Myles Standish, Born Where?  The State of the Question

By Dr. Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, PhD

Myles Standish

Miles Standish

Far more attention has been given to speculation about where Myles Standish was born than to consideration of his military experiences in the Low Countries before his emigration on the "Mayflower" to New England. Yet it is rarely remarked that the answer to the unresolved question of his birthplace has no demonstrable bearing on what is known of Standish's post-natal career or of his interaction with other Pilgrims and their acquaintances. The question arose at the end of his life, when Myles in his will mentioned a lost inheritance. Myles' childhood circumstances remain obscure, however much some descendants might like to place him in one or another grandly named "hall."1 One slight aspect of his early years can be inferred - that he went to school before joining the army. The mere existence of his library indicates that someone taught him to read. That might, nonetheless, have happened at home, either in his immediate family or with help from a local clergyman. Yet what occupies the attention of numerous writers is Standish's birthplace; therefore, some comments about their contradictory theories can be offered.

Lancashire or the Isle of Man?

Two possibilities have been proposed as answers to the question of where Myles Standish was born - Lancashire and the Isle of Man. These places have been named because, in his will, dated 7 March 1655 [Old Style = 1656], Myles asserted a claim to "all my lands" in Lancashire and in the Isle of Man, to which he said he was the legitimate heir but that he had been improperly deprived of them. Myles left them by will to his son Alexander. The complete text of that section of his will is this: "I give unto my son & heire apparent Alexander Standish all my lands as heire apparent by lawfull decent in Ormskirke Borscouge Wrightington Maudsley Newburrow Crowston and in the Isle of man and given to mee as Right heire by lawfull decent but Surruptuously detained from mee My great Grandfather being a 2cond or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish. [signed] by mee Myles Standish."2

The question begins with its own answer: Myles must have been born into the Standish family that owned those specific pieces of property in those locations. While he may have been deluded about his claim to be the rightful heir to the property, unjustly deprived, it is safe to assume that his idea of his own descent, however imprecisely expressed, was generally correct. Relatives of his must have owned those properties.

Standishes of Lancashire


Modern day map of Lancashire, England

The Standish family are recorded at Standish in Lancashire since the thirteenth century.3 Their home, Standish Hall, rebuilt in 1574, was demolished in 1923. This original family are the Standishes of Standish from whom Myles said he was descended. A branch descending separately since the thirteenth century lived at Duxbury Hall, Chorley, Lancashire. Apparently there was continued contact and sometimes cousins married each other. The old hall of Duxbury was replaced in 1828 by a house that in turn was demolished ca. 1950. By the late fifteenth century, other descendants of the Standish of Standish family held land in Ormskirk in Lancashire. From the Ormskirk Standishes, a branch moved around 1540 or slightly earlier to the Isle of Man, acquiring property there, particularly at Ellenbane, Lezayre parish. To assert claims to any land in the Isle of Man, Myles Standish has to have been from the Standishes who lived and owned property there.

Additionally, Myles must have felt some close connection to the Duxbury Standishes, considering that one must assume that he it is who gave the name "Duxbury" to the town in Plymouth Colony that he helped to found and to which he moved around 1629. It has been suggested, on the other hand, that Myles Standish's wife might have been a cousin from the Duxbury branch of the family, and that Myles named his new home in honor of his wife's origins. Nothing, however, is known about the origins either of his first wife, Rose, or his second wife, Barbara, — not even their last names.4

All the various attempts at establishing a connected genealogy that would link Myles to known possessors of those properties have failed. In 1846, I. W. R. Bromley's attempts to lay claim to Myles' Lancashire inheritance, carried out at the urging of American descendants of Myles who were dazzled by the prospect of imaginary fortunes awaiting long-lost heirs, came to nothing, because Myles Standish's name cannot be found in any of the baptismal records in Lancashire where his name should be registered if he had been born there.5 The baptismal records at Standish are preserved undamaged, but Myles' name is not included. Baptismal records are also preserved at Ormskirk, undamaged. And at Chorley, the parish where the baptisms of members of the Standishes of Duxbury could be expected, Myles is not mentioned. The story was given out by Bromley that the parish register in Chorley shows signs of having been erased on what would be the appropriate page if the claim were true in the way he was attempting to prove. No pages are missing. According to Lawrence Hill, who made a careful inspection of the relevant pages in 1984, there were no erasures or other indications of tampering. Recent photographs of the relevant pages, however, do show damage that calls Hill's report into question.6 Even though damage of the pages is shown now, that in itself has little evidentiary value. No one in the past published photographic indications of such damage, and, obviously, anyone can misleadingly have abraded the page at any time, including relatively recently, to create a spurious proof to be used to support a claim of Lancashire as opposed to Manx place of birth. More neutrally, disintegrating paper damaged innocently by moisture may have been pulverized to an unsalvageable state before conservation attempts consolidated the remaining material. Present damage or erasure does not prove that the place abraded ever did show the baptism of Myles Standish.

It has been claimed that a thorough search has been made of all possible English parish records, without finding any reference to Myles Standish.7 It should not be assumed that further research is unnecessary. For example, an Elizabethan Bishop of Peterborough reported Edward Standish of Standish as a recusant, mentioning that Standish lived principally in Lancashire but sometimes at a house named Wolfage in the parish of Brixworth in Northamptonshire. ("Recusants" were people who refused to give up Roman Catholicism when the nation became officially Protestant.) I doubt if the Brixworth parish registers have been searched for Standish information.8 Because a baptismal record might turn up in some parish distant from the expected home parishes, the present absence of information not only fails to provide an answer, it gives no nudge in either direction. Moreover, if a distant baptismal record were to be found, one would still need to demonstrate where the infant's mother ordinarily lived (assuming that such an anomalous baptism was not simply indicating the birth of a namesake instead of the Myles Standish in whom we are interested). An unexpected baptismal entry will most likely not resolve the dispute.

Ignoring the problem of accounting for the lands in the Isle of Man, Nathaniel Morton wrote in 1669 that Standish "was a gentleman, born in Lancashire, and was heir apparent unto a great estate of lands and livings, surreptitiously detained from him; his great grandfather being a second or younger brother from the house of Standish."9 As Nathaniel Morton was personally acquainted with Standish, he might have heard from Standish about where he was born. Given the documented travel back and forth from the Isle of Man to Ormskirk (in the case of Thomas Standish mentioned below), it is quite possible that Myles Standish was born in Lancashire and also belonged to the Manx branch of the Standish family. Perhaps Myles' mother was from Lancashire and gave birth while visiting her parents. Morton's choice of words, however, closely reflects the phrases in Standish's will. As Secretary of the colony, Morton was familiar with that document (with the other court records, it was in Morton's care), and he may merely have been restating information he thought could be inferred from Standish's claim to be from the house of Standish of Standish, a place that is in Lancashire.

Standishes of the Isle of Man

Map - Isle of Man

Modern day map of the Isle of Man, England

Thomas Cruddas Porteus, writing in 1914 and 1920 argued for a Manx heritage.10 Myles listed "Ormskirk" first among the lands he claimed, with "Newburrow" also among them. Porteus discovered that a certain Gilbert Standish held lands at Ormskirk and Newburgh confirmed in 1502, and that Gilbert's son Robert inherited these lands.11 They were augmented by Robert's marriage to Margaret Croft who, as a widow in 1529, possessed lands specified as "Ormskirk, Bosgoghe, Croston, Mawdisley, Wryghtington, and Newburghe." These lands are those mentioned in Myles' will, but without naming the Isle of Man. From Robert and Margaret (Croft) Standish, they descended to Thomas, their eldest son. Thomas moved to and lived on the Isle of Man, but he traveled back and forth to Ormskirk in connection with land and his arranged marriage, that ended in divorce by reason of nullity, the bride having been not quite ten at the time, and the groom under nine.12 Before the divorce years later, however, the couple had had at least one son, whose status evidently became that of a bastard. It is possible that this proceeding could be the legal manoeuvering Myles Standish indicated with the word "surruptuously." "Surruptuosly" is a term referring to legal sleight-of-hand, rather than merely to something done in a hidden way; "surreptitiously" is an inadequate alteration of it, although the two words are related. What precise irregularity is meant in Myles' will is uncertain. Young emphasizes Porteus's discovery that in 1540 Thomas "transferred his Lancashire lands" to four trustees who held the land "for the use of the said Thomas for his life" and then for the use of Thomas's daughter Anne for five years, then to devolve on Thomas's brother John, "or anyone else who is next heir to Thomas," also for five years. "After the five years, they are to hold for the use of the right heir of Thomas legitimately begotten; in default for the use of John his brother and John's legitimate heirs, in default for the use of Huan, another brother of Thomas, and Huan's heirs."13 This arrangement is so full of ambiguity that later disputes seem inevitable.

Porteus's discovery clearly points to the lands mentioned by Myles Standish. Only through some connection with these sixteenth-century events could Myles Standish have imagined he had any claim to those particular lands. Of notable significance is Myles' claim not only to lands in Lancashire, but also in the Isle of Man. Clearly he thought he was related to, and one of the descendants of, the family of Thomas Standish of Ormskirk and the Isle of Man, from whom all the Standishes on the Isle of Man descended.

