Myles Standish was born, possibly in Lancashire, England. The identity of his parents is not known. Very little is known of his early life.
Standish had joined the military and was part of the English Army fighting against the Spanish in the Netherlands. Sources are divided as to his position in the army. Some state he was a lieutenant while others indicate he was a mercenary.
The war against the Spanish ended in 1604. There are no records of whether he remained with the army or took other employment or whether he returned to England or stayed in the Netherlands.
Myles Standish married Rose. Her surname and other details about her are not known.
Records indicate that Standish and his wife were living in Leiden, Netherlands. They also show that he was addressed as Captain Standish.
Myles Standish was approached by a group of English Puritan dissenters who wanted to escape persecution and begin a new life in America. They had gained financial backing from the Merchant Adventurers. Standish was recruited as their military adviser.
1620 (22nd July)
Standish and his wife boarded the ‘Speedwell’, along with around 30 others and sailed to Southampton.
1620 (15th August)
The Speedwell and its passengers joined The Mayflower, carrying 90 settlers and set sail from Southampton. Known as the Pilgrim Fathers
, they took with them salted meat, dried fish, biscuits, vegetable roots, seeds and beer. However, after going a short distance, the Speedwell was found to have developed a leak and both ships were forced to put in to Plymouth for repairs.
1620 (16th September)
After deciding that it was too costly to repair the Speedwell, The Mayflower left Plymouth and set sail for Virginia, North America. On board were 102 passengers, known as pilgrims, and 30 crew.
1620 (9th November)
Land was sighted and the Mayflower dropped anchor off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, around 500 miles north of their intended destination.
1620 (11th November)
This document established how the new colony should be managed and was signed by all male settlers including Myles Standish. John Carver was chosen to be governor for the first year.
1620 (15th November)
Sixteen men, led by Myles Standish, rowed to shore to explore the region. They decided that the land was not suitable for a settlement so returned to the ship and set sail again.
1620 (11th December)
Standish led a group of 18 settlers to explore the shore of Cape Cod by boat. They went ashore at night then returned to their boat the next day. While ashore they were attacked by a group of Nauset Indians. The settlers managed to escape and decided against that location. The incident is often referred to as ‘the first encounter’.
1620 (16th December)
The Mayflower reached Plymouth Harbour and dropped anchor. They began exploring the area looking for a suitable site for their settlement.
1620 (20th December)
The settlers decided to place their settlement in the village of Patuxet which they renamed Plymouth.
1620 (23rd December)
It had been determined in the Mayflower Compact that each man would build his own shelter and contribute towards the building of a town hall. Work now began on construction of shelters for the settlers. The work was carried out by the men while the women and children remained aboard the Mayflower. Due to the fact that it was already winter they hurriedly built temporary shelters to see them through until spring.
1621 (8th January)
The settlers finally completed their Town Hall.
1621 (13th January)
John Carver, leader of the settlement, had been taken ill and was bedridden. The thatched roof of his home caught fire but he managed to escape.
1621 (late January)
45 of the settlers had died during the winter including Standish’s wife Rose. Many more had become sick and unable to work. Also bad weather had hampered building and by this time only 7 homes and 4 common houses had been completed.
1621 (17th February)
The settlers had seen Indians several times but there had been no contact. However, they anticipated conflict and decided they should have their own militia. Myles Standish was appointed the first Commander of the Plymouth Plantation. All able-bodied men were given training in use of pikes and muskets. Standish held the position of Commander for the rest of his life.
1621 (16th March)
The settlers were shown how to farm the land by a native American called Samoset. In return he asked that the men helped them fight off a rival tribe and arranged for a meeting between his tribe and the settlers.
1621 (1st April)
The settlers signed a treaty with the Pokanoket tribe.
1621 (5th April)
The Mayflower left Plymouth Harbour and returned to England.
1621 (mid April)
Governor John Carver died. William Bradford was chosen to be the new governor.
A member of the Wampanoag tribe named Corbitant, tried to turn the Pokanoket Indians at Nemasket against the Settlers.
1621 (14th August)
Standish organised a raid of Nemasket hoping to capture Corbitant and maintain the treaty with the Pokanoket. They burst into the tent where they believed Corbitant was staying and shots were fired injuring two Pokanoket. Corbitant had fled the village and was not caught.
1621 (13th September)
As a result of the raid on Nemasket, nine chiefs signed a treaty of peace with the Plymouth settlers.
The Narragansett tribe sent a bundle of arrows wrapped in a snakeskin to the settlers. Interpreters told the settlers that this was a direct threat. Standish determined that the settlement needed to be defended and ordered the construction of a palisade around the perimeter of the Plymouth settlement.
The palisade around the settlement was completed. It measured around 800 metres (half a mile), and included gates and raised lookout platforms.
A new colony, Wessagusset, was founded by a group of English men and women about 25 miles north of Plymouth.
The colonists at Wessagusset had come into conflict with the Massachusett tribe and appealed to Plymouth for help. Standish set off with a force of militia. He managed to overpower and kill the tribes’ leaders. Standish was criticised for excessive use of force particularly as the incident resulted in other tribes refusing to trade with the settlement.
Myles Standish married a lady named Barbara who had emigrated to Plymouth in 1623.
A son, Charles, was born to Myles and Barbara Standish.
Another group of English settlers, led by Thomas Morton, arrived and settled at Mount Wollaston. It was soon nicknamed ‘Merrymount’ for their love of singing, dancing and drinking alcohol.
Plymouth Colony was doing well and they wanted to repay their debt to the Merchant Adventurers and become self-governing. Myles Standish was chosen to make the journey to London to negotiate terms with the group. Unfortunately he was not successful.
A son, Alexander, was born to Myles and Barbara Standish.
Standish returned to Plymouth.
The settlers decided to make another attempt to reach a settlement with the Merchant Adventurers. Led by Isaac Allerton, a number of men, including Standish, made the journey to London and managed to agree terms.
A son, John, was born to Myles and Barbara Standish. He likely died young as there are no other records of his life.
Myles Standish returned to England.
The Plymouth Settlers agreed to divide up the land in Plyumouth, Kingston, Duxbury and Marshfield with each family owning their allocation. Standish was given land in Duxbury.
Thomas Morton of the Mount Wollaston settlement began selling weapons to the Indians. The members of the Plymouth settlement were disturbed by their ungodliness, but were very concerned about the sale of weapons and decided to act. Standish left Plymouth with a number of militia to arrest Morton. Their mission was successful and Morton was sent back to England.
A son, Myles, was born to Myles and Barbara Standish.
A daughter, Loara, was born to Myles and Barbara Standish.
A son, Josiah, was born to Myles and Barbara Standish.
Standish’s son, Charles died after May 1627 and before 1635.
A son, Charles, was born to Myles and Barbara Standish. It is almost certain that he was named after his brother who had died recently.
Standish had built a farmstead where he grew crops and raised livestock with his family.
Conflict broke out between the English settlers and the Pequot tribe. The English settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut allied together and virtually eliminated the tribe. Those that survived the fighting joined other groups.
The families in Duxbury broke from Plymouth and became a separate town.
Standish was now in his late 50s and began to take more of an administrative role in the governing of Duxbury.
Standish’s daughter, Loara died.
1656 (3rd October)
Myles Standish died in Duxbury from either kidney stones or bladder cancer.