ORIGIN: Holland

MIGRATION: 1620 on Mayflower


REMOVES: Duxbury

RETURN TRIPS: Sent to London in late 1625 and returned early 1626


FREEMAN: In the "1633" Plymouth list of freemen Capt[ain] Myles Standish is first among the councillors, immediately after the governor [PCR I :3]. In 7 March 1636/7 list of freemen [PCR I :52]. In 1639 list of freemen, among Assistants and in Duxbury section [PCR 8:173, 174].

EDUCATION: He signed several documents sent to the Bay and must have been conversant with figures to be colony treasurer. His inventory included several dozen books, valued at £9 3s.; although there were three Bibles and a number of other theological volumes, Standish also owned such titles as Homer's Iliad and Caesar's Commentaries.

OFFICES: Assistant, 1 January 1632/3, 1635, 1637-41, 1645-56 [MA Civil List 36-38; PCR 1:5, 32, 48, 79, 116, 140, 2:8, 15, 83, 115, 123, 166, 3:7, 30, 48, 77, 99]. Deputy Governor [PCR 3:27]. Treasurer, 1644-56 [MA Civil List 36; PCR 2:76, 101, 115, 123, 166, 3:7, 30, 48, 77]. Council of War [PCR 2:47, 64, 100, 3:26, 28].

"Capt. Standish" is in the Duxbury section of the 1643 Plymouth Colony list of men able to bear arms [PCR 8: 190]. Captain, 1620-56 [PCR 1:52, 59, 80, 82, 84, 90-92, 98, 100]. Commander of forces [PCR 2:47, 146]. Captain of troops raised for Dutch war [PCR 3:29, 55]

ESTATE: In the 1623 Plymouth division of land "Captin Myles Standish" received two acres as a passenger on the Mayflower [for himself and his first wife, Rose], and "Mrs. Standish" received one acre as a passenger on the Anne in 1623 [PCR 12:4, 6]. In the 1627 Plymouth division of cattle Captain Standish, Barbara Standish, Charles Standish, Alexander Standish and John Standish are the first five persons in the third company [PCR 12:10].

In 1631 "Captain Myles Standish of Plymouth" sold to Edward Winslow of Plymouth "two acres of land lying in the north field" [PCR 12: 16].

In the Plymouth tax lists of 25 March 1633 and 27 March 1634 Capt[ain] Myles Standish was assessed 18s. [PCR 1:9, 27]. He was one of the purchasers [PCR 2: 177].

On 1 July 1633 through 20 March 1636/7 Captain Standish was allowed to mow land he had formerly mowed [PCR 1:14, 40, 56]. On 4 December 1637 Captain Myles Standish was granted the surplusage of land on "Ducksborrow side" in consideration of the "want of lands he should have had to his proportion [PCR 1:70]. On 2 July 1638 Captain Myles Standish received three hundred acres of uplands [PCR 1:91]. On 1 October 1638 he was granted a garden place at Duxborrow side, which was formerly laid forth for him [PCR 1 :99]. On 4 March 1650/1 "whereas Captain Miles Standish hath been at much trouble and pains, and hath gone sundry journeys into Yarmouth aforesaid in the said town's business, and likely to have more in that behalf, in respect whereunto the Court have granted unto the said Captain Standish" about forty or fifty acres [PCR 2:164].

On 9 May 1654 "Capt. Myles Standish" sold to Capt. Thomas Willett of Plymouth his purchaser's right at Sowamsett, Mattapoisett and places adjacent; "Mrs. Barberye Standish wife of the said Capt. Standish" con­sented to his deed [MD 6:246-47, citing PCLR 2:1:111].

In his will, dated 7 March 1655[/6] and proved 4 May 1657, "Myles Standish Senior of Duxburrow" asked that "if I die at Duxburrow my body to be laid as near as conveniently may be to my two daughters Lora Standish my daughter and Mary Standish my daughter-in-law" and bequeathed to "my dear and loving wife Barbara Standish" one-third of his estate after all debts are paid; to "my son Josias Standish upon his marriage" cattle to the value of £40 (if possible), and "that every one of my four sons viz: Allexander Standish, Myles Standish, Josias Standish and Charles Standish may have forty pounds apiece," to "my eldest son Allexaner ... a double share in land," and "so long as they live single that the whole be in partnership betwixt them"; "my dearly beloved wife Bar­bara Standish, Allexander Standish, Myles Standish and Josias Standish" to be joint executors; "my loving friends Mr. Timothy Hatherley and Capt. James Cudworth" to be supervisors; to "Marcye Robinson whom I tenderly love for her grandfather's sake" £3; to "my servant John Irish Jr." 40s. beyond what is due him by covenant; and to "my son & heir apparent Allexander Standish all my lands as heir apparent by lawful descent in Ormistick, Borsconge, Wrightington, Maudsley, Newburrow, Crawston and the Isle of Man and given to me as right heir by lawful descent but surruptuously [sic] detained from me my great-grandfather being a second or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish" [MD 3:153-55, citing PCPR 2:1:37-38].

