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Post Family Ties: Sandra Hill Connects with Tim Ashby
Created by John Eipper on 07/11/19 3:53 AM

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Family Ties: Sandra Hill Connects with Tim Ashby (John Eipper, USA, 07/11/19 3:53 am)

[JE: I received this query from reader Sandra Hill, a distant cousin of WAISer Tim Ashby.  Sandra gave permission to post]:

Tim, is your ancestor George Ashby from Quenby Hall in Leceister, England? I am asking because those are the branch of the Ashby families to which I am related, and as I am sure you know so was George Washington. In his Diaries, Washington talks about staying with the Ashby family in Virginia when they were all surveying. Those are my family.

Your account is so interesting and I was also wondering how you managed to find out all this detailed information which I very much appreciated.

Thank you for the account.

JE comments:  No one in WAISworld traces his/her family farther back than Tim Ashby, whose ancestors a fewscore generations ago scuffled at Hastings.  Sandra, did you see this 2018 WAIS post, Great Ashbys of History?  Tim mentions Quenby Chapel.


Thanks for reaching out, Sandra.

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  • Illustrious Ashbys: Researching My Ancestry (Timothy Ashby, Spain 07/15/19 4:05 AM)
    I much appreciated Sandra Hill's query of July 11th, and give John permission to share my private email address with her so that I can help with her genealogy research.

    To answer Sandra's questions: yes, I am directly descended from the George Ashby and Elizabeth Bennett Ashby who finished the construction of the "new" Quenby Hall (it replaced a medieval manor house) around 1630. Their third (second surviving) son was John Ashby, "merchant of London," who traded with the Americas. He was granted a 5,000 acre estate in (South) Carolina, on the Cooper River, which he named "Quenby Plantation." After several of John Ashby senior's children died young in disease-ridden London, he brought his teenage son John Ashby junior to Carolina. The latter stayed permanently, thus establishing the "Southron" Ashbys in America.

    And yes:  George Washington used the house of Captain Thomas Ashby (son of the above-mentioned John Ashby Jr.) as a base when he surveyed the Shenandoah for Lord Fairfax in 1742.

    Sandra asked how I managed to find out all this detailed information. I was helped by the fact that various 18th- and 19th-century British publications including John Nichols' The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester and various editions of Burke's Landed Gentry, contain detailed genealogies that included the first American generations through the above-mentioned Captain Thomas Ashby. Another primary, and extraordinarily detailed, source is The Ashby Book by the late Lee Fleming Reese, which is in several volumes and included seemingly all descendants of Captain Thomas Ashby down to and including me, my siblings, and other cousins of my generation. The book is out of print but some libraries have copies (and if Sandra visits Virginia she can find a copy in the sitting room of the Ashby Inn in the tiny village of Paris, just below "Ashby´s Gap."

    Although I have always been interested in history, the indoctrination into genealogy came from my paternal great-aunt and my grandfather. There must have been someone in every generation, or every other generation, who imparted information to descendants. While they had a few documents, much of what they told me was oral history, short on details but providing the basis for further research when I was an adult. For example, both knew the following:

    Our family home was a place called Quenby Hall, in England.

    Their great-great grandfather was named George Ashby, he was a soldier in the Revolution (which they were very proud about), and his wife was named Elizabeth Rollins.

    This information was subsequently verified and detailed in depth through archival research.

    I was skeptical about one claim by my great aunt and grandfather, who said "we are French."  Even as I child, I asked how can we come from England and be French? However, I subsequently discovered that, indeed, the Captain Thomas Ashby mentioned above had married firstly a French Huguenot woman named Elizabeth le Jau, who was the mother of his older children, from one of whom (Henry Ashby, who accompanied Washington on his surveys) we are descended. As did many colonial women, poor Elizabeth died in childbirth and Thomas promptly married another woman in Virginia named Rose Berry.

    My great-aunt and grandfather also claimed that one of our ancestors was a knight, but I have not yet been able to verify who this person may have been (and I doubt if they were referring to Safrid, our original ancestor who came across with the Conqueror and fought at Hastings.) One clue could be the family crest, which is a leopard´s head atop a mural coronet, in use from at least the late 15th century. All heraldic symbols had meaning to the families that used them, and an open crown having the upper rim indented to resemble a battlement was "bestowed on one that first mounted the wall of a besieged place and lodged a standard there."  My English relatives told me many years ago of a family legend that an ancestor was first over the walls of a captured Saracen city during the Crusades, and the king (Richard the Lionheart?) granted him the mural coronet on the spot. The story continued that the leopard head (unknown in England) was taken from a Saracen banner.

    I'll continue my genealogical research and hope to fill in more blanks and details.

    JE comments:  It's very cool when your family has a manor or two, as well as a Crest, a Gap...and a multi-volume book!  We Eippers are a humbler folk.  Tim, have you visited the site of Quenby Plantation, South Carolina?  Does the estate remain?

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