Sir John Southworth, MP, of Samlesbury was born circa 1526 in Samlesbury, Lancashire, England to Thomas Southworth (c1497-1546) and Margery Boteler (1503-) and died 3 November 1595 Samlesbury, Lancashire, England of unspecified causes. He married Mary Asheton (c1536-1595) 1546 JL in England.
MP, High Sheriff of Lancashire (1562), commended for valor in Scottish war 1557, imprisoned for harboring Catholic priests. Has son, St John Southworth, the becomes a famous catholic martyr.
Sir John Southworth, Member of Parliament, (c.1526-95), of Samlesbury, Lancs.
Of Samlesbury Hall, co. Lancaster, knighted 1547, high sheriff of Lancashire 1562, M.P. 1566, commended for valor in Scottish war 1557, owned vast estates but was land poor, imprisoned for harboring Catholic priests.
b. c.1526, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Southworth of Samlesbury by Margery, da. of Sir Thomas Butler of Bewsey. m. Mary, da. of Sir Richard Assheton of Middleton, 7s. 4da. suc. fa. 1546. Kntd. 1547.
Samlesbury Hall, principal residence of the Southworth Family for much of the 14th-17th centuries, is a manor house built in 1325 which has been many things since then including a public house and girls' boarding school, but since 1925, when it was saved from being demolished for its timber, it has been administered by a registered charitable trust, the Samlesbury Hall Trust. This Grade I listed medieval manor house attracts over 50,000 visitors each year.
In early life Southworth fought in the Scottish wars, being knighted in the field. During Mary’s reign he was often in London, probably because of a series of land disputes heard in the court of duchy chamber. By the early years of Elizabeth he was back on his Lancashire estates, and represented the county in the Parliament of 1563. There is no record of any activity by him in the Commons until 21 Oct. 1566 when he had a cloth bill committed to him. On 31 Oct. he was put on the committee to consult with the Lords concerning the Queen’s marriage and the succession.2
In October 1564 Southworth was classified as unfavourable to the newly established church, and some four years later he was proceeded against by the bishop of Chester for not attending church and for speaking against the prayer book. After examination before the ecclesiastical commission at Lathom, he was sent to London to appear before the Privy Council. In July 1568 he was examined by Archbishop Parker, who failed to persuade him to conform. Next he went to Bath, where he consorted with ‘noted hinderers of God’s word’. Accused of planning a western rebellion to coincide with the rising in the north, he was put into the custody of Bishop Grindal, who reported to Cecil that:
"he was altogether unlearned, carried with a blind zeal without knowledge ... His principal grounds were that he would follow the faith of his fathers; and that he would die in the faith wherein he was baptized."
Dean Nowell’s persuasions proving equally fruitless, Southworth remained in prison in London until August 1569, when Grindal petitioned the Privy Council for his release on account of the unhealthy conditions in prison during the summer. Southworth’s name appears on a list drawn up in the interest of Mary Queen of Scots in 1574, and he was reported by the bishop of Chester as a recusant in 1576 and 1577. At Easter 1581 he entertained Campion at Samlesbury, where Mass was said before a congregation of his household and neighbours. Campion was arrested in July and Southworth soon afterwards. He spent much of the next three years in the New Fleet at Salford, under the care of Robert Worsley. He was permitted to exercise and to see his friends only in Worsley’s presence.
In July 1584 he was removed from Worsley’s care and sent first to London, then (by March 1586) to Chester. In that month the Privy Council let him visit Bath. Southworth next appears in Cheshire, where, in May 1586, he was rearrested. In July 1587 he was released so that he could make arrangements for the payment of fines, now amounting to more than £900. He may have conformed about this time and part of this sum was remitted.
He subscribed £25 to the Armada fund in 1588 and in January 1589 he attended a sermon at the Earl of Derby’s house at Lathom. In 1592 he and his son were arrested after a search at Samlesbury had revealed a vault over the dining chamber, containing an altar canopy and candlesticks, 14 images and 21 ‘books of papistry’. How long Southworth stayed in prison on this occasion is unknown, but he had presumably been released before his death, which occurred on 3 Nov. 1595. His heavily encumbered estate, which had been vested in trustees in 1588, passed to his son Thomas. Much of it was sold early in the seventeenth century.
The 16th-century English Reformation, during which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the pope and the Catholic Church, split the Southworth family of Samlesbury Hall. Sir John Southworth, head of the family, was a leading recusant who had been arrested several times for refusing to abandon his Catholic faith. His eldest son, also called John, did convert to the Church of England, for which he was disinherited, but the rest of the family remained staunchly Catholic.
One of the accused witches, Jane Southworth, was the widow of the disinherited son, John. Relations between John and his father do not seem to have been amicable; according to a statement made by John Singleton, in which he referred to Sir John as his "old Master", Sir John refused even to pass his son's house if he could avoid it, and believed that Jane would probably kill her husband. Jane Southworth (née Sherburne) and John were married in about 1598, and the couple lived in Samlesbury Lower Hall. Jane had been widowed only a few months before her trial for witchcraft in 1612, and had seven children.
Marriage and Family
This Sir John had a son, John, who went to the English College at Rheims in 1 5 8 3, apparently with the intention of becoming a priest: he received the Tonsure and Minor Orders in the following year, but left at the end of 1584, being thrown into prison immediately on his arrival in England. 1 Another son, Christopher, was also at Rheims, which he left for Rome, where he was ordained in 1583 : he was sent on the English Mission in 1586, quickly arrested and destined to spend many years in prison. Even- tually he was released and in 1 6 1 2 was ministering at Samlesbury Hall, where there was a Chapel regularly served. There were other branches of the family that contributed many of their mem- bers to the Church and most of them received their training at Douay College
- Thomas Southworth (1548-1616) - Heir to Samlesbury Hall
- Mary Southworth (1552-)
- Anne Southworth (1554-)
- Margaret Southworth (1555-)
- Richard Southworth (1556-)
- Gilbert Southworth (1562-)
- John Southworth (1563-) - who went to the English College at Rheims in 1 5 8 3, apparently with the intention of becoming a priest: he received the Tonsure and Minor Orders in the following year, but left at the end of 1584, being thrown into prison immediately on his arrival in England.
- Leonard Southworth (1565-)
- Christopher Southworth (c1566-) -was also at Rheims, which he left for Rome, where he was ordained in 1583 : he was sent on the English Mission in 1586, quickly arrested and destined to spend many years in prison. Eventually he was released and in 1 6 1 2 was ministering at Samlesbury Hall, where there was a Chapel regularly served.
|Offspring of Sir John Southworth, MP, of Samlesbury and Mary Asheton (c1536-1595)|
|Thomas Southworth (1548-1616)||1548 Samlesbury, Lancashire, England||30 November 1616 Grays Inn, London, Middlesex, Massachusetts||Rosamond Lister (1554-1582) Rosamond Lister (1554-1582) Constance Unknown Southworth (c1550-)|
|Mary Southworth (1552-)|
|Anne Southworth (1554-)|
|Margaret Southworth (1555-)|
|Richard Southworth (1556-)|
|Gilbert Southworth (1562-)|
|John Southworth (1563-)|
|Leonard Southworth (1565-)|
- List of High Sheriffs of Lancashire - Wikipedia (1562)
- Full text of "The life of Blessed John Southworth [microform] priest and martyr" - Early Life