The records now preserved on the Isle of Man are inadequate for the construction of genealogical charts showing exactly what line of descent Myles believed gave him rights to claim regarding this property. There are no baptismal records that early, no marriage or burial records from the time, and land records are both fragmentary and, when present, not conceived for the purpose of proving genealogical descent. Myles Standish's claim to be descended from a great-grandfather who was a "second or younger brother" suggests that his immediate ancestors might not appear among the heirs of property for two or three generations. Nonetheless, in 1984, George V. C. Young revisited Porteus's arguments, summarizing them as the basis for an attempt to fill in the gaps with syllogistic demonstrations for proposing a particular genealogical connection that Young found compellingly reasonable. Young's syllogisms fully accounted for the documents he presented. Presuming all evidence was accounted for, the implications Young drew were believable. He had shown that Myles Standish might fit into an identifiable gap in knowledge of the family, but this possibility provides no certainty. Young's syllogisms do not constitute proof of historical events, only an indication of a possibility. For his proposal to remain possible, additional new evidence that might be found would need to be capable of being incorporated without contradicting the argument. Even if new evidence could be considered consistent with the argument, the demonstration would still indicate nothing more than a possibility. Young, like Porteus, concluded that Myles must have been a descendant of Huan, Thomas Standish's younger brother. Through Huan's son John, Young traced a possible line to Myles, whom he considered to have been an eldest grandson.14

Arguing in this fashion, and attempting to explain why Myles did not inherit when another grandson named William did, Young (a gifted lawyer) stretched the Leiden hospital records that mention an invalided English soldier recorded as "Myls Stansen," beyond what they mean, to use them as terms within his syllogism.15 Young also relied on onomastic assumptions (i.e. suppositions related to patterns of name-giving) that could be demolished easily, and were, by Reginald Kissack.16 Kissack stressed that in all Manx records no one named Miles (or the spelling variant, Myles) is found, and that Young had sought a far-fetched possible Anglicization of a Celtic first name (Maolmhuire), that itself does not show up in Manx documents. Kissack stressed that the Standishes of the Isle of Man consistently, as far as the record indicates, called their sons Edwin, Reginald, Peter, Huan, Gilbert, John, or William. As Kissack says, "There may be no baptismal registers in the Island till 1596, but land records list scores of names of individuals (chiefly male), and never once is the name Myles found."17 Kissack then pronounces in conclusion, "It is quite inconceivable that any Manx family would have christened a son Myles in 1584. And Standishes least of any." Kissack has nothing beyond this onomasticism to prove that "Myles" could not have been born on the Isle of Man and that the Standishes were the least likely of any to name a child "Myles." He rejects Young's theory that Myles was a forgotten older brother of William, regarding the inheritance.

Kissack next examines the possibilities of constructing a genealogical chart that would account for known land documents and produce a candidate about whom one might assume that he left the island and changed his name in later life to Myles. Kissack comes tantalizingly close, then retreats from some suggestions. Concentrating on a grandson named John, who for this theory needs to have been older brother to a William, Kissack points out that documents published by Young show that this John was this William's younger brother. That eliminates the hypothetical possibility that the John under scrutiny had somehow changed his name to Myles. Kissack successfully demolishes his own straw man. But in this part of his rhetoric, Kissack chooses to overlook what he had previously noted — the glaring absence of complete records of baptisms (as well as of marriages, and burials), not to mention the imprecision for genealogical purposes of the records associated with land transfers, which themselves seem far from complete, not providing a record of all uncontested transfers and succession of title. In the absence of baptismal records, there is insufficient information to support a dogmatic announcement that the name "Myles" was inconceivable in late-sixteenth century English-Manx society. Therefore, while neither Kissack nor Young can provide a genealogical network that would incorporate Myles Standish into an account covering the known Standishes on the Isle of Man, this says no more than that with incomplete records such a demonstration has been impossible. It does not prove that no such relationship existed or could have existed.

That the name "Myles" is unknown in Manx records implies to Kissack that Myles Standish could not have been born on the Isle of Man, unless he had changed his name. Here, however, it is Kissack who pushes beyond the available evidence, because onomastics proves nothing about possibilities for future change. Onomastics describes existing patterns and cannot exclude the possibility that parents in naming a child might diverge from past habitual custom. Name-giving was shifting under Protestant, especially Puritan, influence in the later sixteenth century. The list of names with explanations of their meanings, appended to the 1560 Geneva translation of the Bible, clearly influenced parents to experiment with previously uncommon or effectively unknown names. Moreover, the emphasis on virtues rather than medieval saints also produced new first names, such as Faith, Prudence, Charity, Hope, and Fear (of the Lord). "Miles" can be imagined as a reference to the Christian Knight (Miles Christianus). Not merely the famous book by Erasmus, Enchiridion Militis Christiani (1501), but also Sir Philip Sidney, as the embodiment of the Puritans' ideal Christian knight, could have inspired parents to use a new name for their infant.18 The onomasticator can only look at a new name and observe that it had not been used in this or that family previously. He cannot credibly pretend to make such a pronouncement as Kissack's, that "It is quite inconceivable that any Manx family would have christened a son Myles in 1584. And Standishes least of any."

Both Young and Kissack mention that the documentary record in the Isle of Man is incomplete, particularly noting the absence of baptismal records from the period when Myles Standish must have been born. Instead of resting in that guaranty of ignorance, however, both authors attempt to create genealogical trees that would, without inconsistencies, account for all the scattered documentation that is preserved, with which they are familiar. Both then draw conclusions from their own efforts, as if the record had been complete, forgetting that the reality of people and events must have been greater than what is indicated by the fragmentary record. Doing so, they overlook that Myles Standish's origins can, on the one hand, be described as not proven with genealogical exactness by the existing documentation, and, on the other hand, still be considered to be suggested fairly certainly as Manx, from Ormskirk, ultimately from Standish, by the list of properties in Myles Standish's will, including the claim of inheritance rights to land in the Isle of Man and the explicit statement of descent from the house of Standish of Standish.

Myles Standish's birth is not documented on the Isle of Man. One cannot, however, conclude on that basis that he was not born there, as the extension of the reasoning would be that no one was born there in the time, considering no one's birth there is registered in that period. The absence of Myles' name from baptismal records in Lancashire that are preserved for the same period, and that include the members of the Lancashire Standishes, is more problematic. That should be conclusive evidence that Myles was not born in those branches of the family, except for the possibilities, however slight, that not all births were recorded or that Myles' mother might have given birth away from home — while visiting friends or relatives at some distance, for example. This last hypothesis, however, merely exemplifies the cautious admission that exceptional circumstances can be imagined that obligate one to stop short of dogmatic pronouncements based on absence of expected evidence.

Military Service Records?

The question might be approached from another angle, for example, Myles' military service in the Low Countries. Unfortunately, no solution comes from that direction, because no detailed records of military recruitment were kept that would give a place of birth. Instead, we are left with the information that recruitment for the regiment of Sir Horatio Vere, to serve in the Low Countries, was carried out at about the same time, by the same officers, both in Lancashire and on the Isle of Man. No other recruitment for service in the Low Countries is known to have taken place in either region (and there were no other English regiments serving in the Low Countries than Vere's. 19 In 1898, E. Irving Carlyle wrote (in the Dictionary of National Biography) that "before 1603 Standish obtained a lieutenant's commission in the English forces serving under the Veres in the Netherlands, and took an active part in the war against the Spaniards."20 Carlyle cites no specific source for this information; no such document has been discovered in archival research in the United States, England, or The Netherlands. Bromley reported having seen it; no one else has.21 The missing document was said to have mentioned Standish's age, from which his birth-date was calculated as 1584. Moreover, it is sometimes claimed that the commission was signed by Queen Elizabeth herself. No similar commissions exist, a circumstance that suggests this is a spurious detail from some nineteenth-century romance.

Was Standish a Member of the Pilgrim Congregation?

Yet another avenue has been pursued—Standish's religious leanings. As just mentioned, the Lancashire Standishes of Standish were suspected recusants.22 The branch of the Standishes on the Isle of Man, however, became Anglicans, as evidently did the Standishes of Duxbury Hall, or at least many of them. Therefore, it becomes potentially significant to determine what the religious affiliation of Myles Standish was. (Even so, one cannot discount the possibility of individual conversion. Myles might have grown up in a Catholic family and nonetheless have become a Protestant; or vice-versa.)

Support for the idea that Standish was from Lancashire is found in the belief that he was not a member of the Pilgrim Separatist congregation. Expanding on this presumption, sometimes it has been said that Myles Standish was a Catholic, and, with more than a little circularity, that this proves that he came from Lancashire.23 But in contrast to this assumption of Catholicism, it is unlikely that a Catholic would first have fought in the Dutch Wars on the Spanish side against the Protestants and then join the extremely Protestant Pilgrims to emigrate. On the other hand, it is very unlikely that an English Catholic would have been found among the soldiers fighting on the Dutch side in an effort to protect both the Protestant Netherlands and Protestant England against a Catholic conquest. Furthermore, that the Pilgrims would hire a Catholic to organize the defense of their Protestant colony not only against potential Indian enemies but also against French and Spanish Catholics underestimates Protestants' reaction to news of the Guy Fawkes plot and their consequent distrust of Catholics and Catholic goals of international dominance. The idea that Myles Standish was Catholic is, moreover, inconsistent with the contents of his library. The inventory of his estate drawn up on 2 December 1656 includes three "old bibles," a (New) Testament, a Psalm book, and around fifteen works of Protestant theology, including Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion—hardly likely as the possessions of a Roman Catholic!24 The only "Catholic" author is Eusebius, who lived long before the Reformation.

