Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ashby, Harry

ASHBY, HARRY (1744–1818), an eminent writing-engraver, born April 17, 1744, at Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, was apprenticed to a clockmaker in that town, who also engraved dial-plates, spoons, and tankards. Here Ashby imbibed a taste for engraving. On the termination of his apprenticeship he removed to London, where, following the bent of his inclination for writing-engraving, he entered into an engagement with Mr. Jefferies, geographer, of Charing Cross, his principal employment being to engrave titles for maps and charts. Subsequently his services were secured by Mr. Spilsbury, writing-engraver, of Russell Court, Drury Lane, to whose business he eventually succeeded, and whose widow he married. Ashby was much employed by provincial, colonial, and foreign bankers, to engrave notes and bills, in the execution of which he displayed rare skill and ingenuity. Some able penmen also gave scope to his higher qualifications as an engraver of specimens of calligraphy. Among the works for which he engraved the plates are Hodgkin's ‘Calligraphia Græca,’ 1794; Milns' ‘Penman's Repository,’ 1795; Hodgkin's ‘Specimens of Greek Penmanship,’ 1804; Genery's ‘Geographical and Commercial Copies,’ 1805; Langford's ‘Beauties of Penmanship,’ 1825 (?); and some of the plates in Tomkins's ‘Beauties of Writing,’ 1809. In his later years Mr. Ashby lived in retirement at Exning, Suffolk, where he died Aug. 31, 1818.

[MS. Addit. 19095 f. 102, 19170 f. 4; Gent. Mag. lxxxviii. 283-285; Europ. Mag. lxxiv. 207, 208; Annual Biog. v. 306, 307.]

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