Sir JOHN SOUTHWORTH was the High Sherriff of Lancashire in 1562 and member of Parliament in 1566. MARY ASHTON was the widow of (unknown first name) Gouland. They were married at St. Leonard's, Middleton, Lancastershire, England.
Sir JOHN supported three hundred men against the Scots in the reign of Mary and otherwise rendered conspicuous service to his country. This was perhaps the second crisis in the history of the English Southworths for shortly thereafter a decline began which in less than a century led to the complete loss to the family of their hugh estates.
Sir JOHN SOUTHWORTH, like his ancestors, was a devout catholic. This was his undoing. When Elizabeth became Queen in 1558 and a threat from Spain seemed imminent, anti-catholic measures were put into effect. Sir JOHN, while loyal to his government, violently opposed the Reformed faith. It became a crime to harbor priests and attending mass or engaging in any of their ceremonies was punishable by fine. It appears that Sir JOHN committed all of these offenses and in 1581 was arrested and taken to Manchester for imprisonment. Later he was taken to London where his son was present to intercede for him. Although he had rendered notable service to his country and had both wealth and friends of influence, he continued to be persecuted. There is evidence that he was released on occasion but in defiance of the Queen he repeated his offenses only to be fined and returned to prison.
Continued litigation, along with high taxes to finance the conflict with Spain, brought about a rapid
decline of the family fortune.
wife ROSAMOND LISTER