with Ordsall, he hit on a good bunch of names. One plausible connection could be that the Fawkes family of Yorkshire (Guy was born in York ) was related to the Vaux (pronounced Vawkes in Lancashire), the latter mostly Catholic, including Laurence Vaux, the priest who, along with Cardinal William Allen, had been the spiritual head of the Catholics in Lancashire in Elizabeth 's reign. He was a good friend of the Standishes of Standish, choosing Standish Hall to hide all his Catholic possessions (Porteus, 1927). A "Vaulx" daughter was also married at this time to Thomas Standish of Duxbury, Colonel Richard's uncle, and his mother (Colonel Richard's grandmother) was a Radcliffe of Ordsall. (All on their Visitation Pedigree of 1613.) The Vaux family of Hawarden in Northamptonshire also played a large role in the story. Were they close kinsmen? Another from Lancashire involved in this plot was William Parker, 4th Lord Mounteagle, of Hornby Castle near Lancaster , whose grandfather we met above selling half of Heath Charnock in 1574 before departing into exile. And, as we will read below, A.S. popped up later in court in London with Sir William Ingleby, grandfather of the two Wintour brothers who joined Catesby, Digby and Fawkes in their gruesome fate.

Despite centuries of intensive research, many circumstances leading up to the fateful night of 5 November remain unclear and are still disputed. Maybe Lancashire might provide a few more clues? Guy Fawkes's commander in the army of English Catholic exiles in the Netherlands was Sir William Stanley of Hooton in the Wirral, 'The Adventurer/ Traitor', depending which side you were on, and the Wirral is not far from Salford . Lancashire was also still the most Catholic of all counties and had provided many participants in previous plots, making it one obvious destination to find a few more accomplices. One of the previous plotters attempting to free Mary, Queen of Scots had been Sir Thomas Gerard of Bryn, whose son John, a Jesuit priest, wrote an account of the Gunpowder Plot from eyewitness accounts. And, very intriguingly, a portrait of Sir Kenelm Digby, son of Sir Everard Digby, one of the plotters executed, still hangs today in Rufford Old Hall, home of the Catholic Heskeths and hosts by tradition of young William Shakespeare. Sir Kenelm later married Venetia Stanley, daughter of Sir Edward, whose father Sir Thomas Stanley had also been involved in the 1570 plot, and for whom Shakespeare wrote epitaphs.

Are these all coincidences? Maybe. Or maybe Guy did visit Ordsall Hall? And maybe the Heskeths knew some of the plotters in London ? Ben Jonson certainly supped with some of them a few weeks before and was hauled in for questioning. He also wrote an ode for Sir John Radcliffe when he was killed in France in 1627 ( Book of the Radclyffes , p. 163). He was also the one to dub Lord Mounteagle 'the saviour of the nation'.

This plot, it seems, is still thickening nearly four hundred years after the event. Father Thomas Conlan (in his tenth and last letter to Father Peter Milward in 1975) was convinced that Shakespeare was involved, even entertaining some of them at New Place in Stratford (!), although one has to wonder how he might have got away without being hauled in for questioning. At the least one might assume that if Ben Jonson knew some of the protagonists then his friend Will Shakespeare would have found it rather difficult not to know them too. And A.S. must have known most of those involved from Lancashire . The next episode in this never-ending saga might come from Francis Edwards, who has promised a book on plots and plotters in James's reign. Maybe a few local historians from the North West will join in? No doubt there will be a spate of publications in the year of the fourth centenary.

(35) 1605-22: Widowerhood.

1605-1622. Few documentary records of A.S. appear in the family papers during this period, but his will of 1622 and inquisition post mortem of 1623 reveal his most valued relatives and friends and the names of many of his tenants.

Letter: the King to Alexander Standish, requiring him to pay £20 to James Anderton, esq., collector for the King (Printed). 31 July 1605. (Catalogue: DP397/16/6.)

This was one of King James's many attempts to replenish the royal coffers. It also identifies James Anderton's role at the time. I assume for the moment that he was most likely the same James Anderton whose name appears in several other Standish of Duxbury family papers written in Lancashire and London , but this family and name appears in many local areas at the time.

Receipt: for £200: for moiety of manor [of Whittle-le-Woods]. 1605. (Catalogue: DP397/24/7.)

Why would he wish to sell this? At the moment this is a question with no obvious answer, unless he needed the money for something else. Jonathan Sheard's document of 1603 reveals that A.S. had sold this to Sir Richard Hoghton two years earlier. A comparison of the text of these two documents might shed more light, or maybe this was just the second payment.

One interim conclusion from A.S.'s dearth of references in Lancashire during this period, and at least two visits to London (see below) might imply that he was more often in London than Lancashire after the death of his wife. Mixing in Shakespeare circles? Dallying with Countess Alice, whose current marriage to Baron Ellesmere seems to have been a little stormy? It seems that he was not at home on a certain day in 1613.

1613. In this year Richard St George, Norroy King of Arms 1604-23, undertook a visitation of Lancashire . His main duty, as usual, was to visit as many gentry families as possible, ascertain from previous Visitation Pedigrees, family papers, and actually interviewing the head of the family, whether or not they were entitled to bear the coats of arms they used. (His Visitation Pedigrees survived in Harleian MS volume 1437 and were printed by the Chetham Society Old Series, vol. 82, 1872.) What a pity A.S. was not at home that day; if he had been and had given all details in 1613, to add to the VP presented by his father in 1567, it would have saved a lot of muddles during the following centuries.

Part of the Standish story in this year is clear. Two 'new' Standish families presented their pedigrees for the first time: the Standishes of Burgh in Duxbury, quite straightforward, descended from Thurstan, a younger brother of Standish of Standish; and the Standishes of Walton-on-the-Hill near Liverpool , also descended from a younger brother of Standish of Standish. Also for the first time Standish of Duxbury Family B presented their pedigree, Colonel Richard's family, although he was only a teenager at the time. This was also quite straightforward for the three generations still alive, who presumably all knew who they were, who they were married to and the names of their children. They were a cadet branch descended from Sir Hugh at Agincourt; in the middle of all their lineal ancestors named James and Hugh they missed out two generations at the top end (their existence emerged from the family papers), but otherwise were accurate.

The problem came with A.S.'s family. Either he really was not at home that day, or found it unnecessary to pay money to confirm a coat of arms that his family had borne for three centuries, or some other explanation. Whatever the reason, he did not present his pedigree, and it was to be Sir William Dugdale in 1664/5 who tried to establish it (after A.S.'s male line had died out). Dugdale's version of the descent stops at his father Thomas(1), married to Margaret(2), with neither A.S. nor his children appearing. Dugdale was obviously as confused as everyone at the time and ever since about two Thomas Standishes of Duxbury marrying two Margaret Hoghtons and then one of each, as widow and widower, marrying each other.

When I first read this VP I immediately smelt a rat, and the smell ultimately lead to the source of this in the 1577 document above, which sorted out the situation in this year. It became increasingly obvious that Dugdale's interest in recording this VP was not to establish a right to a coat of arms for Family A (the males in Duxbury were all dead), but for some other reason, and the only plausible explanation (given the date of 1664/5) was that he had been asked to investigate the position of Myles Standish in this family and the Standishes of Standish, in the middle of Myles's son Alexander continuing to claim one of his father's rightful inheritances (the lands named in Myles's will). Dugdale never succeeded, but this is now irrelevant, because the (almost) complete story has emerged from the family papers.

