George Ashby

George Ashby
was born in Bedworth, Warwickshire, on 3 November 1857 and christened there on 21 February 1859. Having spent 14 of his 18 years in Queensland, he died from enteric fever at ‘Oxley Point’ on 27 April 1876. According to his death certificate, his remains were interred on the same day in the ‘Oxley Cemetery’. The official witnesses were William Robinson Jr and Alexander Jones.

George Ashby’s paternal grandparents were John Ashby and Dinah Friswell who were married in Bedworth, Warwickshire, on 31 October 1814; and his maternal grandparents were John Harris and Catherine Capewell. The Ashby and Harris lines came together when George’s father John Ashby Jr (bap. 24 July 1831; d. 18 January 1904) married Sarah Harris (b. 1831; d. 4 February 1915) in the September quarter of 1851.

The 1861 English census records the following data about this Ashby family who were living in Back Lane, Bedworth, in the registration district of Foleshill: John Jr (31, ribbon weaver), Sarah (32), Clara (9), William (5), George (3) and Emma (1). In the same street was a Friswell family: William (52, silk ribbon weaver), Elizabeth (50, silk picker), Henry (19, ribbon weaver) and William (13, ribbon loom turner).

The output of the ribbon industry, which had been boosted in Coventry, Bedworth, Nuneaton and other Warwickshire centres from the beginning of the 18th century by an influx of skilled Huguenot workers, collapsed in 1860 when the Cobden Treaty removed the duty on French silks imported into England. Seeking a new life for themselves and their expanding family, John Jr and Sarah emigrated to Australia on the 978-ton Black Ball square-rigged ship City of Brisbane (Captain David Morris, an American) which left from Gravesend on or about 15 February 1862 and set sail from Plymouth on 25/26 February. Without calling at any intermediate ports, the vessel dropped anchor in Moreton Bay on the evening of 26 June 1862. Accompanying them on what was the ship’s only voyage to Australia were their children: Clara (9), William (7), George (4) and Emma (2). The journey was not without incident; for complaints concerning the conduct of passengers and crew members led to an ‘official inquiry into allegations of impropriety on board’.

According to a Bedworth historian, Tony Davis: ‘John [Ashby] worked on a farm four miles from Brisbane, under a Master from Nuneaton named Grimes for six months at £48 a year plus rations’. As Nuneaton is very close to Bedworth, it is possible that he was already acquainted with his employer.

The family grew in Brisbane with the arrival on 25 June 1863 of another son who was named John after his father and paternal grandfather.

John and Sarah Ashby were living in Brook Street, South Brisbane, at the time of John’s death on 18 January 1904. He was laid to rest in the South Brisbane Cemetery (4A 368), on the following day. Sarah moved to Gatton where she was cared for in her declining years by her widowed daughter Clara Whiteway. She passed away on 4 February 1915 and was laid to rest in the Gatton Cemetery.

Clara Ashby (b. 4 June 1852) married Edmund Whiteway, the son of Thomas and Sylvia (née Rundle) Whiteway on 1 December 1869. Their son Wilfrid Rundle Whiteway served in the First World War. Edmund passed away at Gatton on 6 May 1909. Clara was living in the Brisbane suburb of Wooloowin when she died on 3 September 1939. After a service in St Alban’s Church of England, Gatton, her remains were interred beside those of her husband.

William Ashby (b. 1855) married Henrietta Stevens, the daughter of Jesse Edward Martin and Caroline (née Marsh) Stevens on 11 January 1885. William died on 12 December 1934 and Henrietta passed away on 9 September 1941. Both were buried in the South Brisbane Cemetery in the

grave (5B 151A) that had already received the remains of their infant son John Crofton (b. 18 January 1894; d. 30 January 1896).

Emma Ashby married George Claude Hamilton, the son of Augustus and Emily Pauline (née Alday) Hamilton on 2 August 1888. George and Emma died on 22 August 1909 and 29 April 1939 respectively. Emma’s cremation took place at the Mount Thompson Crematorium.