The inventory of the estate of "Captain Miles Standish gent.," taken 2 December 1656, totalled £358 7s., including "one dwelling house and outhouses with the land thereunto belonging" valued at £140 [MD 3:155-56, citing PCPR 2:1 :39-40].

On 4 May 1657 "Mr. Allexander Standish and Mr. Josias Standish do accept of being executors with Mrs. Barbery Standish, their mother, on the estate of Captain Myles Standish, deceased" [PCR 3: 114].

On 5 October 1658 confirmation was made of a sale by "Capt. Myles Standish" (with consent of his wife Barbara) to Mr. Thomas Howes of Yarmouth of "a certain farm lying in the liberties of Yarmouth," which had been granted to Standish by the court on 4 March 1650 [MD 13:142- 43, citing PCLR 2:2:11].

BIRTH: By about 1593 based on date of first marriage.

DEATH: Duxbury 3 October 1656 [MD 1: 12-13 (and especially footnote on page 12); NEHGR 87:152].

MARRIAGE: (1) By say 1618 Rose __ . She died Plymouth 29 January 1620/1 ("January 29 [1620/1]. Dies Rose, the wife of Captain Standish" [Prince 184])(2) By 1624 Barbara __ . She died after 6 October 1659 [MD 4:119]..


  1. CHARLES, b. say 1624; living 1627; d. by about 1635.
  2. ALEXANDER, b. say 1626 (died 6 July 1702 "being about 76 years of age" [NEHGR 87:153]); m. (1) by about 1660 Sarah Alden, daughter of JOHN ALDEN; m. (2) by 1689 as her third husband Desire (Doty) (Sherman) Holmes, daughter of EDWARD DOTY [PM 177].
  3. JOHN, b. say 1627; no further record.
  4. MYLES, b. say 1629; m. Boston 19 July 1660 Sarah Winslow, daughter of JOHN WINSLOW [PM 511; BVR 76].
  5. LORA, b. say 1631; d. by 7 March 1655[/6], unm. (from father's will).
  6. JOSIAS, b. say 1633; m. (1) Marshfield 19 December 1654 Mary Dingley [MarVR l]; m. (2) after 1655 Sarah Allen, daughter of Samuel Allen (in his will of 2 August 1669 Samuel Allen bequeathed to "my son-in-law Josiah Standish" [SPR 6:27]).
  7. CHARLES, b. say 1635; living 7 March 1655[/6] (named in father's will); no further record.

COMMENTS: Bradford listed "Captin Myles Standish and Rose his wife" as passengers on the Mayflower [Bradford 442]. In 1651 Bradford stated that "Captain Standish his wife died in the first sickness and he married again and hath four sons living and some are dead" [Bradford 445].

Standish was a leader of the first and third discovery expeditions on Cape Cod in November and December 1620 [Mourt 19-24, 32-37]. On 22 March 1620/1, Captain Standish and Master Williamson [William Brewster] met Massassoit at the brook and began negotiations, soon joined by the governor [Mourt 55-57].

Although we have been left with THOMAS MORTON's description of Standish as "Captain Shrimp," Bradford described him in gentler terms during the first great sickness: “so as there died sometimes two or three of a day ... that of one hundred & odd persons, scarce fifty remained. And of these in the time of most distress, there was but six or seven sound persons, who, to their great commendations be it spoken, spared no pains, night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their own health ... did all the homely & necessary offices for them, which dainty & queazy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly & cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends & bretheren. A rare example & worthy to be remembered. Two of these seven were Mr. William Brewster, their Reverend Elder, & Myles Standish, their Captain & military commander, unto whom myself & many others, were much beholden in our low & sick condition” [Bradford 77].

In the winter of 1622, Captain Standish was to go to the Bay, but was twice driven back by high winds, the latter time being sick with a "violent fever" [Good News 299-300]. The Governor took his place and the meeting occurred as intended; Standish recovered within the month [Good News 304].