I exonerate Colonel Richard from any suspicion of skulduggery in 1664/5 and later, not least because he and his second wife had both died in early 1663 (burials in Chorley Parish Registers). The main sources of complicity, conspiracy or whatever else in denying Myles his hereditary due lie in the history of the staunchly Catholic and Royalist Standishes of Standish (perhaps aided and abetted by the staunchly Royalist Sir William Dugdale), who presumably had no desire to lose some of their lands to a distant cousin in a Puritan settlement in New England, who had no thought of returning to Lancashire. They had suffered enough from sequestration during the Civil War and during the Restoration period were still licking their wounds, but hoping to re-establish their estates.

Back to A.S.. Maybe he was lucky, in one sense, to die in 1622 and be spared the knowledge of the destiny of his children and grandchildren, kinsmen and friends, fighting against each other in the Civil War.The main muddles about his family came when Farrer was writing his history of the family for the Victoria County History (c. 1906) and Porteus writing everything he could find about Myles Standish and other Standishes (c. 1914-40s). I emphasise yet again that they both did a magnificent job and no future version of any Standish branch of the past can avoid a thorough reading of all their works. The main muddle came because neither realised that Family A and Family B in Duxbury were two different families, they both assumed that there had been some mistake and that they were actually the same family, with one version inaccurate. They did not, of course, have access to the family papers, which (to repeat ad nauseam ) had disappeared from Duxbury in the 1830s and only turned up in London in 1965.


(36) 1606-16: Alexander in Chancery courts.

(sorting out the aftermath of plots?)

This section is a real teaser, the details of which might take some time to sort out to the satisfaction of anyone interested, and maybe never will be. I repeat that I have no theory and no axe to grind; I merely report on (mainly unpublished) documents, which (it seems to me) might be of interest to not a few academics interested in plots and plotters. If I have any axe to grind in these years, it is in the rather innocent form of trying to piece together the biography of A.S., the history of Duxbury, and still trying to understand how on earth Countess Alice came to be in Anglezarke in 1622-3. Another innocent requirement is that we desperately need a realistic full biography of Baron Thomas Langton of Walton (died 1605 in London ). He seems to have been a bit of a rogue and renegade. He pops up all over the place in Lancashire and London , and in A.S.'s story while sorting out his estates after his death.

1609. Honigmann, Weever , 1987 (p. 38), detected a document in which A.S. appeared in a Chancery suit in London in 1609 with Sir Richard Hoghton v. G. Blundell. This was related to sorting out the estates of Baron (Sir) Thomas Langton of Newton and Walton-le-Dale, who died in London on 20 February 1605 (Honigmann, Weever , p. 8) without a son and heir. He had been the main perpetrator of the 'affray at Lea' in November 1589 and was arrested and "grilled" after the Hesketh Plot of 1593 (Edwards, Plots and Plotters , 2000, p. 181). It would be interesting to know more about him. Honigmann suspected that the affray had not led to the manor of Walton being awarded soon afterwards to Sir Richard Hoghton as recompense for the death of his father T.H. (as related above by Jessica Lofthouse and everyone else) but had come to the Hoghtons via other means. Honigmann's main interest in this document was that it provided a signature of John Weever in 1609 (facsimile of the bottom of the document on p. 56). The main interest for A.S. is that "Alex: Standish" and "Duxburie in com. Lanc." appear in the last three lines, with the implication that he knew Weever, who was a witness. It is almost certain that this document was related to the series of documents in the Standish of Duxbury MSS , which in turn make it clear that A.S. was centrally involved in sorting out the mess. He appeared with Sir Richard Hoghton and others in the Chancery court in London either on several occasions, or for one long-protracted case. The three dates of 1609 (above), January 1606 and 1615/16 (immediately below) imply several visits.

"Papers relating to case in Chancery concerning estate of Sir Thomas Langton, Kt. in Walton-le-dale, c. 1582-1615/16." (Catalogue: DP397/13/8-13.)

The first after Sir Thomas's death is from January 1606 (DP397/13/12) and this and the following are draft copies of various settlements, which A.S. presumably took home with him, the final documents presumably remaining in London . Some day some dedicated soul might decipher, transcribe and publish all these, and track down the originals in London . I fear that this might take us no nearer to solving the mysteries surrounding 'the affray at Lea', although I would love to be proved wrong.

A perusal revealed many familiar names, including Sir Richard Hoghton, James Anderton, James Ashton, Alexander Ashton, Richard Ashton dept. (perhaps Richard Ashton of Croston, married to Jane Hesketh, who died in 1582 and whose son Capt. Roger Ashton was a "Catholic militant, executed 1591"), Sir Thomas Stanley and, very interestingly, "forfeited by Sir Thomas Langton in his lyfe tyme unto John Jacone, Citizen and Alderman of London and Sir Rowlande Jacone his sonne and heire apparente" (DP397/13/12, p. 1). Could this be John Jackson, who was a trustee when Shakespeare purchased Blackfriars Gatehouse in 1613? And also the "Mr John Jackson" appointed as one of the overseers of his will by Thomas Savage of Rufford, a Hesketh in-law, the goldsmith in London who was a trustee for the Globe in 1599? (Honigmann, 1985 devotes chapter VIII to him.) There was also a John Jackson in Baron Langton's band at the 'affray at Lea'. Could he have been a young man in Lancashire in 1589, who went to London to make a successful career? Many others certainly did. His son Sir Rowland might allow an indentification of 'John Jacone' as John Jackson - or not.

A sum of two thousand seven hundred pounds was involved, with everal sums of hundreds of pounds owed to some of the above, which are interesting in themselves, but provide no clues to the background of the 'affray at Lea'. Less familiar names deciphered are Sir William Inglebye, William Ponsonbye, Emen (?) Caterall and Jane "Bryghte", who was involved in a slander case. Ingleby and Ponsonby are Yorkshire names, and very interestingly, Sir William Ingleby of Ripley Castle near Knaresborough turns up in the Gunpowder Plot story. His daughter Jane was the mother of the two Wintour brothers and his son Francis was a priest who had been hanged, drawn and quartered in 1586. One of the Wintour sons acted as secretary to Lord Mounteagle. (Fraser, p. 48.) It seems that A.S. might well have known some of the plotters. (To be continued.)

(37) 1615-22: Grandchildren.

c. 1614. His eldest son Thomas (born 1593) married, and two of his three daughters were also married before his will of 1622. No records of the dates of these marriages have survived. His son and heir Thomas (the later M.P.) provides a few records during this period, although none that indicate whether they rode over to Hoghton Tower in 1617 to help to entertain King James or had been involved at all the recent local witch trials. The most famous ones had been those of the Pendle Witches and the Samlesbury Witches in 1612. Rev. William Leigh was certainly involved in the latter, as he examined and was appointed guardian for one the girls involved. David Brazendale, Lancashire's Historic Halls , Carnegie, 1994, tells the latter story in Chapter 4 'Samlesbury Hall and Witchcraft' and the former has been told at greatest length in two novels based on an eye witness account of the trial: William Harrison Ainsworth, The Lancashire Witches and Robert Neill, Mist over Pendle .

