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Standish of Duxbury Visitation Pedigrees

These are versions of the ancestry of any individual family presented to a herald of the College of Arms in the 16th and 17th centuries, agreed on at the time by the family itself and the relevant herald as to their right to bear their coat of arms. This was the only aim. 

All extant VPs of Lancashire and Cheshire were published c. 1900, most of them by the 1870s, but some trickling on into the early 20th century. Again, a magnificent job, but it is necessary to read between the lines and examine every detail in the introductions of publications to know whether you are reading exactly what was recorded at the time or a later ‘helpful’ (or not so helpful?) version given by the editor.  

 My conclusion is that the families in the 16th and 17th centuries knew very well who they themselves were, who their parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents were, and that we should believe them. The main problems in interpreting these come from families attempting to provide their ancestry back further than four generations before, and many ‘helpful’ souls in the 19th and 20th centuries trying to prove that they were wrong in not knowing about their immediate families. 

Visitation Pedigrees of the Standishes of Duxbury

All published by Chetham’s Society

1.   1533. The first Visitation conducted by a Herald, and rather minimal. It merely gives details of James, Lord of the Manor at the time, his immediate family and his coat of arms.

2.     1567. VP of Family A, the senior line in Duxbury. Pretty accurate and followed the pedigree given by the family itself. The senior line had not yet died out.

3.     1613. VP of Family A. More or less a copy of 1567, stopping at Thomas, who died in c. 1576 and not continued down to A.S., the current incumbent.

3.   1613. VP of Family B. (The only one presented by this family.) Pretty accurate apart from at the very top where two generations are missing.

4.   1664/5. VP of Family A. (A repeat of the 1567 VP, with additions from the 1613 one. This was some time after this branch of the family had died out; a few strange changes first alerted me to ‘muddles’, which Sir William Dugdale tried to sort out. He didn’t, but muddled the situation further.)

Additional Pedigrees by and of Family A provide confirmation of the above. In the Standish of Duxbury Muniments appear two pedigrees  

      DP 397/15/2 Genealogical notes on Standish family of Duxbury,

                              28 Edw. I – 18 Hen. VIII.     17th cent.

The next Pedigree Chart of the Standishes of Duxbury will be published in due course. This is a euphemism for ‘whenever I find time to incorporate all the notes and references accumulated over the years into some form that makes sense to anyone other than me’. At the moment it could paper a small wall and is no way reproducible on a single web page. As an interim solution, mini-trees of relevant bits of the family appear in the appropriate sections.  



Standish of Duxbury
Pedigree Charts

By Pedigree Chart I mean an early honest attempt by others to reconstruct the descent of a particular family from earliest times until the present day, mainly on the basis of documents rediscovered by that time. Should anyone wish to repeat my process of head scratching, I give a list of those charts on my shelves that provided the initial outlines, and which proved the most useful. I must emphasise that I do not denigrate these in any way, but have total praise for their magnificent efforts. Many of the details presented were absolutely correct (of course), and I stand on their shoulders. However, none of these early compilers had access to the Standish of Duxbury Muniments, for which I express the greatest sympathy. On the other hand, the family papers on their own would never have revealed what they did without the pioneering work and publications of the following. Ultimately, the story that has emerged and is presented here was a joint effort over two centuries of a very small number of people just interested in the ‘truth’ about many fascinating Standishes of Duxbury.   

Pedigree charts appear in:

1.   The History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster, Vol. III, by Edward Baines, Esq., M.P., Pedigree Chart by W. R. Whatton, Esq., F.S.A., published by Foster, Son & Co, London, Paris, New York, 1836. Baines and Whatton deserve all praise for being the first. Baines was a rather remarkable man, as revealed by his biography in the DNB..

2.   The same, but revised and with a new Pedigree Chart by Croston (various editions and dates from the 1870s onwards). I confess that I have still not worked all these out, as every library I have visited seems to have a different version, and a different number of volumes; some of the later editions include pedigree charts and some do not. The pedigree chart sent to me several years ago is a three-page one by Croston, on which the last date mentioned is 1878, which provides a pretty obvious clue and details of what 'new' documentation had been discovered by then about the early Standishes of Duxbury. The answer was not much, and what had been discovered was more muddling than clarifying, simply because the Standish of Duxbury Muniments were lost. Some vital progress had, however, been made, because of the work of 3.

3.   MSS chart by Rev. G. J. Piccope in the Piccope MSS (c. 1850s) (Chetham’s Library, i, p. 167). This is the one relied on mainly by Farrer. The occasional family dangling in the middle of nowhere on his chart indicates that he did quite as much head scratching as I did. The praise for Piccope lies in his energetic transcriptions for publications of so many documents (including so many Lancashire and Cheshire wills, including Alexander Hoghton’s of 1581, mentioning William Shakeshafte, published in 1860), and his sheer dedication. He produced his Standish of Duxbury chart before the publication of most of the Visitation Pedigrees, which makes his work even more remarkable.  

