The History of the Church and Manor of Wigan/John Standish

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Other references show that Standish removed to the parishes of Paglesham and Rodensham, became Prebendary of Ealdham, St Paul's Cathedral, and died in 1570. See author page John Standish


John Standish, D.D., was the next rector. His institution is not recorded in the Diocesan Register, neither does his name occur in the Composition Books as having paid his first-fruits; but Strype gives, amongst a collection of collations, presentations, grants, letters and licences, to men of the church or university in the time of Edward VI., a presentation from the King to the bishop of Chester to admit John Standish, D.D., to the parsonage of Wigan, in his diocese, void by the death of Mr. Herbert, last incumbent; dated March, 1550.[1]

His connection with Wigan was of short duration. He must have resigned, or been deprived of his benefice, within twelve months of his appointment But his career was a remarkable one, and worth recording in full as an illustration of the history of the times in which he lived. According to Anthony à Wood "John Standish was born of, and descended from, an ancient and genteel family of his name living in Lancashire, and at about fifteen years of age, in 1524, he was by the care of his unkle Dr. Henry Standish,[2] bishop of St. Asaph, sent to Brazennose College (Oxford), where making great proficiency in logic (he) was elected scholar or probationer-fellow of Cor. Chr. in January 1528, partly by the endeavours made in his behalf by one Mr. Ed. Standish, fellow of Brazennose (who was either his brother or uncle) and partly by the said doctor. After he was settled in that college he went through the usual classes of logic and philosophy with unwearied industry, became a most noted disputant, took the degrees in arts (and) holy orders, and drudging much in the faculty of divinity proceeded doctor therein, an. 1542, at which time he was one of the fellows of Whyttington college in London; and having a chamber in Brazennose, took commons there when he receded to the university for conversation with men and books."[3] Gn 3rd December, 1543, he was admitted to the rectory of St. Andrew, Undershaft.[4] "In the time of King Edward VI. he seemed to be a zealous reformer, was then made rector of Wygan in his own country, and took to him a wife, who lived not long with him, for when Queen Mary came to the crown they were separated."[5] He was presented to a stall in Worcester cathedral, 12th July, 1550, and installed 2nd August following.[6]

In June 1552, as one of the King's chaplains, he had a licence to enjoy his prebend in the church of Worcester as though he were resident;[7] and in the same year he had another licence of non-residence granted to him (being then described as a prebendary in the church of Worcester and one of the King's ordinary chaplains), to have the said prebend, being in any other of his promotions; any constitution or Act of Parliament that is or shall be to the contrary notwithstanding; dated at Christ's Church (where the King was then in his progress) 20th August, 1552.[8] Le Neve gives the date of (Dr. Leonard Pollard) his successor's installation to this prebend as 11th August, 1551, and Standish's name does not occur again as holding the stall, so that it would seem as if the Royal licences took no effect. As John Standish, S.T.P., he was admitted archdeacon of Colchester 10th January, 1552-3, at the presentation of Sir Edward North, knight, but his institution was obliterated a few days afterwards, and Hugh Weston, S.T.P., Dean of Westminster, was collated to the archdeaconry 22nd January, 1553-4 "per subductionem et obliterationem actus institutionis Standish.[9] From this it would appear that, whether in view of prospective changes when Princess Mary should accede to the throne or moved by other domestic causes, the reforming zeal of Standish was now on the wane. At any rate when Queen Mary came to the throne Standish was made vicar of Northall, 29th June, 1554; of which he seems to have been shortly afterwards deprived because he was a married man.[10] It was, perhaps, at this time that he put away his wife, and bishop Bonner, for his affections to popery, collated him the same year to the rectory of Packlesham in Essex.[11]

