Nicholas ASHE
(Cir 1686-)
Samuel ASHE
Andrew ASHE


Family Links

1. Mary COMER

Andrew ASHE

  • Born: 1756, Lisburn, Ireland
  • Christened: Lisburn, Ireland
  • Marriage (1): Mary COMER on 19 Sep 1799 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
  • Died: 26 Apr 1838, Dublin, Ireland aged 82
  • Buried: 30 Apr 1838, Merrion, Dublin, Ireland

  General Notes:


Baptized at Lisburn 17.... Unfortunately portions of the Lisburn Parish Registers are wanting or imperfect for some years, but we have it on excellent authority that his birth took place at Lisburn about 1756.
Andrew Ashe married Mary, daughter of Thomas Comer Esquire. The Comer family was long seated near Milverton in County Somerset and intermarried with the Bluetts and other families of note. A branch settled in Bath. Mrs. Ashe (née Comer) was a pupil of the celebrated Rauzzini, and she herself obtained much celebrity as a vocal performer.

Mr. Andrew Ashe became a very celebrated musician. He was sent over to England and educated at a school near Woolwich where, at about the age of 9 years, he evidenced a strong disposition for music and devoted a portion of his weekly allowance to pay for lessons on the violin which he received from the master of the R. A. board.

Three years afterwards he was recalled to Ireland in consequence of the unfavorable termination of a law suit in which his grandfather was engaged, but his departure was prevented by Count Bentinck a relative of the Duke of Portland, who hearing of his troubles and of his musical ability, invited him to his house, and afterwards took him to Minorca where the count's regiment then was. Here his patron obtained for him the instructions of an Italian Master under whom he made great progress, and was soon considered a musical prodigy. He then accompanied the Count on a tour through Spain, Portugal, France and Germany and finally settled with him on his estate in Holland where it was intended he should be brought up as Land Steward to that nobleman, but his disposition for music frustrated this. He had became tolerably proficient on most wind instruments from a regular attendance on the practice of the Count's regimental band, yet showed a decided preference for the flute, but after diligent application he abandoned it in consequence of its then imperfect state.

At this time, about 1774, the Sieur Vanhall, brother of the composer of that name arrived at the Hague and announced a concert on which he was to perform on a flute with 6 keys made by Potter, as it was the first of this sort which had been brought to Holland. Great curiosity was excited and young Ashe offered to play the violin at the concert and procured the Count's patronage from Vanhall whom he ultimately persuaded to sell the flute in whose hands the keys were merely ornamental. The prize obtained, Ashe threw up the violin and sorely devoted his energies to the flute, and after several months received lessons from the celebrated Wendling, successor to Quarts, the Master to the King of Prussia, who visited the Hague.

With some years incessant application he became the wonder of Holland as a flutist.

Ashe afterwards entered into the service of Lord Torrington who was about removing from Holland to Brussels and was engaged subsequently by Lord Dillon who resided in the same city. His Lordship wished Ashe to be appointed first flute on the orchestra of the Opera which arrangement was opposed by the Brabant Nobility, and the Flemish subscribers generally, but as the English (1778-79) at Brussels then were a material support to the opera, they demanded a test of skill between Ashe and Vanhall who was then resident first flute. This took place at the first rehearsal of the season, and Ashe gained the triumph and obtained the position. After remaining here (Brussels) for some few years, he removed with a Mr. Whyte to Dublin where his celebrity gained him a position for the Rotunda Concerts and ultimately caused his removal to London.

In 1791, Mr. Salomon had brought over Mr. Haydn for the concerts in Hanover Square and was anxious to have a suitable orchestra for the performance of the Somfonias of that great master. He therefore suspended his choice of first flute until he had heard Ashe, which he did in Dublin, and immediately offered him a liberal engagement.

In 1792, Ashe made his first public appearance in London at Solomon's second concert at the Hanover Square Rooms, where he played a manuscript concerto of his own composition, which was replete with such novelty as to excite universal adminations. He now became the leading flute player at the great concerts in London and upon the retirement of Monzani, was appointed principal flute player at the Italian Opera, which situation he held several years.

In 1810, on the death of Rauzzini, he was unanimously elected director of the Bath Concerts which he conducted until 1822, when he resigned the appointment in consequence of the losses he sustained in the last four years.

