Robert Ashley 1620-1682
Mary Eddy 1624-1683
Robert Ashley immigrated to Massachusetts as a young single man about the age of 20. He was one of the first settlers of the community of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Robert Ashley was born in the year 1620 in Loewsby, Leicester, England. (We have not yet followed his lineage in England). He came to Massachusetts as a single young man, about the age of 20.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Lowesby like this:
LOWESBY, a township and a parish in Billesdon district, Leicester. The township lies 3¾ miles N by E of Billesdon, and 7½ ESE of Syston r. station. Real property, £2,502. Pop., 121. Houses, 20. The parish contains also the township of Cold Newton; and its posttown is Billesdon, under Leicester. Acres, 2,350. Real property, £4,945. Pop., 259. Houses, 46. The property is divided among a few. The manor, with Lowesby Hall, belongs to Sir F. T. Fowke, Bart. The living is a Vicarage in the diocese of Peterborough. Value, £105. Patron, Sir F. T. Fowke, Bart. The church is ancient but good, and has a tower. Charities, £16.
Antique Engraving, Lowesby Hall, Leicestershire, England
IMMIGRATION TO MASSACHUSETTS
Robert Ashley came from England and located first at Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he remained until about the time Mr. William Pyncheon and his company removed to Springfield.
Robert was the first of our Ashley ancestors who came to New England. "He brought with him his family coat of arms, by which his descendants in New England can now find their relatives in England."
Robert married Mary Eddy on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1641, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was 21 years old; Mary was 17.
Mary was born on March 10, 1624 in Nayland, Suffolk, England. Like her husband, she had immigrated as a young woman with her parents, John Eddy and Amy Doggett Eddy.
Robert and Marry had a family of six children; three sons and three daughters. The children were:
- *David Ashley 1642-1718
- Sarah Ashley 1642- died young
- Mary Ashley 1644-
- Jonathan Ashley 1645-1705
- Sarah 2 Ashley 1648-1698
- Joseph Ashley 1652-
Robert and Mary's children were all born at Springfield. Of his children, all are noticed in their father’s will, except Sarah, who probably died young.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO MASSACHUSETTS
Robert Ashley took the oath of allegiance in Massachusetts, with two of his sons, Jonathan and Joseph, in 1672.
Robert and Mary died within one year of one another. Robert died on November 29, 1682 at his home in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He was 62 years old.
Mary died the following September, on September 19, 1683, also at her home in Springfield. She was 59 years of age.
A Short History of Wesfield, Massachusetts
1658-1758 , WESTFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
The Indian name for the territory covered by the City of Westfield was Warronoco, Woronoco, or Woronoak, according to different early writers, and was in the early days, before its permanent settlement, a part of Springfield. It was incorporated as a town in 1669, and when the matter of a name was being considered, Westfield was decided upon for two reasons. The first was, that it was almost due west from Boston, the Colonial seat of government, and the other, that it was the western-most settlement of the Colony.
The exact year of its settlement is not known, but the Rev. Dr. Davis gives the time as being between the years 1658, and 1660. In 1658, the Town of Springfield granted to Thomas Cooper a tract of land in Woronoco, on condition that he begin his improvements within a year from the date of the grant, and that he should keep the place up for a period of five years. In 1660, Springfield granted land to Deacon Samuel Chapin under the same conditions, and in 1661, another grant was made to Captain Pynchon, ROBERT ASHLEY and George Colton, their grant lying on the upland meadows.
So the settlers of Westfield were families from Springfield. … This shows conclusively that there were traders and hunters in Westfield nearly twenty years before the first permanent settlement. On February 7, 1664, the Town of Springfield appointed Major Holyoke, Captain Pynchon, George Colton, and two men named Ely and Cooley, a standing committee to have charge of public matters in Woronoco, including grants of land and the admission of new inhabitants.
The land was granted on condition that improvements were begun within a year and that they were continued for five years. At the expiration of the five years, the grants were confirmed to all whom had lived up to the requirements. When the time came to make this confirmation it was found that a number of grantees had forfeited their grants through failure to live up to the requirements. Titles were confirmed to the following: George and Isaac Phelps, Captain Cook, Mr. Cornish, Thomas Dewey, J. Noble, David Ashley [Sr.], John Holyoke, John Ponder, and John Ingersoll. Their land was between the two rivers near their junction. This was the first settled portion of the present city.