Lyford and Oldham, in their derogatory letters to England about the early settlement at Plymouth, said "Captain Standish looks like a silly boy, and is in utter contempt" [Bradford 156]. Standish also had a facility with language, but one editor remarked that "Standish, though 'the best linguist among them,' in the Indian dialects, was more expert with the sword than the pen" [Young's Pilgrim Fathers 115].

In early 1623, Captain Standish went to trade with the Indians. On meeting some of greater number than his little band, he soon missed some beads, and taking his men "set them on their guard about the sachem's house ... threatening to fall upon them without further delay if they would not forthwith restore them, signifying ... that as he would not offer the least injury, so he would not receive any at their hands, which should escape without punishment or due satisfaction" [Good News 309]. This bold stance won respect as well as the return of the beads.

In a 1623 trip to the area near what would be Boston, Captain Standish warned the men there of the Indians' violent intentions. When a number arrived to trade, Standish boldly faced them down and averted a skirmish, but not without suffering some personal slights: "Also Pecksuot, being a man of greater stature than the Captain, told him, though he were a great captain, yet he was but a little man; and, said he, though I be no sachim, yet I am a man of great strength and courage. These things the Captain observed, yet bare with patience for the present" [Good News 338].

In a running conflict in spring of 1623, Standish and a small troop took the high ground and as one assailant drew his bow to fire at Standish, Standish and one other fired at him and broke his arm, "whereupon they fled into a swampe. When they were in the thicket, they parleyed, but to small purpose, getting nothing but foul language. So our Captain dared the sachim to come out and fight like a man, showing how base and woman-like he was in tonguing it as he did, but he refused, and fled" [Good News 341].

In late 1625 Captain Standish was sent to England with letters and instructions “both to their friends of the company ... and also the Honorable Council of New England to the company to desire that seeing that they meant only to let them have goods upon sale, that they might have them upon easier terms, for they should never be able to bear such high interest ... But he came in a very bad time, for the State was full of trouble, and the plague very hot in London, so as no business could be done, yet he spake with some of the Honored Council, who promised all helpfulnes to the plantation which lay in them ... yet with much ado he took up £150 (& spent a good deal of it in expences) at 50 per cent, which he bestowed in trading goods & such other most needful commodities as he knew requisite for their use, and so returned passenger in a fishing ship” [Bradford 177-79].

In 1628, Captain Standish was sent to capture Morton by force. Coming upon Morton's dwelling, Standish found him to be well armed and locked within. Fortunately, they were "over armed with drink" and, coming out of the house “they were so steeled with drink as their pieces were too heavy for them, [Morton] ... with a carbine ... had thought to have shot Captain Standish; but he [Standish] stepped to him, & put by his piece, & took him. Neither was there any hurt done to any of either side, save that one was so drunk that he ran his own nose upon the point of a sword that one held before him as he entered the house; but he lost but a little of his hot blood” [Bradford 209-10].

In 1634 when Mr. Alden was imprisoned in the Massachusetts Bay, Captain Standish was sent to free him [Bradford 264-65].

BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: The last clause of the will of Miles Standish, in which he complains of being "surruptuously detained" from his rightful inheritance, and then lists a number of estates, has spawned a great amount of research into the origins of this immigrant.

In 1914 Thomas Cruddas Porteus published "Some Recent Investigations Concerning the Ancestry of Capt. Myles Standish" [NEHGR 68:339-69]. He transcribed many estate documents, and came to the tentative conclusion that Miles Standish descended from a certain Ruan Standish of the Isle of Man.

In 1933 Merton Taylor Goodrich prepared a study of "The Children and Grandchildren of Capt. Myles Standish" [NEHGR 87:149-60]. Goodrich touches only briefly on the matter of the Standish ancestry; the most important part of his article is a careful study of both wives and each of the children of Miles Standish, dealing in detail with a number of matters of chronology and proof. This article is the bedrock on which all later work is based.

More recently G.V.C. Young has tackled the problem of the ancestry of Miles Standish and has advanced our knowledge greatly. In 1984 he presented an extended argument that Miles Standish was born on the Isle of Man, and that he was the son of a John Standish of Ellanbane on the Isle of Man [Myles Standish: First Manx American (Isle of Man 1984)]. This John Standish was son of another John Standish, who was son of a Huan Standish of Ellanbane, the very man proposed by Porteus in 1914. Although this conclusion is very well argued, the proof is not yet complete, although Young's identification is highly probable.

Young has published two brief supplements to this work: More About Pilgrim Myles Standish (Isle of Man 1987) and Ellanbane Was the Birthplace of Myles Standish (Isle of Man 1988).

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