|Ash of Ashbrook House|
John was dead before King James II's invasion of Ireland took place, but many of his adult children were actively involved in the desperate defence of Derry against the king in 1689, and two of his numerous grandchildren were killed - or at least died - during the siege. Ashbrook had been left not to his eldest son but to George Ash (1679-1729), who was perhaps John's youngest surviving son at the time of his death. George was only five when his father died and only seven when his mother remarried. He was taken to safety in Scotland during the war of 1689 with his mother's other surviving children, and the Ashbrook estate was left in the care of his half-brother, Lt-Col. Thomas Ashe (1660-c.1737), who moved into Derry during the siege and left an account of it which is one of the main sources for understanding events there. When the King's army gave up the siege in 1689 they burned the homes of many leading Protestants in the vicinity, and Ashbrook would have been lucky to escape this, although there is no family tradition of a rebuilding after the war.
George Ash (the final e being dropped about this time) died aged 50, although not before fathering 17 children, six of whom died young. His heir was his eldest surviving son, George Ash (1712-96), who took a French wife (which may imply that he travelled on the Continent as a soldier or a tourist) but had no issue. He is generally thought to have been responsible for giving the house its present appearance by building the front range with a prominent curved central bow. When his widow died in 1803 the house passed to his nephew, William Hamilton (later Hamilton Ash) (d. 1821), on condition that he took the name Ash. William's sons were the first members of the family known to have gone to University, and his heir, William Hamilton Ash (1801-66) was a JP for counties Donegal, Londonderry and Tyrone, implying that he had significant landholdings in all three counties. He married into the peerage (his wife was a sister of the 17th Earl of Morton) but the couple had only one child, a daughter, Caroline (1830-1901), who married John Barré Beresford (1815-95) of Learmount Castle (Londonderry). In 1883, the combined Ashbrook and Learmount estates amounted to some 12,873 acres in Donegal, Londonderry and Tyrone. When John died, the Ashbrook and Learmount estates were again divided, passing to the couple's elder and younger sons respectively.
Col. William Randal Hamilton Beresford (later Beresford-Ash) (1859-1938) who inherited Ashbrook, was a career soldier who saw extensive service in India and South Africa. He married a daughter of the 5th Marquess of Sligo but they had only one child, Maj. Douglas Beresford-Ash (1887-1976), who followed his father into the army and fought throughout the First World War, retiring in 1924. In 1930 he made a late marriage to the youngest daughter of the Earl of Stradbroke, and they also had only one son, John Randal Beresford-Ash (1938-2010), who saw the estate through the dark days of the Troubles, when the good relations he maintained with both the local Catholic and Protestant populations helped to protect the family and its property from unwanted attention. Like his great-great-uncle, he took a French wife, and they had three daughters, all now married, so it would seem that the Ash name will die out in this generation, unless a future owner follows family precedent and adds Ash to their patronymic. The family currently open the house to visitors by appointment and use it as a wedding venue.
Ashbrook House, Co. Londonderry
|Ashbrook House: aerial view showing the front block of c.1760 and the probably older ranges behind.|
Image: © Neil Jackman/Abarta Audio Guides
There has been a house on this site (called Cornerrin until c.1690) since at least the middle of the 17th century, and perhaps earlier. It may have been one of the Protestant homes burned by the retreating Jacobite army after their failure to capture Derry in 1689, but the family tradition is of a rebuilding in 1686 rather than after the rebellion. Parts of the back of the house may date from the late 17th century but they have been so altered later that there are no datable features before the 18th century.
|Ashbrook House: a new front range was built about 1760 for George Ash (1712-96)|
In the late 18th century (reputedly about 1760) a new front range was built, with a strongly-projecting semicircular bow in the centre; an unusual design although one which was paralleled a little later at nearby Roe Park. The fenestration is unusual, with single windows either side of the bow on the ground floor and two windows above. Despite this solecism, the new front was obviously meant to be fashionable, for the architraves to all the windows and the front door are lavishly treated with Gibbs surrounds in stone.
|Ashbrook House: the entrance hall. Image: © Neil Jackman/Abarta Audio Guides|
|Ashbrook House: dining room. Image: © Neil Jackman/Abarta Audio Guides|
|Ashbrook House, from the 3rd edn OS 6" map.|
The estate, which is partly in the glen of the River Faughan, was also landscaped in the 18th century: tree planting is recorded in 1773-76.
