Edith Ashe [née Blackler] (1870-1963)

Edith Blackler was born on 6 March 1870 in Smyrna, daughter of Francis Chipman Blackler and Annie Sophia Boucher Routh. She was the youngest of six, with one brother Francis Blackler, and four sisters, Mary, Ida, Rose and Ellen (Nellie). She was baptised in Boudja.

She went to the ‘American Home School‘ in Skutari, Constantinople, and then to a boarding School in London, where she was very unhappy. During the holidays she stayed at her uncle’s, Dr. Amand Routh, in Upper Montague Street. After a stay in a School in Exeter, she returned to Turkey and trained as a Froebel Kindergarten teacher. She was a loving, gentle person, a close follower of her Lord Jesus.

After her father’s death, she lived for a time in Malta with her mother and, although her father was an American, she applied for a British passport, and never took out US Citizenship.

In 1899 she married the Rev. Robert Pickering Ashe, Chaplain in Boudja, Smyrna. She bore five children, Oliver in 1900, Mary in 1902, William in 1903, Ellen in 1905, and Patrick in 1915. She brought them up with Robert, her stepson, under extreme difficulties, as they were interned by the Turks during the 1914-18 war, but were allowed to live in the Parsonage in Boudja. She was greatly loved in the village by the British, Greek and Turkish communities, often supplying food to the hungry, and tending the sick. When British soldiers, taken prisoner at Kut-el-Amara in Mesopotamia, were marched by the Turks to Smyrna, they arrived in Boudja in terrible condition. Though there was very little food in the Parsonage, she cooked for them, and they were all miraculously fed.

In 1922, the Turkish army under Kemal Ataturk took Smyrna from the Greek occupying forces, and there was the massacre, sacking and burning of Smyrna. Edith and Robert, and three of the children, Mary, Ellen and Pat were taken on the Royal Navy Hospital Ship “Maine” to Malta, and were housed in the Lazaretto. After six months they went to Cartagena, Spain, where R.P. Ashe became Chaplain. In 1924 they returned to Boudja for a short time, and then to England where they lived in Croydon, Surrey.

Edith died on 12 March 1963 at the age of 93, and is buried in Warlingham Churchyard.