Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ashton, Charles

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ASHTON, CHARLES (1665–1752), a distinguished scholar and divine, was born on 25 May 1665, at Bradway, in the parish of Norton, Derbyshire. He was admitted to Queens' College, Cambridge, on 18 May 1682, took the degree of B.A., and on 30 April 1687 was elected to a fellowship. After serving for a time as chaplain to Bishop Patrick, he was presented on 10 March 1698-9 to the living of Rattenden, in Essex, which he exchanged in the following June for a chaplainship at Chelsea Hospital. On 3 July 1701 he was collated to a prebendal stall in Ely Cathedral, and was elected on the next day to the mastership of Jesus College, Cambridge, both offices being vacant by the death of Dr. Saywell. In the same year he took the degree of D.D., and in 1702 was elected vice-chancellor of the university. His life was spent in scholarly seclusion, and he seldom left Cambridge, except when his attendance was required at Ely. He died in March 1752, at the age of 87, and was buried in the college chapel. Ashton's published works are not numerous. He contributed to Wasse's 'Bibliotheca Literaria,' 1724, an article, 'Tully and Hirtius reconciled as to the time of Caesar's going to the African war;' also an emendation of a passage of Justin Martyr. Reading's editions of Origen 'De Oratione' (1728) and 'Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ Scriptores' (1746) are said to have been in great part the work of Ashton. 'His edition of Hierocles's excellent commentary on the golden verses of Pythagoras is without his name, or, it should rather be said, with another person's, R. W. (Warren). . . . Mr. Wakefield also has particularly noticed a Tertullian as being replete with notes by Dr. Ashton. I have also myself perused a dictionary marked in the same manner' (Dyer, Hist. of Univ. of Camb., 1814, ii. 80). In 1768 appeared an edition of Justin Martyr's 'Apologiæ' prepared by Frederick Keller, fellow of Jesus College, from papers that Dr. Ashton left at his death. All Ashton's manuscripts had been bequeathed to Keller. Bowyer writes: 'The Bishop of Ely has advised him (Keller) to ask leave of the Bishop of London to inscribe Tertullian's Apology, which the doctor left to his lordship. . . . Ashton destroyed all his sermons; for the Bishop of London inquired after some he had heard preached, which were not found.' Among the Cole MSS. in the British Museum there are transcripts of some of Ashton's letters to Dean Moss (vol. xxx.); of his additions to Sherman's 'History of Jesus College' (vol. xlii.); and of his large 'Collections relating to the University.' In Chishull's 'Antiquitates Asiaticæ' (1728) Ashton showed much acuteness in restoring satisfactorily a comipt inscription to Jupiter Urios.

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, i. 262, 271, iv. 226, 227, viii. 502", ix. 766; Dyer's Hist. of Cambr. Univ. ii. 80; Cole MSS. vols, xxx., xlii., li.; Add. MS. 6396. There is a good account of Ashton by J[ohn] H[ill] B[urton] in S.D.U.K. Biographical Dictionary.]

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