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I've removed everyone born after 1930:
Ashenhurst of Ashenhurst
John Ashenhurst, 1739
William and Nancy Ashenhurst
Ralph Ashenhurst and Sarah Campbell
Scottish Ashenhurst Lineages
Thomas Ashenhurst of Macclesfield
>INDEX TO LINEAGES<
The Three Colonels Ashenhurst,
Early U.S. Census Records,
The Ashenhurst DNA Project
The Three Colonels Ashenhurst
Growing up in California during the fifties and beyond, our
great-grandmother, Euphemia Ashenhurst McDowell (1880-1977), told us about
Ashenhurst Hall in England. (Actually, she believed it was a castle). For
decades, I told anyone who would listen that I'm descended from a Colonel
John Ashenhurst, a Cromwellian cavalry officer who felt obliged flee to
Ireland after the restoration of the Crown. It turns out the story may not
be totally accurate and is, certainly, much more complex. In fact, there
were three Colonels Ashenhurst during the English Civil Wars, and it's often
difficult to determine which actions are to be attributed to which man.
I'll try to sort it out.
The Ashenhurst family is found in Staffordshire as early as the
thirteenth century. Ralph Ashenhurst of Ashenhurst Hall, near Leek, married
the heiress of Beard Hall in Derbyshire toward the end of the sixteenth
century. They had four sons. The eldest, Randle and Edward, were elevated
to colonels early in the first of the three civil wars. Edward, a
Staffordshire Committee member, was apparently the first of the family to
stand with the Parliamentarians. Another brother, Francis, for whom I can
find little for this period, was the Mayor of Macclesfield in Cheshire from
1642 to 1643. The youngest brother, Edmund Ashenhurst of Old Park in
Staffordshire, appears to have been largely neutral during the wars but
leaned toward Royalist sympathies. Added to the mix is Randle's oldest son,
John Ashenhurst, who was promoted to colonel in 1650 and given command of a
cavalry troop. It is the latter who is sometimes referred to in old
histories as infamous or notorious.
Not long after King Charles I raised his battle standard at Nottingham in
1642, Captain Randle Ashenhurst was serving in Derbyshire with the regiment
of Sir John
Gell who "as Colonel of his own regiment of foot and Governor of the
town terrorised friend and foe alike by his undisguised and arbitrary misuse
of power."1 Ashenhurst and his lieutenant, Thomas Hatfield,
defected from Gell with forty horses and men. The next year, Sir Thomas Fairfax,
the commander-in-chief of the
Parliamentary forces, promoted Randle to colonel.2 The same year,
Captain John Ashenhurst, Randle's son, was installed as governor of Caverswall Castle
in Staffordshire.3 The fortunes of the Ashenhursts were on the
rise. But in December, Colonel Randle was captured along with one of his
sons in a skirmish against Colonel
John Frescheville at Hassop Hall in
The young son present with Randle on that day hasn't been identified.
Randle, styled "of Beard
Hall" due to the inheritance from his father, married twice and had
several sons, at least two of whom were too young to have yet served. His
second son, William, was a witness in August of 1643 to the will of Sir Edward
Fitton and served as surgeon to Fitton's regiment — that is, in
the King's Army.5 Randle's companion wouldn't have been son
Captain John Ashenhurst as he was active during the pair's nine months of
captivity. Another son, Peter, is known to have served as a lieutenant in
Ireland ten years later.6 Peter's birth date and age in 1643 are
unknown, but he had been apprenticed to a draper in 1637.7 It's
easy to guess that he was a young man six years later and remains the
best candidate at present for the second imprisoned Ashenhurst.
Randle and son remained at Frescheville's garrisoned Stayley Hall until the
following August when the Parliamentarians, under Sergeant Major-General Lawrence Crawford,
Castle and secured the surrounding area. In the meantime, the other
Ashenhursts remained busy in Staffordshire. Randle's brother, Captain
Edward Ashenhurst, was promoted to major in early 1644 and given the
governorship of Paynsley
Hall in Cresswell, Staffordshire.8 In February, Captain John
Ashenhurst, Randle's son, began a month-long siege of Biddulph Hall.9
The heavily garrisoned building finally surrendered after the captain
Meg," the largest cannon of its era, and felled a supporting beam.
