The story of John Ashley, the 19th-century priest who founded the Bristol Channel Mission, the innovative maritime service that became the Mission to Seafarers.
Trade Information: LPOD
Available as: Paperback (eBook edition available soon)
Specifications: 234x156mm, 166pp, b&w illustrations
Published: January 2017
Institutional foundation stories have a tendency to change and develop with the passage of time and much repetition. Maritime social historian R.W.H. Miller here explores the life of The Rev. John Ashley and his association with the foundation story of the Mission to Seafarers, the work of which society is much admired by its present Patron, HRH the Princess Royal. The traditional story is that Ashley's son, out walking by the Bristol Channel with his father, in the early 1830s, asked how the islanders could go to church. Ashley went to see, and from the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm seeing large fleets of wind bound ships, asked himself the same question. He used his own money (deriving mainly from the trade of sugar and slaves) to build a schooner, which he sailed in all weathers to provide an answer, in the process creating for himself a place in the ancestry of several Anglican and Catholic societies, of which the Mission to Seafarers, the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, and the Apostleship of the Sea, continue to provide seafarers with a valued and often heroic service.
Foreword by Martin Foley
1. Who was John Ashley?
His Early Years
2. John Ashley Discovers a Need
A Pleasure Yacht for Dr Ashley
3. John Ashley and his Committee
John Ashley States his Case
4. The Bristol Channel Mission: Lame Duck or Phoenix?
5. John Ashley and The Missions to Seamen
Negotiations with the Bristol Channel Mission
6. John Ashley's later years
John Ashley in Court Again?
John Ashley Leaving the Church of England?
7. John Ashley in Context: Early Modern Seamen's Missions
The Bible and Tract Societies
And what of Bristol?
London Episcopal Floating Church Society
Liverpool Mariners' Church Society
Conclusion: What has been Achieved?
John Ashley's Faith
Appendix 1: John Ashley: An Inspiration
Appendix 2: John Ashley: An Indirect Inspiration
Appendix 3: John Ashley's Siblings
Appendix 4: John Ashley, his Wife and Children
R.W.H. Miller, currently a Catholic priest in the west of England, has been a long-time student of Maritime Social History and member of the Society for Nautical Research and the International Maritime Economic History Association. He has worked for both the Missions to Seamen and the Apostleship of the Sea. He is the author of Priest in Deep Water (2010) and One Firm Anchor (2013), also published by The Lutterworth Press.
I have been familiar for many years with Dr Miller's work on the history of the Church and the merchant seafarer. Dr Ashley's Pleasure Yacht uncovers the life of a nineteenth-century clergyman, John Ashley, a man with private means deriving from family sugar estates in Jamaica, makes some surprising discoveries. As Ashley is often claimed as the founder of the Mission to Seafarers, the story of his work visiting wind-bound ships in the Bristol Channel has been told often. Less well known is a major disagreement with his committee and what followed. Professor Séan McGrail, Emeritus Professor of Maritime Archaeology, Oxford University