The ancient and eminent family of ESSE, ASHE, or D'ESSECOURT, which came over with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, appears by certified extracts, under the seal of Ulster King of Arms, to have held large estates in the county of Devon, so early as the 11th century; and the line is deducible through more than eighteen generations.
Having married and had issue, he was succeeded by his eldest son,
GENERAL SIR THOMAS ASHE (1567-1626), of St John's Abbey, near Trim, County Meath, and Dromshill, County Cavan.
This gentleman received the honour of knighthood, in 1603, at Dublin Castle from Sir George Carew, the Lord Deputy, in recognition of his services to the crown in helping to put down the rebellion in that kingdom.
Sir Thomas was subsequently granted land in County Cavan.
He was rewarded even more handsomely a few years later for his support in the fight against the rebellious Irish earls, and was granted land in County Londonderry.
Over a period of several generations, this branch dropped the E from Ashe, and most references to them are with the surname "Ash".
Sir Thomas died without issue.
His country estate, later known as Ashbrook, was bequeathed to his brother,
JOSIAS ASH, whose son,
JOHN ASH, married thrice and had some twenty-four children, a number of whom died young.
This gentleman reputedly built Ashbrook.
From him the family estate descended to his son,
GEORGE ASH (1679-1729), who married his cousin Mary, daughter of John Rankin, in 1710.
Mr Ash was succeeded by his only son,
GEORGE ASH (1712-1796), of Ashbrook, who, dying without issue, bequeathed Ashbrook to his nephew by marriage,
WILLIAM HAMILTON, son of William Hamilton, by Jane his wife, daughter of George Ash.
Mr Hamilton was succeeded by his son,
WILLIAM HAMILTON, of Ashbrook, who assumed the additional surname of ASH, on succeeding to the estates of his uncle.
Mr Hamilton-Ash wedded, in 1795, Miss Elizabeth Harriet Henderson, by whom he had issue,
WILLIAM HAMILTON, his heir;Mr Hamilton-Ash died in 1821, and was succeeded by his son,
George (Rev), Rector of Ballyscullion;
WILLIAM HAMILTON-ASH JP DL (1801-67), of Ashbrook, who married, in 1827, Lady Elizabeth Emma Douglas, daughter of the Hon John Douglas and Lady Frances Lascelles, and sister of the Earl of Morton, and had issue,
CAROLINE HAMILTON-ASH (1830-1901), who espoused, in 1853, John Barré Beresford, son of Henry Barré Beresford, of Learmount Castle, County Londonderry.
The eldest son of this marriage,
COLONEL WILLIAM RANDAL HAMILTON BERESFORD-ASH DL (1859-1938), of Ashbrook, married, in 1886, Lady Florence Marion Browne, daughter of the 5th Marquess of Sligo.
In 1901, his name was legally changed to BERESFORD-ASH, when he assumed the additional surname and arms of ASH by Royal Licence.
He was a lieutenant-colonel and brevet colonel in the 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Colonel Beresford-Ash was succeeded by his only child,
MAJOR DOUGLAS BERESFORD-ASH DL (1887-1976), of Ashbrook, High Sheriff, 1950, who wedded, in 1930, Lady Betty Helena Joanna Rous, daughter of 3rd Earl of Stradbroke.
Major Beresford-Ash was succeeded by his son,
JOHN RANDAL BERESFORD-ASH (1938-2010), of Ashbrook, High Sheriff, 1975, who married, in 1968, Agnès Marie Colette, daughter of Comte Jules Marie Guy de Lamberterie de la Chapelle Montmoreau.
Mr Beresford-Ash left issue, three daughters,
Melanie Anne Helena Charlotte b 1968;
Louisa Jane Marie Caroline b 1971;
ASHBROOK, County Londonderry, has been home to the Beresford-Ash family since 1595.
This two-storey, bow-fronted, gable-ended, 18th century house reputedly incorporates the original house.
There is unusual fenestration: Two windows on either side of the central, curved bow in the upper storey; while there is only one on either side below.
The windows on the entrance front all have rusticated surrounds; and both sides of the house are gabled and irregular.
The Honourable The Irish Society records the Ash family as one of only four 'native land owners' prior to the plantation.
Today Ashbrook is set in 30 acres of mature parkland on the outskirts of the city of Londonderry.
The oldest part of the house was built ca 1590.
During the celebrated siege of Londonderry in 1689, Ashbrook was partially burnt by JAMES I's troops as the Ash family were besieged in the city.
In 1760, the front six rooms were added to Ashbrook.
Unfortunately the architect's records were lost in the burning of the records office in Dublin in 1917. However, the original plans still exist of all the drainage system for the estate (fields and house) from the plumbers who installed the first flushing lavatories and baths in 1911.In the early 1940s, Ashbrook played host to the US Marines.
The then owners, Major Beresford-Ash and his wife, Lady Helena Beresford-Ash, were asked by King George VI to host General George Marshall, Averell Harriman and Harry Hopkins, who were inspecting their troops in Londonderry.In the grounds there are fine, mature trees with glen-side walks leading to the River Faughan, to which there is public access.
This area was recently improved following a report by Dr Tim Edwards of Ulster University, which emphasised the importance of this area as a public amenity.
Tree planting is recorded in A Register of Trees in County Londonderry 1768-1911, for the years 1773 to 1776. The house is set in lawns, with shrubs and trees a short distance away.
The walled garden has not been cultivated in the last twenty years. Half of it was an orchard, separated from the rest by a beech hedge, which still exists.
Peter Taylor has written an interesting article about the history of the Beresford-Ash family; how Ashbrook was a gift to General Thomas Ash from ELIZABETH I; and their experiences during the troubles in Northern Ireland.
First published in February, 2010.