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FredQuest Genealogy

Joseph Ashley

Joseph Ashley (1652-1698)

Ashley Genealogy by Francis Bacon Trowbridge (1896)

JOSEPH ASHLEY (Robert), born 6 July 1652 in Springfield, Mass.; died 18 May 1698 in West Springfield, Mass.; married 16 October 1685 in Springfield, MARY PARSONS, daughter of Cornet Joseph and Mary (Bliss) Parsons, born 27 June 1661 in Northampton: Mass. She married, 2d, 2 March 1698-9 in Springfield, Joseph Williston of Springfield, and died 23 August 1711 in Springfield.

Joseph Ashley settled on the west side of the Connecticut River in what is now West Springfield. He had inherited all his father's lands in that part of Springfield, which made him a considerable land owner there. His home lot of five acres was bounded on the north by the land of John Bagg, on the east by the Connecticut River, on the south by the land of Nathaniel Morgan and on the west by the highway. He also owned land in the Farm Meadow and in Chicopee Field on the west side of the river, as well as land near Agawam River, and a lot on the east side of the Connecticut in Springfield.

Joseph Ashley's homestead was in the Riverdale district of West Springfield. His eldest son inherited it, and the latter's descendants have lived on it and in that neighborhood. His youngest son's descendants became so numerous that the part of the town where most of them resided was named Ashleyville, a name still in use.  "It is a fact worthy of note, that the Ashleys as a family, during the entire long period they have lived in West Springfield, have been among the first in thrift, respectability, and all interests tending to advance the well-being of society."

Joseph Ashley was chosen surveyor of highways on the east side of the town in 1676 and 1677. On January 1, 1678-9, he took the oath of allegiance to the Colony. In 1682 he was chosen town constable and held that office until 1684. On December 5, 1682, he was "chosen prizer for the Towne's stocke for makeing the Towne's Rates." With Nathaniel Morgan he was chosen fence viewer" for Chickuppe Field, West Side," on February 11, 1683, and held that office a number of years.

Joseph Ashley was involved with the court at various times, either on account of violating some ordinance of the town or for not performing satisfactorily the duties of the offices which he had been chosen to fill. On July 31, 1679, he was summoned by the warrant of Isaac Morgan for taking his horse out of pasture and riding him, and was fined ten shillings.

"At a County Court held at Springfield September 28, 1680 : Joseph Ashley being presented by the grand jury to this Court for his working his team two hours or thereabouts, after sundown ye night before ye Lord's Day, and so for his prophaneing yt holy time this Court to bear due testimony against such kind of growing and provokeing prophaneness doe ajudge ye said Joseph Ashley to pay to ye County Treasurie as a fine the sum of 5s."

On December 24, 1680, Joseph Ashley got an attachment against Thomas Hancock, and the latter, being committed to prison in Boston, afterwards engaged himself as apprentice to Ashley. At a session of the court, held at Northampton March 29, 1681, Joseph Ashley appeared as attorney for John Higby of Windsor, plaintiff against Thonias Hancock, to recover £22 17s 10d, and the court found that sum for the plaintiff. In another case in which he appeared for Higby and others to recover £20, the court found for the defendant with costs of £1 12s 6d.

March 28, 1682, "Joseph Ashley, presented to the Court for taking and marking of other men's horses contrary to law and to answer at the next Court at Northampton, not appearing, is fined 10s.”

September 30, 1684, "Joseph Ashley, late constable of Springfield, is fined 40s for not making proper returning of his collecting of County Rates."

May 18, 1685, "Joseph Ashley is presented for 10 rods of defective fence three days and we do sentance him to pay 15 shillings."

April 23, 1686, "Joseph Ashley is presented for want of a stake and is adjudged to pay nine shillings to the Towne."  He was fined again for a like offence in 1688 and 1691.

February, 1691, "Joseph Ashley fined six shillings for absenting himself from town-meeting."

June 22,1693, "Joseph Ashley and Nathaniel Morgan complained of for neglecting their duties as fence viewers and are fined five shillings."

In 1694 James Munn recovered damages from Joseph Ashley for "taking all the hay he had moved to halves."

The foregoing extracts show for what slight violations of the law a man could be summoned to appear before the court in those days.  It was in the spring of 1686, however, that Joseph Ashley found himself involved in a serious difficulty, which gained him much unpleasant notoriety and nearly caused a separation between him and his wife.

A few months previous to his marriage Joseph Ashley had formed an intimacy with Deborah Miller, a young woman in Springfield, which resulted in their being summoned before the court. In consequence of this affair, his wife in connection with her brother and mother made application for a divorce in February, 1687, but through the exertions of mutual friends they became reconciled and lived together until his death.

The inventory of Joseph Ashley's estate was not taken until October 21, 1711, after the decease of his widow. It amounted to £329-9s-6d, and the property was divided among his five children, the sons taking the real estate and the daughters the movables and a money equivalent. His oldest son had the homestead.


i. JOSEPH, b. 27 July 1686.

ii. EBENEZER, b. about 1688.

iii. MARY, b. 4 Feb. 1692 ; m. 2 Feb. 1713-4, William Parsons of Northampton, Mass.

iv. ABIGAIL, b. 13 July 1695; m. 8 June 1720, Ebenezer Morgan of West Springfield.

v. BENJAMIN, b. 20 Feb. 1697.

Source: Francis Bacon Trowbridge, The Ashley Genealogy, History of the Descendants of Robert Ashley of Springfield, Massachusetts, (Press of Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor; 1896), page 343-346.