As my previous two posts on John Alden and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow have indicated, my most recent tale, “The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst” was inspired by Longfellow’s narrative poem, “The Courtship of Myles Standish.” Other than the knowledge of Standish being a part of the original Plymouth colonists, what else do we know of the man? In truth, not as much as one might think. As it was with John Alden, we know Standish’s “history” after his arrival at Plymouth Rock, but much before that time is mere speculation.
For example, many list his birthdate as occurring 1584, while others think it more likely to be closer to 1587. His place of birth is also greatly debated. Nathaniel Morton, writing in his book New England’s Memorial (1669) states that Standish hailed from Lancashire, England. Morton tells us Standish owned a book about the former head of the Rivington Grammar School in Lancashire, and he cites the town of Duxbury that Standish and John Alden founded as a reference to Duxbury Hall in Lancashire. Others believe him to be from the Isle of Man state that “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 scholarly review of the evidence and controversy in “Myles Standish, Born Where?”, Mayflower Quarterly 72:133-159.” [Mayflower History]
Standish was an heir to a fairly sizeable estate in Lancashire, but his lands were lost during the English Civil War, and neither he nor his son Alexander were ever able to legally regain control of the estate.
Likewise, we know little of his service to Queen Elizabeth’s army. Unsubstantiated reports claim he was a lieutenant in the Queen’s arm. Scholars believe he served for a time in Holland where he became acquainted with John Robinson and the Pilgrims who lived near Leiden. He was hired to be the Pilgrims’ military captain. His role in the settlement was to be coordinate the Pilgrims’ defense against outside threats from, say, the French, the Spanish, or the Dutch, as well as the “Indians” (Native American) tribes.
We know he was married when he traveled with the Pilgrims. His wife Rose traveled with him to the New World. As they had no children, they likely married before the Mayflower set sail, but we do not know the date or even Rose’s last name. The lady died during the first winter at Plymouth. According to the tale Longfellow set about, Standish set his eyes on Priscilla Mullins, an orphan (Her parents and brother also died during that first winter.) and one of the wealthier Pilgrims because she held the shares of her family in the expedition. Moreover, she was the only female who was not married among those who, initially, traveled with the Pilgrims. Priscilla, however, chose John Alden over Standish. Standish, later, courted and married a woman named Barbara (again, no last name), who arrived at Plymouth on the ship Anne in the year 1623.
As part of his duties to the Pilgrims, he explored the area and assisted in developing the site chosen for the settlement. In his role as military captain, Standish oversaw the building of the fort designed to protect the colonists. He led trading expeditions and designed the group’s response to the Indian tribes 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.” [Mayflower History] At times Standish was criticized for his ruthlessness and for his quick temper. However, he was also praised for his defense of the colony and for his tender concern for those who took ill during that first disastrous winter.
In the mid 1630s, Standish and John Alden founded the town of Duxbury, where they lived out the remainder of their days. Standish and Barbara had eight children: Charles (died young), Alexander, John, Myles, Lora, Josias, and Charles. He died a painful death from most consider to be kidney stones on 3 October 1656.
Introducing “The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst” (part of the Regency Summer Secrets and Soirées Anthology)
Released Yesterday, June 30, 2020
What happens when a lady falls in love, not with her betrothed, but rather with his cousin?
Miss Priscilla Keenan has been promised to the Marquess of Blackhurst since her birth. The problem is: She has never laid eyes upon the man. So, when Blackhurst sends his cousin to York to assist Priscilla in readying Blackhurst’s home estate for the marquess’s return from his service in India, it is only natural for Priscilla to ask Mr. Alden something of the marquess’s disposition. Yet, those conversations lead Cilla onto a different path, one where she presents her heart to the wrong gentleman. How can she and Alden find happiness together when the world means to keep them apart? Inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” this tale wants for nothing, not even a happy ending, but it is not what the reader things.
I have 3 eBook copies of Regency Summer Secrets and Soirées available to those who comment below.
Kindle Regency Summer – Secrets and Soirees: A Regency Romance Summer Anthology (REGENCY ANTHOLOGIES Book 5) eBook: Richmond, Arietta, Jeffers, Regina, May, Janis Susan, Hanford, Summer, Masters, Sandra, Lee, Cora, Hinshaw, Victoria: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store