Throughout the ages lovers have been victims of disapproving parents, and recalcitrant lovers
have often been dealt with in a cruel and heartless manner. Acts of violence, even murder, have
been committed against those who have put love before obedience to parental authority. These
tragic victims of love, whose happiness was so brief in life, may seek and find each other in the
spirit world, their unhappy souls haunting the place where they once met and loved, and were
warm flesh an blood, delighting in each other's embraces.
Just such a tragic love story was that of the Lady Dorothy, daughter of Sir John
Southworth of Samlesbury, Lancashire, and Robert, the handsome son of a noble family who
owned a large estate nearby. One would have thought the match to be ideal, and that the most
choosy of parents would have welcomed such a union, especially as the young pair were so much
in love. But this was not the case with Sir John, one-time Sheriff of the County Palatine of
Lancashire, who held high military commands in the service of Queen Elizabeth I. The trouble
was that he was a strict Catholic and Robert's parents were Protestants.
In those days there was great bitterness between members of the old Roman faith and the
reformed anti-Papist church which had supplanted it. The conflict was as much political as it was
religious and was one which was to drag on for centuries. The fact that the diplomatic and clever
Queen Elizabeth employed both Protestants and Catholics in her service did little to damp down
the feeling in the country, and Sir John Southworth felt more strongly than most. He belonged to
the old school and regarded the Protestants as heretics whose souls were destined for the eternal
Imagine his consternation therefore when this young man fro ma stanch Protestant family
called at Samlesbury asking for Dorothy's hand. When Sir John learned that his daughter had
been freely associating with the young heretic and had fallen in love with him, he made no bones
about the way he felt to the young suitor. Suppressed anger turned his ruddy complexion into
purple, and his neat beard bristled and twitched above his starched white ruff. How dare a
Protestant even enter his house-let alone approach him as a prospective son-in-law!
'You seem to be under a misapprehension, young sir. No daughter of mine would dream
of forming an attachment for someone not of the true faith. You must know that the Southworths
are devout Romanists. If my daughter Dorothy is known to you, she has never diverged her
association to me, and as her father I would have forbidden such a friendship. As to marriage,
that is absolutely out of the question. Marry a Protestant! I would rather see her dead.'
Robert was taken aback by Sir John's outburst. He had not expected anything like this,
though Dorothy had warned him that her father would object to a proposal from anyone who was
not a Catholic. But he had been optimistic. After all, it wasn't as if he was a penniless nobody.
Sir John was treating him as though he was the stable boy. But he was determined for Dorothy's
sake to keep his own temper in check.
'But surely, sir, you do not refuse your sanction to your daughter's marriage solely
because I am a Protestant? I love Dorothy, and she has given me to understand that she returns
my love. We wish to become-'
'That is enough, sir! How dare you force your way into my house and confront me with
such falsehoods! My daughter would never flout her father's wishes. And I say that she will
marry a Papist, or she will not marry at all.'
'Does not your daughter's happiness mean anything to you, sir? Since the English prayerbook
has been revised, the Church embraces the Catholics as well as the Protestant-minded.
Could you not be all-embracing, for your daughter's sake?' Robert was quite pale. He felt as
though he was pleading for his very life.
'I am the best judge of where my daughter's happiness lies and it is not in the arms of a
heretical Protestant. The revision of the English prayer-book has not been recognized by the Holy
father, so enough of your false reasoning, young man. I forbid you ever to see my daughter again.
She will soon forget you. I shall make sure of that. And now you will oblige me by leaving my
house, never to enter it again.'