5 Annotations

First Reading

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Per L&M Companion:

(c. 1604 - 79) William Ashburnham was Cofferer of the Household to both Kings, and Commissioner of Monmouth's household from 1665. His house in Westminster is now part of Westminster School.

The brother's, John and William, represented to Pepys an impressive type of courtier -- rich and worldly-minded, but also touchingly faithful to their royal masters ...


William and Jane Ashburnam's tomb by John Bushnell, c 1630 - 1701, erected 1675, the first English sculptor to display any knowledge of the Baroque. "Ashburnam kneels, his hands thrown out in a gesture of grief, at the feet of his wife, who is shown in reclining posture, being crowned by a flying putto. Behind are curtains , held back by two more putti, while at the sides are coronet and plumed helmet, a shield and a burnt out lamp. The dramatic toomb, wit its intense expression of grief and direct appeal to the spectator , was certainly a novelty in England; so too is the fact that both the figures wear loose classical draperies. But unfortunately the distincetion of the conception is matched rathr by the beauty of the epitaph which records ho William, 'coming from beyond see, where he was bread a soldier, married her and after lived almost five and forty years most happily with her' for 'she was a very great lover', than by the quality of the sculpture ..."
Margaret Whinney, rev. John Physick, 'Sculpture in Britain 1530-1830', 1968 (2nd. rev. edn.) pp. 97 - 100.

For illustration:

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

William Ashburnham MP, 1604-1679 of Ashburnham House, Little Dean's Yard, Westminster. He was born, ‘not born to a farthing’, was a soldier of fortune before his marriage to a wealthy widow, like himself one of the 1st Duke of Buckingham’s numerous ‘kindred’. Her jointure included an estate at Tidworth, three miles from Ludgershall.

He was expelled from the Long Parliament for his part in the army plot, and fought as a Royalist in the Civil War.

After losing stock and goods at South Tidworth to the value of £10,000, his wife compounded for her jointure for £521. He was arrested with his brother in 1654 and imprisoned until the fall of the Protectorate.

At the Restoration he resumed his post as cofferer. The Tidworth property had been sold in 1650, but Ashburnham was re-elected for Ludgershall to the Cavalier Parliament as ‘late of St. Giles in the Fields’.

Until 1667 his record in the House cannot be certainly distinguished from his brother John’s, but he was probably the less active, serving on 29 committees. Both were nominated to the committee for the uniformity bill. Ashburnham was three times included in delegations to the King, to ask for the suppression of attempts to disturb the peace and for the royal assent to the assessment bill in December 1661, and to thank him for his speech of 1 Mar. 1662. He was marked as a court dependant in 1664.

He helped to consider the petition of the loyal and indigent officers in that year, and in 1667 that of the merchants trading into France, which led to the expulsion of his brother from the House.

He was marked as government supporter in both lists of 1669-71 and named on the Paston list and the list of King’s servants in 1675. On 30 Apr. he dared to suggest that Members’ insistence on privilege in legal proceedings might lead to injustice.

Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’, while according to A Seasonable Argument he had ‘got by the Court £50,000’, and certainly large sums of money passed through his hands as cofferer. His business interests included a substantial investment in the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Early in 1678 he was appointed to a committee to estimate the monthly cost of maintaining go warships, and his name appears on both lists of the court party in that year.

He died on 9 Dec. 1679 in his 75th year, and was buried at Ashburnham. After substantial legacies, he left the residue of his estate, including the manor of Mountfield, Sussex and Ampthill Park, Bedfordshire, to his great-nephew John Ashburnham II


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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.