Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ashton, John de (fl.1370)

ASHTON, Sir JOHN de (fl. 1370), military commander, was the son of Thomas de Ashton, who had distinguished himself at the battle of Nevill's Cross. The dates of his birth and death are unknown, but in 1370 he figured as the hero of one of those picturesque incidents which Froissart delighted to describe. Lord Berners has thus translated the passage: 'The lande of the Lord of Coucy abode in peace, for ther was nother man nor woman that had any hurt, the value of a penny, yf they sayd they belonged to the lorde of Coucy. And so at last the englysshmen came before the cyte of noyon, the whiche was well furnished with men of warre; ther the englysshmen taryed, and aproched as near as they might, and aduysed to se yf any maner of assaut might preuayle them or not, and there they sawe that the towne was well aparelled for defence. And sir Robert Canoll was loged in the abbey of Dolkens, and his people about him; and on a day he came before the cyte, raynged in maner of batayle, to se yf they of the garyson and comontie of the towne wolde yssue out and fight or not; but they had no wyll so to do. There was a scottysh knyght dyde there a goodly feate of armes, for he departed fro his company, his speare in his hande, mounted on a good horse, his page behynde hym, and soo came before the barryers; this knyght was called sir Johan Assueton, a hardy man and a couragious; whan he was before the barryers of Noyon he lighted afote, and sayd to his page, Holde, kepe my horse and departe nat hens; and so went to the barryers. And within ye barryers ther were good knightes, as sir Johan of Roy, sir Launcelot of Lowrys, and a x. or xii. other, who had great marueyle what this sayde knight wolde do. Than he sayd to them, Sirs, I am come hyder to se you, I se well ye wyll nat yssue out of your barryers, therfore I wyll entre and I can, and will proue my knyghthode agaynst yours: wyn me and ye can; and therwith he layed on rounde about hym, and they at hym, and thus he alone fought against them more than an hour, and dyd hurt two or thre of thē; so that they of the towne on the walles and gerettes stode styll and behelde them, and had great pleasure to regarde his valiātnesse, and dyde him no hurt, the whiche they might haue done, if they hadde lyst to haue shotte or cast stones at hym and also the frenche knightes charged them to let hym and them alone togyder. So long they fought that at last his page came nere to the barryers, and spake in his language and sayd. Sir, cōe away, it is tyme for you to depart , for your company is departyng hens: the knight herde him well, and then gaue a two or thre strokes about him, and so, armed as he was, he lept out of the barryers, and lepte upon his horse, without any hurt, behynde his page, and sayd to the frenchmen, Adue, sirs, I thank you, and so rode forthe to his owne company; the whiche dede was moche praysed of many folkes' (Froissart, 1812 edit. i. 417). The term 'Scottish knight' is somewhat perplexing, and has led Mr. Johnes to suppose that one of the Setons is meant; but Froissart applies the term generally to all who were in that army, although Sir Robert Canoll — that is, Sir Robert Knolles — was of Cheshire birth. Sir John Ashton was knight of the shire for his native county in the parliament of Westminster in 1389. He married Margaret, daughter of Perkin Legh of Lyme, and was succeeded in the lordship of Ashton by his son. Sir John, who was drowned at Norham.

[Froissart; Baines's Lancashire; Axon's Lancashire Gleanings.]

W. E. A. A.