1619, 30 March. On this day Thomas was awarded fifteen hundred pounds when his wife Anne née Wingfield turned 21, after the death of her father Sir Thomas Wingfield.

Thomas Standish of Duxbury heir apparent of Alexander Standish, of Duxbury, esq. and Anne, his wife, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Wingfeld, kt., late of Letheringham, co. Suffolk, dec'd, to Thomas Wingfeld of Nettlestead, co. Suffolk, gent., executor of will of Sir Thomas Wingfield - sum due to Anne at 21 years by Will of Sir Thomas Wingfield. (Catalogue: DP397/1/6.)

This allows us to place Anne's birth in c. 1597, so four years younger than Thomas. Most importantly, her mother was Radcliffe née Gerard, fourth daughter of Sir Gilbert Gerard, Master of the Rolls towards the end of Elizabeth 's reign, whose son Sir Thomas Gerard (1564-1617) was Knight Marshal to Elizabeth and James I and created Baron Gerard by James. (He had also received a dedication and epigram from poet John Weever from Preston in 1599.) Although dead by the time of this award, Baron Gerard had still been alive at the marriage of Thomas Standish, already a blood relative via the Radcliffes of Winmarleigh, and Anne Wingfield was his first cousin. This marriage presumably took place near the bride's home in Suffolk , or in London , and if in London , it does not take too great a leap of imagination to see this as one occasion for a family reunion of various Gerards, Standishes, Radcliffes, etc.. Wherever it took place, one might assume that A.S. travelled to attend the wedding of his son and heir. Could this injection of money into the Standish coffers have provided the spur to build a new Duxbury Hall with the Standish-Wingfield arms carved on a lintel?

Thomas and Anne baptised four children before A.S.'s death: Margaret some time before 1616 (no baptismal record, perhaps lost in the gap in Chorley Parish Records until this year), Thomas on 15 August 1617, Alexander on 8 November 1618 and Richard on October 21 1621, the last three at Chorley . A.S.'s will reveals that they had taken up residence at Bradley Hall, a family estate a few miles south of Duxbury, where the townships of Standish, Langtree and Worthington meet. Their biographies will be given under the next two generations.

1620, September to December. Myles sailed to America on the Mayflower. No trace of this news at the time - nor any other trace of Myles's name - has ever been located in Lancashire, but there is one clue that he might well have paid a return visit before his departure from Holland to England on the Speedwell. There were others from Lancashire on the Mayflower, most notably a young Lathom boy. Everything known about him and the Allingtons appears on Caleb Johnson's Mayflower web site, and they belong to Myles's story, not A.S.'s. The important point is that Myles did sail and stayed there. It was only at the end of his life that he claimed various estates back in Lancashire , and all the evidence points towards his becoming the rightful heir to these because of the turmoils of the Civil War, by which time everyone in his own family and almost everyone at Duxbury Hall had died. When he departed, he could have had no idea that he might one day be able to claim Duxbury Hall and dependent estates. A.S. was still very much alive, with four sons, and the eldest already with two sons. The male line must have seemed very secure in 1620. If he visited Lancashire on his one return trip to England in 1625, he would have found that A.S. was dead and Thomas (already M.P. for Liverpool in this year, along with James, Lord Strange, son and heir of William, 6th Earl of Derby) installed in the new hall, with a third son from his first marriage, and presumably set to have more from his second marriage.

(38) 1622: will and testament.

1622, 31 March. A.S. wrote his will. (L.R.O. WCW Alexander Standish 1622.) There were few surprises in it, despite the fact that it was "too large to copy" (personal communication from the Lancashire Record Office), which resulted in the following notes made on a subsequent visit during perusal of the original MS. Everything was kept in the family. Its main function for posterity was to provide a complete picture of his nearest and dearest still living.

- He wished to be "buried in the chapel of Chorley above the steppes at the south of where my wife be buried near the north wall of the said chancel". (This was to lead to a dispute with the Charnocks - see below).

- He first named "my manor and lands of Duxbury, Heapey, Whittle Woods, Heath Charnock and Anlazargh (Anglezarke)". The first three were the core of the ancient Standish of Duxbury estates; half of the manor of Heath Charnock had come to him from his stepfather and A.S. had purchased Anglezarke c. 1600.

- He appointed as executors "Rauffe Ashton, Rauffe Standishe, William Farrington and William Leighe". Rauffe Ashton was his wife's nephew, the current incumbent at Whalley Abbey. Rauffe Standishe was his third son, which perhaps reveals that Richard the second son was living away from home at the time? This is more than likely, as he appears in no further documents and had died before 1637 when brother Ralph wrote his will. This is the Richard that everyone else until now assumed was the future Colonel - he wasn't, but just disappeared from records until he was buried at St Laurence's as "Mr Richard Standish" in 1628 "the last day of August". William Farrington was the current incumbent at Worden Hall, whose grandfather had been 'Comptroller' of the Earl of Derby's household at the end of the previous century. William Leighe was presumably his friend the Vicar at Standish, although it is surprising that he is not given his title. (Perhaps he was a relative.) On the other hand he had been a family friend for so long that they must have been on Christian name terms, everyone knew this, and 'Rev.' was superfluous.

- "Standish, Langtree and Worthington", with a "yearly value of one hundred pounds" was left "to Thomas Standishe my sonne and heire apparant and his assigns," etc. for "Ann Standish wyffe of the said Thomas for the length of her natural life," etc., "jointure and dower of the said Ann". This estate in Standish, Langtree and Worthington was based on Bradley Hall, where they had been living since their marriage. Bradley was one of the original estates, a possession dating back to the early 14th century, when the first Standish established himself in Duxbury. A modern Bradley Hall still exists, but in the middle of an industrial estate (in which I managed to get myself locked in at closing time, until the security guard let me out). Ann was to die a few months later, but A.S., of course, did not know this.

- "Concerning all my lands here distant in Scotforde, Burrow, Lancaster and Longton and all those lands, tenements", etc. "in Goosnargh lately purchased of Sir Richard Houghton, and all lands". etc. "in Heath Charnock which I lately purchased of Thomas Broadhurst, Clerke” . . . "to son and heir apparant Thomas", etc., "then to Christopher Banastre of Grays Inn, Middlesex and Thomas Sargand of Denton, Co. Lancaster". Scotforth and Burrow are near Lancaster and these estates had come into the family on A.S.'s grandfather James's marriage in 1526 to Elizabeth Butler of Rawcliffe. Longton, near the Ribble estuary, had come to him from his stepfather. The important point is that all lands named in this clause of the will were among the most recent acquisitions, and A.S. seems to have been operating on the principle 'last to come, first to go'. "Christopher Banastre of Grays Inn " was to become the second husband of A.S.'s eldest daughter Joan, who at this time was married to John Clayton of Crook (presumably Crook Hall in Clayton-le-Woods). In 1622 Christopher was an up and coming lawyer, who was later to achieve a prominent rank in the administration of the Duchy of Lancaster. His story was commemorated on a tablet in Garstang Parish Church , where he and Joan lived, and his story will be told in the biographies of A.S.'s children. "Thomas Sargand" (Sergeant) of Denton has not been identified as a relative. Perhaps he was another lawyer friend?

