Sir William Ashburnham, 4th Baronet

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The Reverend Sir William Ashburnham (1710–1797) was a Church of England Clergyman and also a baronet.


There is some confusion over the origins of the Ashburnham family, writers have suggested that they may have been an Anglo Saxon family who were in England before the Norman conquest.[1] There was, for example, a Bertram Ashburnham in charge of Dover castle at the time of the Conquest and Camden described the Ashburnham family as being of "great antiquity".[2][3] However, the Domesday Book indicates that the owner of Ashburnham before the Conquest was actually someone called Siward.[4] The post-Conquest record is that the lord who held Ashburnham from the Tenant-in-chief, Robert, Earl of Eu, was Robert de Cruel and it is probably from this Cruel (or Criol) that the real Ashburnham line began.[4] Their arrival in England would have been from Normandy, during the Conquest, at a place now called Creully in the arrondissement of Caen.[1]

The baronetcy itself, was created in 1691 with the first baronet being Denny Ashburnham.

William Asburnham was the son of Sir Charles Ashburnham, the 3rd baronet of Bromham, Guestling, Sussex. William succeeded to the title as 4th Baronet Ashburnham, on 3 October 1762. He married Margaret daughter of Thomas Pelham of Lewes, in Guestling and had a son William who became the M.P. for Hastings.[5]


Ashburnham matriculated in 1728 and then went on to study at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where he received a B.A. in 1732–1733.

William Ashburnham was elected a fellow[6] of Corpus Christi in 1733–1735, received his M.A. (Lit. Reg.[7] ) in 1739, and granted DD in 1749.[8]


Ashburnham was ordained 1733 and appointed chaplain to the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1741.[5] The following year, 1742 he became Vicar of St Peter Bexhill, Sussex.[9] He was made Dean of Chichester in 1742 and in 1743 canon residentiary of St Paul's Cathedral (a preferment he kept in commendam with the see[10]).[11] Then from 1754 he was Bishop of Chichester for 44 years till his death in 1797, one of the longest episcopates for the see of Chichester.[11] Ashburnham was also rector of Guestling, 1743–1797.[9]

During 1767, while Bishop of Chichester, Ashburnham was asked by the dean and chapter to reduce the number of professional adult male singers in the choir (known as lay vicars).[12] The establishment had been for eight.[12] Ashburnham issued statutes to reduce the number to four, their wages immediately being increased by dividing amongst them the stipend originally allotted to the whole body.[12]

The current Chichester Cathedral choir has an establishment for six lay vicars.[13]

William Ashburnham died 4 September 1797.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Archive. Reference: ASH. dates:1048–1984 East Sussex Record Office
  2. ^ Camden. Brittania. Vol 1. Sussex 15
  3. ^ Lower. Worthies of Sussex. p. 288
  4. ^ a b Morris. Domesday Book Sussex. 9,7
  5. ^ a b Kimber. The baronetage of England. p. 194
  6. ^ FellowA senior member of a college, supported to a greater or lesser extent by, or enjoying perquisites from the college's endowment.
  7. ^ .Lit. Reg.Litterae Regiae: royal mandates directing the conferring of a degree
  8. ^ a b "Ashburnham, William (ASBN728W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  9. ^ a b Church of England Clergy Database
  10. ^ Commendam–the temporary holding of a benefice, with the right to its revenues, by a cleric or layman in the absence of a proper incumbent: he was said to hold the benefice in commendam. [1]
  11. ^ a b Stephens. Memorials of the South Saxon See. p. 310
  12. ^ a b c Stephen . Memorials of the South Saxon See. p. 346
  13. ^ Chichester Cathedral choir information


  • "Chichester Cathedral Website". The Dean and Chapter, Chichester Cathedral. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  • "Church of England Clergy Database". Church of England. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  • Camden, William (1701). Britannia Vol 1.(English Edition). London: Joseph Wild. 
  • Kimber, E; Johnson, R (1771). The baronetage of England: containing a genealogical and Historical Account of all the English Baronets. London: G. Woodfall, J. Fuller, E. Johnson et al. 
  • Lower, Mark Anthony (1865). The Worthies of Sussex. Lewes, Sussex: Sussex Advertiser. 
  • Morris, John, ed. (1976). Domesday Book: Sussex. Chichester: Phillimore. ISBN 0-85033-145-5. 
  • "National archives". UK Government. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  • Stephens, W.R.W. (1876). Memorials of the South Saxon See and Cathedral Church of Chichester. London: Bentley. 
  • Venn, J; Venn, J. A., eds. (1922–1958). Alumni Cantabrigienses (10 vols). Cambridge University Press. 
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Charles Ashburnham
(of Broomham)
Succeeded by
William Ashburnham
Church of England titles
Preceded by
James Hargraves
Dean of Chichester
Succeeded by
Thomas Ball
Preceded by
Matthias Mawson
Bishop of Chichester
Succeeded by
John Buckner