The Clergy Project

Realising that there were five generations of clergy in my immediate Ashe family, I started to document them. However, at the suggestion of my twin brother, John, the fifth generation, I widened the project to look for more clergy generations in the maternal lines. This led me to look at other generations of clergy in other Ashe branches, which has further increased the scope of the project – hence, the title of this page – “The Clergy Project”.

Interestingly, many of the Ashe clergy are descended from the Irish branch of the Ashes through Thomas Ashe (1529-1582), known as the first Ashe settler in Ireland (although there is some evidence to suggest that one or more of the Devon Ashes may have gone to Ireland around the 14th century).

One of the oldest pair of clergy brothers in Ireland was the Rev. Dr. St. George Ashe (1657-1718) and the Rev. Dillon Ashe (1668-1716), Vicar of Finglas, Prebendary of Killala, Archdeacon of Clogher. St. George was the most famous, becoming successively Lord Bishop of Cloyne (1695), of Clogher (1697), and of Derry (1716), and I have written additional notes on him.

This naming sequence was repeated with two other brothers in Ireland, who were second cousins twice removed of the above set of brothers, i.e. two generations later, with the Rev. Dillon Ashe (1712-after 1780), Vicar of Rosmire, Kilgobinet, and Kilrossanty, and the Rev. Dr. St. George Ashe (?-1799), Vicar of Clonard.

In England, the Rev. Robert Ashe (1723-1780) was a Prebendary of Winchester Cathedral. Through two wives, two sons became clergymen — Rev. Robert Hoadley-Ashe (1750-1826), Perpetual Curate of Crewkerne and Misterton for 50 years, who took the additional name of Hoadley upon the death of an aunt as a requirement to inherit some property, and Rev. James Pyle Ashe (1756-c.1846), Curate at St. Michael, near Winchester.

Perhaps the extended clergy dynasty, which is the best known, is Ashe-Kilvert. The Rev. Robert Ashe (1781-1855), of Rector of Langley Burrell, Wiltshire, whose son, Rev. Robert Martyn Ashe (1807-1885) was also the Rector and known as The Squire, had a sister, Thermuthis (1778-1825), who married Squire Walter Coleman (1778-1845), whose daughter, Thermuthis Mary (1808-1856), married the Rev. Robert Kilvert (1803-1882), Rector of Hardenhuish and Langley Burrell. His son, the Rev. Robert Francis Kilvert (1840-1879), Vicar of St. Harmon and Bredwardine, assisted his father at Langley Burrell and was the author of Kilvert’s Diary (1944).

However, the most prolific clergy dynasty has to be the one that descends from Lt. Nicholas Ashe (c. 1660-?), of Lisburn, Ireland, who fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1691. If we also include clergy who ascend through the maternal lines, then there are a total of 50 men who served God as clergymen, of whom 23 were Ashes, going through a total of nine generations, spanning some 350 years, of which five generations were Ashes, spanning some 200 years, as follows:

Generation 1:
Rev. John Winder (c. 1657-?), Chaplain to King William III in Ireland and Prebend of Kilroot, whose daughter, Jane (c. 1682-1760), married:-

Generation 2:
Rev. Edward Benson (1680-1741), Rector of Downpatrick and Prebend of Down in Ireland, whose son was (3a below):-

A new line (Blackwall-Pickering) also begins here, which links to the Ashes in Generation 6. Rev. Anthony Blackwall (1672-1730), Vicar of Elvaston, Derbyshire, Rector of Clapham, and author of The Sacred Classics (1727), was the father of Mary Blackwall (?-1783), who married (3b below):

Generation 3:
(3a) Rev. Trevor Benson (1709-1782), Archdeacon of Down and rector of Hillsborough, whose daughter, Ellen, married (4a below):-

(3b) Rev. John Pickering (1706-1790), Vicar of Mackworth, Derbyshire, for 58 years, who was the father of (4b below):

