One of the most prominent individuals of the Pilgrim Band, the arm and shield of the infant colony, was Captain Myles Standish, a man whose iron nerve and dauntless courage contributed much towards carrying the Infant Society through the perils with which it was menaced. He was small of stature but sinewy, and robust, with a constitution of iron, and an intrepidity of spirit, nurtured by a military education, which no danger could appal.
His family was one of the oldest in Lancashire, having flourished there from soon after the Conquest; and several of them had been distinguished for military spirit and prowess.
Myles Standish inherited in a pre eminent degree the family talent, and being compelled to seek his fortune, chose the profession of arms, and served with the army sent by Queen Elizabeth to the assistance of the Dutch in their struggle against Spain. At Leyden he fell in with the Pilgrims, and was induced by the love of adventure, no less than an admiration of their principles, to join them in their emigration to America.
He was a passenger in the May-Flower, with his wife and daughter; the former of whom (Rose Standish) died during the first winter, and the latter (Lora Standish) before her father, as shown by the following extract from his will. " My will is, that out of my whole estate, my funeral charges to be taken out, and my body to be buried in a decent manner; and if I die in Duxburrow, my body to be layed as near as convenient to my two dear daughters, Lora Standish, my daughter, and Mary Standish, my daughter-in-law."
At the time of the conspiracy between the Paomet and Massachusetts Indians to cut off the colonists, Captain Standish's promptitude and bravery in killing the leaders were probably the salvation of the settlement; and his name was ever afterwards a word of terror to the savages.
After the settlement, the neighborhood of Duxbury and Kingston was allotted to Captain Standish, John Alden, Jonathan Brewster, and Thomas Prence, and the Hill, now called Captain's Hill, with the adjacent lands, became the portion of Standish. Here he built his house, and set himself to repose ; here too, in I606, he died, at the age of seventy-two, but his burial-place is unknown.
His house was burned down while occupied by his eldest son, but the underpining still remains to mark its site and form ; and the old hearthstones with the blackened slabs, which formed the back of the fire-places, still stand in their places. The estate is now in the possession of James Hall, of Boston, who has collected quite a number of memorials of the original owner.
The good sword of Standish, and a kettle and dish said to have been his, are preserved in Pilgrim Hall, where is also an interesting memorial, of Lora Standish, a well-wrought sampler, testifying to her piety as well as her skill in needlework.
1. "Myles Standish," The Illustrated Pilgrim Memorial, 1863, page 16.