He does not seem to have prospered altogether even in Queen Mary's time, for at the metropolitical visitation of the diocese of Lincoln by the Cardinal Archbishop Pole in 1556, amongst the matters detected and exposed by John [White], bishop of Lincoln, were the following concerning John Standish, who appears to have been rector of Medbourne, in the county of Leicester, at that time: "Medburne Mansum. Mansum rectorie patitur maximam ruinam. Fama publica est, quod rector ibidem Dominus Johannes Standish, qui trahit moram Leicestrie, est Symoniace promotus, Dominus Le Scrope, sive Dominiis Le Conias, sunt patroni. Unde Dominus vocand, decrevit. Needum compamit. Ideo Dominus decrevit ultiorem processum. Et causa commissa est commissario Leic.[12]

Dr. Standish was admitted to the stall of Ealdland in St. Paul's Cathedral on 21st October, 1557, but was deprived soon afterwards and succeeded by Robert Willanton in 1557 or 1558 while Queen Mary was yet living; from which it may be inferred, perhaps, that he was again preparing for a change. Willanton was succeeded by Dr. John Morwen in July, 1558 (5 and 6 Phil. and Mary); after whom Standish was restored by Queen Elizabeth, and died possessed of it in 1570.[13] In the meantime he had not altogether broken with Bishop Bonner, for on 15th October, 1558, shortly before the death of Queen Mary, being then styled prebendary of Ealdland, he was re-instated by bishop Bonner in the archdeaconry of Colchester, of which he was soon afterwards deprived again, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth to the throne, and John Pulleyne was admitted 13th December, 1559, "ad presentationem Reginæ."[14] He was evidently a regular time-server, and changed his views with the changes in the times. In the beginning of Queen Mary's reign he was very zealous in his endeavours to destroy the copies of the Bible which had been translated into the English language in the time of King Edward VI. and before. He bestirred himself so much in this matter that he found means to have it proposed in parliament that all such Bibles should be prohibited and burned. "This," says à Wood, "being very displeasing to many made him hateful in their eyes."[15]

Dr. Standish's known works, as given in Bohn's edition of Lowndes' manual, compared with the catalogue at the British Museum, were:

(1) A lytle Treatise composyd by Johan Standysshe one of the Fellowes of Whytington Colledge in London, againste the Protestacion of Robert Barnes at the Time of his deth. London in Ædibus Rob. Redmain, 1540, 8vo. The said Robert Barnes was burned at Smithfield, 3 July, 32 Hen. VIII., 1540.[16]

(2) A discourse wherein is debated whether it be expedient that the Scripture should be in English for al men to reade that wyll. This was first printed by Caley in 1554, and the 2nd edition with additions, by the same printer, Feb. 8, 1555, in Bodl., 8vo. d. 28. Th. Seld.; and in Brit. Mus. This book is spoken of, in the catalogue of books in the British Museum printed before 1640, as having the author's initials subscribed at the end of the text. On the reverse of the same leaf is "A Prayer" in verse, the first letters of each line forming the words John Standish, Author. The following extracts from this tract are curious as coming from the pen of one who had been a reformer, and as giving a character of Queen Mary very different from those we generally meet with:

"Thankes be to Jesus Christe that by hys onelye myght and power, when it was paste all man's helpe, hathe delivered us from the devyll and the bondage of Pharao, and brought us furthe of darkenes of scismes and heresies into the cleere lighte of truethe agayne by sendynge us owre blessed queene Marye (even another Helena to brynge agayne the holye crosse) whiche even from her infancie hathe sticked faste and cleved surelye unto the sounde pyller of trueth (the Catholyke churche) whyche wyll never faile, she hath ever defended it to the uttermoste of her power. Lorde graunte her joyfull deliveraunce of her most comfortable burthen. If among the heathen people the princes ever have ben greatly praised for vertue, how highly then is she worthy to be extolled above other for soo plentyfull and soo manifolde kindes of vertue and giftes of grace? whiche doth not only excel in godlynesse, in devotion, in praier, in fasting, in abstinece, in humilitie, in charitie, in mercie, in pitie, in compassion, in discrecion, in knowledge, in wysedome, in excellencie of witte, beinge of no small studie in godly literature, but being of exquisite learninge, of profounde knowledge, and of exact judgement; beside notable diligence and great painfulnesse, even frō her childholde (as it is evidently seen) in her most godly innated zeale that she beareth styll moste earnest towarde the unitie and fayeth of Chryste's true religion, and towarde the chiefe head thereof under Chryst whyche by ye space of these xx yeares ever tyll shee came, was banished thys realm, through scisme and heresye, through covetousnes and letcherie. Lord be mercyful unto us." Sign. B. 3.

