Friday, 9 August 2013

Joseph Ash 1856-1885

Joseph Ash 1856-1930

JOSEPH ASH was born in Matlock, Derbyshire, England on 24th March 1856. (1)

His parents were WILLIAM ASH & ELIZA HAYES.

He was christened at the Primitive Methodist Church in Matlock on 4th May 1856. (2)

His father died in 1860 when JOSEPH was just 4 years old.(3)

JOSEPH had two brothers: GEORGE, born 1858 and WILLIAM born in 1860 just six months before his father died.

At the age of 15 JOSEPH was working as a gardener (1871 Census), and  on 28th June 1879 he married CLARA TURNER from Matlock Bath, at the Bakewell Registrar's Office.(4)

JOSEPH & Clara had two children: MAUD LYDIA born 1879 and EDITH born 5th June 1880. (5)

On 27th December 1881, CLARA was buried at Matlock Bank age 23.

The 1881 and 1891 censuses record JOSEPH as a 'General Labourer' and a 'Painter & Paperhanger & Local preacher' respectively.

On 28th March 1885 JOSEPH married EMMA SLATER at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Matlock Bank. (6)

JOSEPH & EMMA had four children: FREDERICK born 20 May 1886; GERTRUDE EMMA born 30th March 1888, died age 15 months in July 1889; WALTER born 30 September 1889; and BERTHA ANNIE born 6 October 1893.

The 1901 census records JOSEPH and Emma living at Matlock Bank and still a 'Paper hanger and Painter'. By 1911 the family had moved to Smedley Street, Matlock and JOSEPH's occupation is recorded as a 'Stage Carpenter'.  The 1916 Kelly's Directory of Private Residents has the following listing: ASH, JOSEPH, Meadow View, Smedley Street, Matlock.

In 1901, Joseph & Emma lived on Matlock Bank. Their neighbours were the Cooks, Holmes, Sellors, Kirby, Heathcote and Crossland families. They were a young community (24yrs - 45yrs) with Joseph being the eldest of the seven families around him. They were all employed artisans working as a gardener, stone cutters, and masons and all but Alfred Kirby were local, having been born in Matlock or the surrounding villages.

In the Derby Daily Telegraph, 7 September 1905, JOSEPH was named along with others as one of the passive resisters  to the Education Act 1902. (7):

Another batch at Matlock
On Wednesday at Matlock 15 passive resistance cases were heard. The defendants were all prominent residents as follows: Rev James Burton, the Primitive Methodist superintendent minister; Rev R.A. Foster, Congregational minister; Mrs Esther Stevens (sister of Sir George Newnes), Frederick H. Drabble, E. Drabble, D.M. Wildgoose,  Coun J.W. Wildgoose, W. Lill, H. Stocker, E. Samuel, sen and jun, J.L. Dean, JOSEPH ASH, Walter Slater, and Thos. Geldart.  Mr Ernest Drabble (Secretary for the local league) introduced the Rev R.A. Foster  as spokesman for the whole of the defendants.
The Rev R.A. Foster said the Education Act offered to them insuperable objections, and it had produced 60,000 objections, as many imprisonments, and a revolt in Wales, and it would go down to history as being due to injustice.
The Bench thanked the deputation for the defendants, and said they had nothing to do but to administer the law,
and the usual distraint would be made, one warrant for the lot being granted.

He is described above as a prominent resident, and this was reiterated in the newspaper obituaries when he died on 1 July 1930:

Honesty and Integrity
At a memorial service on Sunday the Rev. J.B. Hardy spoke feelingly of the great loss suffered by the Primitive Methodist Church. Mr Ash, he said, was one of the last of the older generation with whom religion was life and honesty and integrity their one aim. Their very straightforwardness was misunderstood at times by those who could not see or think as straight as they. Any community was honoured by their presence. Matlock Bank Primitive Methodist Church had lost a great leader and the minister a personal friend. The outstanding characteristics of Mr. Ash were his alert mind and his readiness to accept new truths, even though it meant the abandonment of his older ideas. His passing was a call to the younger generation to face the tasks of the age. 'If we do as well by our age as these men and women did by their's, the future is assured and thurth is for ever triumphant.' 
     The organists were Mr L.G. Wildgoose and Mr H. Wildgoose, and a full choir attended. The special hymns were: 'At even when the sun had set,'  'For all Thy saints,' 'Son of my soul', 'Strong son of God'. Tributes to Mr. Ash were read from two former ministers - Professor Humphries and the Rev. Harryman Taylor. 

Leader Lost to Methodism
Funeral of Mr J. Ash of Matlock
Many friends of the late Mr. Joseph Ash attended his interment in the St. Giles' churchyard, Matlock, on Friday. The first part of the service was conducted by the Rev. J.B. Hardy at the Matlock Bank Primitive Methodist Church. Hymns sung by the choir included 'Crossing the Bar' and 'Jesu, lover of my soul'. Mr L.G. Wildgoose presided at the organ.
This article goes on to mention all the mourners and floral tributes.

JOSEPH ASH was my maternal Great Grandfather!

My own mother recalls her grandfather as follows:

     Grandad Ash was short with white hair and a little goatee beard. He would give us a 3d silver piece every Christmas in our stocking, stuck in an apple.  We used to sit with him in church on Sunday evenings and he gave us strong peppermints to suck and made rabbits with his handkerchief to keep us quiet! Grandad Ash was also a well loved lay preacher who worked at Smedleys hydro in his younger days." (8)

The above are the facts I have gleaned from various sources over a number of years. If any reader can add anything of interest regarding my ancestor, please contact me. Thank you.

© The information and photographs in this format may not be copied or pasted elsewhere without the author's written permission.

(1) Scanned copy of birth certificate received from family member (CL)
(3  )
(4) Sheffield Independent Saturday 5 July 1879 (
(6) Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald 4 April 1885 (
(8) Family Heirloom book and Life Story
Photo very kindly forwarded to me by email, by a distant family member (RA)

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