m. abt 1582
Facts and Events
Standish was hired by the Pilgrims as a military advisor and served as the military commander of Plymouth Colony. He settled in Duxbury about the year 1630 on the easterly side of Captains Hill which he owned. His frist wife died in the winter of 1620, and he remarried in 1623 to a passenger on the Anne named Barbara. His will is dated at Duxbury March 7, 1655 and identifies his wife and children.
Myles Standish's birthplace is the subject of great debate. Those who believe he was from Lancashire point to the following evidence: Nathaniel Morton, writing in his 1669 book New England's Memorial, states that Standish was from Lancashire; Myles Standish owned a book about the former head of the Rivington Grammar School in Lancashire; and Standish named his American residence "Duxbury," which may have been a reference to his ancestral home, Duxbury Hall, Lancashire. Those that believe he was from the Isle of Man point to the lands enumerated in his probate will that were "surreptitiously detained" from him (including lands on the Isle of Man itself); these lands all belonged at one time to Thomas Standish, of the branch of the Standish family from the Isle of Man. In September 2006, Jeremy D. Bangs supplied a very thorough and scholarly review of the evidence and controversy in "Myles Standish, Born Where?", Mayflower Quarterly 72:133-159.
Myles Standish is alleged to have joined Queen Elizabeth's army and attained the rank of Lieutenant, but the documentation for this claim was lost in the 1920s without having been published or transcribed, so may be suspect. In any case, Standish was certainly a part of Queen Elizabeth's army, and was stationed for a time in Holland where he eventually met and became well acquainted with John Robinson and the Pilgrims who were living in Leiden. Standish was hired by the Pilgrims to be their military captain, to establish and coordinate the Colony's defense against both foreign (French, Spanish, Dutch) and domestic (Native American) threats. (MayflowerHistory)
Standish led or participated in all the early exploratory missions sent out to explore Cape Cod, and was heavily involved in selecting the site where the Pilgrims would settle. He was one of the few who did not get sick at all the first winter, and is recorded as having greatly helped and cared for those who were sick. He organized the deployment of the colony's cannons and the construction of the fort at Plymouth. He led both trading expeditions and military expeditions to the various Indian groups in the region. He led the party that went in pursuit of the alleged killers of Squanto (who was later discovered to be safe). He led the revenge attacks on the Indians in the Massachusetts Bay after they were caught in a conspiracy planning to attack and destroy the Plymouth and Wessagussett colonies; several Indians were killed or executed, for which Standish received some criticism, even from his friends, for being too heavy-handed.
Standish was heavily involved in numerous aspects of Plymouth Colony, from defense to keeping the law. He was on the receiving end of John Billington's verbal wrath in 1621 (Billington refused to follow the captain's orders), and was called a "silly boy" in a letter that was sent out during the Oldham-Lyford scandal of 1624, and was noted for his short stature and for his quick temper. He was sent to arrest Thomas Morton in 1628, for which he received the nickname "Captain Shrimp" from Morton. William Hubbard reported Standish's temper was like a "chimney soon fired".(MayflowerHistory)
"Already [1630s], John Alden, Jonathan Brewster, Thomas Prence, and Miles Standish had moved across the bay to what would be called Duxbury. Aside from Bradford's disliking the dispersal for general reasons, there was also the important fact that living across the bay effectively kept the settlers there from attending church on Sunday. Among the early records of Plymouth Colony, we find under date of 2 April 1632, "The names of those which promise to remove their families to live in the towne [Plymouth] in the winter time that they the better repair to the worship of God: John Alden, Captain Standish, Jonathan Brewster, and Thomas Prence." But it was a losing battle. On 28 October 1633 it was enacted by the General Court (the whole company of freemen) with only two negative votes or abstentions, that whereas formerly each had an acre of land allotted in the town of Plymouth, but that now "the said acres lie void, the ancient inhabitants for the most part removed from thence," and whereas the absentee ownership of these vacant acres was hindering other people from settling in Plymouth, "by which means the said town is likely to be dispeopled," the owners of the vacant lots would have to surrender them, and the governor and council would make them available to other people. By 1 January 1633/34 the General Court had choosen Christopher Wadsworth and Anthony Annable as constables respectively for what they very pointedly called the "wards," not towns, of Duxbury and Scituate. A church (which Nathaniel Morton described as the "first church that sprange out of the bowells of the Church of Plymouth") was established at Duxbury sometime between December 1634 and March 1636. On 7 June 1637 the General Court passed an act that Duxbury become a township and have the privileges of a town, with the bounds to be set by the next Court.24 Other new towns would not be far behind. (Plymouth Colony, Chapter 2: Bringing Over Their Friends (1627-1633))