- "Bradley Hall" . . . "Standish, Langtree, Worthington ", and "Scotforth, Burrow, Lancaster , Longton, Goosnargh, Heath Charnock to be sould". One can only deduce from this that A.S., in consultation with his lawyers, sons, daughters and sons-in-law, decided that they would all be happier to have the money rather than the lands, to invest where they thought best.

- "Whittle Woods and Heapey to be leased for three lives." As mentioned above, these were among the heartlands of the original Standish of Duxbury estate and the Standish of Duxbury MSS show that A.S. had taken a very personal interest in these. The catalogue of DP397/24/1-7: Whittle-le-Woods allows the tracing of some of this history from c. 1290-1605. DP397/11/1-16: Heapey similarly allows the tracing of this history.

- "Richard Standishe, Rauffe Standishe the younger and Alexander Standish the younger my younger sonnes each and equally each yearly rent charge of £33, 6s 8d at Pentecost." This is the Richard who disappeared for six years after this without leaving a will, so we will never know what he spent his money on. We know where some of Ralph's went: he bought a sword and a set of pistols, which in his will in 1637 were left to his brother Alexander and James, Lord Strange, who presumably used them a few years later in the Civil War, both on the Royalist side.

- "My sister Ellen Standish . . . £20 a year."

- "Son in law John Clayton, Esq., unto the said Christopher Banastre and John Aynsworth . . . for one messuage and tenement in Heath Charnock in the possession of George Croston."

- Son Thomas had a debt of £200 to A.S., £100 on 20 April 1619 and "£100 for plate, beddings, house, when he went to live of himself at Bradley".

- "My grandchild little Thomas Standishe two of the best pieces of plate: a crystal cup and the best salt."

- "My daughter Ann Standishe" "seven(?) hundred pounds and yearly £20." This seems a large amount, but it might have already become obvious that she would not marry, and would remain in charge of the household.

- "My daughter Clayton and husband £40." This was Joan.

- "My daughter Ashton £10. This was Alice .

- "My sister Ellen £10." (Maybe he forgot he had already awarded her much more than this?)

- "My cosin Bridgett Stanley the best white bowle of plate that I give for remembrance." Two lines later she appears as "Briggitt Standley - for the money of her children, portions".


This is the only real surprise in the will. Out of his dozens of Hoghton cousins - not to mention all his cousins and half-cousins from other families - he named only one. Bridget was the only daughter of his uncle Leonard Hoghton of Grimsargh. She married first Edward Stanley of Moor Hall near Aughton, one of several Stanley branches scattered around South Lancashire and North Cheshire, descended from younger sons of the junior line of the Earls of Derby or the senior Stanley line, their kinsmen in Hooton in the Wirral. There is no doubt about this marriage, not least because their children were baptised at Ormskirk Parish Church , all labelled fairly clearly (if idiosyncratically on occasion) as children of Edward Stanley of Moor Hall in Ormskirk Parish Register. We know that she had been a resolute Catholic, because she appeared on a recusant list in 1593/4.

Bridget Standley, wife of Edward Standley, lately of Moore-hall in the parish of Aughton, gent. £100 fine. ( Recusant Rolls, 2, 1593/4 , Ed. H. Bowles, Catholic Record Society, 1965.)

This indicates that something or someone was "lately", and records prove that it was husband Edward, who had died in 1590. So in 1593/4 Bridget was living as a recusant widow with her children, and her recusancy was apparently known widely enough for some local official to report this, which resulted in the fine. Whether she actually paid it or not we do not know.

19th and 20th century accounts of the Stanleys of Hooton around this period tend to go a little haywire, because several sons were not mentioned in Visitation Pedigrees and often two of the same name (particularly various Williams and Peters), but of different families, were confused. The most plausible explanation for this is the existence and career of Sir William Stanley(10) (1548-1630), 'The Adventurer/ Traitor', military commander of the English Catholic forces in exile, who had surrendered Deventer to the Spanish in 1586 and had been in the pay of the Spanish ever since (his basic biography is in the DNB ). His younger brother John was also living in exile as a Jesuit, therefore considered by the senior administrators in Elizabeth's and James's governments as another 'traitor'. Meanwhile, back in Cheshire and Lancashire, all those who stayed behind (whether Catholic or not and whether they regarded Sir William and brother John as an Adventurer, a Traitor or anything else) were desperately trying to avoid confiscation of their lands, a constant threat merely because of their blood ties to 'traitors'. This they could not deny, but they seem to have avoided mentioning their association with Sir William in public records as often as possible. This is another perfect example of what seems to have been a veil of secrecy (not conspiracy) drawn over the complete split in the family as to how they should behave and react in private and public to their religious views, their allegiance to the monarch of England, and all the schisms created by the Counter-Reformation. Some Stanleys of Hooton were fighting for their lives, one at least for a foreign power, some for their religious beliefs, some for retention of their estates in Lancashire and Cheshire . Sir William 'The Traitor' was the nephew of Edward and William of Moor Hall, all about the same age, because the last two were late younger sons of Sir William(9). All that has survived from this period is what was contained in public records. One can only suspect that these present the mere public tip of a private iceberg of constant anguish about the future.

Extant public records reveal at least the following story. All authorities in the 17th to 20th centuries agree that Bridget's husband Edward was the son of Peter Stanley, a younger son of Sir William Stanley of Hooton(9), some time Sheriff of Cheshire (b. ?c. 1495). For the moment we can forget about other confusing Peter Stanleys of Moor Hall, and concentrate on those obviously known to A.S. during his lifetime. The most important was Edward, son of Peter Stanley, who married A.S.'s cousin Bridget Hoghton, whom he remembered in his will. The most important aspect of this marriage is that a Hoghton daughter married a Stanley son, thus cementing yet again all the ancestral ties between the Hoghtons and Stanleys (with A.S. and his family involved at one remove).

This much was clear long ago after reading published histories of the Earls of Derby, the Stanleys of Hooton, the Hoghtons and Standishes. The main puzzle was how so many previous recorded details of the family at Moor Hall had been overlooked. Hope in finally sorting these out is at hand, in the form of a magnificent Stanley web site-in-the-making, by Brian S. Roberts. This gives details from the will and inquisition post mortem of William Stanley of Moor Hall, Edward's brother.

Edward died in 1590 (which explains the "lately" in 1593/4) and widow Bridget married his brother and presented him with a son and heir Peter in 1599. William wrote his will and died on 30 March 1610, revealed by his inquisition post mortem on 9 October 1610, in which appears "Bridget, his wife who survives him" and "Peter, his son and heir, who was married in his father's life time to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Woodfall, is now aged 11 years, 2 months and 13 days". This was an arranged child marriage. So at last most of the pieces of Bridget's life have been put together. She must have been the fourth and last wife of Edward before marrying William and was a widow for the second time when she was named in A.S.'s will.