"The great celebrity of Ashe," says his biography, "as a flutist arose from the extreme fulness of his tones in those more obstruse keys in music which could not be produced by the flute formerly in use, and the rapidity of his execution contrary to the declaration of Wendling who had asserted that the long keys in the bottom joint spoiled the instrument, and that the small keys were of no use, particularly in quick passages."

Mr. Andrew Ashe returned to Ireland and "dying in Dublin was buried at Merrion on 30th April 1838" ) New General Biography by Rose. " Dictionary of Musicians""Gentleman's Magazine" M.S.S. Bath Biography" Wright.


Footnote # 22 ASHE, (ANDREW), one of the best flute-players of his time,was born in 1759 at Lisburn in Antrim. At nine years of age he was sent to school at Woolwich and began to learn the violin. Three years later, his parents having become reduced in circumstances, he was adopted by Count Bentinck - with whom he went to Minorca, where he received lessons from an eminent - Italian violinist. He afterwards accompanied his patron on a tour through Spain, Portugal, France and Germany, and thence to Holland. The Count paid great attention to the boy's general education, as he wished to make him steward of his estates, but an absorbing passion for music rendered him quite unfit for such an office, and he was therefore permitted to devote all his energies to the acquirement of musical knowledge and skill.

Before he attained the age of sixteen he gained some proficiency on several wind-instruments, particularly the flute, but the imperfections of the one-keyed flute, and he knew no other, caused him to relinquish the practice of the instrument for a time. In the year 1774 Vanhall (not the celebrated composer of that name, who was then in Vienna, but his brother) arrived at the Hague, and announced a concert at which he was to perform on a flute with six keys, made by Richard Potter, the noted wind-instrument maker of London. Besides the four closed keys for d, f,g, and b respectively, this flute was furnished with open keys on the foot-joint, for the production of c'and c'. Vanhall being unable to make use of the five extra keys, the flute in his hands was no more than the ordinary one-keyed instrument of the period, but young Ashe, having obtained the loan of it, soon discovered the advantages of the keys, and, through the kindness of his patron, he was enabled to become the possessor of this flute before the end of the year. From that time he gave up the practice of the violin and occupied himself exclusively with his new flute.

In the course of a few months, Wendling, who had been appointed Chamber-musician to the King of Prussia after the death of Quanta in 1773, visited the Hague, and Ashe became his pupil, but at the second lesson Wendling pronounced the highly prized flute a bad one, saying that the foot-keys spoiled its tone, and that the small keys were of no use. The boy had sufficient discrimination to discover that this opinion was mainly the result of ignorance and prejudice, he therefore discontinued his lessons. Aided then by his natural genius alone, he worked incessantly, and eventually gained distinction as a flute player, being particularly noted for his fine tone. While still a young lad, Ashe was engaged at a handsome salary as family musician to Lord and Lady Torrington, then resident in Brussels. He was afterwards engaged in the same capacity by Lord Dillon, who also resided in the city, and who was one of the chief patrons of the Brussels Opera. About the year 1778 Vanhall was the principal orchestral flute player in Brussels,and therefore held the position of 'first flute' at the Opera, but the English residents, with Lord Dillon at their head, wished to see Ashe in that position, and they demanded and obtained a public trial of skill between the two flute- players. The young man was victorious, chiefly on account of the superiority of his tone, and he was appointed to the Opera-orchestra in Vanhall's place.

In 1782 Ashe gave up his engagements in Brussels, and returned to the land of his birth; soon afterwards he was engaged at the Rotunda concerts in Dublin, and became exceedingly popular. His fame having reached England, he was invited to play at the celebration concerts of Salomon,then being held in Hanover Square, and in 1792 he made his first appearance before a London audience, selecting for the occasion a manuscript concerto of his own composition. Such was his success that he soon obtained the highest position in London, both as a soloist and as an orchestral performer. W.N. James in his 'Word of Two on the Flute' (1826), thus writes of this excellent flute-player: "In solo, where grand and dignified feeling is to be produced, no performer excels him, and although time has now, in some measure, deprived him of the fine rich tone which he once possessed, his conception, expression, and deep pathos, remains unimpaired and unrivalled...... As a master, Mr. Ashe is inimitable".

On the retirement of Tebaldo Monzani from the orchestra of the King's Theater, Ashe was engaged in his stead. He became director of the concerts at the then fashionable city of Bath in 1810. At the opening of the Royal Academy of Music in 1822, he was nominally appointed a professor, but in that year he returned to Dublin, where he resided until his death in 1838.

