Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Astley, John (d.1595)
ASTLEY, JOHN (d. 1595), master of the Jewel House, was the eldest son of Thomas Astley, Esq., by his second wife Anne (Wood). He held a confidential position in the household of the Princess Elizabeth, on whom his wife Catherine was in attendance, although she was for a time removed from that charge by a special order of the privy council. In a letter to his friend Roger Ascham (1552) he refers to their friendly fellowship at Cheston, Chelsey, and Hatfield, and their pleasant studies in reading together Aristotle's 'Rhetoric,' Cicero, and Livy. Leaving England in the reign of Queen Mary, he played a conspicuous part in the troubles of the English church at Frankfort. On the accession of Elizabeth he returned to this country, and in December 1558 was appointed master of the jewel house and treasurer of her majesty's jewels and plate, with the annual fee of 50l. His wife was appointed chief gentlewoman of the privy chamber, and he was also one of the grooms of the chamber. Soon afterwards he obtained from the crown a grant of the mastership of the game in Enfield chace and park, with the office of steward and ranger of the manor of Enfield. Accompanying her majesty on her visit to the university of Cambridge in 1564, he was created M.A. In or about 1568 the queen granted him a lease in reversion of the castle and manor of Allington in Kent, and he also had an estate at Otterden in the same county. He represented Maidstone in the parliaments of 29 Oct. 1586 and 4 Feb. 1588-9, having before sat in the House of Commons. His death appears to have occurred about July 1595. By his first wife Catherine, daughter of Sir Philip Champernowne of Devonshire, he had no issue. His second wife was Margaret, daughter of Thomas Lord Grey, by whom he had a son, afterwards Sir John Astley, and three daughters.
Astley was the author of 'The Art of Riding, set foorth in a breefe treatise, with a due interpretation of certeine places alledged out of Xenophon, and Gryson, verie expert and excellent Horssemen: Wherein also the true use of the hand by the said Grysons rules and precepts is speciallie touched: and how the Author of this present worke hath put the same in practise, also what profit men maie reape thereby: without the knowledge whereof, all the residu of the order of Riding is but vaine. Lastlie is added a short discourse of the Chaine of Cauezzan, the Trench and the Martingale: written by a Gentleman of great skill and long experience in the said Art,' London, 1584, 4to.[Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. ii. 182; Letter prefixed to Ascham's Report and Discourse of the Affairs of Germany; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Wotton's Baronetage, iii. 15; Ames's Typogr. Antiquities, ed. Herbert, 694, 959, 1111; Calendars of State Papers.]