This one glimpse of Bridget in his will indicates that A.S., even if himself Protestant, certainly had contact with Catholics - indeed, it would have been difficult to avoid them. Family links seem to have been more binding than religious views. One can only surmise the bond that made him single her out. Perhaps he and brother Leonard had often visited Uncle Leonard as children and, as he had no sons, had regarded A.S. and Leonard as his closest blood relatives in the next generation, and had remembered A.S. in his will? Or perhaps she and Alice had got on well together when they visited each other? We will never know. We do know, however, that he had a close bond with a cousin married to two uncles of two "traitors". At the end of his will he also gave £15 for the poor in some of the parishes where he owned estates.

The other slight surprise is that he did not mention Countess Alice, when she was living almost next door to him. For this, we need to read his inquisition post mortem . She is, however, mentioned in the will of Rev. William Leigh in 1639 (Porteus, 1927, p. 103). Countess Alice had presented him with a silver gilt bowl before she died in 1637, which he bequeathed, "a gift from Countess Alice", to his brother-in-law Edward Wrightington of Wrightington, yet another who had received a dedication and an epigram from John Weever.

(39) Death and burial.

1622 June. DP397/13/16 (in English). "Statement of case in Court of Delegates: Standish v. Charnock - burial place in Chorley Church . c. 1620." Rev. Porteus obviously had another dated copy of this (in Latin), about which he wrote the following:

In June 1622 according to a charter in possession of the author, a suit was pending between Alexander Standish of Duxbury and Thomas Charnock of Astley concerning right of burial in the northern half of the chancel above the steps in the highest part of the said chancel within the church or chapel of Chorley . The King had appointed a commission of judges, and meanwhile strictly forbade any burials in the disputed portion (probably the northern half of the sanctuary, to which the Standishes appear to have made good their claim as well as to the south part). King James enjoined George Comey, vicar of Croston, Richard Smith, curate of the church or chapel of Chorley, the churchwardens of Chorley and the parish clerk or doorkeeper ( ostiarius ) not to make any grave in that part or allow any burial until the suit was decided.

(Porteus, A Short History of Chorley Parish Church , c. 1946, pp. 9-10.)

Although we need not believe that King James himself was deeply and personally involved, this was obviously a matter that had reached a rather high level in London , and implies that he had at least been consulted. The dispute was perhaps connected with an event three and a half years earlier:

Mittimus: to Constable of Chester Castle - to take into custody William Charnock, gent. as a 'dangerous recusant'. 15 January 1618/19. (Catalogue: DP397/13/15.)

Its very appearance in the Standish family papers implies that A.S. had been involved somehow, and William Charnock was obviously a staunch Catholic. These two families were the only ones to share 'ownership' of the chancel and they both left behind their own carved pews. The Charnock pew is also still there today. This Charnock or another later married A.S.'s daughter Alice as her second husband. Brother Ralph intriguingly referred to it as "her little adventure" in his will in 1637. (This will appear under his biography.)

1622, 29 June. A.S. was buried at Chorley . Where he was buried we do not know, as no record has survived of the outcome of the dispute. The Parish Register merely records "Alexander Standishe of Dukesburie Esquire" under this date.

(40) 1623: inquisition post mortem.

Lancashire Inquisitions ,

Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society, vol. xxiv, No. 56, pp. 397-400

N.B. 1. These investigations and resulting documents were a leftover from a medieval form of death duties. All was to do with money and taxes, of course, but today they are most valuable as a record of the precise holdings of many individuals and a list of their friends or tenants, or whoever else might have been called in by the escheator, the equivalent of today's Tax Inspector. One finds a varying number of 'jurors', as the friends or tenants were called as they all had to swear an oath, but usually somewhere between twelve and twenty-four. Alexander had twenty-four, the first an 'Esquire' and all the rest 'gentlemen'.

N.B. 2. One main reason for including the full text here is to present the number of acres, manors and mills owned by A.S. in 1622/3, to allow a comparison with the number of the same claimed by Alexander son of Myles via lawyer Edward May in 1655. Anyone mathematically minded will be able to work out that the totals in this 1623 inquisition post mortem and the claim in 1655 add up to more or less the same numbers although not in exactly the same places.

N.B. 3. Some of the most fascinating details in the text lie in the names of the jurors. Three of these were Sum(p)ners, which led to my conclusion long ago that these might well have been relatives of the Sumners of Croston, connected to Captain Myles's small inheritance there, and perhaps associated in some way with Myles's first wife Rose. I even made so bold as to propose in one of my articles that, in the absence of any other candidate, and in the light of the family tradition that she was from the Isle of Man, then she might well have been Rose Sumner of the Isle of Man in Croston. I might be completely wrong, of course, but there were certainly no Roses on the large Manx Isle at the time (Kissack), there were certainly Sumners galore in Croston and neighbouring townships at the time (Croston Parish Registers), there were certainly Sumners in the vicinity of the Isle of Man, Croston during generations before and after this (L.R.O. DDHe - the Hesketh papers). The Standishes had certainly owned lands in Croston on and off over the centuries (Farrer; Standish of Duxbury MSS ), and A.S. certainly had three Sumner friends or tenants in 1623.

N.B. 4. Spellings and italics are reproduced sic from the published version, which is a translation from the original Latin. Underlinings are of the most significant names commented on below.

Alexander Standish, of Duxbury, Esquire

Inquisition taken at Chorley, 11 Sept. 21 James (1623) before Edward Rigby , Esq., Escheator, after the death of Alexander Standish , of Duxbury, Esq., by the oath of Thomas Worthington , of Worthington Esq., Thomas Worthington , of Cromshaw [?], James Whithalgh , John Smith , Thurstan Standishe , Hugh Tootell , William Tootell , Richard Prescott , Thomas Wasley , James Wilkinson , Ellis Sumpner , George Harwood , John Whittle , John Withnell , Thomas Nightgall , James Sumpner , William Haukeshead , Thomas Woodcocke , Miles Sumpner , Richard S . . . dley , Thomas Lowe , George Browne , Richard Lassell , and William Worthington , gentlemen, who say that Alexander Standish long before his death was seised in his demesne as of fee of the manor of Duxbury; and of 13 messuages, 13 gardens, 1 water-mill, 200 acres of land, 50 acres of meadow, 150 acres of pasture, 12 acres of wood, 20 acres of moor, and 12 s . free rent in Duxbury; and of the manor of Heapey, and 28 messuages, 28 gardens, 1 water-mill, 400 acres of land, 60 acres of meadow, 240 acres of pasture, 4 acres of wood, 200 acres of furze and heath, 100 acres of moor, and 14 d . free rent in Heapey; and of the tithes of sheaves and grain yearly growing in Heapey; and of the manor of Whittle in le Woodes; and of 20 messuages, 20 gardens, 1 water-mill, 200 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture, 1 acre of wood, 12 acres of moor and 30 s . free rent in Whittle in le Woodes; and of the manor of Heath Charnocke, and 12 messuages, 12 gardens, 160 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture, 12 acres of wood, 30 acres of moor and 27 s . free rent in Heath Charnocke. The said Alexander Standish was also seised as of fee of the reversion of the manor of Anlezargh, and of the reversion of 12 messuages, 12 gardens, 1 water-mill, 240 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow, 130 acres of pasture, 8 acres of wood, 500 acres of furze and heath, 200 acres of moor, 100 acres of marsh, and 3 s . free rent in Anlezargh, after the death of Alice Countess of Derby , who holds the said manor and other the premises in Anlezargh for life; the said Countess is yet living at Anlezargh . And the said Alexander Standish was also seised in fee of 1 messuage, 1 garden, 6 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow, 7 acres of pasture, and 5 acres of moor in Standishe; 1 messuage, 1 garden, 30 acres of land, 5 acres of meadow, 15 acres of pasture, 2 acres of wood, 12 acres of moor in Worthington; and 1 messuage, 1 garden, 20 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow, 20 acres of pasture, 2 acres of wood, and 15 acres of moor in Langtree; and 3 messuages, 3 gardens, 6 acres of land, 2 acres of meadow, 12 acres of pasture, and 5 acres of moor in the town of Lancaster; and 3 messuages, 3 gardens, 8 acres of land, 2 acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture. and 6 acres of moor in Scotforth; and 1 messuage, 1 garden, 6 acres of land, 1 acre of meadow, 9 acres of pasture, and 3 acres of moor in Burrowe; and 2 messuages, 2 gardens, 10 acres of land, 2 acres of meadow, and 8 acres of pasture in Longton; and 2 messuages, 12 gardens, 80 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow, and 30 acres of pasture in Gousenargh; and 1 messuage, 1 garden, and 3 acres of land in Chorley.