4.   John Wilson Verses and Notes (Hill, 1903), Appendix V. By far and away the most complete, including (for the first time) many precise dates from Chorley Parish Registers and a valiant attempt to incorporate everyone somewhere. His efforts are even more impressive, as he was the local postman, with a bent for history and genealogy (his brief story is told by Heyes). He had access to all the latest publications (when not delivering post), partly because Chorley Public Library had been set up in the meantime, with an extremely enlightened librarian, McKnight. His main problem was that he was the first to attempt a complete reconstruction after the final disappearance of the Standish of Duxbury family in the 19th century, and still with no signs of the reappearance of their family papers.

There are others from the 19th century, e.g. Burke, Foster, but they all copy from the others and regurgitate all the muddles. The four above are the best attempts, in my opinion, and with the undoubted advantage that they were based on original local research. In the middle of 1-4, Visitation Pedigrees started to be published, 

Just to set the record straight about Porteus’s first inklings in 1914 that Myles might have come from the Isle of Man, he never produced a Family Tree of the Standishes of Duxbury, never even attempted to write a complete history of them, and died in the 1950s, obviously still perplexed about them. Everything he wrote is still well worth reading, but he never succeeding in cracking the Standish of Duxbury mysteries, particularly those concerning Myles Standish, and, I repeat, never attempted to produce a Family Tree. 

5, The first one I am aware about after Porteus’s death was produced by Eleanor Johnson, published by the Standish Historical Society (since defunct) in 1974. She wrote a valuable booklet about the Standishes of Standish and Duxbury, accompanied by a large hand-written family tree. I value everything she wrote, admire her attempt to make sense of all the details, but am afraid, at the end of the day, that many of her details about the Standishes of Duxbury did not make sense. She based most of these on the Standish of Standish family papers and was obviously not aware that the Standish of Duxbury Muniments had reappeared in Lancashire in 1965.

6. The next person to attempt Standish of Standish and Standish of Duxbury was Lawrence Hill in his book Men of Courage, Forward (1984). His main contribution to Standish of Standish was potentially identifying the younger son whose lands finally descended to Hugh Standish of Ormskirk. If Hill was correct, this places such an enormous distance between Hugh of Ormkirk's and Myles's ancestry, so that from this alone it becomes difficult to accept that the lands they claimed were identical. His ancestry for Standish of Duxbury basically followed Porteus's account.

7. A final one deserves a mention. In Chorley Reference library is a hand written “Standish Pedigree” claiming the descent of Tom the Weaver from Ralph of Duxbury Hall, through which he tried to claim Duxbury Hall. Recently a similar tree appeared on the market, dutifully bought by the Lancashire Record Office. These two go back to the world of muddles. The 1655 settlement of the 'large inheritance' apparently lived on in family memories in various confused forms, which included Alexander's persistent attempts until his will in 1702 to claim the 'small inheritance'. After this there was silence from New England, but obviously still some contact between Duxbury in Lancashire and Duxbury in Massachusetts, when the news from Lancashire arrived in America that the last male of the (latest) line of Duxbury Hall, Sir Frank Standish, had died in 1812. His biography is told in brief by Farrer and in full by Walker.

Soon after Sir Frank's death without a son and heir, all hell broke loose in Duxbury as to who should inherit Duxbury Hall and dependent estates. Again, I refer to Walker for this story, and he gives an excellent brief summary of all the contestants for the ownership of Duxbury Hall, and detailed biographies of those who actually gained ownership at various times during the 19th century until its final sale to Chorley Borough in 1932.

Porteus (1920) gives the story of Myles's descendants' claim to Duxbury Hall in the 1820s and the despatch of Mr Bromley from America in the late 1840s to investigate Myles's baptism in Parish Registers in Chorley and his marriage in the Isle of Man, both of which were doomed in advance to failure (with hindsight), but resulted in all the subsequent dramas, melodramas, misunderstandings, erroneous conclusions, a 'Manx Myles', a short story by Dickens, a severe rupture in British/ American relations and heaven knows what else.

The family trees presented by Tom the Weaver and his son need therefore to be seen against this rather colourful background. Any recent claims that this family tree might solve the mysteries of Myles Standish are, I afraid, wrong; they only confuse the situation even more. The judges at the time threw out their claims and Captain Ralph's 1637 will (given in full in the section on him) proves that he was not the ancestor of anyone, as he left no children.


Standish of Duxbury Wills,
admons and inquisitions post mortem

All named below are given their relationship to Alexander Standish of Duxbury (1570/1-1622), who emerged as the most important Standish of Duxbury contemporary of Captain Myles and Shakespeare. He is named A.S., mainly to distinguish him from all the other Alexander Standishes of Duxbury who appear in the story.  

1496, Inquisition post mortem, Sir Christopher Standish, 20 October, 12 Henry VII (1496), (L.R.O. DP397/11/1, also in Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 107, ref. Farrer VCH vol. 6, p. 209, n. 12.)

