ASHBURNHAM, William (c.1604-79), of Ashburnham House, Little Dean's Yard, Westminster.
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Family and Education
b. c.1604, 2nd s. of Sir John Ashburnham of Ashburnham, Suss., and bro. of John Ashburnham I. m. c.1627, Jane (d.1672), da. of Sir John Boteler, 1st Baron Boteler of Brantfield, wid. of James Ley†, 1st Earl of Marlborough, s.p.1
Lt.-col. of ft. 1639, col. (royalist) 1642-6; maj.-gen. 1643; gov. Weymouth 1644.2
J.p. Hants and Wilts. 1636-46, Mdx. and Westminster 1661-d.; dep. lt. Hants by 1640-2, commr. for assessment, Mdx. 1661-d , Westminster 1661, 1673-d., Suss. 1679, loyal and indigent officers, London and Westminster 1662; conservator, Bedford level 1667-8.3
Cofferer of the Household 1642-6, June 1660-d.; commr. for affairs of Duke of Monmouth 1665-70; member, Society of Mines Royal 1662, asst. 1664-74, dep. gov. 1675-d.; member, Society of Mineral and Battery Works 1662, dep. gov. 1664-d.; asst. R. Adventurers into Africa 1664, 1669-71; member, R. Africa Co. 1672, R. Fisheries 1677.4
Ashburnham, ‘not born to a farthing’, was a soldier of fortune before his marriage to a wealthy widow, like himself one of the 1st Duke of Buckingham’s numerous ‘kindred’. Her jointure included an estate at Tidworth, three miles from Ludgershall. He was expelled from the Long Parliament for his part in the army plot, and fought as a Royalist in the Civil War. After losing stock and goods at South Tidworth to the value of £10,000, his wife compounded for her jointure for £521. He was arrested with his brother in 1654 and imprisoned until the fall of the Protectorate. At the Restoration he resumed his post as cofferer. The Tidworth property had been sold in 1650, but Ashburnham was re-elected for Ludgershall to the Cavalier Parliament as ‘late of St. Giles in the Fields’. Until 1667 his record in the House cannot be certainly distinguished from his brother’s, but he was probably the less active, serving on 29 committees. Both were nominated to the committee for the uniformity bill. Ashburnham was three times included in delegations to the King, to ask for the suppression of attempts to disturb the peace and for the royal assent to the assessment bill in December 1661, and to thank him for his speech of 1 Mar. 1662. His name stands first in the committee for the Briscoe estate bill, which he probably introduced on behalf of Sir Courtenay Pole. He was marked as a court dependant in 1664. He helped to consider the petition of the loyal and indigent officers in that year, and in 1667 that of the merchants trading into France, which led to the expulsion of his brother from the House. He was marked as government supporter in both lists of 1669-71 and named on the Paston list and the list of King’s servants in 1675. On 30 Apr., much to the wrath of William Sacheverell, he dared to suggest that Members’ insistence on privilege in legal proceedings might lead to injustice. On 15 Feb. 1677 he was accused of telling the King that Sir John Holland, in opposing supply in the last session, had repeated his speech in the Long Parliament, a charge which Ashburnham indignantly denied. Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’, while according to A Seasonable Argument he had ‘got by the Court £50,000’, and certainly large sums of money passed through his hands as cofferer. His business interests included a substantial investment in the Duke of York’s Theatre. Early in 1678 he was noted on a government list as missing from a debate, but he was still able to attend in spite of his age, for on 7 Feb. he was appointed to a committee to estimate the monthly cost of maintaining go warships, and his name appears on both lists of the court party in that year. During the summer he was taken seriously ill, and he did not stand again. He died on 9 Dec. 1679 in his 75th year, and was buried at Ashburnham. After substantial legacies, he left the residue of his estate, including the manor of Mountfield in Sussex and Ampthill Park in Bedfordshire, to his great-nephew John Ashburnham II.5