George Ashby (poet)

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George Ashby (c. 1390–1475) was an English civil servant and poet.


He was born about 1390, and was from Warwickshire.[1] He was clerk of the signet, first to Henry VI from the beginning of his reign, and afterwards to Margaret of Anjou, in whose service he evidently travelled abroad. Margaret named him steward of Warwick in 1446.[2] In 1459 he was in Parliament, as member for the borough of Warwick.[3]

Ashby was perhaps confined in the Fleet Prison by the Yorkist conquerors of Henry VI, who was deposed in 1461. Subsequently the poet would seem to have directed the education of the young Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, Henry VI's son, until his murder in 1471.

He appears to have owned an estate named 'Breakspeares' in Harefield, Middlesex. Ashby died on 20 February 1475, and was buried at Harefield. He left a son John, who died in 1496. A grandson George was clerk of the signet to Henry VII and Henry VIII, and died on 5 March 1515.


His earliest extant poem, written in English and preserved in manuscript at Trinity College, Cambridge, describes him as a prisoner in the Fleet, and begins with a 'prohemium vnius Prisonarii.'

For Prince Edward's use Ashby prepared two English poetical treatises: one entitled De Activa Pollecia Principis, which opens with an address to 'Maisters Gower, Chaucer, and Lydgate,' and the second called Dicta et Opiniones Diversorum Philosophorum, with translations into English verse. Both these compositions, Ashby states, were produced when he had attained the age of eighty. The manuscripts of these poems passed from the library of John Moore, Bishop of Ely about 1700, to the Cambridge University Library.

According to Thomas Warton, Ashby was likewise the translator into English of several French manuals of devotion, ascribed by Robert Copland to Andrew Chertsey in his prologue to Chertsey's Passyon of our Lord Jesu Christ (printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1520): but no authority is given for this statement. None of Ashby's works are known to have been printed.


  1. ^ Griffiths p. 834 note 87.
  2. ^ Griffiths p. 258.
  3. ^ Griffiths p. 785.


  • R. A. Griffiths, The Reign of Henry VI (2004)