Jacob William Wheeler Ashley was born on March 18, 1833 at Laverton, Somerset, England the eldest son of James Ashley and Joanna Wheeler. The family moved to Hemington where younger brother James was born and the family are to be found in the 1841 and 1851 census returns.
In 1852 William Sparrow, William Maggs, and Robert Hurd were charged with the murder of Sarah Watts at Woodlands, neear Frome, Somerset, England. The following account of the trial was published in the Somerset County Gazette on April 10, 1852
George Müller (1805-1898) was a Prussian-born English evangelist and philanthropist. A man of faith and prayer, he established orphanages in Bristol and founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. George Müller (1805-1898) was a Prussian-born English evangelist and philanthropist. A man of faith and prayer, he established orphanages in Bristol and founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. The work of Müller and his wife with orphans begin in 1836 with the preparation of their own home in Bristol for the accommodation of thirty girls. Soon after, three more houses were furnished, growing the total of children cared for to 130. In 1845, as growth continued, Müller decided that a separate building designed to house 300 children was necessary, and in 1849, at Ashley Down, Bristol, that home opened. By 1870, more than 2,000 children were being accommodated in five homes.
Edward Ashley was born at Road Hill, Wiltshire, on September 12, 1853, the son of Jacob William Wheeler Ashley and Charlotte Watts, both of whom passed a large part of their lives in England, coming to this country and settling in Michigan in 1872. While in England they were communicants of the established church, in whose faith they reared their children. His father having been a sawyer by vocation.