ASHE, William I (1647-1713), of Heytesbury, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Oct. 1668 - Jan. 1681
1685 - 1687
1689 - Nov. 1701
Dec. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

b. 17 Nov. 1647, 1st surv. s. of Edward Ashe†, Draper, of Fenchurch Street, London and Halstead, Kent, being 1st by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of William Jolliffe of Leek, Staffs., wid. of William Bowyer of Knippersley, Staffs.; bro. of Edward Ashe†.  educ. I. Temple 1652, called Nov. 1653; St. Edmund Hall, Oxf. matric. 1664.  m. (1) lic. 27 June 1670, Anne (d. 1684), da. of Alexander Popham† of Littlecote, Wilts., 4s. (2 d.v.p.), 1da.; (2) lic. 10 May 1694, Mary (d. 1721), da. of John Rivett, Skinner, of London and Beeston, Suffolk, wid. of Sir Henry Appleton, 4th Bt., of Jarvis Hall, South Benfleet, Essex, s.psuc. fa. 1656.1

Offices Held

Capt. of ft. regt. of Mq. of Worcester 1673–4.


Ashe took full advantage of his family’s controlling interest at Heytesbury, returning himself for the borough even before reaching his majority. A moderately active Member under Charles II and James II, at the beginning of the 1690 Parliament he was classed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). In this Parliament his activity was usually limited to the occasional committee appointment. Robert Harley*, whom Ashe referred to as ‘cousin’, marked him down as a member of the Country party in April 1691. His only tellership in this Parliament occurred on 12 Nov. 1691 against giving leave for a bill to reduce the rate of interest. On Grascome’s list he appeared on the Court side. His only drafting committee was on 1 Dec. 1694 to prepare a bill for the recovery of minors’ debts.2

The Journals for Ashe’s later Parliaments do not differentiate between him and his son Edward*, and most of his activity in the Commons has been attributed to Ashe jnr. However, he was forecast as a probable supporter of the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade and he signed the Association in the following month. He was listed as having voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s., but a later pamphlet claimed that he had been ‘out of town’ at the time. He was classed as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments in about September 1698, and was classed in February 1701 with those who were deemed likely to support the Court in continuing the ‘Great Mortgage’. In December 1701 he graduated to the county seat, where his surprise election on the Whig interest was accounted a gain by Lord Spencer (Charles*); Harley also listed him as a Whig. He was defeated in 1705, whereupon he retired from the fray.3

A long sufferer from gout, Ashe made his will on 2 Oct. 1713 after becoming ill of the dropsy. He left £1,000 to his wife together with all the household goods from a residence in Bath, where he had evidently retired to recover his health. Generous legacies were made to his sons and named servants. By 20 Oct. it was noted that the dropsy had ‘risen as high as his belly, and it is thought he cannot live long, which will be losing the worthiest gentleman . . . in the country’. He died two days later and was buried at Heytesbury on 29 Oct.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: D. W. Hayton / Henry Lancaster


  • 1. PCC 381 Berkeley; Staffs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxiii), 145; Hoare, Wilts. Heytesbury, i. 117–18, 150; Mar. Lics. Vicar-Gen. (Harl. Soc. xxxi), 290.
  • 2. Add. 70209, Ashe to Harley, 8 July [?1701].
  • 3. Bull. IHR. sp. supp. vii. 19; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xlvi. 80; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 190; Wilts. N. and Q. i. 369.
  • 4. Letters of Burnet to Duckett ed. Nichol Smith, 47–48; Wilts. RO, 859/2; Add. 70209, Ashe to Harley, 8 July [?1701]; PCC 44 Aston.