Generation 4:
(4a) Rev. Robert McClure (c.1732-1823), Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Annahilt for 63 years (and wife of Ellen Benson, who had a brother, Rev. Hill Benson [c.1748-1837]), whose daughter, Sophia, married (5a below):-

(4b) Rev. John Pickering (1737-?), whose brother, Rev. William Pickering (1741-1802) was Vicar of Mackworth for 11 years, was the father of (5g below):

(4c) Rev. Edward Jeffries (?-1817), of Ludlow, Shropshire, whose daughter, Elizabeth, married Rev. William Ashe (5b) below:

Generation 5:
(5a) Rev. Henry Ashe (1759-1824), Perpetual Curate of Acton, Ireland for 25 years, son of Nicholas Ashe (1713-?), of Drogheda, was the brother of:
(5b) Rev. William Ashe (1747-1836), Vicar of Kilfergus, Rector of Glin, Prebendary of the Cathedral of Limerick and Rector of Croagh;
(5c) Rev. Isaac Ashe (1751-1834), Vicar Choral of Armagh Cathedral, Rector of Tamlaght for 24 years;
(5d) Rev. Nicholas Ashe (1754-1816), Presbyterian Minister in Athy, co. Kildare, Curate in Fonstown, Vicar of Laraghbryan;
(5e) Rev. John Ashe (c. 1757- ?), Resident Curate in Aglish, co. Mayo.

Nicholas Ashe, of Drogheda, was the son of Lt. Nicholas Ashe, of Lisburn, and he had a brother, Thomas Ashe (1696-c.1792), who had a son:
(5f) Rev. John Ashe, Rector of Ballinasloe, co. Galway, Ireland.

(5g) Rev. Thomas Paul, Rector of Ballinderry, co. Tyrone in 1817, was the father of Jane Paul (1799-1878), who married Rev. William Stone Ashe (6e below):

(5h) Rev. George William Pickering (1778-1858), Vicar of Mackworth for 56 years, was the father of Mary Pickering (1824-1857), who married Rev. George Alexander Hamilton Ashe (Generation 6 below):

The Rev. Henry Ashe was the father of:

Generation 6:
Rev. George Alexander Hamilton Ashe (1812-1897), Vicar of St. Mark’s, Witton, Blackburn, England, who was the brother of the Rev. William Brownlow Ashe (c.1811-1900), Curate in Clogher, Rector of Donagh.

Rev. William Ashe (5b) was the father of:
(6a) Rev. Edward Ashe (c.1786-1861), Vicar of Kilfergus for 43 years;
(6b) Rev. William Sandes Ashe (c.1788-?), Rector of the united parishes of Rahara, St. John’s and Lillivoye, co. Roscommon;
(6c) Rev. Henry Ashe (1790-c.1848), priest at Cork, assistant to his father in Croagh.

Rev. Isaac Ashe (5c) was the father of:
(6d) Rev. Isaac Ashe (1801-1888), Perpetual Curate of Brackaville, Rector of Baronstown, Rector of Kildress;
(6e) Rev. William Stone Ashe (1803-1884), Curate of Ballinderry, Rector of Killoughter, Rector of Rossimer, Ballyshannon, was married to Jane Paul, who had a brother, Rev. John Thomas Paul (1802-1879).

Rev. John Ashe (5f) was the father of:
(6f) Rev. John Ashe, Rector of Ballinrobe, co. Galway, Ireland (appointed in 1821).

(6g) Rev. Edward Leslie (1792-1865), Prebendary and Treasurer of the Diocese of Dromore, Co. Down, and Rector of Annahilt, was the father of Margaret Elizabeth Leslie (c.1827-1882), who married Rev. Thomas Ashe (7e below):

The Rev. Henry Ashe (5a above) was also the father of:

(6h) Anna Sophia Ashe (1804-1885), who married Rev. William Smith (1802-1841), Curate of Forkill, cos. Armagh and Louth.