The Pilgrims' minister in Leiden, John Robinson, was evidently well acquainted with Standish, referring to him, in a letter Robinson sent from Leiden to William Bradford in America, as "your captain, whom I love and am persuaded the Lord in great mercie and for much good hath sent you him, if you use him aright. He is a man humble and meek amongst you, and towards all in ordinarie course."25 This evidence of obviously personal acquaintance alone is enough to indicate that the Pilgrims' contact with Standish began in Leiden, but in addition there is a silver cup inscribed, apparently authentically, as a gift from Robinson to Standish; and there is the final circumstance that Standish left a legacy to John Robinson's grandaughter "marcye Robenson whome I tenderly love for her Grandfathers sacke."26 Only in Leiden could Robinson have met Standish; and only in Leiden could Standish have formed such an attachment to Robinson.

But much is made of the idea that Standish never joined the Plymouth church, and that this is proven by the fact that his name is not among those of people who joined the Plymouth congregation, whose names are listed in that church's records. As George F. Willison puts it, "Alone of the Pilgrim leaders, he never joined the church at Plymouth. His name is conspicuously absent from its records and rolls. Nowhere is he listed among the communicants."27 A couple of reasons could account for the absence of Standish's name in the Plymouth church records, without proving he was not a member. The first is fairly simple: there are no lists of communicants. Standish moved to Duxbury about forty years before the Plymouth church records in fact begin. He died eleven years before the first entries. Although the Plymouth church records include excerpts from William Bradford's journal "Of Plymouth Plantation" and his "Dialogue" to cover the early years, these were copied by Nathaniel Morton to provide a general introduction before the beginning of the records, in 1667. Even then, the records do not list communicants.28 Bradford's information does not constitute "church records"; and it does not include lists of anyone joining the church in Plymouth. In other words, had Standish joined the congregation in Plymouth before moving to Duxbury, his name would not be in the records, because they were not yet being kept. Even if he had been alive when record-keeping started, communicants were not listed. Although the pertinent sources have long been in print, many people remain satisfied instead with Willison's forthright formulation, "Nowhere is he listed among the communicants." As for the Duxbury church records, they also do not exist for the period before Standish died. Neither of these observations about the records proves that Standish was a member. They do, however, provide reasons for understanding why his name cannot be found in the church records of Plymouth and Duxbury, if he was a member.

Other Plymouth colonists who did not move away from Plymouth were members of the congregation and are not recorded in the Plymouth church records as having joined. In point of fact, everyone from the Leiden congregation who moved to Plymouth continued as a member of the church without any of them having to "join" and be recorded as doing so. The Plymouth group was not considered a separate church from the original Leiden congregation. Nor was it a congregation without a pastor in its first years. Robinson was its pastor, and he was in Leiden hoping to join them soon. No letters of transfer were necessary, nor was a new covenant necessary.29 Because no records are preserved from the Leiden congregation as a whole (i.e. specific church records, such as entries of baptisms and lists of communicants), there is no church-book record of any individual member's participation, despite identification in other records of William Brewster in the office of Elder, and of John Carver and others as deacons. If Myles Standish was an ordinary member of the Leiden congregation, he would not have "joined" the church in Plymouth or in Duxbury.

What is the origin of the idea that Standish was not a member of the Leiden congregation or its branch in Plymouth? This belief arose in the nineteenth century, when William Hubbard's manuscript history of New England, written in 1680, was finally published (1815).30 In his book Pilgrim Colony, Eugene Aubrey Stratton remarks that Alexander Young, who wrote about Standish in 1841, drew from Hubbard: "Young [...] gives an excerpt from Hubbard that 'Captain Standish had been bred a soldier in the Low Countries, and never entered the school of our Saviour Christ, or of John Baptist, his harbinger,' and this is the evidence that Myles Standish never joined the Separatist Church."31 William Hubbard (1621-1704) was a Congregationalist minister at Ipswich, Massachusetts. He was an observer of New England's development, especially from a religious point of view; and he wrote one of the histories of King Philip's War. He represented New England orthodoxy in the latter part of the seventeenth century, and his language reflects his position within society, grudgingly accepting the Separatists because they, in his view, eventually became good Puritan Congregationalists, while violently denouncing Familists, Antinomians, Baptists, and Quakers. His descriptive terms regarding Standish (whom he did not apparently know personally) are peculiar. The second comment on Standish's church relations indicates that Standish did not become a Baptist, but it is not immediately clear what is meant by the statement that Standish "never entered the school of our Saviour Christ." The unusual phrase "school of our Saviour Christ" has pietist origins. It seems unnecessarily coy, if merely intended to indicate that Standish did not join a local congregation. Arch metaphors frequently inflate Hubbard's prose. Conceivably the phrase is parallel with what follows it about the Baptists. It could refer either to Antinomians, perhaps, or to pietist Quakers, who were notably gentle in their relations with the Indians, unlike Standish. Hubbard's full comment suggests that he may have been referring obliquely to Quakers. Hubbard elaborates: "Capt. Standish had been bred a soldier in the Low Countries, and never entered the school of our Savior Christ, or of John Baptist, his harbinger; or, if he was ever there, had forgot his first lessons, to offer violence to no one, and to part with the cloak rather than needlessly contend for the coat, though taken away without order. A little chimney is soon fired: so was the Plymouth captain, a man of very little stature, yet of a very hot and angry temper. The fire of his passion soon kindled, and blown up into a flame by hot words, might easily have consumed all, had it not been seasonably quenched." But Hubbard is not revealing to us whether or not Standish joined the Pilgrims' church. The context in which Hubbard made these comments clearly indicates that little more was intended than fulsome moralizing about an unnecessarily heated argument concerning possession of a fishing wharf, constructed by Plymouth but arrogated to their own use by Massachusetts settlers. Immediately after his characterization of Standish, Hubbard concludes his chapter by revealing that he viewed the Plymouth colonists as principally serving as a stepping stone for those who came later to Massachusetts Bay Colony: "In transactions of this nature were the first three years spent, in making way for the planting of the Massachusetts."

The phrase "several forms of Christians in the school of Christ, every one learning their own lesson" is used by the Quaker Isaac Pennington in his 1660 objection to the anti-Quaker laws of Boston, Massachusetts, and the judicial murders of Quakers.32 Hubbard defended the justice of those murders, claiming that the Quakers, by returning to a place where their beliefs were outlawed on pain of mortal punishment, were therefore guilty of their own deaths. He did not idealize the Quakers as representatives of pacifism. Nonetheless, while Hubbard's use of the phrase, "the school of our Savior Christ, or of John Baptist, his harbinger," is, in the context of an argument over a fishing wharf, insignificant, the words, because of their pietist connotations, do emphasize the pacific in opposition to the martial. To figure out what this odd phrase (school of our saviour, school of Christ) means when employed by Hubbard requires reading Hubbard in a way that goes beyond categorizing his work as a biographical dictionary, grabbing what few words he had to say about Standish and leaving the rest.

Hubbard did write a few more words about Standish in a biographical vein. Taking note of Standish's death in 1656, he says, "Captain Standish ended his warfare, that was the military chieftain of that Colony. He was allied to the noble house of Standish, in Lancashire, inheriting some of the virtues of that honorable family, as well as the name." When summarizing the early history of Plymouth Colony, Hubbard mentions Standish's appointment as military leader. Needing experienced military leadership, "they were well furnished by a person of that company, though at that time not of their church, well skilled in the affair, and of as good courage as conduct, Capt. Miles Standish by name, a gentleman very expert in things of that nature, by whom they were all willing to be ordered in those concerns. He was likewise improved with good acceptance and success in affairs of greatest moment in that colony, to whose interest he continued firm and steadfast to the last; and always managed his trust with great integrity and faithfulness."33 If Hubbard's "though at that time not of their church" implies anything, what it suggests is that in his view the Pilgrims asked Standish to be their military leader before he had joined their congregation (perhaps already in Leiden) but that he did join their church afterwards. Alexander Young, in 1841, rephrases, expands, and slightly alters Hubbard: "He [Standish] was not one of Robinson's church before it left England; but serving in the Low Countries, in the forces sent over by Queen Elizabeth to aid the Dutch against the Spaniards, he fell in, as Winslow did, with Robinson and his congregation, liked them and their principles, and though not a member of their church, either voluntarily, or at their request, embarked with them for America." In a footnote, Young remarks, "It seems Standish was not of their church at first, and Hubbard says he had more of his education in the school of Mars than in the school of Christ."34 Young's note again implies that Standish later became a member of the Pilgrim church.

Only after 1841 did the imaginary Standish become the trusty, courageous, romantic outsider, eventually to figure prominently among Willison's fictive "Strangers." In contrast to that stereotype, we must conclude that there is no evidence that Standish was not a member of the Pilgrim congregation, and that there are several circumstances strongly suggesting that he was a member. But let us return to the question of his place of birth.

Lancashire Again?

