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Myles Standish

Manx Worthies
Compiled by A.W. Moore, M.A.,
Published at Douglas in 1901.

The earliest Manx emigrants, if we may believe tradition, were ROSE and BARBARA STANDISH, wives of the famous Myles Standish (b. 1586, d. 1656), the military leader of the Puritans who left England for America in the "Mayflower" in 1620. They are said to have come from Lezayre, and it is probable that their maiden, as well as their married, name was STANDISH. A branch of the Standishes, of Standish Hall, (1), in Lancashire, had settled in the Isle of Man, first at Pulrose, in Braddan, and then at Ellanbane, in Lezayre, since the beginning of the sixteenth century; and one of them, John, perhaps ROSE and BARBARA's father, was a member of the House of Keys in 1593. William Standish of Ellanbane, (2), who was perhaps his son, was a member of the House of Keys from 1629 to 1656, and he was concerned in the rising against the Stanleys in 1651. He was evidently a leading Manxman, since he was one of those who went aboard Colonel Duckenfield's ship to arrange terms with him in October, 1651. Between 1661 and 1665, John Standish, probably William's son, was an M.H.K., and was one of those who tried Illiam Dhone.

These Standishes held a quantity of intack property in Lezayre besides Ellanbane, and, though the family has long since disappeared, there is to this day a curragh called Standishes' Curragh in that parish. Whether this property, or any part of it, belonged to Myles in his own right, or through his Manx wives, we do not know, since, though he left certain estates both in Lancashire and the Isle of Man to his son Alexander on his death in 1656, and though Alexander by his will, dated 1702, also claimed these estates, a diligent search in the Manx manorial records has failed to discover the names of either ROSE, BARBARA, Myles or Alexander. As regards the two latter, however, it may be accounted for by the remarks in Myles' will that these estates had been "surreptitiously detained" (3) from him, so that it is possible that his son never obtained possession. Myles had been engaged in the war if independence in Holland, after which, when he was one of the garrison at Leyden, he became intimate with some of the Puritan emigrants from England, though he was never a member of their Church. He is said to have paid a visit to the Isle of Man shortly before 1619 and to have married (4), Rose when there. On returning to Holland with her, he was elected military leader of the emigrants, and left England with them at the end of the year. Rose was one of the first to succumb to the privations and diseases after the first landing at New Plymouth. In 1623, BARBARA, who is said to have been ROSE's sister, and to have been "left an orphan in England" (5), when the "Mayflower" sailed, went out in the ship "Ann" to Myles, and soon afterwards married him. They had six children, (6), and lived happily together for thirty years.

In 1871, a monument was erected to Captain Myles Standish, and at the dinner, which took place after it was unveiled, a tribute was paid to ROSE STANDISH, she being designated as "the type of womanly sacrifice". "It was a graceful act", writes Mr Johnson, "thus to remember the woman who had thrown in her lot with the Captain, and shrunk not at crossing the seas to a strange land....and who was one of the first of the gallant company to drop from the ranks a victim to privation and hardship". (7).


(1) Myles belonged to the same branch of this family; so that he and his Manx wives were probably cousins.

(2) Another William Standish was Vicar of Lezayre in 1630.

(3) "I give unto my son and heir apparent Alexander Standish all my lands as heir apparent in lawful descent in Ormskirk, Boscough, Wrightington, Maudsley, Newbury, Croxton, and in the Isle of Man, and given to me as right heir by lawful descent, but surreptitiously detained from me, my grandfather being a second or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish".

(4) Unfortunately there are no church registers in the island of sufficiently early date to contain her marriage. The Ballaugh register, the earliest, begins in 1598 but, at first, contains only births and deaths, and there is neither a Rose nor a Barbara mentioned under the first category.

(5) Abbott, in "The Puritan Captain".

(6) Information from Belknap (orid. ed. Boston, 1794), per Mr Frowde; Carlyle in Dict. of Nat. Biog.; and the Rev. W. Ball Wright.

(7) "The Exploits of Miles Standish". Henry Johnson (London, 1897).


Isle of Man
by Canon E.H. Stenning
Published by Robert Hale Ltd., London, 1950

Another family closely connected with the parish of Lezayre is that of the Standishes. There have been Standish connections with the Island since 1572. The was a Standish, clerk of Lezayre, 1610, and another John Standish, of Ellanbane, was clerk of Lezayre, 1671. The connection of Myles Standish (1584 -1656), the Pilgrim Father, American colonist, and military leader of the Plymouth colony in New England, is interesting. Most probably he was born in Lezayre at Ellanbane. His first wife Rose and her sister Barbara (who was Standish's second wife) were definitely Manx. In his last will and testament we read: "I give unto my son and heir apparent Alexander Standish all my lands in Ormisticke, Borscouge, Wrightington, Maudsley, Newburgh, Crawston and the Isle of Man, and given to me as right heir...but surreptitiously detained from me , my great-grandfather being a second or younger brother from the House of Standish of Standish." Nothing definite is known of Myles till he was thirty-five , when he set sail in the Mayflower. There were three main branches of the Standish family, the Standishes of Duxbury and the Standishes of Ormskirk. Beyond doubt, as shown by his will, Myles was of the Ormskirk branch. The older document concerning the Ormskirk lands is signed by Johannem de Insula de Mane in 1572. This was twelve years before Myles was born.

In 1481, the family of Standish owned estates only in Ormskirk and Newburgh. In 1502, Robert Standish, the head of the family, married Margaret Croft, a wealthy heiress who brought into the Standish property the estates of Burscough, Wrightington, Maudslay and Croston. The marriage deed of these two is signed by two officials of the Isle of Man, Henry Halsall, knight, steward in Mann of the first Earl of Derby, and Thomas Hesketh, Receiver-General of the Island. In 1511, an Edward Standysh owned a house in Castletown, for which he paid rent 2s. 4d. per annum. Robert Standish and Margaret Croft had three sons, Thomas, John (the Johannem de Insula de Mane above mentioned) and the third Huan, who owned Ellanbane, Kirk Christ Lezayre.

Of these, Thomas, the eldest of Robert's family, in his marriage settlement left the very lands and estates mentioned in the will of Myles to trustees, to pay him, Thomas, for life; then for the rightful heir lawfully begotten; in default, to his brother John and his heirs; and in default again, to Huan and his heirs. But Thomas played ducks and drakes with the properties. He sold large parcels to one William Stopforth, Secretary to the Earl of Derby, Lord of Mann. This he had no right to do under his deed. Thomas had a son Hugh, who died without issue in 1606. John de Insula de Mane had no children, and died about 1580. Huan of Ellanbane had a son Gilbert, who, in 1629, transferred some lands in Lezayre to his grandson William Standish, who afterwards owned Ellanbane and became a Member of the House of Keys. No mention is made of any son of Gilbert, but it seems reasonable that he had two, one of whom was Myles, the other younger and the father of William here mentioned. Gilbert transferred the lands to this grandson William, and later, with them bequeathed the lands that remained in Lancashire from the estate of Thomas Standish, i.e. just those estates mentioned in Myles' will. The explanation, then, of the will of Myles Standish would be: "His grandfather, having heard nothing of his grandson Myles since he left on the Mayflower, assumed that he was dead, and left all the estates to his grandson William, Myles' nephew, which he had no power to do, since the marriage settlement of Thomas had entailed them to his heir Myles." Thus Mann can claim one very strong connection with New England which should be of very great interest to American visitors.