William Ashton was a Cashier for a silk manufacturer, a member of the Salford Board of Guardians, a Salford Councillor and was connected with Brunswick Methodist Chapel and Sunday school for nearly 70 years.
He was born in 1817 at Astley, Lancashire. It is not clear when he came to Salford, but he was enrolled as a scholar at Brunswick Chapel in 1823, when he was 5 years old. In 1841 he married Mary Knott (born in 1817 in Pendleton) at St. Mary's parish church, Eccles. Their children were: William Henry (born 1842), Edwin (born 1843), Frances (born 1851 and married Samuel B. Harley in 1876), Lucy Ann (born 1852 and married John C. Sequeira in 1873), Amelia Johanna (born 1856 and married Thomas A. Scholes in 1882), Ada Eliza (born 1857 and married Thomas C. Massey in 1882), Charles Edward (born 1860) and Albert James (born 1863). According to the 1881 census the family was living at 66, Bolton Road, Pendleton and William was aged 63 and described as a Gentleman. Mary was 63. Frances gave her name as Fanny Harley aged 30, with her daughter Edith aged 2. Amelia was 24, Ada was 22, Charles was 21 and a Warehouseman, and Albert was 18 and a Merchant Clerk. William Ashton died at Whitby on 14th August 1890. He was 72 years of age.
The Salford Reporter of 23rd August 1890 records, "The news of the accident that befell Mr William Ashton at Whitby on Tuesday week, came in the nature of a painful shock to his friends in Pendleton and sympathy was expressed to his family. Further news of his death on Thursday, after two days of unconsciousness, caused considerable grief and regret. He had gone to Whitby, a village on the Yorkshire coast, for his summer holiday with his wife and family. It had been his habit when at the seaside to stroll out alone in the evening. From the position that he was found it is assumed that he was stepping over the rocks when he slipped. He was seen by some children to fall heavily and discovered in an insensible state. An ambulance took him to his place of abode where he received medical attention. However, he did not recover and passed away at a quarter to seven on Thursday evening. Had he not been discovered soon after the accident, in the opinion of the Coast Guard authorities, he would have been washed out to sea by the tide. He leaves a widow, five sons and four daughters.
The deceased gentleman, who was in his 73rd year, was widely known for his connection with Brunswick Chapel and Sunday school, Broad Street, Pendleton. The records show that he was enrolled as a scholar in March 1823. At this time, the Sunday school was held in the basement of the old Chapel. Eleven years later he became a teacher on trial, and in due course he passed into the young men's adult class as its teacher, a position he held for many years. He was also taught and undertook secretarial duties. In 1862 the school moved to Gardner Street and whilst here Mr Ashton became one of the Superintendents for over 20 years.
In his professional life, Mr Ashton was Cashier and confidential servant of Messrs T. and E. Walker, silk manufacturer, Manchester. His retirement from business pursuits left him ample leisure for public duties. In May 1871, upon the death of Mr David Thom, he was elected a member of Salford Town Council for St. Thomas's Ward, but at the next contest he was defeated. However he served St. Thomas's ward again from 1886 to 1889. In 1873 he was elected a member of the Salford Board of Guardians as a representative of the Pendleton township. At the time of his death Mr Ashton was also the chairman of the Pendlebury School Attendance Committee."
The funeral of William Ashton took place on Monday afternoon, 18th August 1890. At 2 o'clock the cortege left the Ashton residence on Bolton Road, the hearse being preceded by a large number of friends and members of the Methodist church. Then came William's sons William, Edwin, Charles and Albert followed by his three sons-in-law, brothers and grandsons. The clergy was represented by Revs J. Cooper, J. Pollitt and J. Baker. The Board of Guardians was represented by Messrs S. Hill (chairman), J.T.Hibbert (senior vice-chairman) and A Worsley. Then came Mr P.Hampson (Pendlebury School Attendance Ctee), Councillor Roper, Messrs Hamer, Crossfield, A.Hay, W.K.Statham, R.Kay, Slater and Grant. Whilst the cortege passed St Thomas's Church, "Abide with Me" was rung on the bells. At the Brunswick Chapel an impressive service was held conducted by Rev John Baker and Rev James Cooper. Along the route to Weaste Cemetery, crowds of people paid their last respects and many blinds were drawn. The interment took place in plot A5 of the Dissenters portion with the Rev J Cooper officiating.