No convincing explanation has been proposed that would indicate how anyone solely from the Lancashire branch of the family could imagine having a claim to land in the Isle of Man, as is specified in Myles Standish's will. Obviously, the converse is true. The Standishes of the Isle of Man might have believed they had some claim to lands in Lancashire, because the Manx Standishes originated in Lancashire.

Helen Moorwood, an amateur historian with Lancashire interests, has made major efforts to proclaim the idea that Myles Standish has no Manx connections and was born in Lancashire.35 To remove the problem that the Isle of Man is mentioned in Myles Standish's will, she points to a small field in Croston, Lancashire, called "Isle of Man." Indeed, "Isle of Man Farm" shows up with a Google internet search as the name of a company in Croston that produces bedding for cows. When the farm (on Meadow Lane) acquired that name is unknown. The farm name appears on the first detailed map of the area, an Ordnance Survey map published in 1848 (surveyed a few years earlier). The farm name is not found on George Hennet's map of 1829 (although the map does indicate a field called "Isle of Wight" not far away from fields or farms called "Little London" and "La Mancha" at Halsall near Ormskirk). "Isle of Man" does not show up on Christopher Greenwood's map of 1818, on William Yates' map of 1786, nor on John Speed's map of 1610.36 Moorwood offers no proof that this farm-name existed during Myles' lifetime; nor does she demonstrate that this specific property belonged to any branch of the Standish family ca. 1500-1600.

Moorwood asserts, without evidence, that all local place-names date back to Anglo-Saxon times, and that therefore this particular field-name must also be ancient.37 Her claim is unconvincing. Farms in the area with such suspiciously non-Anglo-Saxon names as "Isle of Wight," "Little London," and "La Mancha" in 1829 suggest that the name may be whimsical and coincidental, having nothing to do with Myles Standish. Alternatively, Bromley's rooting around in Lancashire in 1846 in pursuit of a long-lost heir fantasy may have had the effect of alerting people in the area of Chorley (near where Croston is located) to the need to account for the term "Isle of Man" that appears in Myles' will, if Myles Standish were to be claimed as a local son. Consequently, the presence now of a piece of property in Lancashire called "Isle of Man Farm" may not reflect anything more ancient than this relatively recent romantic wild-goose chase. It could even be Victorian humor.38

The will lacks any qualification to point to a piece of property called "Isle of Man" in Lancashire instead of indicating the island in the Irish Sea called the Isle of Man. This silence tends against the idea that "Isle of Man" in the will could possibly refer to anything other than the island that anyone now reading the will would suppose is meant. In other words, the will is incompetently unclear if its intent is to describe a piece of property in Lancashire using simply the words "my lands [...] in the Isle of Man." No court clerk, lawyer, or notary could securely identify specific property as being in Lancashire with that description alone. Perhaps comprehension of Myles' intent depends on what the meaning of the word "in" is. The descriptive phrase used by Myles Standish in his will to refer to "lands" in several specified townships in Lancashire "and in the Isle of Man" poses a geographic difficulty if one imagines "Isle of Man" to be itself nothing more than a farm or some fields within one of the previously specified townships, Croston.

Moorwood's articles are masterpieces of obscurantism, comprising travesties of historical method. More and more, random references to irrelevant high family connections, to hypotheses about William Shakespere, and to as yet unpublished manuscripts are mixed with autobiographical musings about her experiences doing research and her feelings about having ancient documents in her hands, culminating in earth-shaking disclosures and grand plans for the future. Typically she announces what is to be proven in a later part, sometimes citing an inventory number of a document she says reveals pertinent new truths. The text of the document, she assures the reader, will be published at some future date. In the later part of the article, or in subsequent articles, if the subject comes up again, she states that in the previous part, or in her earlier publication, she has more than sufficiently demonstrated her hypothesis to be true, and that she still stands by "every word" she wrote then.

But nothing beyond the first announcement can be discovered. The thus newly unveiled truth serves next as the necessary presupposition for interpreting some other revealing document whose text may not be given. "Might be one way to interpret document X" becomes "is the only possible way to understand X"; soon that becomes "as proven by X, Y must imply Z." Regarding the "Isle of Man" at Croston, she writes (in 1999), that, "The 'Isle of Man' at the end of Myles' list was almost certainly the one in Croston, Lancashire, owned jointly by Standish in the 13th.c and 14th.c (see. DP397/13/1)." The document indicated by the inventory number is not provided in the article, or in later articles (published through 2005). Does that document indicate that the land in Croston was called "Isle of Man" in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries? Does it indicate that in those centuries the Standishes owned land in Croston that can be identified as including the area along Meadow Lane that is now called Isle of Man Farm? What does "owned jointly by Standish" mean? Does that document demonstrate incontrovertibly that the specific land now known as Isle of Man Farm was owned seven hundred years ago by Standishes who were Myles' direct although distant ancestors? How would we know, considering that in the absence of baptismal records we do not know who his immediate ancestors were? We are left guessing. At the end of the first part of her rambling article, she states that "the documents mentioned above, together with various historical facts and other sources, (maps etc) have at last yielded their secrets by providing the following details, thus solving most of the mysteries surrounding Myles:" [and among the mysteries solved by the "documents mentioned above" we find:] "The almost certain location of some of the lands claimed in his Will (those in Mawdesely and Croston, particularly the Isle of Man in Croston/Bretherton)."

In part two of her article, Moorwood begins with a statement of the question: "The main 20th c. controversy has been whether his ancestry lay in the families of Duxbury and Standish, Lancashire, or in a cadet Standish of Standish branch of Ormskirk and the Isle of Man. The answer (already given in the last article, with sources of the proof) is that he was definitely a Standish of Duxbury and Standish." Moorwood asks, "What was his connection with the Isle of Man, named at the end of the list of lands in his Will? Was his first wife Rose from there? Or his second wife Barbara? Or both wives, [...]? Or was Myles himself descended from the Standish family of Ormskirk and the Isle of Man, as proposed by Porteus in 1914?" She announces that, "The answer to all Manx questions is a resounding No Connection! The Isle of Man of his Will was the one in Croston/Bretherton, Lancashire." Despite the promise and the claims, no proof had been given in the preceding parts of the article; and the lands "in the Isle of Man" are not mentioned in the rest of the article (parts three through five). Returning with self-assurance to the topic at the beginning of her more recent article (2005), about a document from 1655, Moorwood declares: "I know he [Myles] had nothing to do with the family on the Manx Isle, apart from a vague relationship because all Standishes were related to all other Standishes. I know that Myles's Isle of Man in his will of 1656 was the Isle of Man farm straddling the border of Croston and Bretherton."39 Somewhere in the gap between part one and part two of the 1999 article, "almost certainly"—itself unjustified—started growing into the absolute knowledge of 2005. Despite this self-confidence, no such thing has been proven.40

As for the other lands claimed by Myles, these are less significant to Moorwood than the inheritance of Duxbury Hall, despite the absence of any reference to Duxbury Hall in Myles' will. Deftly, she quotes Nathaniel Morton, who stated that Myles Standish "was heir apparent unto a great estate of lands and livings."41 Duxbury Hall must be the one. She finds only one place where Myles' undocumented birth could fit into a genealogy she has constructed of the Standishes of Duxbury. Nothing but belonging to this family at this point, she thinks, would account for his choice of the name "Duxbury" for the place he settled in Massachusetts, and also account for Myles' claim to be of the family of Standish of Standish. Sometime around 1490, Sir Christopher Standish of Duxbury married, as his third wife, Alice Standish of Standish; and Moorwoord asserts that Myles must have descended from their son Alexander. A small inheritance at Ormskirk might have been a portion for a younger son in this line, she says, without, however, proving that the inheritance did exist. Undaunted, she continues, "This confirms the enduring family tradition that resulted in his descendants' attempt to establish a claim to Duxbury Hall in 1846. It also explains the statement by Nathaniel Morton (1669) that Myles was 'heir apparent unto a great estate of lands and livings', a description which the rather small Ormskirk+ inheritance would not have warranted, but which the large estates based on Duxbury Hall certainly would." No "rather small Ormskirk+ inheritance" within this line is proven, nor has any "enduring family tradition" been documented before the mid-nineteenth-century romantic fantasy of recovering the lost inheritance.42 This sleight-of-hand directs attention away from the specified lands listed in Myles Standish's will (that are identical with the possessions of the heirs of Thomas Standish of Ormskirk, who lived in the Isle of Man) to focus on the intricacies of inheritance of Duxbury Hall and its associated lands, that are not the same.

A single document, from March, 24, 1654 (Old Style, = 1655), is the key to her argument.43 As a "final agreement" between Edward May and Alexander Standish, on the one side, plaintiffs, and Richard Standish and his wife Elizabeth, deforciants, on the other, the document records the transfer to E. May and A. Standish, from R. and E. Standish, of "the mannors of Duxbury Heapey Whittle-le-Woods Heath Charnock and Anglezarke with the apppurtenances and one hundred and twenty messuages four water corne mills one hundred and twenty gardens fifty orchards one thousand acres of land two hundred acres of meadow four hundred acres of pasture fifty acres of wood six hundred acres of moss two hundred acres of marsh four hundred acres of furze and heath fifty shillings rent and comon of pasture with the appurtenances in Duxbury Heapey Whittle in the Woods Heath Charnock Anlezarkh Standish Langtree and Chorley." Effectively, this transfer was by sale from R. and E. Standish to E. May and A. Standish, and their heirs forever, with a warranty by R. and E. Standish that they and their own heirs would never protest the transfer to E. May and A. Standish and their heirs. The deed ends, "And for this acknowledgment remission quite clayme warranty fine and agreement the said Edward and Alexander have given to the said Richard and Elizabeth six hundred pounds sterling."

