George Alexander Hamilton ASHE, born on 29 May 1812, was the son of the Rev. Henry Ashe (1759-1824), Vicar of Acton, Poyntzpass, Ireland, and Sophia McClure (c. 1775-1827). On page 17 of Crockford’s Clerical Directory for 1868, we see that he followed in his father’s footsteps and became the second in five generations to minister in the Church:
ASHE, George A. Hamilton, Witton, Blackburn. — Dublin A.B. 1835; Deacon 1838 and Priest 1839 by Archbishop of Canterbury. Perpetual Curate of Witton, Diocese of Manchester 1839. (Patron, Vicar of Blackburn; Tithe, comm. 244l.; P.C.’s income 300l.; population 5,297).
Page 760 of A History of Blackburn by William Alexander Abram (1877) contains an interesting description of St. Mark’s Church in Witton:
St. Mark’s Church. — The church of Witton, dedicated to St. Mark, stands on the hill-side just outside the eastern wall of Witton Park. It was erected at a cost of £700; including a gift of £200 and the site by Joseph Feilden, Esq., who laid the comer-stone, Oct. 6th, 1836. The church was consecrated June 10th, 1837. The church is in the Norman style; and consists of nave, octagonal tower and spire at the east end, west porch, and a handsome mortuary chapel of the Feildens, added in 1870, forming a south transept. An organ was placed in the church in 1850. The church contains 560 sittings ; 300 are free seats. Value of the living £300. The Vicar of Blackburn is patron. Rev. G. H. Ashe, B.A., has been Vicar since 1839.
George Alexander Hamilton Ashe married, first, on 10 January 1840, Mary Ogle, daughter of George Ogle, as announced in the Belfast News dated 14 January 1840:
and in the Preston Chronicle dated 25 January 1840:
(1) Isabella Ashe; born 17 November 1840 in Newry, Ireland; married, on 21 September 1861, to Dr. Robert Woods; died, without issue, on 22 June 1917 in Portishead, Somerset, England.
(2) George Ogle Ashe; born 15 January 1843; died, aged 10 months, 7 December 1843, in Witton, Blackburn, Lancashire.
(3) Rev. Henry Ogle Ashe; born 31 March 1845; married, on 12 June 1877, to Elizabeth Jane Vince, and had issue four children; died 25 July 1893 in Staveley-in-Cartmel.
Mary Ogle died at Witton, aged only 32, on 5 December 1846, as announced in the Liverpool Mercury, dated 11 December 1846:
George Alexander Hamilton Ashe married, second, on 11 February 1851, Mary Pickering, daughter of the Rev. George William Pickering, Vicar of Mackworth (three generations of Pickerings served as Vicars of Mackworth over a period of 125 years), as announced in the Derby Mercury dated 12 February 1851:
George Alexander Hamilton Ashe and Mary Pickering had:
(1) Mary Elizabeth Ashe, born 25 December 1851; died, unmarried, on 24 January 1941.
(2) Ellen Ashe, born 8 January 1854; died, aged 15, on 26 July 1869.
(3) Florence Ashe, born 26 July 1855; died, unmarried, on 26 January 1934.
(4) William Ashe, born 24 December 1856; died 1 January 1857.
(5) Robert Pickering Ashe, born 29 November 1857; married, first, on 15 March 1894, Emma Lena Edith Jackson (who died in childbirth on 23 October 1897), and had issue one child; married, second, on 4 April 1899, Edith Blackler (1870-1963), and had issue five children; died 29 May 1944.
In addition to his church ministry, George Alexander Hamilton Ashe was a “keen educationalist” and helped to establish three schools within the parish by 1845, as reported in the Blackburn Times on 20 May 1938, as they celebrated the centenary of St. Mark’s:
England and Wales 1871 Census
Census location: Blackburn, Lancashire
Head of Household: George Alexander Hamilton Ashe; age 58; birthplace Ireland.
Daughter: Isabella Woods; age; 30; birthplace Ireland
Daughter: Florence Ashe; age 15; birthplace Witton, Lancashire
Sister: Jane E. Ashe; age 63; birthplace Ireland
Sister: Alicia Ashe; age 52; birthplace Ireland
England and Wales 1881 Census
Address: Witton Vicarage, Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Head of Household: George A. H. Ashe; age: 68; est. birth year 1813; birthplace Ireland; marital status widower; occupation Vicar of St. Mark’s Church, Witton.
Daughter: Isabella Woods; age 40; est. birth year 1841; birthplace Ireland; marital status widow.
Daughter: Florence Ashe; age 25; est. birth year 1856; birthplace Blackburn, Lancashire; marital status single.
Daughter-in-law: Elizabeth J. Ashe; age 34; est. birth year 1847; birthplace Lancaster, Lancashire; marital status married.
Grand Daughter: Mary I. Ashe; age 2; est. birth year 1879; birthplace Leyland, Lancashire.
Grand Son: George H. Ashe; age 1; est. birth year 1880, birthplace Stavely-in-Cartmel, Lancashire.
When the Rev. George Alexander Hamilton Ashe finally retired from St. Mark’s, Witton, in 1894, after 55 years of ministry, an article was published in the Weekly Standard, dated 12 May 1894, quoting an address given on the occasion of his completion of 50 years service in 1889:
An article was later published in The Weekly Standard and Express, dated 8 August 1894, which provided some history of St. Mark’s Church, Witton, including a section on the ministry of the Rev. George Alexander Hamilton Ashe:
After leaving St. Mark’s Witton, Blackburn, the Rev. George Alexander Hamilton Ashe retired to St Bees, Cumberland, where he died three years later on 19 November 1897, and where he is buried. His death was reported in the Carlisle Patriot, dated 26 November 1897:
ASHE: At St. Bees, on the 17th November 1897, the Rev. G. A. H. Ashe, B.A., Vicar of Witton, Blackburn, from 1839 to 1894, in his 86th year.
A Window in his memory is in St. Mark’s, Witton, Blackburn, and an article in The Weekly Standard and Express, dated 28 May 1898, described it in some detail:
The following photos of the church and stained glass window are courtesy of Elizabeth Oliver: