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  • An Interesting Victorian

    Click image for larger version  Name:	78637F19-AAA5-434A-B0E9-1F1A85E1E3CB.jpeg Views:	4 Size:	141.5 KB ID:	755881



    This is Thomas Ashe, a minor Victorian poet, clergyman and schoolmaster. One of his pupils was Henry Rider Haggard, the author of ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ and ‘She’.


    Ashe was a rather strange character who, after he gave up teaching at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Ipswich, spent a year or two in Paris before returning to live as something of a recluse in London for the last ten years of his life. He died in December, 1889, aged 53, after an illness of three months - consumption it was said, but I’ve got his death cert on order to check that out.


    Ashe wrote a set of lyrics, ‘Marit’ that were said to be ‘fanciful love-poems to a child of fourteen or fifteen’. ‘Marit’ is apparently a girl’s name derived from the Aramaic ‘Martha’. One reviewer said of Ashe’s poetry, ‘It may be that the great majority of the poems are dramatic only, and arose from no incident in their author’s own life; but very many of them impress one so vividly with their truth that one is obliged to imagine - perhaps quite wrongly - that “these things were”.’ Another said, ‘A deep knowledge of, and a sympathy with, children is a pervading characteristic of Mr. Ashe’s later work...’


    In 1859, having achieved his BA at Cambridge, Ashe went to Peterborough to continue his scholastic work and was there ordained by the Bishop of Peterborough, George Davys, first as a Deacon (1859) and then as a Priest (1860).


    Here’s where it gets interesting. From research I’ve done, I think it’s likely that Alice ‘McKenzie’s’ father, Charles Pitts, was George Davys’ footman. The Pitts family lived in the Peterborough Minster Precincts, the small enclosed area surrounding the cathedral, from (approx) 1840 - 1880. In 1859/60 Alice, who was said to have been very ‘prepossessing’ at the time, was aged 14/15. And she had an older sister, Martha, who later went to live in Ashe’s household as his servant...













    Last edited by MrBarnett; 04-19-2021, 12:34 PM.

  • #2
    As well as Ashe’s death cert, I have a copy of His collected poetry, Poems (1886), on order.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
      Click image for larger version Name:	78637F19-AAA5-434A-B0E9-1F1A85E1E3CB.jpeg Views:	4 Size:	141.5 KB ID:	755881



      This is Thomas Ashe, a minor Victorian poet, clergyman and schoolmaster. One of his pupils was Henry Rider Haggard, the author of ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ and ‘She’.


      Ashe was a rather strange character who, after he gave up teaching at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Ipswich, spent a year or two in Paris before returning to live as something of a recluse in London for the last ten years of his life. He died in December, 1889, aged 53, after an illness of three months - consumption it was said, but I’ve got his death cert on order to check that out.


      Ashe wrote a set of lyrics, ‘Marit’ that were said to be ‘fanciful love-poems to a child of fourteen or fifteen’. ‘Marit’ is apparently a girl’s name derived from the Aramaic ‘Martha’. One reviewer said of Ashe’s poetry, ‘It may be that the great majority of the poems are dramatic only, and arose from no incident in their author’s own life; but very many of them impress one so vividly with their truth that one is obliged to imagine - perhaps quite wrongly - that “these things were”.’ Another said, ‘A deep knowledge of, and a sympathy with, children is a pervading characteristic of Mr. Ashe’s later work...’


      In 1859, having achieved his BA at Cambridge, Ashe went to Peterborough to continue his scholastic work and was there ordained by the Bishop of Peterborough, George Davys, first as a Deacon (1859) and then as a Priest (1860).


      Here’s where it gets interesting. From research I’ve done, I think it’s likely that Alice ‘McKenzie’s’ father, Charles Pitts, was George Davys’ footman. The Pitts family lived in the Peterborough Minster Precincts, the small enclosed area surrounding the cathedral, from (approx) 1840 - 1880. In 1859/60 Alice, who was said to have been very ‘prepossessing’ at the time, was aged 14/15. And she had an older sister, Martha, who later went to live in Ashe’s household as his servant...












      Interesting stuff Gary There’s at least a possibility then that he might have been writing about Alice or her sister (more likely her sister I guess due to the name?) I wonder if he had a photograph of her somewhere?
      Regards

      Herlock



      Chairman of the National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To The Old Established Theories.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

        Interesting stuff Gary There’s at least a possibility then that he might have been writing about Alice or her sister (more likely her sister I guess due to the name?) I wonder if he had a photograph of her somewhere?
        Martha would have been 20/21 when Ashe was in Peterborough. I’m not sure where the 14/15 age comes into it. That age range was mentioned by a reviewer of Ashe’s poems, another said ‘13 or so’. It may be there’s a specific reference to it in ‘Marit’. I’ve seen three of the nine lyrics it contains, but they make no reference to age.

        Ashe became the Curate of Silverstone at Easter, 1860 and Martha was recorded in his household in 1861 - just him, his sister and Martha.

        He left there around 1865 to take up his teaching career. Prior to that Martha had returned to Peterborough and married a carpenter from Silverstone, Eli Varney - in 1862 in Peterborough cathedral. They remained there and by 1891 had their own teenaged house servant, Annie Pearce, 17.

        Last edited by MrBarnett; 04-19-2021, 03:33 PM.

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        • #5
          Interesting stuff. I found a copy of Marit in case anyone is interested. While it doesn't mention age directly, the implications of the 3rd stanza (as I've organized the lines here) indicate a young girl about to enter puberty.

          - Jeff

          Marit

          My love, on a fair May morning,
          Would weave a garland of May :
          The dew hung frore,
          as her foot tripped o'er
          The grass at dawn of the day ;
          On leaf and stalk,
          in each green wood- walk.
          Till the sun should charm it away.

          Green as a leaf her kirtle,
          Her bodice red as a rose :
          Her white bare feet
          went softly and sweet
          By roots where the violet grows ;
          Where speedwells
          azure as heaven,
          Their sleepy eyes half close.

          Cover arms as fair as the lilies
          No sleeves my love drew on :
          She found a bower
          of the wildrose flower,
          And for her breast culled one :
          And I laugh and know
          her breasts will grow
          Or ever a year be gone.

          O sweet dream,
          wrought of a dear fore-thought
          Of a golden time to fall
          She seemed to sing,
          in her wandering
          Till doves in the elm-tops tall
          Grew mute to hear
          as her song rang clear
          How love is the lord of all.

          - Thomas Ashe

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          • #6


            Thanks, Jeff.

            ‘Marit’ was said to have consisted of nine ‘lyrics’ in total.

            The one quote I have found so far consists of three stanzas:

            Attached Files
            Last edited by MrBarnett; 04-19-2021, 09:58 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post

              Thanks, Jeff.

              ‘Marit’ was said to have consisted of nine ‘lyrics’ in total.

              The one quote I have found so far consists of three stanzas:
              Hi MrBarnett,

              Interesting, that looks like a different poem as the constructions don't line up. Will be interesting to see what the collection you have on order shows; perhaps he wrote a couple of poems with the same name?

              - Jeff

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post

                Hi MrBarnett,

                Interesting, that looks like a different poem as the constructions don't line up. Will be interesting to see what the collection you have on order shows; perhaps he wrote a couple of poems with the same name?

                - Jeff
                Perhaps the nine lyrics are nine separate poems of different forms under the heading of ‘Marit’. ‘Marit’ was described as a ‘set’ of lyrics.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post

                  Perhaps the nine lyrics are nine separate poems of different forms under the heading of ‘Marit’. ‘Marit’ was described as a ‘set’ of lyrics.
                  That makes sense to me. Hopefully the collection you have on order will clear it up. Why must everything, no matter how tangential to the JtR crimes, end up with some sort of mystery attached to it?

                  - Jeff

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post

                    That makes sense to me. Hopefully the collection you have on order will clear it up. Why must everything, no matter how tangential to the JtR crimes, end up with some sort of mystery attached to it?

                    - Jeff
                    That’s life, I suppose. :-)

                    The contrast between the experiences of Alice and Martha is a real ‘Tale of Two Sisters’ - one certainly had the ‘worst of times’.



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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post

                      Martha would have been 20/21 when Ashe was in Peterborough. I’m not sure where the 14/15 age comes into it. That age range was mentioned by a reviewer of Ashe’s poems, another said ‘13 or so’. It may be there’s a specific reference to it in ‘Marit’. I’ve seen three of the nine lyrics it contains, but they make no reference to age.

                      Ashe became the Curate of Silverstone at Easter, 1860 and Martha was recorded in his household in 1861 - just him, his sister and Martha.

                      He left there around 1865 to take up his teaching career. Prior to that Martha had returned to Peterborough and married a carpenter from Silverstone, Eli Varney - in 1862 in Peterborough cathedral. They remained there and by 1891 had their own teenaged house servant, Annie Pearce, 17.

                      Hello, this is what I've found


                      https://books.google.it/books?id=HzbUwQEACAAJ&pg=PA231


                      https://books.google.it/books?id=M2MVAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA107

                      ​​​​​​​
                      ​​​​​​​

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by eclectic browser View Post


                        Hello, this is what I've found


                        https://books.google.it/books?id=HzbUwQEACAAJ&pg=PA231


                        https://books.google.it/books?id=M2MVAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA107

                        ​​​​​​​
                        ​​​​​​​
                        Thank you, e b!

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                        • #13
                          He was a bit of an Anglican Francis Thompson.
                          dustymiller
                          aka drstrange

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                          • #14
                            Click image for larger version  Name:	09B9AEBA-6BBE-441C-959F-0A8F8A846395.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	119.6 KB ID:	755930
                            Originally posted by drstrange169 View Post
                            He was a bit of an Anglican Francis Thompson.
                            Yes, Dusty, that’s how he strikes me, although his poetry is considerably less violent/gory than Thompson’s.


                            Look at the above: a poem written by Ashe in 1859/60 speaking of a lonely chamber in the [Peterborough] Minster Close and the 1841 census showing the Pitts family living in Minster Close with a lodger (?).

                            Later censuses just give the Pitts’s address as the wider Minster/Cathedral Precincts, but one press report speaks of the family having lived in the same small house for many years. And in every census between 1851 and 1871 there’s a lodger/boarder present.
                            Last edited by MrBarnett; 04-20-2021, 07:28 AM.

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                            • #15
                              One last extract from Ashe’s poetical works (thanks again, eb):


                              Attached Files

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