Whatever the underlying reasons for the transfer, the form of the document is the acknowledgement of a simple transfer of rights of ownership by means of a sale described in terms consistent with the peculiarities of feudal tenure.44 That form, however, could be used in at least two ways: first, a simple sale or gift; second, a sale intended to act as a mortgage that could be cancelled by repayment of the amount paid plus interest. Both transactions can be covered with identical wording, In situations where the modern concept would be "mortgage," there can sometimes be no indication of the intended nature of the agreement until in a subsequent document it appears that the original owner is again in possession. The cancellation of the mortgage occurred on the personal copies held by the parties involved, and cancellation was not always registered before any court.45

To turn this into the most important and revealing document concerning Myles Standish's will and the inheritance it mentions requires astonishing feats of interpretive acrobatics. Myles is not named in this document. None of the manors listed in the 1655 document corresponds with any of the names of properties listed in Myles' will drawn up in 1656. The 1655 document consequently has nothing to do with Myles Standish or the lands mentioned in his will. What happened to them? Moorwood states that, throughout the 1570's, a certain Hugh Standish of Ormskirk had sold off land in the various places mentioned in the will, to William Stopforth.46 These sales left "no possibility that Myles could have claimed these same lands in 1656 or his son Alexander continue to claim them in his will of 1702." Forgetting that the basis of Myles' claims was his belief that the lands had been improperly diverted from his rightful inheritance of them, Moorwood informs us that, "There is, quite simply, no other explanation than that the lands Myles and son Alexander claimed were coincidentally in some of the same places in Lancashire as those where Hugh Standish of Ormskirk also had lands." Myles was not, in other words, a part of the family of Hugh's father Thomas Standish of Ormskirk whose widow held the lands listed in ca. 1540 in the document Porteus discovered, and some of whose descendants lived in the Isle of Man. Myles just happened to have claims to lands in the exact same places. "The 'remarkable coincidence' of the appearance of lands of two l6th.c Standish families in the same places turns out to have been the almost inevitable consequence sooner or later of the re-amalgamation of remnants of the l2th c. inheritances of the children of Warine de Busli, Baron of Penwortham, one of whose grand-daughters received the manor of Standish (and other lands) on her marriage to Radulphus, who founded the line." (The speculative "re-amalgamation" of twelfth-century inheritances receives no further attention. No documentation is provided.)

What then is Myles' connection to the 1655 document? Moorwood found "the proof in a single document [the one from 1655] that Myles (via his son Alexander) not only inherited Duxbury Hall by right of descent, but that this was upheld in court (although granted to his son and heir Alexander via a lawyer); and although Richard continued to own it and the dependent lands, he had to pay a hefty 'fine' in compensation. [...] In turn this indicated that Myles and Alexander were able to prove their descent to the satisfaction of all, and the only possible descent that would allow a claim on Duxbury Hall was as the last remaining great-grandson of Sir Christopher (this was shown on a family tree in my [Moorwood's] articles). It was logical that son Alexander should make the claim, as it must have taken some time to collect the papers in New and Old England, and organize a lawyer from the other side of the Atlantic to appear in Lancaster. By this time (early 1655) Myles was already 78 and so would not have expected to live long enough to benefit (he died the following year); his son and heir, however, presumably would (and did—Alexander lived until 1702)."

Myles' connection to this document rests on the identification of the Alexander Standish in it as being Myles' son Alexander, making a claim on his inheritance even though the will establishing him as heir to these properties had not yet been written! Moorwood excludes several other Alexander Standishes mentioned in records she consulted, for various reasons, such as death before 1655, or adherence to the Royalist cause, which would have prevented owning the property. Ignoring the many gaps in baptismal records that she mentions elsewhere, and that clearly indicate the likely presence in society of unrecorded family members, she thinks that no other Alexander was possible besides Myles' son in New England. Because Alexander was in New England, she concludes that Edward May must have been Alexander's attorney. The 1655 document lacks all indication of any attorney role for Edward May, who is clearly co-owner with A. Standish, and co-payer of the six hundred pounds. Edward May was not acting as Alexander Standish's attorney in this case, contrary to Moorwood.

Misunderstanding the document as representing a contested inheritance rather than a sale or fictive sale effecting a mortgage, Moorwood thinks that the court levied a financial penalty against Richard and Elizabeth Standish for withholding the property from the rightful heirs. This fine, she thinks, explains Richard Standishs claim about this time to be impecunious. The record, however, states clearly that the money was paid by Edward May and Alexander Standish, not paid to them. This anomaly has not escaped Moorwood's attention. She explains it away by assuming a massive clerical error that reversed the court's real decision when finally entered into the record. Condescendingly she allows that, "Although I have the greatest of faith in the integrity, intentions and skills of clerks of the time (unlike others, who have called them 'nincompoops' and similar when confronted with apparent inaccuracies in copying) mistakes did happen. It seems that the only logical interim explanation here is that this particular clerk misread his own (or someone else's? shorthand?) notes and produced the 17th century equivalent of a typo by awarding the fine the wrong way round."

To summarize: The 1655 document that is the key evidence in Moorwood's claims to have revealed Myles Standish's genealogy does not refer to the lands mentioned in Myles Standish's will, dated 1656. Moorwood thinks that Myles Standish's most important inheritance was Duxbury Hall and associated lands as specified in this document, although Myles does not name them in his will or any other document. She believes that the Alexander Standish in the 1655 document must be Myles Standish's son and heir, prematurely claiming Myles' inheritance, although Myles did not draw up his will naming Alexander his heir for specified properties (and they were not these) until a year later. She thinks that Edward May must be a lawyer representing Alexander, although the 1655 document does not identify him as an attorney, and no Plymouth Colony Court record indicates a grant of power of attorney to Edward May either by Myles or Alexander Standish. She thinks that a court clerk's error reversed the true intent of the courts decision when entered into the record, and that no one protested. She thinks that the 1655 document is a solid basis for elaborate speculations about the genealogy of Myles Standish, placing him as heir to Duxbury Hall, an inheritance he never claimed.


Documentary evidence about the Standish families of Standish, Duxbury, Ormskirk, and the Isle of Man is extensive but incomplete, especially incomplete with regard to sources for genealogical information (baptisms, marriages, burials). The land records are also incomplete, seeming almost random in what is preserved. Attempts to define his genealogical relation to earlier generations have not been successful, although T. R. Porteus succeeded in finding the Manx-Lancashire branch of the Standish family to which Myles somehow must have belonged. The only information we have about where Myles Standish was born is the ambiguous indication from his will, that he believed he was an heir to particular specified lands in "Ormskirke Borscouge Wrightington Maudsley Newburrow Crowston and in the Isle of man and given to mee as Right heire by lawfull decent but Surruptuously detained from mee My great Grandfather being a 2cond or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish."


1. In Lancashire "hall" seems to have been used simply to indicate farmhouses larger than cottages, not necessarily with manorial administrative rights. The Chorley and District Archaeological Society records eighty-eight halls in the area. See their website, Chorley Halls They were not all manor houses. Standish Hall, however, was the manor house of Standish, Lancashire.

2. Charles H. Simmons, Jr., Plymouth Colony Records, Volume 1, Wills and Inventories 1633-1669 (Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1996), pp. 312-314 and unnumbered illustration page between pp. 314 and 315. Simmons' transcription omits the word "in" before "Isle of man." The word is clearly shown in the illustration on the facing page. The omission in the transcription is significant because it might be interpreted to imply that "Isle of Man" is the last name in a series of places in Lancashire that in fact ends with "Crowston." That illustration, however, is not a photograph from the original document. It is a print from a microfilm of the original, and like many microfilm images it contains extraneous marks from the writing on the other side of the page. In note 4 of my article, "Strangers on the Mayflower" (New England Ancestors, 1 (2000), nr. 1, p. 63), I remark that in my introduction to Simmons's book I pointed out that Standish wrote "Ormskirke" (not "Ormistick"). This is true, although the illustration provided by Simmons is misleading and looks like "Ormistick." The dot that seems to be before the letter "s" has in fact bled through from the verso, as can be seen by examining the original, which I have done. Unfortunately, I did not receive page proofs of the introduction, and a confusing mistake intrudes, by which in another sentence I incorrectly wrote "Ormskirk" instead of "Ellenbane" as the name for Standish's birthplace in the Isle of Man. Simmons gives "Crawston" where I read "Crowston." The letters "a" and "o" can be indistinguishable in cursive writing except by context; in this case the modern town name is Croston. Simmons considers the letter "d" in "decent" to be capitalized, although it is in the middle of the sentence and does not differ from a non-capitalized "d" except, perhaps, in size (compare with the "d" in the witness's name, James Cudworth); and he italicizes the second occurrence of the word "mee" (apparently interpreting a dot under the word, that bled through from the other side, as an indication of emphasis). Finally, he gives "Borsconge" where I choose "Borscouge" because the present town name is Burscough. Admittedly, an "n" and a "u" are sometimes indistinguishable. In this will, the letter "u" is not provided with a line above it to differentiate it from an "n" (compare with the "u" in "Maudsley" that Simmons does not make into "Mandsley"). Simmons work is generally meticulous. His attempt to reproduce exactly what he saw on the microfilm is the reason that the texts of the manuscript pages are all made to fit on single printed pages, with no continuations. That also accounts for the notably misleading title of the book, which exactly reproduces the inscription on the ms. volume. Few people, confronted with "Plymouth Colony Records, Volume I" will suppose that volume two is part of the same book, starting on p. 261; and few bibliographers will notice that this is not the same as the first volume of Plymouth Colony Records edited by Nathaniel B. Shurtleff and David Pulsifer beginning in 1855. It is unfortunate that these extremely minor mistakes in the transcription of Standish's will, derived from using microfilm, might provide points of argument for the supposition that the will refers to the Isle of Man as if it were the last in a series of place names in Lancashire.

