The Ashbys of Tysoe, Robert Ashby (1761-bef 1851), Steve Milton
Banburyshire Family History

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Steve Milton

Robert Ashby (1761-bef 1851)

Robert Ashby & Elizabeth Woodfield neé Whitehead - family tree

Robert Ashby & Elizabeth Woodfield née Whitehead

Some events from Robert's life:

1761: Born

1788: Applied to rejoin the Quakers. From Warwickshire South meetings minutes:

"Robert Ashby of Tysoe descended of parents not in unity with us and therefore according to the rules of our society, is not properly a member ... is desirous of being received as such is recommended to the further consideration of this meeting."

"Robert Ashby son of John Ashby of Tysoe having requested our religious meeting diligently that being descended of parents not in unity is looked upon not entitled to membership but is desirous of being received as such and nothing appearing but his life of commiseration is sober and confident with the profession we make ... and therefore free to own and acknowledge him as a member of our religious society."

1790: Recorded in Tysoe as contributing 8/6d to the land tax; this would make his freehold about 10 acres.

1796: Act of parliament passed for enclosure of open fields in Tysoe. Although theoretically compensated for losing their rights to common land, many smallholders could not live adequately from their new plots. J.M. Martin writes "Looking at the small landowner who received compensation for loss of yardland or fraction of yardland in the open fields, we find that he received injury in several ways. His rights were often considered last, and compensation, when it came, commonly took the form of one or more tiny allotments situated at a very great distance from his homestead". After an exhaustive investigation of the Tysoe enclosure, Professor A.W. Ashby came to the conclusion that "the duty of fencing the allotments fell with varying incidence on the different proprietors... A careful reading of the award shows beyond doubt that the burden of fencing fell more heavily on the smaller than the larger owners".

1801: Marriage to Elizabeth Woodfield née Whitehead.

Elizabeth was not a Quaker: "Whereas Robert Ashby of Tysoe has deviated from our established rules as to be joined in marriage by a priest to a woman of a different [illegible] contrary to the advice of his friends we therefore hereby disown him the said Robert Ashby from being a member of our meeting of the people called Quakers until he shall appear sensible of the inconsistency of such his conduct and give satisfactory proof thereof of a more circumspect adherence to the principle we have protection of".

1801: "Draft release by Thomas Aynge, Lower Tysoe, butcher, to Robert Ashby, Church or Upper Tysoe, baker and maltster, of one fourth part of an estate in Tysoe (held by virtue of his marriage to Ann Callow, one of the 4 daughters and joint co-heiresses of Thomas Callow, deceased) for £140 subject nevertheless to 2 mortgages 1) 6 June 1799 to Richard Wheatcroft and Thomas King for £80 and 2) to Edward Calloway for £100."

1801: Birth of son Joseph

1803: Bankruptcy. Jackson's Oxford journal, March 26, 1803: "The creditors of Robert Ashby of Tysoe, aforesaid Yeoman who have already executed the assignment of his effects, consented to accept the dividends arriving therefrom are hereby informed that the first dividend, which will be seven shillings in the pound would be paid to them immediately and also to all his other creditors who shall within 21 days execute such deed; which for that purpose is now lying at the office of Mr Findon Attorney in Shipston, where the dividend shall be paid. N.B the creditors neglecting to comply with this notice will be wholly excluded."

1806: Birth of son Robert.

aft 1841:Robert died sometime between 1841 and 1851.

A the time of the bankruptcy, it would appear that Robert was still a Quaker: "A Quaker Ashby living at Lower Tysoe became bankrupt, was on his beam ends. At a meeting of the Quaker elders, the leader asked Ashby about his position. After period of silence the leader put his hand in his pocket, so did all the other friends. Ashby took 'the lot'."

The Ashby holding was mortgaged soon after enclosure to William Middleton, at a time while corn prices were high, apparently to pay a son's debts. At this time the property would have been John Ashby's, and the son Robert. When corn prices dropped, they could no longer keep up the payments. Middleton foreclosed the mortgage (after the Ashby's had "parted with every good stick of furniture to pay to the uttermost") and sold to the Earl of Northampton (probably land under the windmill at Tysoe, now owned by the Northamptons).

View of Tysoe, including the New Pool

View of Tysoe
including the New Pool

It was at the point they lost their land (presumably the same time as the bankruptcy - although the crash in corn prices that affected so many small cultivators happened after the war ended - 1815 at Waterloo) that the Ashby's stopped being Quakers, although they did not drop their Quaker speech.

They were somewhat aggressive and stories were told of their un-Quakerly actions and Quaker speech. e.g. "if thou does not hold thy peace, I will pick thee up and throw thee over the hedge into the New Pool".

1806: Birth of son Robert.

Robert died sometime between 1841 and 1851.

Robert Ashby (1806-1886)

"They had prosperous relatives on a great farm just outside Stratford on Avon" (from Joseph Ashby of Tysoe).

This branch of the family at one point owned "Ashby's Garden", at the top of the hills in Tysoe, and made a kind of nursery garden of it, taking young plants around the countryside. They probably found Shennington church more convenient, and its may to them we can attribute the outburst at Shennington church "if that be in thy bible, parson, it beant in mine".

Farm wagon in retirement at whitchurch in 1961. The name on the wagon is Arthur Ashby

Farm wagon in retirement at whitchurch
in 1961. The name on the wagon
is Arthur Ashby

The following story is attributed to Robert: "Went to Burland Farm, given meal, asked where he should eat the pie 'where you like', 'Ah, then at home!' said he, and departed with the pie." (However, this story has also been attributed to an earlier Robert Ashby).

Robert married Ann Powell (c1813-1849) in 1836, and had six children. In the Tysoe 1841 census, Robert's occupation is miller. Ann died in 1849 and Robert subsequently married Hannah Besley or Hawkes of Shennington in 1850, the wedding taking place at Butlers Marston. In the 1851 census at Butlers Marston, Robert is a farmer of 46 acres. Was this perhaps land that Hannah had owned?

In the 1871 census, he was a farmer at Preston on Stour, by 1881 he had retired to Old Stratford. His sons were also in the main land-owning farmers. For instance, in the 1881 census, Nicholas Ashby was a farmer with 205 acres at Eatington. The following children's rhyme is passed down...

"Nicholas Ashby of Ettington farm,
Starved his horses for want of corn,
Maggoty mutton and mouldy bread,
Be a good job when the old devil is dead "

Other of Roberts's descendents were farmers at Wimpstone at Whitchurch.