In 1666, Benjamin Saxton was born, he being the first white child born in Westfield. He lived till 1754, dying at the age of eighty-eight. …
On May 28, 1669, Westfield was set off and incorporated as a separate town. The town was nine by four and a half miles in area, and sometime later additional territory was added, that included a considerable portion of what is now Russell and Montgomery. Being a frontier town with no settlement between it and the Hudson River on the west and Canada to the north, Westfield was strongly fortified, with a palisade two miles in circuit, and a fort of logs built with a deep cellar, where the women and children could retire while the men were taking care of the Indians. By 1676, many families had settled on farms — or land which they were making into farms by clearing — so remote from the little hamlet within the palisade, that it was thought best to get the people together for the sake of safety in case of an Indian attack. For this purpose a plan was adopted and approved by the General Court, for bringing the people into a more compact settlement. The plan was, for those who owned lots within the limits of the hamlet, to divide their lots with those who lived on their farms at a distance. In compensation, those in the hamlet received two acres of outlying land for each acre of land in the hamlet that was given up. In 1674, Samuel Loomis was appointed ensign, and in 1676, John Mosely [one of our progenitors] was appointed lieutenant in the local military company.
It was in this year that such general fear was experienced in the settlements north of Springfield, on account of King Philip's War. The authorities in Boston had ordered the smaller and the out-lying settlements to be abandoned, and the people to go to the larger settlements for mutual protection against Indians. A few of the Towns objected strongly to abandoning their homes, especially was this true in Westfield. As soldiers and ammunition could not be spared by the Colony for the defence of the smaller towns, they were obliged to protect themselves.
No organized attack was made upon Westfield, but the people were subjected to frequent sneaking raids by individual Indians or bands of three or four. They would lie in wait, watching for a chance to make a dash into the settlement, and in the consequent confusion they would kill, if the opportunity offered, and burn houses and destroy property. The settlers, of course, would not know whether there were one or one hundred Indians, so terror and confusion on their part greatly helped the Indians. By the time the alarm had called the men in from the fields, the Indians would have accomplished their purpose and have fled. A young man named Dumbleton, from Springfield, was killed just after leaving the mill in Westfield; two brothers named Brooks, also of Springfield, were killed in Westfield while looking for signs of iron ore. On the same day, the Cornish home and the Sackett home and barn were burnt with all they contained and one of the settlers named Granger, was wounded by a bullet from an Indian's musket.
On Sunday morning while the people were in Church, Indians burnt Ambrose Fowler's house and barn and in the following week, Walter Lee's barn was burnt. Two men returning from working in the fields at Pochassic had narrow escapes from Indians; one through his quick wit and the other through his quick sight. The first was Mr. Phelps who, when he arrived at the ford of the Westfield River, saw three Indians and that they saw him. Mr. Phelps made it appear that that he was hunting for them and, clapping his hands, shouted to an imaginary force in the brush to come on and capture them.
The other was Noah Ashley. Meeting an Indian near the Bancroft place, he leveled his gun at the same time the Indian did, but Mr. Ashley fired first. The Indian was followed for some considerable distance by his blood and then the trail was suddenly lost. A daughter of Mr. Sackett's second wife was captured by Indians from New York and was taken to the western part of that state. She married one of the braves and became one of the tribe. It is, of course, utterly impossible to begin to imagine the strain all this was upon the men, or the agony of mind it was to the women. Battle was bad enough, but each man had a chance in a fight. In battle, death was expected and should a husband or son be brought home dead, the wife or mother knew that he gave a good account of himself before being laid low and that the precious life was given for the safety of the community. But this other fiendish work of the Indians in sneaking up behind a man while he was at work and murdering him, was heart-breaking and the women were kept on the rack all day, never knowing till the men returned from the field at night whether another loved one had been murdered. It was the suspense that was so hard to bear. The men, but especially the women, of Westfield deserve a monument to their splendid moral courage in refusing to abandon their homes when the General Court had ordered it. So many other settlers were obeying the order, rather hurriedly, the courage of the people of Westfield in remaining to protect their homes is the more notable.
____________________ In the French War was Dr. Israel Ashley, who was surgeon of a regiment. Dr. Ashley was a son [actually a grandson] of the first settler of that name. He was a graduate of Yale in the class of 1731, and was highly esteemed as a physician and surgeon. He died in the war at Stillwater [SARATOGA, NY].