3. See Lawrence Hill, Gentlemen of Courage - Forward ... A history of the Standish family, Lancashire, from the Norman Conqeust in 1066 AD, within the context of English history to the Stuart period (Alderley Edge: Magnolia Publishing Co., 1987); T. C. Porteus, Calendar of the Standish Deeds, 1230-1575 (Wigan: Wigan Public Libraries Committee, 1933); G. V. C. Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish, First Manx American (Peel: Manx-Svenska Publishing Company, 1984.

4. That Barbara's maiden name was Standish is a possible inference from the entry in the 1623 division of land, where, among the names of passengers who arrived in the "Anne," she is listed as "Mrs Standish." The abbreviated title "Mrs" does not necessarily indicate that she was already married to Myles Standish; its expansion is "mistress" and it indicates a higher social rank than "goodwife." Other women are listed without either "mistress" or "goodwife" before their names, some with their first names. Comparison with other women in the same part of the list ("Allice Bradford, Robert Hickes his wife & children, Bridgett Fuller, Ellen Newton, Pacience & Fear Brewster, with Robart Long, William Heard, Mrs Standish") suggests that listing "Mrs Standish" here, with land of her own, rather than listing her with her husband, who was a "Mayflower" passenger, could indicate either that they were not yet married in 1623 and thus received separate land grants, or that they were already married but were listed separately because the distribution of land was carried out in groups by ship, arranged according to their order of arrival. "Allice Bradford" in the list is William Bradford's second wife; they were married in August, 1623. Presumably she had the social standing to be called "Mistress Bradford," but is not so listed. "Pacience & Fear Brewster" are daughters of William Brewster, both unmarried in 1623. The record is ambiguous and thus inadequate as a basis for secure assertion that "Mrs Standish" was not simply Mistress Standish, the wife of Myles, rather than Mistress Standish, a woman of some social standing on her own, not yet married but with the maiden name Standish. See David Pulsifer (ed.), Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, Deeds, &c., Vol. I. 1620-1651 (Boston: William White, 1861), pp. 4, 6. According to John Davis, that Duxbury was named in allusion to Myles Standish is suggested in a history of Duxbury published in the Massachusetts Historical Society's Collections, vol. II, nr. 4 (1793). Davis, giving no solid reason, says "This appears questionable." See: Nathaniel Morton, New England's Memorial (1669; fifth edition, John Davis (ed.), Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1826), p. 262-263. Davis' opinion is repeated verbatim in James Thacher's History of the Town of Plymouth, from its First Settlement in 1620, to the Present Time [...] (second edition, Boston, 1835, reprinted 1991, Salem (Massachusetts): Higginson Book Company), p. 106.

5. Bromley's research is reported briefly in Justin Winsor, A History of the Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, with Genealogical Register (Boston: Crosby & Nichols, [and] Samuel G. Drake, 1849), pp. 96-97: "In the fall of 1846, an association was formed among the descendants of Capt. Standish for the purpose of making investigations, and upwards of $3000 were furnished to their agent, I.W.R. Bromley, Esq., who started on his mission in November of that year, and returned in October of the following year, without however accomplishing the object of his search. I have been favored with the perusal of some of his correspondence with the Corresponding Secretary of the Association, and some brief minutes which I have gleaned from them may not be uninteresting. The property, to which it was his object to prove the right of Capt. Standish, comprises large tracts of rich farming lands, including several valuable coal mines, and produces a yearly income of £100,000 or more. From a commission, which was found, appointing Standish to a lieutenancy in Her Majesty's forces on the continent, the date of his birth was found, as also from incidents of his life in New England, which have now become a portion of her history, and from other data in the possession of his descendants, which all led to the conclusion that the year 1684 [sic, should be 1584] must have been that of his birth. The family seats are situated near the village of Chorley in Lancashire, and the records of this parish were thoroughly investigated from the year 1549 to 1652. And here in connection comes an incident in the researches of Mr. Bromley, which deserves particular attention, and causes the fair conclusion, that Standish was the true and rightful heir to the estates, and that they were truly "surreptitiously destrained" from him, and now enjoyed by those, to whom they do not justly belong. The records were all readily deciphered with the exception of the years 1584 and 1585, the very dates, about which time Standish is supposed to have been born; and the parchment leaf which contained the registers of the births of these years was wholly illegible, and their appearance was such, that the conclusion was at once established, that it had been done purposely with pumice stone or otherwise, to destroy the legal evidence of the parentage of Standish, and his consequent title to the estates thereabout. The mutilation of these pages is supposed to have been accomplished, when about twenty years before, similar inquiries were made by the family in America. The rector of the parish, when afterwards requested by the investigator to certify that the pages were gone, at once suspected his design of discovering the title to the property, and taking advantage of the rigor of the law, (as he had entered as an antiquarian researcher merely,) compelled him to pay the sum of about £15, or suffer imprisonment. As it was said that the Captain married his first wife in the Isle of Man, this island was visited with hopes of discovering there his marriage registered, but without success, as no records of a date early enough were to be found. And thus it will be seen that on account of the destruction of all legal proof, the property must forever remain hopelessly irrecoverable."

6. Hill, Gentlemen of Courage [see footnote #3], p. 156; assurance to me in personal conversation with Hill that he examined the baptismal records; I have not been there. Referring to Bromley's story, Helen Moorwood writes "This claim of erasure was subsequently proved to be totally fallacious again and again." (see part two of her article, "Pilgrim Father Captain Myles Standish" [see footnote #36]. An article from the Chorley Guardian, from 1924, reports on a meeting of the Chorley and District Historical and Archaeological Society. Rev. P. J. Kirkby, Rector of Chorley, had brought the baptismal records to the meeting so that members could examine page 39, which Bromley had reported erased by pumicing. A local historian, John Wilson, had said "some years ago" that he had looked at the page and thought it had been tampered with. The article states that Kirkby "considered that it was rather difficult to reconcile the appearance of the leaf in the Register with the use of pumice stone on it. To him it looked as if a layer had been taken off the page or two thin pages had been stuck together." The newspaper article is republished online. Photographs of two facing pages from the register (38 and 39) are published online by the current rector, Rev. John Cree. The page on the left shows apparent water damage at the upper left, but it is unclear whether anything on that page has become illegible. The page on the right is damaged along three quarters of the top (an area I estimate as about three or four inches across by about two inches down at the left) and also at the lower left corner. The photo shows what looks like rice paper used as a conservation support. The photographs are of very poor quality, so that nothing can be read on the pages. Ed Fisher, of the Chorley St. Laurence Historical Society, answered my questions about the photographs with the information that the pages are paper, that the top of page 39 (right page) is missing, that the last legible date is August, 1584, and that the fragile pages have been conserved between thin tissue paper. (letter dated January 13, 2006).

7. Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers, Who Came to Plymouth on the "Mayflower" in 1620, the "Fortune" in 1621, and the "Anne" and the "Little James" in 1623 (New York: 1929; reprinted "with additions and corrections"—Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1984), pp. 82-83: "Although an almost nation-wide search has been made for the record of his baptism and every existing parish register in Lancashire has failed to produce the information in the county where he is said to have been born (Morton's New England's Memorial), this does not necessarily mean that such a record is non-existent as the author has been given credible information that an English vicar a generation ago told his informant that he had found the record; it was in his possession and that he intended to make it public in a special article. As this plan never materialized the information either died with him or possibly remains among the posthumous papers of this vicar, in possession of his descendants. [...] The author spent the best part of a year in England searching every available Standish clue in all classes of records but without adding anything to our present knowledge." No doubt it was a pleasant trip.

8. See State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth, p. 566, cited by Hill, Gentlemen of Courage [note 3], p. 135.

9. Nathaniel Morton, New-England's Memorial [note 4], p. 262

10. See T. C Porteus, Captain Myles Standish: His Lost Lands and Lancashire Connections, A New Investigation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1920); T. J. Porteus, "The Ancestry of Myles Standish," New England Historical & Genealogical Register, Oct. 1914; Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], pp. 10-14. 37-43 (excerpted from Porteus' 1914 article). In 1984, Young brought me photocopies of every document used by Porteus in this argument. I read all of them in that form, and I found no errors of transcription or reasoning.

11. "Newburgh" and "Newburrow" are the same place, with different spellings.