That August, father and son were released from Frescheville's custody and
Randle was given command of the newly relieved Bolsover Castle.10
Up until this time, historians can distinguish between the three Ashenhurst
men by their respective ranks: Captain John, Major Edward, and Colonel
Randle Ashenhurst. By November, however, Edward was promoted to colonel,
introducing some confusion as to who was whom. But it was Captain John
Ashenhurst (not a Colonel Ashenhurst, as is often stated) who gained a
bloody victory at Wolverhampton in July
1645 with ten of the enemy killed and thirty-eight captured.11
One of the dead appears to have been Andrew Gifford whose home, Walton
Grange, was seized by the captain's uncle, Colonel Edward Ashenhurst. In
June of 1651, Giffard's widow, Katherine, pleaded for the return of her
estate as she and her eight children were homeless. But in March 1652,
Edward bought the estate's mortgage, dispossessing the widow, and was
thereafter styled Ashenhurst of Walton Grange.12
Charles I, the second of the Stuart kings of England, was defeated in
1646. After some negotiation with Parliament, concessions were made and he
was returned to the throne. He quickly reneged on promises made and was
again captured, tried, and finally executed on 30 January 1649. Oliver Cromwell, the
Parliamentarian leader, was now firmly in power and wasted no time in
raising arms in Ireland. During that next year, 1650, as Charles's son was
crowned in Scotland as Charles II, Randle Ashenhurst was commissioned
Justice of the Peace in Derbyshire and his son John was promoted to colonel
of the horse. Confident of victory, Charles's Scottish allies quickly
invaded England but were routed at Dunbar and defeated at Worcester on 3
September 1651, after which the King secured temporary shelter at Boscobel House just
west of the Staffordshire border. None other than Colonel John Ashenhurst
and his troop of cavalry missed capturing Charles there by no more than a
half hour.13 According to all accounts, the King had found cover
inside a hollow of a nearby oak, now known to legend as the Royal Oak, and after forty
days on the run, Charles gained passage to France. We can be certain of the
accuracy of Ashenhurst element in the story because the King confided in
1680 to Samuel Pepys
that a Roundhead passed the oak tree just beneath his hideout. And
Ashenhurst's role is recounted, with varying degrees of accuracy, in a
number of nineteenth century histories.14
The remainder of the decade passed peaceably for the Ashenhursts. John
Ashenhurst had four children during Cromwell's rule: John, Thomas, Sarah,
and Peter, all baptized in Staffordshire during the 1650s. In 1657 alone,
Justice of the Peace Randle Ashenhurst conducted seventeen marriages in
Derbyshire. Just the previous year, his son Revell was admitted to the
Inner Temple, and his youngest son Francis entered Cambridge. In 1659,
Randle's brother, Colonel Edward Ashenhurst, was appointed Commissioner of
the Militia in the County of Stafford,15 and Lieutenant Peter
Ashenhurst, possibly Randle's cellmate in 1644, was enumerated on the census
of Ireland, marrying there to Mary Brooke in 1660.
Charles was restored to the throne in 1660, two years after the death of
Oliver Cromwell, and the Ashenhursts began to disappear from the record.
Randle died in Derbyshire in 1666,16 and in 1667 John sold the
Ashenhurst estate in Staffordshire to his cousin Francis
Hollinshead.17 Edmund Ashenhurst, the youngest of the four
brothers, died in 1669, and Edward, the miser of Walton Grange, was dead by
But what of the American Ashenhurst's supposed ancestor, Colonel John
Ashenhurst, the terror of Wolverhampton, the bomber of Biddolph Hall, and
the would-be captor of the King? Did he and his family flee to Ireland
after Charles regained the crown in 1660? In fact, Ireland might not have
been the safest place for someone on the run from the King. Furthermore, it
seems unlikely he was a fugitive as he was still in England at least until
he sold Ashenhurst Hall in 1667. His children, however, appear to be no
mystery: Peter is recorded to have died in infancy and, according to the
History of Leek, the others had no issue. True? Or might it be that
the whole lot simply disappeared to another land? Although there were
undoubtedly other John Ashenhursts during Restoration England, it needs to
be noted that a man of that name was transported, courtesy of the King, to
Barbados in 1669.18 He is presumably the same man who left that
island and stepped ashore on the American mainland in 1675.
Beard Hall, Derbyshire
One way or another, Ireland was well populated by Ashenhursts by the end
of the eighteenth century. Lieutenant Peter Ashenhurst, Randle's son,
remained and died there, but he seems to have had three daughters and no
sons. Major Edward Ashenhurst, fourth in descent from Randle, and said to
have been the last of the Ashenhursts, died in Ireland in 1770 after falling
from his horse, leaving a single daughter. Yet, however it came to pass, an
extended family of Ashenhursts crossed the Atlantic from county Tyrone to
Virginia in 1793, only twenty-three years following the death of the major.
