John and Mary Towneley and Family

 John and Mary Towneley

An oil painting John and Mary Towneley and Family, 1601 is displayed in the Towneley Room.

The family is seen at prayer. In 1601 John was 73 and Mary was 59 and they had been married for 44 years. The children who had died before 1601 are shown, as in youth, behind the living children.

From 1559 Queen Elizabeth required all her subjects to go to Church of England services. The courts fined and imprisoned those who refused to attend. John would not give up his Catholic faith and as a result went to prison many times in the years 1565 to 1594. The words below the picture name the places he was imprisoned.

This John about the 6 or 7 year (1565) of Her Majesty that now is (Queen Elizabeth), for professing the Apostolical Catholic Roman faith, was imprisoned first at Chester Castle, then sent to Marshalsea, then to York Castle, then to the Blockhouse in Hull, then to the Gatehouse in Westminster, then to Manchester, then to Broughton in Oxfordshire, then twice to Ely in Cambridgeshire, and so now 73 years old and blind, is bound to appear and to keep within fives miles of Towneley, his house, who has since the statute of the 23rd year (1581) paid into the exchequer £20 per month and does still, yet there is paid already above £5,000 - 1601

John Towneley was the son of Charles Towneley, second son of Sir John Towneley. Mary was the grand daughter of Richard Towneley, eldest son of Sir John Towneley. Sir Richard Towneley, her father, was John Towneley's cousin. For a detailed account of the events leading up to their wedding in 1557 see Tracing the Towneleys 2004, available as a pdf from towneley/downloads.


Author: tk - August 2016