12. For the details of the arranged marriage and of the divorce, see T. J. Porteus, History of the Parish of Standish (Wigan: J. Starr & Sons, 1927), p. 176, cited by Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], p. 14. According to Young, Thomas had two younger brothers, John and Huan. "What happened to John, the second son of Robert, is unknown," says Young, who does not give any further attention to John as a possible ancestor of Myles. See Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], p. 11. This is a serious oversight, because even if other speculative possibilities are rejected, this lack of information leaves an opening for alternative speculation.

13. Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], pp. 38-39 (documents taken from Porteus's 1920 publication [note 7], chapter 9).

14. Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], p. 29.

15. I think that "Myls Stansen" probably was an attempt by a Dutch clerk to record the presence of Myles Standish. The records of the St. Catherine's hospital in Leiden (specifically, Gasthuis Archieven, nr. 53) are discussed by me in "The Pilgrims and Other English in Leiden Records: Some New Pilgrim Documents," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, CXLIII (1989), pp. 195-212. See also my editorial remarks at the end of Youngs article, G. V. C. Young, "Pilgrim Myles Standish: His European Background," in Jeremy D. Bangs (ed.), The Pilgrims in The Netherlands, Recent Research, Papers Presented at a Symposium held by The Leiden Pilgrim Documents Center and The Sir Thomas Browne Institute, September 7, 1984 (Leiden: Leiden Pilgrim Documents Center, 1985), pp. 35-43. The hospital records are explained in more detail in a chapter on Myles Standish, forthcoming in my book on the Pilgrims in Leiden. The records do not in themselves bear any relation to events beyond what they mention. One simply cannot suppose that a hypothetical message about a confused hospital record of a death was sent as a notification to Standish relatives, especially because that hospital death record most probably was not referring to Standish, but to a patient named Nijs Sickem whom Standish replaced after Sickem's death. Nor can it be assumed that this imagined message played a role in any legal proceeding having to do with inheritance matters — a category of litigation for which typically some sort of sworn and witnessed deposition acceptable as a court document was required.

16. R. Kissack, "Was Myles Standish a Manxman?" published in the Proceedings of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, and republished online. Young answered Kissack's objections in two pamphlet supplements: More About Pilgrim Myles Standish, First Manx-American (Peel: Manx-Svenska Publishing Co., 1987); Ellenbane Was the Birthplace of Myles Standish, First Manx-American (Peel: Manx-Svenska Publishing Co., 1988). In the first pamphlet, p. 12, Young quotes my comment on his initial paper, thus, "The meaning of 'Myles', the links between the Standishes and the Laces and the introduction into America of the custom of 'Dooiney-moylee' all support the contention that Myles Standish was Manx, a view also supported by Dr. Jeremy Bangs, formerly Curator of Leiden Pilgrim Documents Center and now of Plimoth Plantation, who made the following written comment on the author's paper: 'Despite these two points of reservation' (relating to the wounding of Myles Standish and to Myles Standish's commission), 'Mr. Young's exposition of the logical implications of the various legal documents appears fully acceptable, and there is no doubt about either Myles Standish's Manx origins or his military experience in the Netherlands.'" To this I respond that I have never commented on links between the Standishes and the Laces, nor on folk customs with odd names. I have no opinion on whether those items strengthen any argument. The reservations I expressed at some length, which Young parenthetically condensed, indicated that the "Myls Stansen" document is not absolutely certain to be a reference to Standish and that no reliable evidence is known to exist that would document Standish as having held the rank of lieutenant while a soldier in The Low Countries. The implication, perhaps too subtly expressed in my editorial note, is that a syllogistic argument depending for any part on implications derived from the Leiden 1601 document or Standish's supposed officer's rank must be considered weak. Young's elaborate speculation about why Myles was deprived of his inheritance is based on an imaginary message from Leiden to the Isle of Man referring incorrectly to Myles' death. Kissack equally misjudges my work (and that of other authors) when he describes the published 1984 symposium papers as an "addendum" to Young's Pilgrim Myles Standish. See Kissack's text with its note 10.

17. Kissack omits "Thomas" but seems to think that the seven names he lists represent some sort of restrictive onomastic pattern. The restrictiveness is Kissack's inference for which he provides no evidence. Kissack notes in another place that while baptismal records on the island begin in 1596, in Lezayre parish where the Standishes lived, there are no baptismal records until "a century later."

18. Several publications with "Miles Christianus" in their titles testify to the fact that the concept was alive at around the time of Myles Standish's birth, for example, a thirty-six page pamphlet by Miles Mosse, Miles Christianus, or, A just Apologie of all necessarie writings and writes, specialie of them which by their labored writings take paines to build up the Church of Christ in this age, [...] (London: J. Wolfe, 1590).

19. G.V.C. Young provided me with the results of his research at the Public Record Office in London (now National Archives, Kew), including photocopies of the preserved records related to Vere's regiment. My research in The National Archives, The Hague, turned up parallel records consistent with Young's findings. Significantly, commissions for officers in Vere's regiment were not issued by the English crown but were in the gift or appointment of the Dutch parliament, as is mentioned in my survey of Standishs military career.

20. E. Irving Carlyle, "Myles Standish," in Sidney Lee (ed.), Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 53 (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1898), pp. 474-476, specifically 474. Carlyle does not specifically identify the sources of particular biographical details. Among his list of works about Standish are several whose reliability is questionable. According to Young, Porteus claimed that the commission document had indeed been seen by someone in the nineteenth century: Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], p. 22, note 54, referring to T. C Porteus, Captain Myles Standish: His Lost Lands and Lancashire Connections, A New Investigation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1920), p. 4. Porteus must have been referring to Bromley, as reported by Winsor [note 5], a source with which he was familiar.

21. The real source may be the novel Standish of Standish, A Story of the Pilgrims, by Jane G. Austin (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1890). No details of document location are given by T. J. Porteus, "The Ancestry of Myles Standish," New England Historical & Genealogical Register, Oct. 1914, p. 348, who may have taken the information from Carlyle's article in the Dictionary of National Biography.

22. Hill, Gentlemen of Courage [note 3], p. 135 quotes evidence that Edward Standish was a recusant, but mentions that in 1600 he was appointed Justice of the Peace, a position supposed to have been prohibited to Roman Catholics (but apparently not always strictly prohibited unless this indicates that he accomodated).

23. For examples of the claim that he was a Catholic, "John Alden and the Pilgrims on the Kennebec,' by Pat Higgins, published online in "Maine Stories," Higgins writes, "The French, who operated a tiny mission only a few miles up river were on good terms with their English neighbors. Pilgrim leader John Winlsow [sic] and Father Druillettes were reasonable friends; Druilletes visited both Boston and Plymouth. There is even a rumor that Miles Standish, who was a Catholic, visited the little mission upstream to attend mass." [said to be] "Derived from: When John Alden Went to Jail, by John Clair Minot, excerpted from the book Maine, My State, published in 1919 by the Maine Writer's [sic] Research Club. This resurfaces online "There is a story that one Englishman who came to Koussinoc frequently worshipped at the little mission chapel above the post. It is assumed it was Myles Standish, who came of a Catholic family in England, and who never joined the Pilgrims in their church relations. It rather upset the popular notion of bigotry of those times to read that Father Druillettes went from Koussinoc to Plymouth and Boston, where he was most cordially received. He was even allowed to celebrate mass in a Puritan home."

24. Simmons, Plymouth Colony Records [note 1], p. 315.

25. Ford (ed.) Bradford, I: 368 (cited in Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony, Its History & People, 1620-1691 (Salt Lake City: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1986), p. 358); cited also by Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], p. 24 (from 1912 ed., p. 375.

26. Charles H. Simmons, Jr., Plymouth Colony Records, Volume 1, Wills and Inventories 1633-1669 (Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1996), p. 313. This legacy is mentioned by G. V. C. Young, Pilgrim Myles Standish [note 3], p. 56. The inscribed cup is in Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

27. George F. Willison, Saints and Strangers, Being the Lives of the Pilgrim Fathers & Their Families with Their Friends & Foes; & an Account of Their Posthumous Wanderings in Limbo, Their Final Resurrection & Rise to Glory, & the Strange Pilgrimages of Plymouth Rock (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1945), p. 132. Willison goes further, pp. 132-133: "This is all the more startling because Plymouth early adopted the theocratic principle that no one could be a citizen, let alone a magistrate or officer shaping and executing policy, who was not a member of the church and a communicant in good standing. Why this signal exception? Can it be that the Pilgrims needed him and appreciated his success in organizing the defense of the colony, and for that reason were willing to overlook his religious scruples? And what were his scruples? No one knows, but it is interesting at least that the Standishes of Standish and all the branches of that family had never accepted Protestantism in any form, steadfastly adhering to their old Roman Catholic faith." Continuing in the next paragraph, Willison says, "Among the 'strangers' appeared others of note. There was James Chilton, a tailor of Canterbury []." Chilton, in fact, belonged to Robinson's congregation.

28. Bradford's "Dialogue" a brief ms. published numerous times since the nineteenth century: Governor Bradford's First Dialogue: A Dialogue, or the Sum of a Conference between Some Young Men born in New England and Sundry Ancient Men that came out of Holland and Old England, anno Domini 1648 (Boston: Directors of the Old South Work, 1896 [?]).