The pious ejaculation at the end of this extract is not a little ridiculous to a modern reader, particularly when he hears that Standish turned reformer to marry a wife, and then became a papist to get rid of her again.[17]

(3) The Triall of the Supremacy, wherein is set forth ye Vnitie of Christes Church, &c. London, by Thomas Marshe, 1556, 8vo. Dedicated to Cardinal Pole.

Whether the rectory of Wigan became vacant by the resignation or deprivation of Standish in 1551 I am unable to say.


  1. Strype's Memorials, vol. iv. p. 260.
  2. Repertorium Ecclesiasticum, folio, Lond. 1708, vol. i. p. 275. In Wood's Athenæ vol. i. p. 92 note, Henry Standish, bishop of St. Asaph, is said to have been of the ancient family of Standish of Burgha in the county of Lancaster (Kennet); and in the text he is said to have left legacies to Ralph Standish, Lord of Standish in Lancashire, his near kinsman, to Agnes Worthington, his sister, and Will. Standish his natural brother.
  3. Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses, ed. Bliss (1818), vol. i. p. 235.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Le Neve's Fasti
  7. Strype's Memorials, vol. iv. p. 270.
  8. Strype's Memorials, vol. iv. p. 272.
  9. Le Neve's Fasti
  10. Wood's Athenæ. The Author is rather involved in this part of his account; but the true version is probably as I have stated it.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Strype's Memorials vol. vi. p. 403.
  13. Le Neve's Fasti
  14. Ibid.
  15. Wood's Athenæ, J. Bale (in lib, de Scriptoribus Mag., Britan, p. 111, int. cent. 12 and 13) speaks of him as one "quem magna pars populi pro morione et scurrâ tenebat"; and he afterwards calls him "bestia" and "impostor." Another writer (if indeed he be not the same) speaks of him as: "Dr. Inkpot, and a blinking coxcomb, who married against his conscience (as he saith), more fit to be made a riding fool than chaplain to a king." The expression occurs in an epistle to the reader prefixed to an edition of Stephen Gardiner's work: "De Verâ Obedienciâ; an Oration made in Latine by the ryghte Reverend father in God Stephan B. of Winchestre … with the preface of E. Boner. … B. of London, touching true Obedience … translated into English and printed by Michal Wood; with the preface and conclusion of the traunslatour, Roane (Rouen) xxv of Octobre, 1553." 8vo. G. 11993(3) in Brit. Mus. The editor of the catalogue of Books in Brit. Mus., printed before 1640, calls M. Wood a pseudonym, and attributes the authorship of another book, printed in his name (Admonishion to the Bisshopes of Winchester, London and others) at Roane in 1553, to J. Bale, Bishop of Ossory. If this be so the Oration may also have been published by him. This, being the language of the zealous reformers, incited one of another opinion, who was after them in time, to characterize Standish as "vir doctrinâ, pictate, fide et divine gloria selo conspicuus" (Jo. Pits. de illustr. Angl. Script, at. 16, num. 1001).
  16. Soon after came out a confutation of the said little treatise, entitled: A confutation of that treatise which one John Standish made agaynst the Protestation of D. Barnes in the year MDXL., wherein the holy Scriptures (perverted and wrested in his said treatise) are restored to their owne true understanding agayne by Myles Coverdale, 8vo, London, in Ædibus Elisabeth Pickerynge, 8vo., in Bodl. c. 46. Th. Seld. and in Brit. Mus.
  17. Wood's Athenæ