Abdias Assheton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Abdias Assheton (or Ashton, first name also given as Abdy or Abdie) (1563 – 1633) was an English clergyman. He is noted for his part in the Essex Rebellion; at that time chaplain to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, he induced the imprisoned Essex to make a full confession.

Early life[edit]

He was the son of John Assheton, rector of Middleton in Lancashire.[1] He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge, becoming a Fellow in 1590 and being ordained in 1591.[2] There he was in a group of young Puritans including Robert Hill and William Crashawe.[3] With John Allenson he signed articles against Peter Baro, and petitioned for a free college election in 1595.[4] Assheton was Thomas Gataker's tutor at St John's, and with Henry Alvey was an important influence on him.[5] Assheton, Gataker and William Bedell used to go out preaching around the Cambridge area.[6] At the time of the Essex trial Assheton was Junior Dean of the college.[7]

Aftermath of the Essex Revolt[edit]

Assheton's attendance was one of the conditions of Essex's surrender. But Assheton was ill, and initially Thomas Dove went to the prisoners.[8] It was only after the trial, when Dove had failed to obtain a confession from Essex, that Assheton came.[9] Essex made a written confession under the guidance of Assheton, whose motivations were questioned by contemporaries who thought him a "hireling" (a view contradicted later by James Spedding and subsequent scholars).[10] Assheton may have been concerned only with Essex's soul, but the evidence from Essex was damning for others: Sir Christopher Blount, Henry Cuffe and Gelly Meyrick.[11]

The initial confession of 21 February is extant only in an abstract. On the morning of his execution (25 February) another abstract of a confession was signed by Assheton, William Barlow, and Thomas Montford (a royal chaplain reporting to the Queen).[12][13][14] Essex presented Assheton with his "pocket dial" (compass plus nocturnal); it is now in the British Museum.[7][15][16]

Later life[edit]

Assheton was rector of Halesworth in Suffolk, from 1606 to 1616. He was then rector of Slaidburn, Yorkshire from 1615 to 1619, and rector of Middleton, as his father had been, from 1618 to 1633.[2] He associated with Nicholas Assheton, hunting and fishing.[1]


Assheton wrote a Latin biography of William Whitaker, first published in 1599, and in Whitaker's Opera Theologica (1610).[17] It was later used by Thomas Gataker.[18] Assheton also left a History of France and commonplace book in manuscript.[6]


Assheton left money to St John's College, to buy books.[7][19] Among many other bequests, the unmarried Assheton left Essex's pocket dial to a cousin, Ralph Assheton.[20]


  • Beach Langston, Essex and the Art of Dying, Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 2 (February 1950), pp. 109–129. Published by: University of California Press. Article DOI: 10.2307/3816406. Article Stable URL:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3816406
  • D. H. Woodward, Thomas Fuller, the Protestant Divines, and Plagiary Yet Speaking, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, Vol. 4, No. 3 (1966), pp. 201–224. Published by: Cambridge Bibliographical Society. Article Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41155353


  1. ^ a b Robert Halley (1869). Lancashire: Its Puritanism and Nonconformity. (Tubbs & Brook) (Hodder & Stoughton). pp. 179–81. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Ashton, Abdias (ASTN577A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Merritt, J. F. "Hill, Robert". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13292. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Mark Dever (2000). Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England. Mercer University Press. pp. 31–2. ISBN 978-0-86554-657-8. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  5. ^ Usher, Brett. "Gataker, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/10445. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ a b Francis Robert Raines, Frank Renaud, The Fellows of the Collegiate Church of Manchester (1891), p. 140; archive.org
  7. ^ a b c The Eagle vol. 24 (1859) 156–7; archive.org.
  8. ^ Langston, p. 119.
  9. ^ Langston, p. 122.
  10. ^ Langston, pp. 123–5.
  11. ^ Hammer, Paul E. J. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7565. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ Andrew Amos, The Great Oyer of Poisoning: the trial of the Earl of Somerset for the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury, in the Tower of London, and various matters connected therewith, from contemporary mss (1846) pp. 203–4; archive.org.
  13. ^ Alexandra Gajda (15 March 2012). The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture. Oxford University Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-19-969968-1. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  14. ^ Bill Merritt (3 September 2005). The Social World of Early Modern Westminster: Abbey, Court and Community, 1525-1640. Manchester University Press. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-7190-4896-8. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  15. ^ Paul E. J. Hammer (24 June 1999). The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597. Cambridge University Press. p. 309 note 210. ISBN 978-0-521-43485-0. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  16. ^ britishmuseum.org, latitude-table / volvelle (lunar phase and age) / perpetual calendar / nocturnal / equinoctial dial / compass / astronomical compendium
  17. ^ Knighton, C. S. "Whitaker, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29228. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  18. ^ Woodward, p. 222 note 74.
  19. ^ joh.cam.ac.uk, Abdias Ashton (1563-1633).
  20. ^ Nicholas Assheton (1848). The journal of Nicholas Assheton, of Downham, in the county of Lancaster, esq., for part of the year 1617, and part of the year following: Interspersed with notes from the life of his contemporary, John Bruen of Bruen Stapelford, in the county of Chester, esq. Printed for the Chetham society. p. 103 note. Retrieved 4 January 2013.