The Record Office has acquired a collection of some 300 documents (DP/397) relating mainly to the Standish family of Duxbury [this article was first published in the Lancashire Record Office annual report for 1969-70. The collection can be seen at Lancashire Archives and you can browse the catalogue here]. They range from the early 13th century to late 18th and the collection compress title deeds, accounts and receipts, bonds, letters, enclosure, legal and official papers and a good series of Duxbury manorial records from 1489 to 1632. It is supplemented by the documents which have long lain amongst the County Records (DX/850-1291) because the solicitors of Frank Hall Standish, one of the last Standishes, were also deputy clerks of the peace. These latter papers cover the years 1612-1837, principally the years 1830-1843.
In the earliest Duxbury deed, Henry of Duxbury grants to Hugh of Standish meadow and waste, surrounded by ponds and ditches, with fishing rights, a house called Bothommes, two parts of wood and the river Yarrow. The mill was reserved to Henry, with remainder to Hugh. This seems to have been a fair part of the town-ship. Deeds of 1319 and 1356, also a jury list, c.1350, relating to disputed lands of Hugh, grandson of the first Hugh of Standish, indicate enlargement of the holding in Duxbury Deeds of Duxbury begin again in 1506, after 150 years’ gap, with a mortgage of Duxbury manor and other estates in Lancashire by Thomas Standish. Interesting leases are found, mentioning war service, 1530 and 1569/70, a smithy at Yarrow Bridge, 1708, a bowling green, 1700, more references to the mill, 1699/1700, 1727, 1742/3. The 1727 lease is most detailed. It was water corn mill and malt mill with kiln. The respective liabilities of miller and landlord were carefully stipulated , involving a description of the mechanism and state of the mill.
Of deeds relating to Chorley, which cover from c.1220 to 1685, the most interesting is an attestation, dated 1446, in fulsome English, by Sir Peres Gerard, Kt., that he had spoken to Sir Edward Grey (now Lord Ferrers in right of his wife, Elizabeth Lady Ferrers, grand-daughter of the last Lord Ferrers) on behalf of James Standish concerning his lease in Chorley, of which manor Lord Ferrers held a moiety. Sir Peres declared that Lord Ferrers had clearly been approached by many persons about the matter, including ‘my lady of Somerset’, that is, the Dowager Duchess, Margaret Beauchamp, whose only daughter Margaret was mother of Henry VII. The new Lord Ferrers’ son, Sir John Grey, married Elizabeth Woodville, later Queen of Edward IV. Of other deeds, one of special interest is of 1600/1 relating to Great Avenham, the Water Wyllows, the Cliffe and the Great Cliffe, in Preston, now the site of Miller Park and Avenham Walk.
Naturally, there are numerous settlements and family deeds. The earliest is an ornately written quitclaim from Simon of Grubhead to Robert, Lord of Lathom, c.1230, of his lands in Roby, Childwall and Anglezarke. The witness , Henry or Standkish, is probably of the Standish of Standish family. The first reference to all the family estates is in a letter of attorney of 1493, referring to Duxbury, Heapey, Worthington, Langtree, Heath Charnock, Chorley, Wigand, Hindley and Crosby. Perhaps at times the family overreached itself, for in 1565 James Standish and Christopher, his son, agreed that Christopher should pay his father two-thirds of his life annuity, in view of his father’s ‘small living’, debts and servants’ expenses. Yet fortunes mended soon, because in 1566 he had estates in Lancaster, Scotforth and Burrow too, through his second marriage to Elizabeth Butler. Never after did fortunes decline. The firm Parliamentarian alignment of Col. Richard Standish during the Commonwealth, followed by the equally firm Royalist alignment of Sir Richard Standish, made a baronet, 1676/7, saved the estate, Sir Richard profitably married the strong-minded Margaret Holcroft. She raised portions from her Culcheth estate worth £2,000 for her younger children in 1701. By 1730 the estate had been mortgaged to the Earl of Orrery for £6,000-a fair value.
