St George Ashe

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This article is about St George Ashe, Irish cleric. For Saint George Ashe, British rower, see Saint George Ashe.
St George Ashe, by Hugh Howard

St. George Ashe (1658-27 February 1718), D.D., a Church of Ireland cleric who served successively as Bishop of Cloyne, Clogher and Derry in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He is remembered chiefly for his role in the supposed secret marriage of Jonathan Swift.

Ashe was born in County Roscommon in 1658. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he became a Fellow, and Professor of Mathematics; he afterwards acted as secretary and chaplain to the British Embassy at Vienna. Returning to Ireland in 1692, he was made Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. He was consecrated Bishop of Cloyne in 1695, and promoted to the see of Clogher in 1697, and to that of Derry in 1717. He occasionally contributed to the proceedings of the Royal Society, of which he was a member. He died in Dublin, 27 February 1718, and was buried in Christ Church. He bequeathed his mathematical library to the College.[1] Two years before he died, he sent his son, also St George Ashe, on a Grand Tour with Fellow of Trinity College, the philosopher George Berkeley, as his tutor. Having been conducted on one of the most extensive tours of the period, including the length and breadth of Italy, including Sicily, Ischia, Calabria and Puglia, the young Ashe died, presumably without having seen his father again, in Brussels in 1721.[2]

He was a friend of many years standing of Jonathan Swift. In 1726 Esther Johnson ("Stella") the lifelong companion of Swift, is said to have confided to her friends that Ashe had performed a secret marriage ceremony, with no witnesses, between herself and Swift in 1716. Whether or not her claim was true has been the subject of endless debate, and historians generally conclude that it is impossible to be certain one way or the other.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Webb, Alfred (1878). A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M. H, Gill and Son. p. 5. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  2. ^ Edward Chaney, 'George Berkeley's Grand Tours: The Immaterialist as Connoisseur of Art and Architecture', The Evolution of the Grand Tour (Routledge, 2000), pp. 314-76.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Robert Huntington
Provost of Trinity College, Dublin
Succeeded by
George Browne