Descent: John Ash (fl. 1686)...George Ash (1679-1729); to son, George Ash (1712-96); to nephew, William Hamilton (later Hamilton Ash) (d.1821); to son, William Hamilton Ash (1801-66); to daughter, Caroline (1830-1901), wife of John Barré Beresford (d. 1895); to son, Col. William Randal Hamilton Beresford (later Beresford-Ash) (1859-1938); to son, Maj. Douglas Beresford-Ash (1887-1976); to son, John Randal Beresford-Ash (1938-2010); to daughter, Melanie Anne Helena Charlotte Beresford-Ash (b. 1968), wife of Charles Cunningham.
Ash (later Beresford-Ash) family of Ashbrook
Ashe, Thomas (1529-82). Second son of Nicholas Ashe of Clyst Forynson (Devon), born at Bucknell (Oxon), 1529. He married Mary, daughter of Nicholas Bailey of St. John's Abbey (Meath) and had issue including:
(1) Gen. Sir Thomas Ashe (1567-1626) (q.v.);
(2) Nicholas Ashe of Newtown (Meath); married and had issue two sons and one daughter;
(3) John Ashe (d. 1636); received from his eldest brother the St John's Abbey estate and Talbot's Castle (Meath), Moyvalley and Dromshill (Cavan); married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Case[y] of Chester and had issue one son and one daughter; died 29 April 1636 and was buried at Trim (Meath);
(4) ?Josias Ashe (b. c.1580) (q.v.).
(1) Anne Ashe; married Rev. Joseph Synge, rector of Manfieldstown and vicar of Dundalk, son of Richard Synge of Bridgnorth (Shropshire) and had issue a son.
* Some sources say he died without issue.
(2) Francis Ashe;
(3) Thomas Ashe (fl. 1680);
(4) Anne Ashe (fl. 1680); married [forename unknown] Harvey;
(5) Susanna Ashe; some sources identify her as the daughter of Josias Ashe baptised at Templemore, 13 December 1642 and as the person who married, 15 October 1657, Edmond Thomas, and as the Widow Ash who was buried 15 May 1671, but these events seem unlikely to all relate to the same person and to be too late to refer to a person of this generation.
(1.1) John Ashe (fl. 1680); inherited Coolofinny from his father; married 1st, Elizabeth, daughter of Nicholas Ball and had issue four children; he married 2nd, [name unknown] and had issue three further children;
(2.1) Luke Ashe; died at sea without issue;
(2.2) Henry Ashe (d. 1711); tanner; an alderman of Derry and one of the defenders of the city during the siege of 1689; sheriff of Derry, 1687, 1690 and 1694; mayor of Derry, 1696; he married 1st, [name unknown] and had issue one child; he married 2nd, Margaret [surname unknown] and had issue fifteen or sixteen children, many of whom died young; died after 1704; will proved 1711;
(2.3) Elisabeth Ashe; married Thomas Gardiner;
(2.4) Lt-Col. Thomas Ashe (1660-c.1737); educated in Derry city; managed his father's estates from 1684; coroner for Londonderry, 1685; he moved into Derry city at the beginning of 1689 and was an officer in one of the regiments there resisting the siege of 1689, for which his journal (published in 1792) is one of the best sources; he stayed in Derry until 1693 and lived thereafter at Magherafelt (Londonderry) until 1727 and then at Ballymaguigan (Londonderry); high sheriff of Londonderry, 1694; alderman of Derry, 1704-37; JP for Londonderry, 1716-37; officer in a militia regiment from 1715 (Lt-Col., 1724); visited England, 1700, 1710 and 1720; he recorded the genealogy of his family at the end of his life, 1735-37 (published in 1890); married 1st, 13 July 1686, Elizabeth (d. 1688), daughter of Thomas Becke and had issue two daughters; married 2nd, 6 April 1693, Elizabeth (c.1672-1728), daughter of Hugh Rainey of Magherafelt, and had thirteen sons and four daughters; died about 1737, aged 77;
(2.5) Mary Ashe (b. 1661), born 8 May 1661; married 1st, George Stewart (d. 1682) of Inch (Donegal) and had issue a daughter who died during the siege of Derry; married 2nd, 1687, William Browne and had issue four sons (one died young) and six daughters; living in 1735; buried at Muff (Donegal);
(2.6) Susanna Ashe; died young;
(2.7) Sarah Ashe (1665-1726), born 24 April 1665; married 1st, c.1781, John Dougherty (d. 1684), attorney, and had issue one daughter, who died during the siege of Derry, and two other children who died young; she married 2nd, October 1689, Maj. Sam Shaltcross (d. c.1707) and had issue three children, who all died young; lived in Dublin and later Derry after her second husband's death; died in Derry aged 61;
(2.8) Margaret Ashe; died young;
(2.9) George Ashe; married and had issue one son;
