Ashmole, Elias (1617 -1692)
Elias Ashmole was the son of Simon Ashmole, a saddler of Lichfield, and Anne, daughter of Anthony Bowyer, a younger son of Anthony Bowyer, a citizen and draper of Coventry. Educated at Lichfield Grammar School, he was admitted into the family of James Pagitt, a Baron of the Exchequer, and a relative of his mother's. Through the Judge's influence he became a solicitor, in 1638, and married, as his first wife, Elianor, eldest daughter of Peter Manwaring, of Smallwood in Cheshire. She died suddenly in 1641. In 1642, having embraced the royalist side in the Civil War, he retired in Cheshire, and in 1644 he was appointed the King's Commissioner of Excise for Lichfield. Business called him to Oxford, and he entered Brasenose College, where he studied physics and mathematics. While there he met Captain George Wharton, who procured him a commission in the Ordnance, and introduced him to astrology and alchemy, which remained interests of his for the rest of his life. He was appointed Commissioner of the Excise for Worcester, to which were soon after added the posts of Master of the Horse, and Comptroller of the Ordnance. At the fall of Worcester, he again retired in Cheshire. In October 1646, he came to London where he moved in astrological circles, and became one of the first English Freemasons. On 16 November 1649, he married, against the wishes of her family, Lady Mainwaring, a woman twenty three years older, thrice widowed, and with grown up sons. At this point he devoted himself to learning, and made the acquaintance of John Tradescant, Keeper of the botanic garden at Chelsea. At the Restoration he was made Windsor Herald by Charles II, and afterwards Comptroller and then Accountant General of the Excise, Commissioner for Surinam, and Comptroller of the White Office. Meanwhile John Tradescant had died and bequeathed his collections to Ashmole, and Tradescant's widow disputed the will. Ashmole finally took possession of the Tradescant Museum which he presented to the University of Oxford. His second wife died in 1668, and he married a much younger woman, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Dugdale, Garter King of Arms. In 1690 he was made an M.D. by the University of Oxford. His printed books were damaged by a fire at the Temple in 1679, and were sold at auction on 22 February 1694 by E. Millington, Rolle's Auction House, Petty Canons Hall, London. He left his manuscripts to the University of Oxford. They are now in the Bodleian Library.