29. Covenanted members of Plymouth's congregation, when they moved to found Scituate in 1633, joined themselves again in a new covenant because they were forming a new church that would call its own minister. See: Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, The Seventeenth-Century Town Records of Scituate, Massachusetts (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 3 vols., 1997, 1999, 2001), I, pp. 19-20; III, Appendix 30, pp. 512-519.

30. William Hubbard, A General History of New England, from the Discovery to MDCLXXX, published by the Massachusetts Historical Society (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Hillard & Metcalf, 1815); (second edition, Boston, Massachusetts: Charles C. Little & James Brown, 1848); see also: A General History of New England {Supplementary and Substitute Pages edited by Charles Deane}, pp. i-xvii, 3-14, 669-676 (Boston, 1878). The 1848 edition corrects misreadings in the first edition and includes a small amount of ms. pages that had been lost from the original but could be recovered from an early transcription. The quotation about Standish is found on pp. 110-111 of the 1848 edition: "In one of the fishing voyages about the year 1625, under the charge and command of one Mr. Hewes, employed by some of the West Country merchants, there arose a sharp contest between the said Hewes and the people of New Plymouth, about a fishing stage, built the year before about Cape Ann by Plymouth men, but was now, in the absence of the builders, made use of by Mr. Hewes's company, which the other, under the conduct of Captain Standish, very eagerly and peremptorily demanded: for the Company of New Plymouth, having themselves obtained a useless Patent for Cape Anne about the year 1623, sent some of the ships, which their Adventurers employed to transport passengers over to them, to make fish there; for which end they had built a stage there, in the year 1624. The dispute grew to be very hot, and high words passed between them, which might have ended in blows, if not in blood and slaughter, had not the prudence and moderation of Mr. Roger Conant, at that time there present, and Mr. Peirse's interposition, that lay just by with his ship, timely prevented. For Mr. Hewes had barricaded his company with hogsheads on the stagehead, while the demandants stood upon the land, and might easily have been cut off; but the ship's crew, by advice, promising to help them build another, the difference was thereby ended. Captain Standish had been bred a soldier in the Low Countries, and never entered the school of our Savior Christ, or of John Baptist, his harbinger [... the quotation as given fully in the text above]."

31. Stratton, Plymouth Colony [note 11], p. 357, refers to "Young, Planters, p. 33-34"; this is Alexander Young, Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 1623-1636 Now First Collected from the Original Records and Contemporaneous Manuscripts, and Illustrated with Notes, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846).

32. Isaac Pennington, An Examination of the Grounds or Causes which are said to induce the Court of Boston in new England to make that Order or Law of Banishment, upon Pain of Death, Against the Quakers ... (London: L. Lloyd: 1660); the quoation below is on pp. 240-242 of Part 1, in Pennington, The Works of the long-mournful and sorely-distressed Isaac Pennington [...] (London: Benjamin Clark, 1681); republished online "And oh! how sweet and pleasant is it to the truly spiritual eye, to see several sorts of believers, several forms of Christians in the school of Christ, every one learning their own lesson, performing their own peculiar service, and knowing, owning, and loving one another in their several places, and different performances to their Master, to whom they are to give an account, and not to quarrel with one another about their different practices! Rom. 14:4. [...] Yea, and this I very well remember, that when I walked in the way of Independency (as it hath been commonly called) I had more unity with, and more love towards, such as were single-hearted in other ways and practices of worship (whose spirits I had some feeling of in the true simplicity, and in the life) than with divers of such who were very knowing and zealous in that way of Independency, in whom a wrong thing in the mean time had got up, which had caused them to swerve from the life, and from the simplicity. [...] The great error of the ages of the apostasy hath been, to set up an outward order and uniformity, and to make men's consciences bend thereto, either by arguments of wisdom, or by force; but the property of the true church government is, to leave the conscience to its full liberty in the Lord, to preserve it single and entire for the Lord to exercise, and to seek unity in the light and in the Spirit, walking sweetly and harmoniously together in the midst of different practices."

33. Hubbard [note 30], pp. 556, 63

34. Alexander Young, Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, of the Colony of Plymouth, from 1602 to 1625, Now First Collected from Original records and Contemporaneous Printed Documents, and Illustrated with Notes (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1841), pp. 125-126, n. 4; p. 339, n.1.

35. Helen Moorwood, "Pilgrim Father Captain Myles Standish of Duxbury, Lancashire, and Massachusetts," Lancashire History Quarterly, vol. 3, nr. 2 (June, 1999), pp. 47-51 (part one); vol. 3, nr. 3 (Sept., 1999), pp. 102-109 (part two); vol. 3, nr. 4 (Dec., 1999), pp. 125-129 (part three); vol. 4, nr. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 20-26 (part four); vol. 4, nr. 2 (June, 2000), pp. 25-31 (part five). Moorwood, "Myles Standish—Rose, His First Wife," Lancashire History Quarterly, vol. 4, nr. 3 (Sept. 2000), pp. 12-18. These articles are available online Two further articles are available online: "A 1655 document (L.R.O. DP397/21/17. 25 March 1654/5, Julian calendar, 1655 in the Gregorian calendar) relevant to Colonel Richard Standish of Duxbury, Lancashire and Captain Myles Standish of Duxbury, Massachusetts." See: In speeches, letters, telephone calls, etc., she has attempted to publicize the Duxbury-Chorley claim to be Myles Standish's birthplace (a claim that had not been a point of much concern there for some time) and to silence claims by the late G. V. C. Young (†2005) that Myles Standish was born on the Isle of Man. It is unclear whence her fervor arises. Her enthusiasm has been echoed by local boosters in Chorley, where action has been undertaken to stimulate tourism to the area on the basis of the presumed connection with Myles Standish. Moorwood's aggressive attitude towards the Manx claims is reflected in the minutes of a meeting of the "Chorley Partnership, Thriving Economy Group," held at the Chorley Town Hall on September 9, 2004. Two days earlier a preliminary meeting, "agreed that the initial action should be to demolish the Isle of Man theory and use the March 2005 celebrations of the 350th year since the signing of Myles will, as the launch of the campaign." One of the committee members "explained that he had attended a recent presentation to over 200 people from a lady in Germany [i.e. Helen Moorwood] who was very close to making the case that Myles was indeed born in Chorley at the Isle of Man Farm, Croston. The hope is that by March this will be confirmed." See:

36. The maps, examined in January, 2006, are published online

37. The claim has been made in telephone conversations; I do not find it in her published writings.

38. Helen Moorwood has told me in a telephone conversation that the field name "Isle of Man" occurs on a late-eighteenth-century map, but that she has not found any earlier use of the name. The local libraries and historical societies do not indicate the existence of any detailed eighteenth-century map of the Croston area. Moorwood has promised to send me a copy, that I have not yet received.


40. As someone once said, and then had it printed on a t-shirt, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."

41. Nathaniel Morton, New-England's Memorial [note 4]

42. Neither John Davis (1826) nor James Thacher (1835) records such a tradition, although both repeat other family traditions that they doubt. See note 4. The theme of recovering lost estates was, however, inciting romantic imaginations. Depictions of English manor houses appeared in Joseph Nash's The Mansions of England in the Olden Time (London: T. M. Lean, 1839-1849), a series that contributed to an excitingly idealized view of the seventeenth century. Also capable of inspiring new family legends and interest in recovering lost estates were several of Sir Walter Scott's novels, with that theme, such as Guy Mannering (1815), The Antiquary (1816), and The Fortunes of Nigel (1822), besides Woodstock, Or the Cavalier (1826), his novel about the Cromwellian period.

43. Lancashire Record Office, Preston, Deeds Purchased 397/21/17, quoted in Moorwood, "A 1655 Document" [note 36].

44. Because land (and mill rights, for example) held in feudal tenure could not be sold as if held in free and common sockage (the predecessor to the modern concept of free-hold), what is known as a fictitious action is brought to effect transfer. "A fine is the acknowledgement of an hereditament ... to be his right that doth complain. He that complaineth is called plaintife, and the other deforceant." (from H. Fisch, Law (1636). "In levying a fine of lands, the person, against whom fictitious action is brought upon a supposed breach of covenant, is called the deforciant." (from Blackstone, Comm, III, 174). Both the foregoing citations are found in the definition of "deforciant" in The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Complete Text reproduced micrographically (Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 673. The "fine" in this case is not a financial penalty imposed as punishment, contrary to Moorwood's understanding of the term.

45. Examples of sales that apparently were in effect mortgages are found in the seventeenth-century records of Scituate in Plymouth Colony: Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, The Seventeenth-Century Town Records of Scituate, Massachusetts (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 3 vols., 1997, 1999, 2001), e.g. vol. 2, pp. 16; vol. 3, p. 469, Appendix 26.

46. In the first part of her article "Pilgrim Father Captain Myles Standish" [note 36], she characteristically claims that documents whose texts she does not provide prove her point: "Many original documents in the Hesketh of Rufford Muniments (particularly DDHe 59/52, 58, 61, 69; 26/124, 60/48) prove that the lands owned by this family could not possibly be those claimed by Myles in his Will. Some were inherited by Robert Hesketh, a High Sheriff, when he married and outlived the widow of the man who had bought the Standish lands [i.e. William Stopforth], and by 1609 he had bought all the rest."