Sir Thomas Ashe was the eldest son of Thomas Ashe and Mary Bailey. His father, also named Thomas Ashe, was said by John Burke in his 1836 “A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland” to have been the first settler in Ireland of this branch of the Ashe family. Mary Bailey was the sole daughter and heiress of Nicholas Bailey of the Abbey of St. John’s in the County of Meath.
Sir Thomas Ashe, of St. John ‘s and of Drumsill (now Ashfield Hall), in the county of Cavan, was knighted at Dublin Castle by Sir George Carew, Lord Deputy, on St. James’s day, 25 July 1603, on the occasion of the coronation of James I.
At the period of the “Plantation Settlement” under James I, large grants of confiscated land were made to Sir Thomas, especially in Cavan, where he was assigned 6,500 acres. On this estate, he built an imposing manor house named Drumsill (now called Ashfield Hall), which fell within the Parish of Killishendry. As many parishioners had difficulty in accessing the church, Sir Thomas established a separate parish, which is called Ashfield, after his name.
Sir Thomas was also granted land in the County of Coleraine around Londonderry, which had been deserted by the Flight of the Earls in 1607 and then confiscated by the Crown. Sir Thomas, who had ample grants of lands, gave the Londonderry lands to his youngest brother, Josias. The principal part of the estate was a beautiful residential seat of the family in County Derry known as Ashbrook, which had been a gift originally from Queen Elizabeth I to Sir Thomas in grateful recognition of the services he had rendered to the Crown in helping put down rebellion in Ireland. When Sir Thomas first came to Derry in the late 1590s, he was a stranger in the hostile land then known as Ulster, the most northern of the four ancient provinces of Ireland namely Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster. Sir Thomas served with honour in the war and Ashbrook was his reward. Due to the early demise of male members of the Ashe family in a later generation, Jane Ashe inherited Ashbrook, and her son, William Hamilton (d.1821), assumed the name of Ash in addition to his own. When the same thing happened two generations later, Caroline Hamilton-Ash inherited Ashbrook. Her son, Colonel William Randal Hamilton Beresford (1859-1938) then also assumed the name of Ash in addition to his own.
In 1612, James I granted to Sir Thomas Ashe, knight, inter alia, the tithes of the town of Tebohin, otherwise Tobin, which was a parcel of the estate of the late monastery of Clonard.
In 1613, Sir Thomas was returned as one of the two members of parliament for Trim.
In 1617 James I granted to Sir Thomas Ashe of Trim, the rectories, churches, and chapels of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Trim and Kildalkey, and two parts of all the tithes and altarages of the town, rectory, or chapel of Clonard, a parcel of the possessions of the late abbey or monastery of the Blessed Virgin of Trim.
Sir Thomas married Elizabeth Kinlock, daughter of Sir David Kilock of Gilmartin, Scotland, and they had one daughter, Anne. He died without male issue on 14 October 1626, and was succeeded by his grand nephew, Nicholas Ashe of Moyrath (born in 1608), at whose decease without issue in 1656 (his Will, dated 9 October 1655, was proved 6 February 1656), the estates were inherited by the heir of entail, his cousin, William Ashe of Summerstown.
In the Churchyard at Trim, there is a broken slab six feet long and three foot three and a half inches wide, about the date 1627 or 1630. The pieces have been put together, but several are missing. The upper part of the stone has armorial bearings and one can make out two Chevronells with two crests, a Cockatrice head on a Coronet, and a Squirrel for Ashe. Eugene Alfred Coxwell M.R.I.A, in a pamphlet ‘A Ramble Round Trim’ has attempted to determine the inscription.
(The parts in brackets are missing or illegible)
Love and age have joined in one
To lay th(ese) two under one stone
Sir Tho(mas) Ashe his lady Elizabeth
(Unite their) ashes in this house of death
(And n)ow both having run their glasses
(They hop)e to be revived from ashes.