If deeds are few for the 18th century , more correspondence, accounts and the like are found, including many letters of Richard Standish, second son of Sir Thomas and a lawyer at Barnard’s Inn, London, He invested nearly £2,000 with Moore & Smith, London stockbrokers, who became bankrupt by 1762. They tried in vain to save their reputation by investments in the national lottery. Richard had to leave London and become a steward at Chorley probably to Lady Standish, as an apolo-getic letter to ‘Your Ladyship in 1763 suggests. He recovered much of his money from the bankrupts, however, and by 1769 was lending towards the repair of Barn-ard’s Inn buildings. There also survives his letter-book, mostly in shorthand, from 4 Apr. 1751 to 31 Dec, 1753. The letters seem not to have been wholly business. There are longhand references to ‘Handella musick’, disordered…senses’ and a ‘Mad Doctor’ (psychiatrist), ‘small pox’ and ‘inoculating’, ‘Tea Chinea’, also detailed references to luggage, cloth and clothes brought, and considerable travelling in England. The bonds, which begin in 1374, include two military indentures relating to the Hundred Years War. In the first, dated 1434, Thomas, son of Hugh of Hyndeley, agreed to serve the King and James Standish as an archer with two archers ‘reasonable arayet’ in France from the first day of muster for six months, the bond being void in case of death of sickness. In the second, dated 1435/6, Alexander of Clayton agreed to be ready at the first day of muster with an ‘abull mon of armes aralet as falls ‘or men of armes’, and 6 able archers, each with 32 arrows, some of which were to be ‘duggbyll hedyt’. They were to follow James Standish in the King’s service for two years, being paid by James according to the ‘grete endentures’ made between James and the Earl of Mortain. This Earl wad Edmund Beaufort, later 2nd Duke of Somerset, who attended Henry VI’s coronation banquet in Paris 1431.
Among legal papers we find some typical Sheriffs’ writs of the 14th and 15th centuries. The two earliest illustrate stages of Duchy and Palatine administration. The first, dated 1354/5, is attested by Henry of Walton, archdeacon of Richmond, acting lieutenant of the Duchy, dated by the Ducal year. The second writ, of 1400/1, is dated by the year of the regality of the country palatine, reminding us that in 1399 the Duchy of Lancaster came to the Crown, in the person of Henry IV.
The most interesting group amongst the legal papers is surely that relating to lead mines at Anglezarke and Heapey. Some material on this has long been known among Lord Kenyon’s mumimnets, H.M.C. Rept. 1894, (quoted by R.C. Shaw: The Records of a Lancashire Family pp. 136-8 and I.A. Williamson: The Mining Magazine, Mar. 1963, pp. 133-139). Also in this collection we have a detailed lead mining agreement dated 1692 (see illustration). The rate was fifteen shillings a ton for ore mined and prepared for ‘smelting milne or merchant’. Dame Margaret Standish was sued because, although she had opposed her late husband, Sir Richard, in his mining ventures, until a good vein was suddenly struck after his death she sought to disallow the rights of his partners in business to royalities from the mines. She ruthlessly tried to influence all parties, including workmen. After this fracas the mines closed but were revived in 1721, when Sir Thomas Standish leased waste near ‘White and Black Coppys’ and mining rights to Sir Henry Hoghton. Thence-forth till 1790 mining continued. The documents found with the county records (DX/930-987 shed some light on this period. They include the above lease and a long letter by John Swalnson of Kendal, an amateur n=mineralogist, written in 1826, advising the reopening of the mines, not only for lead but for ‘carbonete of barytes’, which not only had been used by Wedgwood in producing jasper ware but was also useful for the production of caustic soda from salt and so might well be even more profitable than the lead. The letter contains an extensive quotation from the relevant easy of Parkes, the chemist, published in 1815, who visited the old mines. In vol. III of the Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, 1789, Mr. James Watt, jun., gives a full account both of the mines in Anglezarke at that date and of the properties of carbonate of barites, with a good map. The Office has a copy of the volume in question.