None of his compositions were published.

From: The Flute
by Richard Shepherd Rockstro
Editor London:
Rudall, Carte and Co.
23 Berners St. W.1.928


Mary Comer Ashe: Wife of Andrew Ashe Married 19 Sept. 1799 Cheltenham,England
Died 1843 (Public Record Office Dublin)


ANDREW ASHE file - Library, Bath, England

Andrew Ashe, who managed the Bath Subscription Concerts 1810- 1822 in succession to Rauzzini, who died 8 April 1810.

For earlier career see The Georgian Era. Memoirs of the Most Eminent Persons... vol IV 318-319.

Violinist and flautist, b. Lisburn, Ireland; educated Woolwich;accompanied his patron, Count Bemtinck to Minorca; at the HAGUE; family musician to LordTorrington at Brussels; subsequently patronized by Lord Dillon. Left Brussels for Dublin c. 1784, and there established reputation. c. 1791 brought by Solomon to London for the Ancient Concerts; succeeded Monzani s principal flautist at the Italian Opera; became a leading performer at all established metropolitan concerts.

Married Mary Comer (probably the Mary Comer, daughter. of Thomas and Jane Comer, bapt. 13 April 1777 (Walcot Registers) who was a pupil of Rauzzini. Possibly Thomas Comer was the Clerk to Kensington Chapel (Directories, 1812,1819).

Bath Chronicle 4 Oct. 1810 reported Mr. Ashe had undertaken the Concerts.

Bath Chronicle 8 Nov. 1810 announced first of nine concerts to be held November 21 1810 in the Upper Rooms.

Bath Chronicle, 10, 12, 24, 31 January 1822 reports that the Concerts have lost money for last three years and particularly since the beginning of present season. Concerts to be discontinued and proportion of subscriptions returned to subscribers. Next Bath Benefit Concert to be held Feb. 5. Lease of their house ( 35 Belvedere) and furniture for sale.

Bath Chronicle 28 March 1822 announces last Benefit Concert for Mrs. Asheto be held April 9.

Bath Chronicle 6, 20 February 1823 reports the Ashes in Ireland and giving Subscription Concerts under the patronage of Lord-Lieutenant.

Keene's Bath Journal 6 Jan 1823 cites an evidently recent article in the London Magazine bearing in part to music in Bath.

Bath Herald 3 Aug 1816 reports 12 Ashe children. The following can be traced:
- Mary Gertrude, married Aug. 6 1822, eldest dau. (Keene's Bath Journal 19 Aug. 1822) to E.C. Cumberbatch, of Barbados, at Walcot Church.
- Honoria Maria Olympia bapt. Walcot 8 Mar 1802.
- Elizabeth Catherine, born 7 Dec 1807.
- Charles Henry Randolph, born 27 Jan 1811, who died Dublin 1824 (Bath Chron. 22 Sept 1824), eldest son.
- Frances Barbara, bapt. Walcot 14 Nov. 1812.
- William Thomas and Edward David, twins, born 19 Feb. 1815.
- Cecilia Annette, bpt. Walcot 14 July 1817.

Others may have been born before the Ashes settled in Bath or during their engagements out of the Bath season. They performed at Cheltenham, Sidmouth and elsewhere.

In Bath the Ashes resided:
Nov 1810 1 Belvedere
1812 23 Morford St.
1816 3 Burlington St
1819 on 35 Belvedere St.

As Managers of the Concerts they were succeeded by Sir George Smart and John David Loder whose acceptance of the management was reported in Keene's Bath Journal 28 Oct. 1822 and whose first concert was held 13 Jan. 1824.

Bath Chronicle 22 Dec. 1831 reports a marriage of a daughter of Andrew Ashe, Ely Place, Dublin.

Extract from "Boyd's Marriage Indexes"
Groom: Andrew Ashe
Bride: Mary Comer
Marriage Year: 1799
Marriage Place: St. Mary's, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Extract from "A Compendium of Irish Biography" by Alfred Webb (1878 )
Ashe, Andrew, a celebrated flautist, was born in Lisburn about 1758. He was sent to school at Woolwich, where he learned the first principles of music. On account of reverses of fortune, his parents were about removing him, when Count Bentick adopted the lad, took him to the Continent, and secured for him a musical education. He devoted himself to the flute, and soon rose to be principal player in Brussels, Dublin, and London, successively '97 being one of the first to use the additional keys. After engagements in the Italian opera, in 1810 he became director of the Bath concerts. He spent the last years of his life in retirement in Dublin, and died in 1838. His wife and daughter were celebrated pianists.

