Ashe, Thomas (1770–1835), novelist and travel writer, was born 15 July 1770 in Glasnevin, Co. Dublin, third son among eleven children of Jonathan Ashe, soldier, and Margaret Ashe (née Hickman), heiress to estates in Co. Clare. According to his own account, he spent his early life at Ashville, near Limerick, and was educated in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. After serving in the British army, he entered the wine trade in Bordeaux, where he was briefly imprisoned for wounding the brother of a girl he had seduced. He returned to Dublin and through the recommendations of his eldest brother, Jonathan, was appointed secretary to the Diocesan and Endowed Schools Commission. However, he enjoyed himself ‘in a total disregard to official duties’; and, in debt, resigned and spent several years travelling in Europe and America, where he continued to live a ‘chequered and adventurous life’. The details of a life, perhaps too full of incident and escapade to be credible, are described in colourful prose in Memoirs and confessions (1815) and several other books including Memoirs of mammoth and other bones (1806) and A commercial and geographical sketch of Brazil and Madeira (1812). Of his work Travels in America in 1806 (1808), the critic in the London Quarterly Review wrote: ‘He has spoiled a good book by engrafting incredible stories on authentic facts.’ His novels include Spirit of the book (1811), which ran into four editions and in 1813 was translated into French and German; Liberal critic, or Henry Percy (1812); and Soldier of fortune (1816). He died 17 December 1835 in Bath.
Thomas Ashe, Memoirs and confessions of Captain Ashe (1815); Allibone; DNB