When the Mayflower was blown off course and the Pilgrims were forced to anchor in Plymouth rather than sail to Virginia, it was Myles Standish who scouted the area and looked for a place to live.
He was called Captain Shrimp because he was a short man, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in courage. He was known for his military skill and pre-emptive attacks against the Native Americans.
During the first winter, he was one of the few who did not get sick, although he did lose his first wife to sickness during that time. It was noted by William Bradford that Standish was extremely helpful during this time in caring for the sick.
He uncovered a conspiracy between multiple native tribes that wanted to attack and destroy Plymouth. He led a pre-emptive attack on these tribes and killed or executed many natives. His handling of the situation was viewed as heavy-handed, even by his friends.
He helped negotiate peace with the Wampanoag tribe and had various talks with Chief Massasoit, Squanto, and Samoset. Standish also returned to England multiple times to secure more items for trade and handle the Merchant Adventurers who had financed the trip.
He was known for his quick temper. Pilgrim historian Caleb Johnson wrote of some of his dealings with other Pilgrims:
Standish was heavily involved in numerous aspects of Plymouth Colony, from defense to keeping the law. He was on the receiving end of John Billington's verbal wrath in 1621 (Billington refused to follow the captain's orders), and was called a "silly boy" in a letter that was sent out during the Oldham-Lyford scandal of 1624, and was noted for his short stature and for his quick temper. He was sent to arrest Thomas Morton in 1628, for which he received the nickname "Captain Shrimp" from Morton. William Hubbard reported Standish's temper was like a "chimney soon fired."
Myles Standish helped found the city of Duxbury. He would die a painful death from kidney stones.
The parents of Myles Standish are unknown, as is his birthplace. There are multiple theories that place him in Lancashire, England, or the Isle of Man, but nothing can be confirmed.
He married a woman named Rose prior to coming to the New World. Her parents are unknown, and she would not survive the first winter.
He remarried Barbara, who came to Plymouth on the Anne, and the two would have 7 children together.
A few of his children did not live past him, but those that did had many children. This allows many to trace their ancestry back to Myles Standish.
Family Tree Chart
Rose Standish (1585 - 1621) - The first wife of Myles Standish. The couple did not have any children, and she died during the first winter.
Barbara Standish (1588 - 1659) - She came over after the Mayflower and married Standish. The couple had 7 children together.
Charles Standish (1624 - 1627) - His actual death date is unknown, but 1627 is the last time that he shows up in the records.
Alexander Standish (1626 - 1702) - He lived for many years and had two wives who each gave him children. He had the most offspring of any of his siblings.
John Standish (1627 - 1655) - There is not much known of him that suggests he died young. He was not mentioned in his father's will.
Myles Standish Jr. (1627 - 1660) - His birthdate is unknown but estimated around 1627. He died four years after his father while at sea.
Lora Standish (1631 - 1656) - Her death date is unknown, but it is clear she died before her father, who requested to be buried close to her.
Josiah Standish (1633 - 1690) - He had 7 children and would be one of the children that carried on his father's name.
Charles Standish (1635 - 1656) - He may have lived longer, but there is no record of him after he is mentioned in his father's will.
Myles Standish's Last Will and Testament
The Last Will and Testament of Captaine Myles Standish was Exhibited before the court held att Plymouth (the 4th) of May 1657 on the oath of Captaine James Cudworth and ordered to be recorded as followeth.
Given under my hand this march the 7th 1655 Witnesseth these presents that I Myles Standish senior of Duxburrow being in perfect memory yet Deseased in my body and knowing the fraile estate of man in his best estate I Doe make this to be my last will and Testament in manor and forme following;
1 my will is that out of my whole estate, my funeral charges be taken out & my bod(y) to be buried in Decent manor and if I Die att Duxburrow my body to bee layed as near as Conveniently may bee to my two Daughters Lora Standish my Daughter and Mary Standish my Daughterinlaw
2 my will is that out of the remaining part of my whole estate, all my jus(t) and lawful Debts which I now owe or at the Day of my Death may owe bee paid
3 out of what remaines according to the order of this Govrment: my will is that my Dear and loving wife Barbara Standish shall have the third party
4 I have given to my son Josias Standish upon his marriage one young horse, five sheep, and two heifers which I must upon that contract of marriage make forty pounds yet not knowing whether the estate will bear it at present; my will is that the residue remained in the whole stocke and that every one of my four sons viz Allexander Standish Myles Standish Josias Standish and Charles Standish may have forty pounds appeec; if not that they may have proportionable to ye remaining prte bee it more or less
5 my will is that my eldest son Allexander shall have a Double share in the land
6 my will is that so long as they live single the whole bee in partnership betwixt(t) them
7 I do ordaine and make my Dearly beloved wife Barbara Standish Allexander Standish Myles Standish and Josias Standish Joynt Exequitors of this my last will and Testament
8 I Doe by this my will make and appoint my loving frinds mr Timothy hatherley and Capt: James Cudworth Supervissors of this my last will and that they wilbee pleased to Doe the office of Christian love to be healpfull to my poor wife and Children by theire Christian Counsell and advisse; and if any Difference should arise which I hope will not; my will i(s) that my said Supervissors shall Determine the same and that they see that m(y) poor wife shall have as comfortable maintainance as my poor state will beare the whole time of her life which if you my loving frinds pleasse to Doe though neither they nor I shalbee able to recompenc I Doe not Doubt but the Lord will; By mee Myles Standish
further my will is that marcye Robenson whome I tenderly love for her Grandfathers sacke shall have three pounds in somthing to goe forward for her two yeares after my Decease which my will is my overseers shall see prformed
further (m)y will is that my servant John Irish Junir have forty shillings more then his Covenant which will appear upon the towne booke alwaies provided that hee continew till the time hee covenanted bee expired in the service of my exequitors or any of them with theire Joynt Concent
March 7th, 1655 By mee Myles Standish.
9 I give unto my son & heire aparent Allexander Standish all my lands as heir apparent by lawful Decent in Ormistick Borsconge Wrightington Maudsley Newburrow Crawston and the Ile of man and given to me as right here by lawful Decent but Surruptuously Detained from mee my great G(ran)d father being a 2cond or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish
March the 7th, 1655, by mee Myles Standish
Witnessed by mee