Among the official papers there are items not only of Interest but unique in this Office. They include a bond by the collector of the Greenwax for Lancashire to Robert of Standish, then Sheriff, to pay arrears of summonses to sessions, dated about 1390; a receipt from the King for an advance ‘by way of prest’, with bond for repayment in two years, given in 1542; a well-preserved 1547 Subsidy Roll for Leyland Hundred and the commission granted to Richard Standish, later M.P. for the county and then for Preston, as colonel of a foot regiment in Lancashire, signed by John Bradshawe president of the council of state, issued in 1650.
The last chapters of the Duxbury story are bizarre. After the death, intestate and with issue, of Sir Frank Standish, numerous claimants to the estate appeared. The guardians of one Frank Hall, who later took the name Standish, anticipated the others in taking possession instantly. Because the heir’s connection with the last baronet was somewhat complex, many bearers of the name Standish felt they might have a better claim. The most famous of these was ‘Tom’ Standish alias Standly, a Blackrod weaver, who blockaded himself in the Hall in 1813 and was only to be ejected by the military. Having served sentence for riot, he took to litigation and by 1820 was back at Lancaster goal for debt! On appealing for release, his scheduled debts equalled £2,563 11s.6d. His assets, apart from ‘excepted goods’, were only his ‘title’ to the Duxbury estates, said to be worth £15,000 a year. In 1832 Frank Hall Standish wrote of being prepared for a siege at Tom Standish’s hands. As anonymous letter from a loyal tenant in 1833 tells us that Tom was rallying the local aged to his side and that a Wigan butcher was providing money for a full genealogical research programme on his behalf, hoping to receive £30,000 if the case succeeded! A Peter, a James and a John Standish also pressed their claim. In a delightful specimen of semi-literacy an unknown person wrote to the steward of the Duxbury estates informing him of the rights of Peter. Clearly some people were out to make their fortune by sponsoring numerous unknown heirs, since a letter of 1841 written by one of the amateur record searchers in such a person’s pay to the solicitors of Frank Hall Standish revealed that the same Wigan butcher was backing Peter Standish too! In DX/1036 is enclosed a printed notice to Duxbury tenants, signed by James Standish, advising them not to pay their rents. Such notices were presumably paid for by the butcher and his friends.
Frank Hall Standish was an enigmatic character. A cripple and a bachelor, piqued, it is reputed, by Parliament’s refusal to revive the baronetcy in him, he entrusted his estate to solicitors, Messrs. Gorsts & Birchall (Deputy Clerks of the Peace), and lived mostly at Seville, where he wrote and collected works of art. Resentment over the baronetcy may have caused him to bequeath his art collection to the French King ‘in token of my great esteem for a generous and polite nation’, though his lawyers denied this. The accounts of his lawyers from 1828 to 1844 give a very good idea of the state of his affairs, including industrial developments on his estates. The Anglezarke lead mines were again worked from 1824 for a time but in 1838 an expert reported that the risks of loss were too great to render it worthwhile. In 1840 Frank Hall Standish died at Cadiz; at his death he was in process of buying a collection of Roman coins from Malta, statues from a Palermo sculptor and a collection of antiquarian books. His pictures included Murillo, Zurbaran and others of the Spanish School. Those that went to France, with certain drawings, prints and books, were valued at £17,337 10s. 6d. The French King, Louis-Philippe honoured the collection with a place in the Louvre. After the revolution of 1848 the ex-king claimed it as his property and the pictures were sold in London.
To end the story, Frank Hall Standish’s cousin succeeded to the estate in peace and was followed by his son, who died leaving only daughters. In 1891 the estate was sold by trustees. Also another siege of the Hall occurred, when a claimant and his solicitor installed themselves there by force. They were soon ejected, however, and the Hall and lands passed out of the family.