Banburyshire Family History

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Steve Milton

Early connections: The Ashbys of Willington

The hamlet of Willington (included in the parish of Barcheston) lies in Warwickshire, about six miles south west of Tysoe, near the town of Shipston on Stour. According J.M. Martin, "the Ashbys [of Tysoe] originated from Willington" (although he provides no further details or sources). From the (incomplete) parish records, we can guess at the following possible family group:

Family tree of early ASHBYs from the hamlet of Willington, Barcheston

Family tree of early ASHBYs from the hamlet of Willington, Barcheston

"That same year [1632] the parish gave to one Thomas Porter £1 12s to take William Ashbe's son to London. For what reason is not stated. Possibly he may have gone there to be touched for the King's Evil - scrofula - which was much done by King Charles I., everyone coming to the court for that purpose, bringing a certificate signed by the churchwardens, that he had not yet been touched by His Majesty." (Barnard).

"[1644] Willington and Burmington suffered particularly [from billeting during the civil war]... and further troops of 100 each with William Ashby and William Humphreys." (Tennant).

"[1649] The churchwardens [of Barcheston] were now William Ashby and Henry Field." (Barnard)

"The Ashbys [of Tysoe] originated from Willington, where in 1663 William was assessed at three hearths." (Martin).

In the latter quote, Martin is illustrating how the Ashby's descended from relative wealth at Barcheston, to somewhat less well-off circumstances later at Tysoe.

William's (probable) son Joseph Ashby appears as the defendant in the National Archive Equity Pleadings database in 1677 (Equity pleadings being a system of justice based on conscience, rather than on the strict rules of common law. A decision "in equity" was understood to be one given in accordance with natural justice, in a case for which the law did not provide adequate remedy, or in which its operation would have been unfair.). The plaintiff is one Thomas Taylor. From what I have transcribed so far, Joseph Ashby is in Warwick Prison for debt (owing money to Mr George Enock, to Mr William Brown of Willington, to Mr William Bull and to a Mrs Colbourne). However, Thomas Taylor is in debt to Ashby for a messuage purchased some five years previously, and an arrangement is being made whereby Taylor pays off Ashby's debts (including fifty pounds to the Warwick gaoler, a Mr John Hispley) so that Ashby may be released.

How Joseph Ashby, from a wealthy family, got into so much debt is unclear. However, it did occur during a period of persecution of Quakers. After the restoration in 1660 a series of enactments penalised all dissenters. Quakers were prosecuted for a variety of offences, including refusal to pay tithes, church rates or other customary dues. Many were imprisoned. For example, Jack Wood states that "in the 1660s and 1670s a number of Shipston (or Armscote) Friends were imprisoned for non-payment of tithes or not going to church".

Contributed by Steve Milton
Email: stevemilton23(@)hotmail.com
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