ASHLEY, Solomon (d.1775), of James St., Westminster.
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Family and Education
4th s. of Joseph Ashley of Ashby St. Ledgers, Northants. by his 1st w. m. 25 June 1719, Winifred, 1st da. of Alexander Pitfield, M.P., of Hoxton, Mdx., 2da.
Exon of yeomen of the guard 1717-32; gov. York Buildings Co.; dep. gov. Welsh Copper Corpn.; director, R. African Co.
Solomon Ashley’s father, a citizen and draper of London, bought the manor of Ashby St. Ledgers in 1703.1 Ashley himself was a considerable merchant, with an interest in Galley Quay, off Lower Thames Street.2 At the election of 1727 he and his father-in-law, a former Member for the borough, both stood unsuccessfully for Bridport, his two petitions making no progress. In addition he contested Hindon as one of five candidates, but obtained no votes there. However, in 1734, he and his former opponent William Bowles heavily defeated John Bance, another Whig, who stood single. When the report on the York Buildings Company was considered on 1 May 1735,
the House voted that several frauds had been committed by the company but would not name any particular person to be guilty of doing them. This was to screen the governor, Mr. Solomon Ashley, who was a Member of the House, and who by his behaviour made it a doubt whether he [was] most fool or knave.3
In Parliament Ashley’s only recorded vote was in 1739 against the Spanish convention, given on the day after the main division, from which he was locked out.4 But he was regarded as a government supporter, writing to the Duke of Newcastle, 28 June 1740:
I hope my interest here [at Bridport] is in a pretty good condition and am certain will be more so from your Grace’s favour.
And again on 25 Apr. 1741, a fortnight before the general election:
[I] hope things are tolerable well in regard to me. Though strenuous opposition is made by the corporation, the Quakers are my fast friends and more particularly so, I letting them know I am supported by your Grace’s interest.
In spite of government support Ashley was beaten by an opposition Whig. He did not stand again. In 1753 (13 July) he applied to Newcastle for the deputy rangership of St. James’s park saying that ‘as I have a vote for the county of Kent, I shall use my interest with the voters there for your friend.’5 He died in February 1775.