(2.10) twin, Josias Ashe (1668-81), born 12 July 1668; died aged 13 and was buried at Muff (Donegal);
(2.11) twin, Capt. James Ashe (1668-1704), born 12 July 1668; apprenticed to his brother Henry, c.1683 and served with him four years; when the Jacobite invasion took place he purchased a commission in the army (Ensign, 1688; Lt., 1690; Capt., c.1691); he had an illegitimate son, who lived in Co. Down; he died unmarried at Barbados, while en route to America with his regiment; will proved 1704;
(3.1) Charity Ash (1669-82), born 23 August 1669 at Coleraine; died of smallpox in 1682 aged 13 and was buried at Clandermont;
(3.2) William Ash (b. 1671), born 18 August 1671; died young;
(3.3) Alexander Ash (b. 1672), born 16 July 1672; died young;
(3.4) Anne Ash (b. 1673), born 8 December 1673; died young;
(3.5) Stephen Ash (alias Holland) (1675-1712), born 26 December 1675; apprenticed to Samuel Leeson of Derry, tanner; had three illegitimate children (including twins by one of Leeson's maids); in business as a tanner in Derry and after his marriage at Liffoy near Coleraine; married Mary (1681-1731), daughter of Edward Edwards MP of Castlegore and had issue four sons and three daughters; got into debt and abandoned his wife and family and went to London and then joined the army; died on campaign, 1712, aged 37;
(3.6) William Ash (b. 1677), born 2 August 1677; died young;
(3.7) Martha Ash (b. 1678), born October 1678; died young;
(3.9) Richard Ash (b. 1681), born 12 February 1680/1; died young;
(3.10) Lydia Ash (b. 1682), born 19 February 1681/2; died young;
(3.11) Charity Ash (b. 1683), born 29 July 1683; married, Thomas Lecky (d. 1710), son of Alexander Lecky and had issue eight sons and one daughter; living in 1735;
(3.12) Phillis Ash (b. 1684), born 16 August 1684; married, 16 April 1718, Rev. Thomas Warburton (fl. 1735), rector of Magherafelt and had issue two sons and four daughters; living in 1735.
(3) Sarah Ash (b. 1706); died young;
(4) Elisabeth Ash (b. 1707); died young;
(5) Charity Ash (b. 1709); married Robert Thompson and had issue one son and one daughter;
(6) Mary Ash (1710-67); living in 1735; perhaps the Mary Ash of Ashbrook whose will was proved in 1767;
(7) George Ash (1712-96) (q.v.).
(8) Susanna Ash (b. 1714); living in 1735;
(9) Sophia Ash (b. 1716); living in 1735;
(10) William Ash (b. 1717); living in 1735;
(11) Phillis Ash (b. 1718); died young;
(12) Martha Ash (b. 1719); living in 1735;
(13) Thomas Ash (b. 1721); died young;
(14) Rebecca Ash (b. 1722); died young;
(15) Phillis Ash (b. 1724); probably died young;
(16) Elisabeth Ash (1725-1813); living in 1735; married Henry Hewey (d. 1755) and had issue three sons and one daughter; died 1813 and was buried with her husband at Eglinton;
(17) Lydia Ash (b. 1727); living in 1735.
(2) William Hamilton Ash (1801-66) (q.v.);
(3) Rev. George Hamilton Ash (1802-52); educated at Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1822; MA 1832); curate and later rector of Ballyscullion, 1826-49; rector of Cumber Lower, 1849-52; married, 1826, Mary Elizabeth (1804-66), daughter of Rev. Thomas Spotswood and had issue two sons and two daughters; died in Dublin, 28 October 1852;
(4) Jane Hamilton Ash (d. 1848); married, as his second wife, Robert Algar, later collector of customs at Berwick-on-Tweed (Northbld) and had issue; in 1839 when they were living in Drogheda a violent storm blew down their house and they had to be rescued by neighbours; died 31 August 1848.
Location of archives
Beresford-Ash of Ashbrook: miscellaneous legal papers, 1795-1951 [Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, D1550/152]
Coat of arms
Can you help?
Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
- As so often with Irish families, the genealogical details for earlier generations are sadly deficient and I would be most grateful for any additional information which readers can supply. In particular, it would be helpful to know the dates of death of Jane Ash (b. 1704) and her husband William Hamilton, and the date of birth of their son, William Hamilton (later Hamilton Ash) (d. 1821).
- Can anyone identify Anne, the French wife of George Ash (1712-96), or explain how they met?
- Can anyone supply images of portraits or photographs of other members of the family?
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 6th December 2015 and was revised 28 January and 21 May 2016.