Ashe, Andrew (1756×1759–1838), flautist, was born in Lisburn, Co. Antrim. His parents' names are unknown. When he was about nine, Andrew was sent to school near Woolwich, England; from an early age he loved music, and on his own initiative paid for lessons out of his allowance. However, three years later, his grandfather lost valuable property after an unsuccessful lawsuit, and young Ashe was told to come home. Count Bentinck, passing the schoolyard, saw the boy's distress, and offered to help him continue his education. He adopted the boy, and took him to Minorca, where his regiment was stationed, and later on travels throughout Europe. The count intended that young Ashe should become his steward. Ashe, however, was intent on a musical career; the count paid for lessons, and later, when they lived in the Hague, bought for his protégé at great expense the first of the newly developed six-keyed flutes ever seen in Holland; it was a great improvement on previous instruments. Ashe soon surpassed his masters in realising the potential of the greater range of the new flute. He left Holland as musician in the household of Lady Torrington (daughter of John Boyle (qv), 5th earl of Cork and Orrery) and was later employed by Charles, 12th Viscount Dillon (1745–1813). In Brussels Ashe's reputation as a flautist, and support from British and Irish expatriates, secured for him in 1778–9 the post of first flute in the opera. A wealthy young Irishman called White offered Ashe the opportunity to travel in Europe; but when White's plans changed, Ashe accompanied him back to Ireland.
He spent some time in Dublin as flautist at the very successful Rotunda concerts. In the late 1780s Ashe played at a number of concerts in the north of Ireland, along with John O'Neill (qv), Viscount O'Neill, and other notable professionals and amateurs. Such was his fame that the impresario Saloman, who was planning a series of important concerts in London featuring Haydn, travelled to Dublin to hear Ashe play, and engaged him forthwith. From 1792 to 1810 he played with great acclaim at the major London concerts, and was principal flute at the Italian opera. In 1810 he was chosen director of the Bath concerts; he remained in Bath until 1822. In that year he was appointed a professor in the newly established Royal Academy of Music in London, but retired to Dublin, where he lived in Ely Place, and died in April 1838; he was buried in Merrion cemetery 30 April 1838. His fame as a performer rested on his technical proficiency and on the unique tone of his playing; he published none of his own musical compositions. He married (19 September 1799), at Cheltenham, Mary, daughter of Thomas Comer, gentleman; she had been trained by a well known musician, and had a career as a singer. Two of their daughters also appeared in public as musicians. There are said to have been twelve children in all; the names of five daughters and three sons are known. Ashe wrote a manuscript autobiography, which is in the library of the University of Glasgow.