The group consisted of brothers Oliver and William, their sister Nancy, and
her husband, a first cousin according to family legend, named William
Ashenhurst. During passage, Nancy gave birth to the couple's youngest
child, Oliver Ashenhurst, my great-grandmother's grandfather.
In addition to later emigrations to Australia, Canada, and South Africa,
some Irish Ashenhursts returned to England and others moved into Scotland.
There is, then, a virtual diaspora of Ashenhursts throughout the
English-speaking world, and possibly beyond. In an attempt to put the
puzzle back together, I started, some years ago, the Ashenhurst
Y-DNA project at FTDNA.com. To date, only four male Ashenhursts have
tested and are found to be of the very large Y-DNA haplogroup,
R1b-U106.19 Should more brave Ashenhurst men, wherever they
presently reside, contribute a wad of their spittle to the effort, it will
be possible to establish, at minimum, whether there's a single, distinct
family of Ashenhursts.
Or might there be another tribe that can more rightfully claim the
appellation, "Ashenhurst of Ashenhurst Hall?"
Rev. 11 July 2019.
- c1589 Ralph Ashenhurst of Ashenhurst, Staffordshire, marries Elizabeth
Beard, hieress of Beard Hall, Derbyshire.
- 1631 Randle Ashenhurst is Justice of the High Peak Hundred of Derbyshire.
- 1632 Randle's children named in will of brother-in-law Franics Bradshaw.
- 1638 Randle mentioned in will of his cousin William Leversage of Wheelock.
- 1642 First civil war begins. Charles I raises battle standard at
- 1642 Capt Randle Ashenhurst and Lt Thomas Hadfield defect from
Col John Gell with 40 men and horses (Derbyshire).
- 1643 "Edward Ashenhurst, a Staffordshire Committee member."
- 1643 Randle promoted to Col and authorized by Lord Fairfax to raise a
regiment of foot.
- 1643 (Aug) Randle's son, William, is witness to the will of Colonel Edward
Fitton, for whom he served.
- 1643 (by Dec) Capt. John Ashenhurst made Governor of Caverswall Castle,
- 1643 (Dec) Col Randle Ashenhurst and a son captured by Colonel John
Frescheville at Hassop Hall, Derbeyshire.
- 1644 (Feb 26) Capt John Ashenhurst besieges Biddulph Hall.
- 1644 Captain Edward Ashenhurst made Major by March and is governor of
Paynsley, Colonel by Dec.
- 1644 (August) Balsover Castle, Wingfield Manor, and Staveley House, where
the Asehnhursts were imprisoned, are taken by Major-General Lawrence
Crawford. The Ashenhursts are released.
- 1644 Randle becomes Governor of Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire.
- c1644 Randle takes possession of Shallcross Hall, Derbyshire.
- 1644 Randle Ashenhurst is on the committee for Commonwealth Assessments
- 1644 (June) Brereton besieges Dudley Castle. Two majors, two captains, two
liuetenants taken prisoner.
- 1645 (July 1) "Capt" Ashenhurst's victory at Wolverhampton. 14 killed and
34 captured. Some texts say this was Edward, but he was already
commissioned a colonel, as was Randle.
- 1645 Caverswall Castle back in Royalist hands.
- 1645 Edward Ashenhurst serves under Sir William Brereton at Chester.
- 1646 Brereton takes Dudley Castle. Col Edmond (Edward?) Ashenhurst, former
prisoner at Dudley, is negotiator.
- 1646 Charles I surrenders.
- 1648 Second civil war
- 1649 Charles I executed. End of second civil war.
- 1649 Third civil war
- 1650 Randle becomes Justice of the Peace in Derbyshire.
- 1650 Capt John Ashenhurst commissioned colonel of horse.
- 1651 "Col" Ashenhurst just misses capturing Charles II as he escapes to
- 1652 (March 10) Col Edward Ashenhurst buys Walton Grange.
- 1657 As J P, Randle performs 17 marriages.
- 1659 Col Edward Ashenhurst appointed a Commissioner of the Militia in the
County of Stafford.
- 1660 Restoration of Charles II
- 1666 Death of Randle "of Beard" in Derbyshire.
- 1667 John Ashenhurst sells Ashenhurst estate to cousin Francis Hollinshead.
All original portions ©
Michael Cooley, OrbitInternet.net -