"The settlement of Bridgewater was unique in that the area was specifically given to the town of Duxbury for its expansion. In October 1645 the General Court granted to the inhabitants of Duxbury "a competent pporcion of lands about Saughtuckquett, towards the west, for a plantacon for them, and to have it foure miles every way from the place where they shall sett up their center, (pvided it entrench not upon Winnetuckquett, formly graunted to Plymouth,) and have nominated Captaine Miles Standish, Mr John Alden, Georg Soul, Constant Southworth, Joseph Rogers, and Willm Brett to be feoffees in trust for the equall devideing and laying forth of the said lands to their inhabitants." These lands soon became known as Duxbury New Plantation, and on 3 June 1656 the court ordered that "henceforth Duxburrow New Plantation bee allowed to bee a townshipe of yt selfe, destinct from Duxburrow, and to bee called by the name of Bridgwater, prvided that all publicke rates bee borne by them with Duxburrow upon equall proportions." On 3 July 1656 the court ordered Bridgewater to pay one-third of the combined taxes with Duxbury for public expenses, from which we might assume that it already had roughly half the population of its mother town. By 1 June 1658 Bridgewater was asking the court for more land, and the court agreed "to consider of the resonablenes of theire desire in reference to the accomodateing of some usefull men that may be usefull in church and comonwealth." (Plymouth Colony, Chapter 4: A Loss of Leaders (1643-1657))
Standish lived out his later years in Duxbury, dying in 1656 "after his suffering of much dolorous pain," apparently from kidney stones.
The Last will and Testament of Captaine Myles Standish Exhibited before the court held att Plymouth (the 4th) of may 1657 on the oath of Captaine James Cudworth; and ordered to bee recorded as followeth;
Given under my hand this march the 7th 1655 Witnesseth these prsents that I Myles Standish senir of Duxburrow being in prfect memory yett Deseased in my body and knowing the fraile estate of man in his best estate I Doe make this to be my last will and Testament in manor and forme following;
1 my will is that out of my whole estate my funerall charges be taken out & my bod(y) to be buried in Decent manor and if I Die att Duxburrow my body to bee layed as neare as Conveniently may bee to my two Daughters Lora Standish my Daughter and Mary Standish my Daughterinlaw
2 my will is that that out of the remaining prte of my whole estate that all my jus(t) and lawful Debts which I now owe or att the Day of my Death may owe bee paied
3 out of what remaines according to the order of this Govrment: my will is that my Dear and loveing wife Barbara Standish shall have the third prte
4 I have given to my son Josias Standish upon his marriage one young horse five sheep and two heiffers which I must upon that contract of marriage make forty pounds yett not knowing whether the estate will bear it att prsent; my will is that the resedue remaine in the whole stocke and that every one of my four sons viz Allexander Standish Myles Standish Josias Standish and Charles Standish may have forty pounds appeec; if not that they may have proportionable to ye remaining prte bee it more or les
5 my will is that my eldest son Allexander shall have a Double share in land
6 my will is that soe long as they live single that the whole bee in prtenership betwix(t) them
7 I do ordaine and make my Dearly beloved wife Barbara Standish Allexander Standish Myles Standish and Josias Standish Joynt Exequitors of this my last will and Testament
8 I Doe by this my will make and appoint my loveing frinds mr Timothy hatherley and Capt: James Cudworth Supervissors of this my last will and that they wilbee pleased to Doe the office of Christian love to bee healpfull to my poor wife and Children by theire Christian Counsell and advisse; and if any Difference should arise which I hope will not; my will i(s) that my said Supervissors shall Determine the same and that they see that m(y) poor wife shall have as comfortable maintainance as my poor state will beare the whole time of her life which if you my loveing frinds pleasse to Doe though neither they nor I shalbee able to recompenc I Doe not Doubt but the Lord will; By mee Myles Standish
further my will is that marcye Robenson whome I tenderly love for her Grandfathers sacke shall have three pounds in somthing to goe forward for her two yeares after my Decease which my will is my overseers shall see prformed
further (m)y will is that my servant John Irish Junir have forty shillings more then his Covenant which will appear upon the towne booke alwaies provided that hee continew till the time hee covenanted bee expired in the service of my exequitors or any of them with theire Joynt Concent
March 7th 1655 By mee Myles Standish.
9 I give unto my son & heire aparent Allexander Standish all my lands as heire apparent by lawfull Decent in Ormistick Borsconge Wrightington Maudsley Newburrow Crawston and the Ile of man and given to me as right heire by lawful Decent but Surruptuously Detained from mee my great G(ran)dfather being a 2cond or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish
March the 7th 1655 by mee Myles Standish
Witnessed by mee James Cudworth