Extract from the "Freeman's Journal" dated Tuesday, 1 May 1838
DEATHS: In Ely Place, aged 81 years, Andrew Ashe, Esq.

Extract from the "Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette" dated Saturday, 5 May 1838
At his house, in Ely Place, at the advanced age of 81, Andrew Ashe, Esq.

Obituary for Mr. Andrew Ashe in The Gentleman's Magazine Volume 10 (1838)
April: At Dublin aged 82 Mr Andrew Ashe the celebrated musician. He was born at Lisburn in the north of Ireland and educated at Woolwich where at the early age of nine he showed a great disposition for music and devoted a portion of his weekly allowance to pay for lessons on the violin which he received from the master of the Royal Artillery band. When he was twelve years old, a lawsuit which had been pending for many years between a neighbouring nobleman and his grandfather terminated so much to the disadvantage of the latter that it became inconvenient for young Ashe to be continued at so distant a school and he was accordingly recalled to Ireland. Previously however to his proposed removal it happened that Count Bentinck, a member of the Duke of Portland's family and a colonel in the British service, became acquainted with his trouble and with his musical taste and in consequence invited him to his house and shortly after took him with him to Minorca where his regiment then was. The Count then procured for him instructions on the violin from an eminent Italian master under whom he improved so much that he was soon looked upon as a musical prodigy for his age. He next accompanied his protector in a long tour through Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany, and finally settled with him on his estates in Holland. Here young Ashe's education was particularly directed to the object of his becoming a confidential servant on the Count's estates but the boy was too far advanced in music and too devoted to it to permit him to pay the attention requisite to complete himself for the intended office of land steward. He bad now acquired a pretty general knowledge of various wind instruments having attended the regular practice of his patron's regimental band and about this time he showed an evident disposition for the flute, but it was then so limited an instrument that after considerable application he relinquished it in consequence of its great imperfections. Shortly after this, the Sieur Vanhall arrived at the Hague from London bringing a flute made by Potter and announced a concert in which he was to perform a concerto with six keys. It being the first of these improved instruments that had reached Holland a general curiosity was excited to see where these keys could be placed on a flute and no one was so actively curious in this respect as young Ashe who lost no time in offering his services on the violin and promising the Count's patronage of the concert which he accordingly procured for Vanhall. These additional keys on Vanhall's flute were in his hands only ornamental as he had not acquired the use of them but when young Ashe tried them and found that they produced all the half notes as full and round as the tones natural to the instrument in its unkeycd state he made up his mind to have this flute coute qui coute, which be accomplished at a considerable price by the Count's indulgence. This was about the latter end of 1774 when Ashe had not attained his sixteenth year. From that period he gave up the violin and dedicated his entire attention to his newly acquired purchase. After some months application the celebrated Wendling, successor to Quartz, the king of Prussia's master, came to the Hague of whom young Ashe had some lessons but on his second visit Wendling told him his new flute was a bad one, that the long keys on the bottom joint spoiled the instrument and that the small keys were of no use particularly in quick passages. These observations of the master, not corresponding with the high ideas and expectations the scholar entertained of its excellence, induced him to discontinue his lessons as soon as a proper respect for such a distinguished professor would permit. Our young aspirant had then recourse to his own natural genius and after a few years incessant application became the admiration of Holland chiefly from the uncommon fulness of his tone in those more abstruse keys in music which could not be produced from the flute then in general use and which perfection was erroneously in a great measure ascribed to the performer without allowing a participation in this honour to be due to the great improvement in the construction of his instrument. Flushed with the admiration which he had experienced Ashe now became desirous to launch into the world and his benefactor on hearing his wishes permitted him to go on a handsome salary as musician to Lady Torrington then on the point of removing from Holland to Brussels. He afterwards removed into the household of Lord Dillon who also resided in the same city. That nobleman was a great patron of the opera and wished his musician to have the situation of first flute in the opera orchestra to which a demur was made by the Brabant nobility and Flemish subscribers in general. Parties ran high but there being at this period 1778 and 1779 a great number of English at Brussels who were a material support to the opera they demanded a public trial of skill between the resident flute of the opera and young Ashe which accordingly took place at the first rehearsal of the season and although it was admitted that the Sieur Vanhall was by far the most experienced musician and flute player yet Ashe gained the general approbation and situation by his superiority of tone for which he had to thank the improvement of his additional keys in all probability more than any preference of emboucheur. In this school of musical improvement our young flutist remained for a few years when an Irish gentleman of the name of Whyte a great amateur of music expressed the intention of making a grand continental tour and as Ashe was by this time a general linguist in addition to his flute playing Mr Whyte proposed to take Ashe with him which was too congenial with our young traveller's disposition to be declined. After however relinquishing all his engagements. letters called Mr Whyte back to Ireland and Ashe having long had a hankering after the land of his birth from which he had been absent since his infancy willingly accepted Mr Whyte's offer of accompanying him to Dublin. Not long after his arrival he was engaged tor the Rotunda concerts which were then brilliantly supported. Here Ashe remained a few years and the great applause his performance always met with was a stimulus to his further improvement. His celebrity having for some time reached England the late Mr Salomon who had in 1791 brought over the immortal Haydn for his concerts in Hanover square and was anxious to have a suitable orchestra to execute that imcomparable master's sinfonies which were composed expressly for these concerts suspended the engagement of his principal flute until he had the opportunity of hearing Ashe which was afforded him the same summer he being engaged to perform at the Rotunda concerts with a celebrated violoncello player of the name of Sperat. Salomon was so highly pleased with his intonation and tone that he gave him a very liberal engagement for Hanover square and accordingly in 1792 he made his first public appearance in London at Salomon's second concert in a manuscript concerto of his own composition which was replete with such novelty as to excite very considerable admiration. After this favourable debut he became and remained the reigning flute both as an orchestra and concerto player at all the established concerts in London. Upon the abdication of Monzani Ashe was appointed principal flute at the Italian opera which situation he held for several years. He next on the demise of Ranzzini in 1810 was unanimously elected director of the Bath concerts which he conducted with great ability for twelve years but in consequence of the times being unpropitious for public undertakings was induced to relinquish their management in the winter of 1821, having lost a considerable sum by the last four years of his direction. In 1799 Ashe married a pupil of Ranzzini whose vocal excellence (as Mrs Ashe) is generally known. They had a numerous family and more than one of his daughters have been successful public performers both as vocalists and as performers on the harp and piano. The eldest is married to a gentleman of property in the West Indies. Mr Ashe's funeral took place on the 30th April at Merrion near Dublin.