Being so seised, 31 March, 20 James [1622], he made his Will, whereby he gave the premises in Standishe, Langtree, and Worthington by the name of the capital messuage called "Bradlehall," and all his hereditaments thereto belonging, and all his hereditaments in Standishe, Langtree, and Worthington to Thomas Standishe , then his son and heir apparent, and his ( Thomas' ) assigns for the term of his life; and after his decease, to one Anne Standishe , lately deceased, then wife of the said Thomas, for her life; and after her decease, to the heirs male of the body of the said Thomas Standishe ; and in default, to the heirs male of the body of himself the said Alexander Standishe ; and in default, to the right heirs of himself the said Alexander Standishe for ever. And further, by the same Will he gave all the said premises in Duxbury, Heapey, Whittle in le Woodes, Anlezargh, Heath Charnocke (except 1 messuage and 8 acres of land in Heath Charnocke lately purchased by him of Thomas Broadhurst , clerk) to the said Thomas Standishe and his heirs male; and in default, to the heirs male of the body of himself ( Alexander ); and in default, to his right heirs for ever. And further, he gave the premises in Scotforth, Burrowe, Lancaster, Langton and Goosenargh, and also the tenements in Heath Charnocke (before excepted) to Christopher Bannastre , of Gray's Inn, in the county of Middlesex, Esq. , and Thomas Sergeant , of Newton , in the county of Lancaster , gentleman, and their heirs. And he gave to Richard Standishe , Ralph Standishe , and Alexander Standishe , his younger sons, and to each of them for the term of their lives, a yearly rent of £33 : 6 : 8, issuing from the premises in Heapey, Whittle in le Woodes, Heath Charnocke, and Anglezargh (except 36 acres of land in Heapey, formerly in the tenures of James Abbott and Thomas Prescott ; 35 acres of land formerly in the tenure of Ralph Leyland ; 50 acres of enclosed land of the waste of the manor of Whittle; 8 acres of land purchased of the said Thomas Broadhurst ; and except 30 acres of land in Heath Charnocke, formerly in the occupation of one George Croston ), to be paid to the said Richard , Ralph , and Alexander [the younger] as therein expressed, as by the said Will, shown to the Jurors in evidence, more fully appears.

Alexander Standish , being so seised, died 18 June, 20 James ([1622], after whose death the said Thomas Standishe was seised of the premises so given to him, as required by law. The said Christopher Bannestre and Thomas Sergeant likewise after the death of the said Alexander were seised of the premises so given to them, as required by law.

The manor of Duxbury, and all other the premises in Duxbury are worth per ann. (clear) £5, but of whom they are held the Jurors know not. The manor of Heapey and all other the premises in Heapey (except tithes) are held of the King , as of his Duchy of Lancaster, by knight's service, but by what part of a knight's fee the Jurors know not, and are worth per ann. (clear) £6 : 13 : 4. The said tithes of sheaves are worth per ann. (clear) 3 s . 4 d ., but of whom they are held the Jurors know not. The manor and all other the premises in Whittle in le Woodes are held of the King , as of his Duchy of Lancaster, by knight's service, but by what part of a knight's fee the Jurors know not, and they are worth per ann. (clear) 40s. The manor and all other the premises in Heath Charnocke are held of the King , as of his Duchy of Lancaster, but by what part of a knight's fee the Jurors know not, and they are worth (except the tenement purchased of Thomas Broadhurst , which is worth yearly 6 pence) per ann. (clear) 40 s . The manor and all other the premises in Anlezargh are worth per ann. (clear) 33 s . 4 d . The messuages, lands, and other the premises in Langtree are worth per ann. (clear) 30 s . 4 d . Of whom these are respectively held the Jurors know not. The messuage, lands, and other the premises in the town of Lancaster are held of the King in free and common burgage by fealty only, and are worth per ann. (clear) 3 s . 4 d . The messuages, lands, and other the premises in Burrowe are worth per ann. (clear) 2 s . The messuages, lands, and other the premises in Longton are worth per ann. (clear) 6 s . 8 d . The messuages, lands, and other the premises in Goosenargh are worth per ann. (clear) 26s. 8d. The premises in Chorley are worth per ann. (clear) 6 d . Of whom these respectively are held the Jurors know not.

Thomas Standishe is the son and heir of Alexander Standish , and is aged at the time of taking this Inquisition 29 years and more. Christopher Bannestre and Thomas Sargant have occupied all the premises so devised to them as aforesaid, and have received the issues and profits thereof from the time of the death of the said Alexander up to the day of taking this Inquisition. Thomas Standish has occupied the residue of the manors, lands, and premises, and has taken the issues and profits of the same for the same length of time.


(41) The men in the ipm.

Notes and comments on anything known about the men mentioned above:

- Edward Rigby , Esq., Escheator. Various members of the Rigby family played many a role in the history of the Standishes of Duxbury, one family as Catholic neighbours in Burgh in Duxbury in 1623, with others scattered around the local area.

The twenty-four jurors sworn in by oath were:

- (1) Thomas Worthington , of Worthington Esq., notable here because he was the only Esquire, all the rest being 'gentlemen'. He was presumably a local gentry friend, who would have known all about A.S.'s Bradley Hall estate, which extended into Worthington .

- (2) Thomas Worthington , of Cromshaw [?]. Presumably a relative of (1).

- (3) James Whithalgh .

- (4) John Smith .

- (5) Thurstan Standishe . Almost certainly the one of this name who was living in Burgh in Duxbury in 1623, who presented his VP in 1613, and whose grandson, also "Thurston", presented his VP in 1664/5. The brief documented history of this staunchly Catholic family, descended from a younger Standish of Standish son, is related in Farrer, VCH , vol. 6, p. 212.

- (6) Hugh Tootell .