   Sir Christopher was the 2x great-grandfather of Myles and A.S. Three Stanleys, relatives of the 1st Earl of Derby were supervisors and the text, combined with all pedigrees of this Standish of Duxbury family produced by the family itself, makes it very clear that his widow Alice was not his second wife Alice Poole of Poole, but was the mother of his second family in the early 1490s, which included Alexander, the great-grandfather mentioned in Myles’s will. Widow Alice was the eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Standish of Standish – hero at Bosworth - and it was this marriage between two Standishes, one of each place, which caused all the confusion for Rev. Porteus, who never saw this document, although he might have pursued Farrer’s reference. To add to the confusion, Sir Alexander’s youngest daughter Katherine married Sir Christopher’s son and heir Thomas, which made the latter Alice’s step-son and brother-in-law at the same time. Sir Christopher’s first wife was Elizabeth Bradshaw/ Bradshagh of Haigh, near Wigan. His second wife was Alice Poole of Poole in the Wirral, whose family were near neighbours of the Stanleys of Hooton, very much at the centre of Mary Arderne’s set of Cheshire families.

1566 Will (settlement), James Standish 20 April 1566 (397/ 21/9).

1593, Will, Thomas Standish, 18 June 1593, (died 1599), will proved 29 September 1600 (Piccope MSS, Chetham’s Library, ix, 295; Farrer VCH vol. 6, p. 210, n. 3).

   This Thomas was the step-father, not the natural father, of A.S. Proof of this relationship was given in A.S.’s biography.

1622, Will, Alexander Standish, 31 March 1622 (L.R.O. WCW).

   This was A.S. and all provisions in his will were given in his biography.

1623, Inquisition post mortem, Alexander Standish (L.C.R.S. Vol. 17, pp. 397-400).

   A.S., with the full text appearing in his biography.

1637, Will, Captain Ralph Standish (Lancashire and Cheshire Wills and Inventories from the Ecclesiastical Court, Chester, ed. Rev. G. J. Piccope, Chetham Society Old Series, 1860, pp. 141-2).

   Captain Ralph was the third surviving son of A.S. Although this contains no real ‘dynamite’, it is so detailed that it provides a complete breakdown of his family and closest friends, and is therefore reproduced in full under the section on him and his brothers.

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

    Thomas was the eldest son and heir of A.S.

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

   Captain Thomas was the son and heir of Thomas, M.P. and eldest grandson of A.S. He was shot during the siege of Manchester on 26 September 1642, just one month before his father died. An inventory of both was therefore taken on the same day. 

1648, Obligation, Alexander Standish, 5 September 1648. (L.R.0. WCW).

   This was issued by the escheator to Alexander's nephew and heir, Col. Richard, meanwhile ‘adopted’ as his ‘natural son’ (which at the time meant ‘legal son’), obliging him to conduct the inventory, which was duly performed and recorded on 24 March following, the last day of the year 1648/9. The main significance of this is that the Alexander and Richard concerned have been identified until now as two sons of Thomas the M.P. but family papers makes it very clear that they were not, but both from ‘Family B’, a collateral branch. This fact turned out to be vital when sorting out the fortunes of various males during the Civil War. It is interesting that this 'obligation' was issued within three weeks after Cromwell won the Battle of Preston (16 August), supported by a large Lancashire contingent. There is no record of a burial of this Alexander, he obviously did not leave a will, and the suspicion is that he was the Lieutenant-Colonel on the Parliamentary side, and was killed at the battle.

1651, Will, Anne Standish, 28 January 1651 (L.R.O. WCW).

   Anne was an unspecified spinster relative in one of the families in Duxbury, daughter of Thomas, but with so many of this name around, it is impossible to identify which one. Whoever she was born to, she seems to have been the Anne in Thomas the M.P.’s will, living at Duxbury Hall in 1642 along with Ellen, a spinster aunt, the only surviving and unmarried sister of A.S. Anne then seems to have been ‘adopted’ by Colonel Richard as ‘sister’ after all the males of her family had died out and Ellen had died in 1649. She cannot have been born as his sister, as his father was Richard, not Thomas. The main importance of her will is that she named dozens of people, thus providing a mini-census of family and local friends who survived the Civil War. She was buried at St Laurence’s, Chorley on 14 February 1651. 

1656, Will, Myles Standish of Duxbury, Massachusetts, 7 March 1656 (Will and inventory copied by a clerk of the court on 4 May 1657, Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories, Vol. II, Part I, pp. 37-40, reprinted in The Mayflower Descendant 1901, Vol. 3, pp. 153-6.

1657, Will, Richard Standish of Duxbury, esq., 29 September 1657 (DP397/19/2)

1663 Probate copy of will of Richard Standish, proved at York, 13 July 1663 (DP327/19/2a).

   This was Colonel Richard’, although the only proof of this rank comes from his commission as ‘Colonell of Regiment of ffoote’ on 6 August 1650 by John Bradshaw, President of the Parliamentary Committee (DP397/16/7).  

1702 Will, Alexander Standish of Duxbury, Massachusetts, 21 February 1702, proved 10 August 1702 (Porteus, 1920: The Mayflower Descendant vol. XII, pp. 101-2,)