John Ash (physician)

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John Ash by Joshua Reynolds

John Ash (1723 – 18 June 1798), was an English physician.[1]


Ash was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, the son of a brewer, and was educated at Trinity College, Oxford; was B.A. in 1743, M. A. in 1746, M.B. in 1750, and M.D. in 1754. He settled at Birmingham, and soon acquired a large practice. Birmingham General Hospital was founded chiefly through his influence, and he was its first physician. While actively engaged in practice he became affected with temporary mental derangement, for which it is said he found a cure in the study of mathematics and botany. He was admitted a candidate of the Royal College of Physicians 22 December 1786, and in the following year resigned his office in Birmingham and removed to London. He became fellow of the College of Physicians 22 Dec. 1787, and afterwards practised with success in London. He filled the offices of censor of the college in 1789 and 1793; was Harveian orator in 1790, Gulstonian lecturer in 1791, and Croonian lecturer in 1793. He died 18 June 1798, and was buried in Kensington Church. His portrait, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, is preserved in the hospital at Birmingham, and was engraved by Bartolozzi in 1791. He is also commemorated by a blue plaque, affixed to the House of Fraser store in Temple Row, Birmingham.[2]


Dr. Ash is described as a man of great skill in his profession, and of considerable general attainments. He was the founder of a social and literary club, called the Eumelian, from a punning allusion to his own name (Greek έυμελίας or more correctly έῦμμελίης, i.e. with an ashen spear, referred to in Boswell's 'Life of Johnson,' note to the last chapter), and was a fellow of the Royal Society.

He wrote: 1. 'Experiments and Observations to investigate by Chemical Analysis the properties of the Mineral Waters of Spa, Aix,' &c. 12mo, London, 1788. 2. Oratio Harveiana, 4to, 1790.


  1. ^ William Munk (1861). The roll of the Royal college of physicians. pp. 326–. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "John Ash blue plaque in Birmingham". Open Plaques. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Ash, John (1723-1798)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.