Sir John Ashley (or Astley) was the husband of Katherine Champernowne, Elizabeth I's Governess, and First Lady of the Bedchamber and thus close to the Queen from her youth. He was a connection of the Queen through his mother, the sister-in-law of Elizabeth's great-uncle, Sir James Boleyn, a relationship which Elizabeth acknowledged, calling him her kinsman. His first public office was in the household of Edward VI, as Gentleman Waiter.
During the early part of Elizabeth's reign, Sir John was a member of the inner Court circle and was appointed as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. This was a ceremonial office, rather than a political one. After the death of his first wife, he lived a more retired life away from court. He was an MP in both Edward's and Elizabeth's reigns and served on many Parliamentary committees, and Commissions.
Sir John was well-known for his authorship of The Art of Riding.