James Ashton was mayor of Preston in 1674 and 1683  It was to Ashton, while he was mayor, that Judge Jeffreys wrote, shortly after the corporation had to surrender the charter they had obtained from Charles II, to assure him that the members of the corporation would not lose any of their privileges in the new charter. 
A James Ashton had a house on the east side of Friargate on the 1685 plan of the town. 
In his will dated 13 May 1709 Ashton left £100 to the mayor and corporation to use the interest to buy loaves for the town poor and to use eight shillings of that interest in ‘a treat for the Mayor and Aldermen’. The poor probably did not receive their bread for in 1714 the town clerk was instructed to recover outstanding interest. 
 Henry Fishwick, The History of the Parish of Preston (Rochdale: The Aldine Press, 1900), 79.
 ‘CNP/3/1/10 Letter of Lord Chief Justice Jeffryes’, Lancashire Archives Catalogue, 29 September 1684, http://archivecat.lancashire.gov.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=CNP%2f3%2f1%2f10&pos=1.
 ‘Friargate West. Cheapside West, Friargate East’ (plan, Preston, 1684), DDX 194/7, Lancashire Archives.
 Fishwick, The History of the Parish of Preston, 391.