- (7) William Tootell . These two were presumably Standish of Duxbury tenants, whose names appear in other documents.

- (8) Richard Prescott .

- (9) Thomas Wasley ,

- (10) James Wilkinson ,

- (11) Ellis Sumpner .

- (12) George Harwood .

- (13) John Whittle .

- (14) John Withnell .

- (15) Thomas Nightgall . Nightingale - a name still perpetuated in a row of cottages in Duxbury today.

- (16) James Sumpner .

- (17) William Haukeshead .

- (18) Thomas Woodcocke . Woodcock is still perpetuated in a house in Duxbury today, where presumably this one was living at the time.

- (19) Miles Sumpner . These three Sum(p)ners have not been identified other than as fairly obvious tenants of Standish of Duxbury lands in 1623. The main relevance of their surname is that it might connect them to the Sumners of Croston. There is little hope of ever establishing an accurate pedigree of this family before c. 1600, but the mere appearance of the name "Miles” in 1623 is intriguing. There were not too many with this Christian name around locally at the time, and Myles Standish's name must have come from someone in the previous generation, as must this Myles/ Miles Sumner's.

- (20) Richard S . . . dley .

- (21) Thomas Lowe . Almost certainly the tenant of Lowe's Farm in Burgh in Duxbury.

- (22) George Browne .

- (23) Richard Lassell .

- (24) William Worthington .

Other males mentioned on various occasions are:

- Christopher Bannastre , of Gray's Inn, in the county of Middlesex, Esq. He was identified above, in A.S.'s will, as a lawyer and the future second husband of A.S.'s daughter Joan.

- Thomas Sergeant , of Newton , in the county of Lancaster , gentleman, and their heirs. He was identified above (in A.S.'s will) as possibly another lawyer. Given that his heirs were also due to inherit the lands in question, however, it seems that he might have been another in-law, although it is not obvious which Standish of Duxbury he might have married. He was also named previously as "of Denton" in Lancashire, a manor in the very south of Lancashire, on the north of River Tame, with Arderne Hall, the home of the Cheshire Ardernes at this time, very close on the Cheshire side of the river. Denton was also the home of the Hollands of Denton, a family that seems to have produced Hugh Holland, who wrote a dedicatory poem to Shakespeare in the preface of the First Folio, published in 1623. Which " Newton " he came from is unknown, but one obvious candidate is Newton-le-Willows, south of Wigan, also known as Newton-in-Makerfield , whose owner and Baron until his death in early 1605 was Sir Thomas Langton, Baron Langton of Newton and Walton-le-Dale, who has already appeared so often in A.S.'s details above. In brief, a thorough search is now needed for all extant details of the history and inhabitants of Newton and Denton in the early 17th century. All the relevant gentry families obviously knew each other at this time.

- Thomas Broadhurst "clerke" is mentioned on several occasions in A.S.'s will and inquisition . "Clerke" implies that he was a local clergyman.

(42) Daughter-in-law Anne and Countess Alice.

Having accounted (or not) for all the men mentioned in A.S.'s inquisition , we are left with the women mentioned. There are only two, daughter-in-law Anne and Countess Alice.

Anne's story is clear and sad. Between A.S.'s will in 1622 and inquisition in 1623, she died in her early twenties. Her husband Thomas, the M.P. married again and had four more children.

This leaves us with Countess Alice, whose biography still remains to be told. In brief, she was the youngest daughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorp in Northamptonshire and her main relevance to Shakespeare was her marriage to Ferdinando, Lord Strange, later 5th Earl of Derby, patron of Strange's Players, who performed some of Shakespeare's early plays, by whom she had three daughters. Ferdinando died in 1594 and in 1600 she married her second husband, Sir Thomas Egerton of Cheshire , later Baron Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley, King James's Lord Chancellor until his death in 1617. Details of her early life are non-existent at Althorp Hall; details of her life as Lady Strange and Countess of Derby have been noted by historians of the Earls of Derby; details of her life at court, including frequent mentions of dedications by poets to her, and her performance in various Masques by Ben Jonson and others, have been noted in scattered publications; details of her main residences in Middlesex during her marriage to Baron Ellesmere have been noted by historians in Middlesex, where she has a magnificent tomb in Harefield Parish Church. All these will be brought together in 'Materials for a future biography of Countess Alice'. Into these will need to be incorporated the following detail from A.S.'s inquisition .

the manor of Anlezargh . . . after the death of Alice Countess of Derby , who holds the said manor and other the premises in Anlezargh for life; the said Countess is yet living at Anlezargh. (Extract from A.S.'s inquisition post mortem of 1623 .)

And so in the last document naming him in first place, A.S. left behind his most intriguing mystery: his close relationship with Countess Alice. How long had she been there? Was her stay there only during her second widowhood after 1617? Was their friendship anything at all to do with A.S. never marrying again? Why did Alice agree to live in a remote Northern moorland township when she had a grand house near London and the court life in which she took so much pleasure? None of her three daughters lived anywhere near here. Why did she accept a rent-free residence for life in a manor from someone else when she owned so many manors and houses of her own? Did she expect to spend most of the rest of her life near A.S., thwarted only by his death? How long did she stay on here in Anglezarke?

So far she has turned up in only one other local document: Rev. William Leigh's will in 1639 where he recorded a gift of a "silver gilt bowl given by the late Countess of Derby" (Porteus, 1927, p. 103). This might, however, have been given to him during her days at Knowsley in the 1580s and early 1590s as Lady Strange, when he made frequent appearances to preach sermons there. She and Rev. William outlived A.S. by many years, she living into her late seventies and he into his eighty-ninth year. Unfortunately they took most of their secrets with them to their graves, Rev. William in Standish and Alice in Harefield.

(43) Postscript.

One little secret that promises to be revealed is where Countess Alice lived in Anglezarke. On the assumption that she lived in one of the largest houses, which might have been designated at the time as Anglezarke Hall or the Manor House or something similar, I paid a visit to the modern Manor House in Anglezarke, labelled as such on my copy of the Ordnance Survey large-scale map (Pathfinder 700 [SD 61/71] Bolton (North) & Horwich, 2 1/2 in to 1 mile - 4 cm to 1 km, 1:25 000).

The house was obviously rather old in parts but extensively renovated. It was also rather remote, the last house on a road leading up onto Anglezarke Moor, with no road beyond, but providing a sweeping view over the plain below. The view, one presumes, would hardly have compensated for inaccessibility to A.S., although she could have hung a sheet at a window as a signal to be seen from Duxbury. A brief chat to the current tenant farmer and a United Utilities van whizzing up and down the road revealed all. I was certainly not standing in front of Countess Alice's abode, but I was looking down at the history of the Duxburys and Standishes of Duxbury from their beginnings through to Countess Alice's residence in Anglezarke, and way beyond. Her former manor is now a Utility.

