ASSHETON (ASHTON), Richard (d.1579), of Whalley and Downham, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

3rd s. of Ralph Assheton of Great Lever in Middleton, Lancs. by Eleanor, da. of Adam Hulton of The Park, Lancs.; bro. of Ralph. m. Jane, da. of Ralph Harbottle of Northumb., s.p.1

Offices Held

Dep.-receiver, northern counties by 1552, receiver 1552-?72; j.p. Lancs. by 1561; commr. eccles. causes, diocese of Chester 1562, rebels’ lands 1570, Houghton lands 1572.2


Richard Assheton, younger brother of Ralph, the Member for Liverpool in the Parliament of March 1553, was appointed with others to make inquisitions post mortem in Yorkshire in November 1550. In all probability he was then deputy to Sir Thomas Newenham who had earlier in the same year become receiver for life of the revenues of the court of augmentations in the northern counties. When Newenham was dismissed in 1552, Assheton was allowed to continue. Variously described as receiver or receiver-general, he appears to have discharged the office until the early 1570s, probably relinquishing it in 1572 when, on Newenham’s surrender of his patent, the area of the receivership was divided and patents for two new receiverships were issued. One of the two new receivers was the eldest son of Assheton’s partner in the purchase of Whalley lordship and manor in 1553, John Braddill, and both receivers were married to Assheton’s nieces, daughters of Ralph, the elder brother who had been surety for his appearance before the Privy Council during its investigation of Newenham’s maladministration in 1552. Conceivably it was Assheton, with no children of his own to provide for, who promoted this reform.3

The statement, repeated by several writers, that Assheton was sometime in the service of Sir William Cecil appears to be without foundation, nor can it be said that Cecil had any direct part in securing Assheton’s return to the Commons in 1559. However, a Cecil connexion cannot be entirely ruled out, since it is probable that Assheton’s nomination for Aldborough, in the duchy of Lancaster, came from Cecil’s close friend, the chancellor of the duchy, Sir Ambrose Cave, who in the previous year had made Assheton’s brother Ralph receiver for the duchy in Lancashire and Cheshire, and on Ralph’s death soon afterwards had granted the same office to his son, another Ralph, Richard Assheton’s nephew. At Carlisle, the borough that had first sent him to Parliament, his return in 1563 was probably brought about by Lord Dacre, warden of the west march and captain of the city, to whom he would have been well known.4

By 1563, he was a considerable landowner, having, as Whitaker says of John Braddill, ‘trafficked in the unsafe commodity of abbey lands’ with notable success. Whalley had cost him and Braddill more than £2,000. Later he bought the nearby manor of Downham, and in 1565 he obtained a crown lease of ex-monastic tithes in Northumberland, and another of extensive former monastic possessions in the Isle of Man, paying for it a fine of more than £200 and a yearly rent of over £100. Together with Braddill in 1564 he was judged unfavourable to the established religion, though without detriment to his career or his possessions. He remained a justice of the peace, reporting on recusants, and active in his dual role of country gentleman and official.5

He was buried in Whalley 30 Jan. 1579. His lands passed to his nephew Ralph Assheton, subsequently to be divided between Ralph’s two sons.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 28.
  • 2. APC, iv. 112, 122; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 280-1; 1569-72, p. 421; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 260.
  • 3. CPR, 1547-53, p. 80; 1549-51, p. 217; 1569-72, pp. 421, 423; APC, iv. 112, 121-2; vii. 56, 199; PRO, Lists and Indexes, xxxv. 68; Lansd. 14, f. 8; Vis. Lancs. 1567, p. 28.
  • 4. Somerville, Duchy, i. 496.
  • 5. Whitaker, Hist. Whalley and Clitheroe, 244; CPR, 1547-53, p. 80; 1563-6, pp. 242, 336, 345-6; VCH Lancs. vi. 554; Cam. Misc, ix(3), p. 77.
  • 6. VCH Lancs. vi. 382, 554.