SIR JOHN de SOUTHWORTH b 1526 and Mary Ashton b 1530

Generation 9

Sir John de Southworth (Knight), son of Sir Thomas Southworth (Knight) and Margery Boteler, was born about 1526 in Samlesbury, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom and died on 3 Nov 1575 in Samlesbury, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom about age 49. Sir John married Mary Ashton on 23 Jul 1547 in St. Leonards, Middleton, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom. Mary Ashton , wife of Sir John de Southworth, born 1530 in Middleton, Lancashire, England, daughter of William Ashton and Bridget Pigot .

Sir Thomas was knighted in 1547, and he was commended for valor in the Scottish wars of 1557. He was High sheriff of Lancashire 1562. He owned vast estates, but was land poor, and he was imprisoned for harboring Catholic priests. In 1562 Sir John was appointed High Sheriff of the County of Lancashire by Queen Eliziabeth I. Throughout the Middle Ages, the High Sheriff was a powerful political position; the sheriffs were responsible for the maintenance of law and order and various other roles. Some of its powers were relinquished in 1547 as the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire was instated to deal with military duties. It was in 1908 under King Edward VII of theUnited Kingdom that the Lord Lieutenant position became more senior than the High Sheriff. Since that time the High Sheriff has broadly become an honorific title, with many of its previous roles been taken up by judges,magistratescoroners, local authorities, and the police. Appointment 1: 1562, High Sheriff of LancashireAppointment 2: 1547, KnightedAppointment 3: 1566, Member of Parliament Fact: Imprisoned for harboring Catholic Military: 1557, Commended for Valor in Scottish Wars

Sir John Southworth and Mary Asheton had eleven children. Three of the sons played notable roles in history. The oldest, a son, John, is a canonized saint. whos family that chose to pay heavy fines rather than give up the Catholic faith.He studied at the English College in Douai, now in northern France, (and then moved to Hertfordshire, St Edmunds College) and was ordained priest before he returned to England. Imprisoned and sentenced to death for professing the Catholic faith, he was later deported to France. Once more he returned to England and lived in Clerkenwell , London, during a plague epidemic. He assisted and converted the sick in Westminster and was arrested again. He was again arrested under the Interregnum and was tried at the Old Bailey under Elizabethan anti-priest legislation . He pleaded guilty to exercising the priesthood and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered .The Spanish ambassador returned his corpse to Douai for burial. His corpse was sewn together and parboiled, to preserve it. Following the French Revolution, his body was buried in an unmarked grave for its protection. The grave was discovered in 1927 and his remains were returned to England. They are now kept in the Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs in Westminster Cathedral  in London. wearing a silver mask that allegedly shows his likeness. Althought his corpse was abused during the execution process, St John Southworth is considered to be incorruptable, meaning that his remains have not decomposed.


Another son, also a priest, (Christopher) apparently inherited the title of knight. He had a different set of values. The following is taken from the same book: On the morning of Wednesday 19th August 1612, between the trial atLancaster Assizes of the first batch of Pendle Witches on the Tuesday and the second batch on the Thursday, a group of women from Samlesbury were tried for witchcraft. The evidence seems to have been fabricated by Sir Christopher Southworth, a well known Catholic Priest, who persuaded a young girl, Grace Sowerbutts, to give evidence against her grandmother, aunt and others to the effect that they had caused her body to waste and had appeared in the form of a black dog. The case was dismissed after Grace broke down under the judges cross examination and confessed that Southworth had persuaded her to give her evidence. A full account of this trial can be found in “Lancashires Historic Halls,” by David Brazendale of Great Crosby, Lancashire.

"The seminary priest who was declared on the trial
to have incited the girl Grace Sowerbutts to make the charge
of witchcraft against Jane Southworth and the other females,
called himself by the name of Thompson, but he was asserted to be
Christopher Southworth, fourth son of Sir John Southworth, Knt, and
therefore uncle to John Southworth, the husband of the accused Jane
Southworth. Christopher Southworth was a priest of the Roman Church,
and endured a term of imprisonment in the Castle of Wisbeach for
recusancy in Elizabeth's reign. The representation of the friends of the
accused on her trial seems to have been that Christopher Southworth
was inimical to John Southworth's family on account of their disposition
to forsake the former religion of the family, Jane Southworth having
recently entered the Protestant Church."
page 93 A History of Blackburn, Town and Parish

Another son, Thomas, and his wife, Rosamond Lister, had seven sons and four daughters, who were living in 1595 when their grandfather made his will mentioning them. Two of these children were Thomas and Edward who were in Leiden, Holland in 1613 where many Protestants were gathering because Holland allowed freedom of religion while England required unyielding allegiance to the Church of England.Thomas Southworth, Esq. remained in Holland while others of the family came to America. It is suspected that he did not make the trip that he had intended to make because one of his friends sent him a letter talking about the harrowing voyage on his ship, the Speedwell, which was originally supposed to accompany the Mayflower to the new world. This original letter telling a terrifying account of its shortened trip is now in the possession of the Mayflower Society, and makes interesting reading.

