Martyr, third son of Richard Ashton of Croston, in Lancashire. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn, 23 June, 1592. His indictment is not preserved. Challoner says it was for procuring a dispensation from Rome to marry his second cousin. Later evidence, while confirming this, shows that it was not the only cause. In 1585 he had gone to serve in the Low Countries under the Earl of Leicester against the Spaniards. Sir William Stanley having been placed on guard over the town of Deventer, which had revolted from the Spaniards, he, with the assistance of Ashton, gave the town back to Spain and went offer to their side (29 January, 1587). Cardinal Allen published a "Defence" of this act in the form of a letter addressed to one "R.A.", whose letter to the Cardinal prefixed and under these initials it seems natural to recognize our martyr. Stanley next entrusted to Ashton the difficult task of bringing over his wife from Ireland, but she was already under arrest, and he is said to have been sent Ashton to Rome. At the close of the year 1587 he returned to England and was apprended in Kent with the marriage dispensation already mentioned. In January, 1588, he was in the Tower, where he lay ill towards the close of the year, when he was transferred to easier confine ment in the Mashalsea. From this he managed to escape and fled to his brothers in Lancashire. He was seized later, at Shields near Newcastle, while trying to escape over the seas. Transferred thence to Durham and York, he was tried and sentenced at Canterbury, and died "very resolute", making profession of his faith and ". . . . pitied of the people", though the infamous Topcliffe tried to stir up ill-feeling against him by enlarging on his services to Spain.
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