(6i) Magdalene Ashe (1806-1840), who married Rev. Dr. Luke White King (1797-1873), of Enniskerry, co. Wicklow.

(6j) Ellen Mary Ashe, who married, in 1841, Rev. Patrick Moore (1819-1848), Curate of Portadown, co. Armagh. Rev. Patrick Moore was the grandfather of Rev. Robert Henry Moore (1872-1962), Dean of Perth, Western Australia, who was the son-in-law of Most Rev. Charles Owen Leaver Riley, Archbishop of Perth, who was both the son of Rev. Lawrence William Riley, Vicar of St. Cross, Knutsford, and the father of Rt. Rev. Charles Lawrence Riley (1888-1971), Bishop of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia.

The Rev. George Alexander Hamilton Ashe was the father of:

Generation 7:
Rev. Robert Pickering Ashe (1857-1944), Missionary in Uganda, Chaplain to the British community in Boudja, Smyrna, Turkey, and in Cartagena, Spain, who was the half-brother of Rev. Henry Ogle Ashe (1845-1893), Curate of Leyland, Vicar of Stavely-in-Cartmel.

Rev. William Sandes Ashe (6b) was the father of:
(7a) Rev. Weldon Ashe (1826-1874), Incumbent of Anaghdown and Aasleagh, Prebendary of Tuam, Archdeacon of Killala;
(7b) Rev. Henry Ashe (1826-1917), Rector of Duleek for 28 years.

Rev. Isaac Ashe (6d) was the father of:
(7c) Rev. Henry Ellis Ashe (1836-1873), Incumbent of Belturbet;
(7d) Rev. William Francis Ellis Ashe (1851-1926), Vicar of Wolstanton.

Rev. William Stone Ashe (6e) was the father of:
(7e) Rev. Thomas Ashe (1828-1920), Royal Navy Chaplain and Chaplain of Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.

(7f) Jane Ashe (1832-1917), who married Rev. Robert Holmes Orr (1826-1895), Rector of Killinchy, Co. Down.

(7g) Elizabeth Ashe, who married, in 1871, Rev. Richard Tate.

(7h) Rt. Rev. Francis Featherstonaugh Johnston (1891-1963), Army Chaplain in the First World War, Chaplain in Port Said, Egypt, Archdeacon in Egypt, Chaplain in Alexandria, Egypt, Bishop in Egypt and Libya, Vicar of Ewshott, and Assistant Bishop of Guildford, was the father of Marion Bamber (née Johnston), who married Rev. Francis Patrick Bellesme Ashe Generation 8 below).

Rev. Dr. Luke White King (6i above) and his second wife, Hannah Amelia Christie (?-1861), had two clergy sons:

(7i) Rev. Edward King (1842-1871).

(7j) Rev. Dr. Wingfield King (1845-1916).

Rev. Robert Pickering Ashe was the father of:

Generation 8:
Rev. Francis Patrick Bellesme Ashe (1915-2009), Chaplain to Youth in Southwark, Vicar of Blindley Heath, Surrey, Vicar of St. Mary’s, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, Rector of Church Stretton, Shropshire, and Chairman of Project Vietnam Orphans/ Christian Outreach.

Rev. Francis Patrick Bellesme Ashe was the father of:

Generation 9:
Venerable Francis John Ashe (1953- ), Curate in Ashtead, Priest in Plumstead, South Africa, Rector of Wisley-with Pyrford, Vicar of Godalming, Honorary Canon of Guildford Cathedral, and Archdeacon of Lynn (and my twin brother), and also of Loïs Mary Ashe (1951- ) who married Rev. Kenneth John Boullier (1951- ), priest in Herefordshire, East Sussex, and New Zealand, Rector of Nailsea, Vicar of St. Just, Roseland, and St. Mawes.

A Pedigree Chart showing the above nine generations of clergy is attached.

There are other clergy in the Ashe Family Tree. As time permits, I will add in some of the more interesting ones.