Sir John owned vast estates, but were land poor. The Southworth were, and always had been devoted Catholics. Their steadfast adherence to their Catholic faith in the time of Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Bolyn, was met with fines and imprisonments. Pressures were placed upon the family resources. The manor (Samlesbury Hall) and lands in the district were mortgaged and late sold. Discriped (through his daughter Margaret) as a noteworthy victim of the persecution [of Catholics] (A History of the County of Lancashire: Volume 3 (1907) under Manors under the parish and township of Aughton).

He inherited Samlesbury in the difficult times of 1546.Knighted 1547 in Scotland. 1555-56 he had a suit with John Osbaldeston of Osbaleston regarding the ownership of lands (and resources on them, geese and something called turves on Darwen Moors. In a 1556 indenture for his sisters tenure of the manor Holte, he is refereed to as Right Worshipful Sir John Sowthworthe of Samlesbury Knt. and he signed it J. Sowthworthe. In the indenture he is to 200 marks at the chapel on the north side of Blagheburne parish church. A Henry Sowthworthe also signed it. in 1557 he was Commended for Valor in [the] Scottish Wars. His command was doubled from one hundred to two. Circa 1561 he came in despute with the lord of Lower Brockholes Hall which involved the murder of a servant and theft of cattle and grain, but it appears to of been settled later as their children wed. Became High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1562 1566, Member of Parliament 1566: John Culcheth in 1566 covenanted with Sir John Southworth to levy a fine of his lands to the use of himself for life, with remainders to his sons his wife Cecily is named, Cecily was living in 1595 Presumably this refers to his uncle and aunt, John and Cecily (Southworth) de Culcheth (A History of the County of Lancashire: Volume 4 {1911} under the Township of Culcheth, of the Parish of Winwick)He was reported to the privy council in 1576 (or 75) by the Bishop of Chester for recusancy on account of his being a Catholic. Listed amongst obstinate recusants in the Blagburne Parish, along with his Son John, daughter Ann, and sister as Sothworth except for Ann who is given as Southworth He was arrested for recusancy (Not going to Protestant church) in 1581 and imprisoned at New Fleet Prison, Manchester, Lancashire. He was bailed in 1584 and about that time or some time after when his heir (his eldest remaining son Thomas) became a Protestant He attempted to disinherit him which apparently caused him to be placed under arrest in London, though other sources say instead that he and his son were ordered to reside in London by an Order in Council. 1586: Roger Bruche and Sir John Southworth agreed to abide by the award of Randle Rixton of Great Sankey touching the division and mearing out or bounding of the waste grounds and common called Bruch Heath in Poulton. (Township Poulton with Fearnhead). Two different versions as to how his second prison term ended: the first stats that he was bailed out in 1594 by Thomass friend Sir Francis Walsingham, the Secretary of State, but this versions states the release was from New Fleet Prison, London. The second is that Sir John gave a bond for payment of 400 pounds, being part of the 1,000 pound fine due to the Chancellor (Lord Burghley) and that the balance was pardoned by the Queen upon his coming to church. Both say he then was alowed to return to the family manor at Samlesbury. despite the heavy fines on his estate he still held more than 7500 acres at the time of his death.

Children from the marriage of Sir John de Southworth and Mary Ashton were:

  1. Thomas
  2. Jane (abt 1550-1595)
  3. John Sothworth, gent. (abt. 1551-1611)
  4. Mary (abt. 1552-)
  5. Margaret (abt. 1555-), who the Bishop of Chester returned as a busyrecusant and who Walsingham wrote in 1584 to the bishop touching her bad disposition, and she was arrested at Meols Hall and confined in the New Fleet in Salford. (Parish and Township of Aughton). She marriedBartholomew Hesketh of Aughton
  6. Richard (abt. 1556-?)
  7. Christopher (abt. 1559->1612), a priest who studied at the English College,  Rome. Later involved in the trial of the Witches of Samlesbury (1612),  including one Jane Southworth.
  8. Ann/Anne (abt. 1560->1595), married to the heir of Brockholes.
  9. Gilbert (abt. 1562-?), a lawyer
  10. Leonard (abt. 1565-?)
  11. Stanley (abt. 1575-?)

Canonized Saint

Ancestral Roots