Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pilgrim Profile: Myles Standish - the Iron-Nerved Puritan Warrior

(purported picture of Myles Standish.)
Myles Standish: "an iron-nerved Puritan, who
could hew down forests and live on crumbs."
posts in this series: 
part 1: Myles Standish
part 2: William Brewster
part 3: William Bradford
part 4: Edward Winslow

With Thanksgiving approaching, we thought this would be a great time to release a series of profiles on the Pilgrims. We begin with Myles Standish (1584-1656) - "the Iron-Nerved Puritan Warrior."

From Americana magazine:

The militant character of the colony was Myles Standish. During the war between Spain and Holland he was a soldier in the service of the latter country. Afterward he joined in Leyden the Pilgrim emigration to America, more likely in a spirit of adventure than through any religious enthusiasm. He was not a member of Robinson’s church, nor did he become a member of the Plymouth Communion. He was a dissenter from the dissenters. His military knowledge was of value to the colonists, and on their second exploration in search of a suitable place to land, he commanded sixteen armed men, each with his musket, sword and corslet.

After the founding of Plymouth, he was appointed military commander of the colony. In the fall of that year he undertook an expedition to explore Massachusetts Bay. They also explored the broad plains known as “Massachusetts fields,” the gathering place of the Indian tribes, which comprises a part of what is now Quincy, Massachusetts.

The new colony at Weymouth, Massachusetts, planted in 1622, incurred the enmity of the Massachusetts Indians and a plot was formed by them to destroy it. The plan was revealed to the Plymouth Colony by [Chief] Massasoit, and Standish with a force of men was ordered to their aid. Arriving at the colony, two of the Massachusetts Indian chiefs, Pecksuot and Wituwamat, with a half brother of the latter, were enticed into a room and by Massasoit’s advice the Indians were killed by Standish and his men. This was the first Indian blood shed by the Pilgrims; a general battle ensued, and the Indians were defeated, though there were no lives lost. This victory of Standish spread terror among the savages; the head of Wituwamat was exposed to view at Plymouth as a warning to deter the Indians from further depredations.

As Plymouth Colony's military commander, Standish was "resolute, stern,
bold, and of incorruptible integrity."

Captain Standish was the military commander of the colony during his lifetime. He commanded the Plymouth troops in their expedition against the Narragansett Indians in 1643, and ten years later, when there was danger of hostilities with the Dutch, he was one of the council of war and was appointed to the command of the troops. His wife Rose, who accompanied him on the Mayflower’s voyage, died January 29, 1621. His courtship of Priscilla Mullins has been made a subject of romance by the poet, Henry W. Longfellow. Although his envoy, John Alden, won his chosen bride, there does not seem to have been any illwill created between them, as they remained close friends until death, and later generations of Standish and Alden families intermarried. He married for his second wife, Barbara; a tradition says she was a sister of his first wife. She came to the colony on the ship Ann in 1623, and was the mother of all his children. 

Captain Standish was prominent in the civil affairs of the colony. He was for many years assistant on one of the governor’s council. He was a commissioner of the United Colonies; a partner in the trading company; and for many years treasurer of the colony. He, with a number of the other colonists, removed from Plymouth and founded a town to which was given the name of Duxbury, in honor of Duxbury Hall, in his native parish in England. Here he lived the remainder of his life, and the site where he built his house became known as Captain’s Hill, a name it bears to the present time; here he died October 3, 1656. A granite monument to his memory was erected on this hill in 1888, the shaft is one hundred feet in height, and upon it stands a statue of Standish looking eastward; his right hand, holding a copy of the charter of the colony, is extended toward Plymouth, while his left hand rests upon his sheathed sword.

Captain Standish was of small stature, of great energy, activity, and courage. He was able to impress the hostile Indians with awe for the English. He was “an iron-nerved Puritan, who could hew down forests and live on crumbs.” He was resolute, stern, bold, and of incorruptible integrity. 

"Beginnings of New England," Americana (American Historical Magazine): Volume 13 (New York: The American Historical Society,  January, 1919 - December, 1919), 223 - 225.


RonaldDadK said...

It was an eventful December for me, and am now getting back in the saddle to work…

I very much need to catch up to let you know that we featured a link to “Myles Standish” in the Thanksgiving edition of Nordskog Publishing's public service e-news letter The Bell Ringer. Thanks for this good work!

Stephen Halbrook had shared it on Facebook.

If you wish to see this edition, you can click here:

God bless,

Ronald Kirk
Theology editor
Nordskog Publishing

Steve C. Halbrook said...

Ronald, thanks for sharing! Hope you have a blessed new year.