John Edward Ashley


Birth Date:
.. ... 1886
Death Date:
22 Apr 1918
Service Branch:
Durham Light Infantry, 19th Battalion
Service Number:

1886 John Edward Ashley, was born and raised in Barry, Glamorganshire, Wales, the son of Gracious Ashley and Mary Ann [ nee Powell]. He is thought to have first served with the Hussars, service no. 23380, but there is no further information about this. He enlisted at Barry and joined the Durham Light Infantry, 19th Battalion, service no. 25913 [date n/k] He served in France and Flanders and was killed in action 22-23rd April 1918 aged 31. Grave Memorial; Mesnil Commune, Martinsart British Cemetery Ref. 1. C. 11. No marriage or direct descendants have been identified.

Gracious was born 1850 in Edington, Wiltshire where his father, Reuben Ashley, had been a grocer and carrier [of goods], later Postmaster and farmer. As a young man Gracious moved to Wales and census occupations variously described him as quarry man, sailor or coal tipper. It is most likely he was involved with the movement of coal around the docks at Roath.[1] Gracious married Mary Ann Powell, originally from the hamlet of Walton near Broad Haven [Aber Llydan] Pembrokeshire, 12th Feb. 1881, at St Saviour church Roath. They settled in the parish of Barry and raised a family there.

John Edward had an elder brother, William Howard Ashley, b. 1884, who married a French actress, Etta Hyslop, 1908. William Howard trained as a solicitors clerk, but by 1911 he was the Theatrical Manager of the Cambridge Hall in Southport, Lancashire. A first licence for theatrical use had been granted in 1887 and the building was a venue for concerts, lectures, dances and theatrical performances. The hall’s popularity was sustained into the first half of the 20th century, after which time the building went into decline. More information about the building and images can be found at

[1] Roath docks were also known as Cardiff docks and expanded during the Victorian period. The chief cargo was Welsh coal.

References: Soldiers Died in the Great War database, Naval and Military Press Ltd 2010; census 1891, 1901, 1911; CWGC

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