United Utilities is the latest name, since privatisation, of what for much of the 20th century was called the North Western Water Board, similarly to the North Western Electricity Board (Norweb) becoming Powergen and getting mixed up with the North Western Gas Board. (Having been direct debited with sums owed to all of these over the years, I was more than vaguely aware of this.) United Utilities inherited the ownership of Anglezarke with all its reservoirs, sold by the Standishes to Liverpool in the 19th century. Norweb had an interest in Duxbury on the site of The Pele, the main residence of the Standishes from c. 1300 to c. 1600, on which it built a training centre. The Gas Board also inherited (although these were not in view) all the gas-related properties managed by all my Duxbury Gas Managers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The only qualification for this Manor House bearing this name today is the lintel above the front door, a huge piece of stone with Manor House chiselled into it and incorporated here during one renovation. This had come, I was informed, from the original Manor House, the site of which was pointed out in the region of a very large corrugated iron roof on a building at the south end of Healey Nab. This hill had been overrun and devastated by Scottish 'marauders' in the early 14th century, which led to Hugh de Standish (who owned it) building his Pele tower in north Duxbury in 1319 for some protection during any future raids. It was beyond the ancient boundaries of Anglezarke, so was presumably the Manor House in Healey (although Healey was not a manor but part of Heapey) and therefore not the house lived in by Countess Alice, although this cannot have been far away.

A re-perusal of the earliest estate maps of Anglezarke in the Lancashire Record Office might allow a future identification of her house, which I strongly suspect might have been on the site of The Cliffs, with the latest version still there today. Previous versions were owned by the Standishes long before A.S. bought the manor in the early 17th century, and used as a dower house for widows. In any case she must have lived in one of the 12 messuages with 12 gardens mentioned in A.S.'s inquisition , and I was standing in front of another, with several surviving 16th century features. I had also just passed the site of the water-mill mentioned and through some of the "240 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow, 130 acres of pasture, 8 acres of wood, 500 acres of furze and heath, 200 acres of moor", also mentioned. The "100 acres of marsh" were drained long ago and are now the reservoirs.

This happened so recently, with no time for follow up, but for me this day and the next encapsulated so many elements of previous and future research. This visit took place in the morning of Thursday, 4 September 2003 on my way from Darwen to Preston Station to catch a train to London, with the intention of spending an hour or so before closing time at 5 o'clock in the British Library (next door to King's Cross-St Pancras) before meeting my daughter at The Globe for an evening performance of The Taming of the Shrew . The reason for the delay of this particular train and for all passengers being subjected to a security check, was that Queen Elizabeth II was hitched onto it, travelling from Glasgow to London . I never saw any trace of her or the Royal Coach (security precautions were obviously efficacious), but was equipped with a quip that I had travelled to London with the Queen. My main thoughts, however, were more with Elizabeth I rather than II. I made it to the British Library a little later than predicted, but in time to order several Elizabethan MS documents for perusal the next day, and The Globe to see a magical all-female performance of an Elizabethan play.

At Euston we had, of course, arrived at a normal platform, but it could well have been platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross, because it had been a rather Harry Potterish sort of day. The visit to Anglezarke had been preceded by a quick visit to Brinscall, mentioned above as the home for many years of Thomas Hoghton, killed during the 'affray at Lea' in 1589 and replete with secret tunnels.

The next day saw me poring over many manuscripts from his day that contained the names of so many of his and A.S.'s friends, which will appear under the name of Robert Glover, a herald at the College of Arms, who knew the Shakespeares, the Ardens and Ardernes (of Warwickshire and Cheshire) and the Earls of Derby - Glover visited the Ardernes of Cheshire in 1566 and 1580 and was with Henry the 4th Earl on his mission to France in 1585. I knew this already, but reading some of the original MSS was still quite a thrill, because he was obviously such a key figure for 'Shakespeare in Lancashire '.

The real little thrill, however, came from one of their two copies of Sir William Stanley's Garland , the ballad about his travels, published c. 1800 (BL 1078 e14). My main reason was to assess whether it was worth shelling out a lot of money for a photograph of the wood-block picture of him on the frontispiece, as the only known depiction of him apart from his portrait at Knowsley Hall. It wasn't - it was so small, blurred and fudgy it could have been of anyone. So this William will remain known to us only from his portrait on a wall at Knowsley Hall where he is joined by Countess Alice, despite all their squabbles during their lives. The little thrill came when I saw the other ballads with which it had been bound, a motley assortment that increasingly read (to me, at least) as a not so random collection, but all associated somehow with this William Stanley and Shakespeare. The first was “The Northern Lord”, which included a Jew claiming a pound of flesh; the next “King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth”, a place that very much enters Shakespeare's story; then came “Sir William's Garland”; two others were “The Liverpool Tragedy” (the Stanleys owned half of Liverpool) and “The Yorkshire Tragedy” (the title of one of the plays in the Shakespeare Apocrypha); and the last one the story of a young man born in Cheshire, who went to London as an apprentice and then on to have adventures in Turkey, a country where William Stanley also had a few adventures. Some day I will take another close look at this. That day I had a plane to catch.

(44) A few notes on Lancashire legends.

N.B. The following notes were written many months (sometimes years) ago and not all incorporated above.

Recent interest in traditions seems to be confirmed by facsimile reprints of Harland and Wilkinson (1993 by Llanerch Publishers, Felinbach, ISBN 1 897853 06 8) and a whole series of reprints of Frank Hird's Lancashire Tales, selected by Cliff Hayes (by Aurora Publishing, Bolton ). Frank Hird published 900 pages in two volumes at the beginning of the 20th century (no date, but c. 1910). No publication date is given in these reprints (I presume during the 1990s), but the ISBN number of 1 85926 040 3 should allow the location of this one. Others in the series are Stories and Tales of Old Lancashire , Stories and Tales of Old Manchester and Stories and Tales of Old Merseyside . William E. A. Axon's A Lancashire Treasury has also been reprinted by the same publisher, albeit containing mainly later stories.

The earlier stories were presumably well known to A.S. and his contemporaries - and Shakespeare in his Lancashire days. There are enough ghosts, fairies, witches, magic potions, statues with magic powers, pacts with the devil, and sundry other standard folklore ingredients to allow someone a field day in trying to relate any of these to Shakespeare. Most Lancashire stories refer to specific people in specific places and therefore presumably contain at least one kernel of truth. One piece of information that struck me rather forcibly is that earlier research into Warwickshire folklore produced not a single jot of local folklore or memorable local events finding their way into Shakespeare's works (Michell, p. 103 ff.)

een noted in 1954 one Lancashire story as a potential inspiration for Shakespeare, that of 'Fair Ellen of Radcliffe', who appears in a Snow White type story with a wicked step-mother and ended up as minced meat fed to her father (echoes of Titus Andronicus ?) (Keen, pp. 67-8). At the very least we can be fairly sure that A.S. knew this one as he had so many Radcliffes in his family. Harland, eighty years earlier, reported that the story of Sir Tarquin of Manchester, a combatant against Sir Lancelot of the Lake, 'has been alluded to by Shakspeare [ sic ] in the second part of his Henry IV' (Harland and Wilkinson, p. 273). This allusion might, of course, have come from the same story reported by Chaucer and in Morte d'Arthur , which was obviously known all over the country and not confined to knowledge in Lancashire of the story and ballad (given in full by Harland, p. 273 ff.). What, one might wonder, was Sir Lancelot doing in Manchester ? Well, other local traditions place four of Arthur's battles in the Wigan area. Maybe they did happen there?