Extract from the "Shrewsbury Chronicle" dated Friday, 25 May 1838
Lately, at Dublin, aged 82, Mr. Andrew Ashe, the celebrated musician.

Extract from the "Wexford Conservative" dated 5 May 1838
Death of Mr. Ashe.
Andrew Ashe, the celebrated flute player, is no more; he expired at his house, in Ely Place, on Thursday, April 26, in his 82nd year, after a tedious illness, which he bore with Christian resignation, much regretted by a numerous acquaintance. This gentleman was a native of one of our northern counties, and was the first artist of the United Kingdom who brought to perfection performances on the six-keyed German flute, and who introduced it into England. Upon this instrument he performed solo concertos at the Hanover Square subscription concerts in London, led by Solomon, in the years 1794 and 1795, when the immortal Hadyn composed his famous twelve symphonies; the principal flute part was sustained by Mr. Ashe. He was the contemorary of Viotte, the celebrated violinist; Dusek, Madame Mara, Cervetto, Graffe, and other great artists of that day, by whom he was much esteemed for his musical attainments and social habits. He succeeded Rauzzini at Bath, and gave subscription concerts there, which he conducted with great ability. He has been resident in Dublin for some years with his amiable family, to whom he gave a highly cultivated education, and whose musical talents are so well known and appreciated. He was a good father and husband, a kind friend, and in all his dealings punctual and honorable.

Extract from the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser dated Wednesday, 16 May 1838
Mr. Ashe: The remains of the later Andrew Ashe, the celebrated musician, were interred at Merrion, near Dublin, on Monday week. He was 82 years old. He was contemporary of Viotti, Dussek, Madame Mara, Graff, and Cercetto, at the Hanover Square concerts. He succeeded Ranzzini at Bath, and with his highly cultivated daughters, has for some years given the most fashionably attended concerts in Dublin.

Andrew married Mary COMER, daughter of Thomas COMER and Jane, on 19 Sep 1799 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. (Mary COMER was born on 13 Apr 1774 and died on 8 May 1843 in Dublin, Ireland.)

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