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John Ashbury was the younger son of Thomas Ashbury (1765-1810) and Ann (Hindley) Ashbury (1766-1821); shoe makers from Pits 'Oth Moor, Barton on Irwell, situated in the area of south Manchester known at that time as THE SALFORD HUNDRED. John's older brothers James Ashbury and Thomas Ashbury were also shoe makers, Thomas also a storekeeper. They also lived and worked in the south Manchester area. John's parents and brothers were buried in Barton Wesleyan Chapel Cemetery with other members of their family during the 19th and early 20th century.
John Ashbury was born on the 31st January 1806, residing with his uncle in Winton, near Manchester until he was about 19 years of age when he bound himself as an apprentice to a wheelright in Manchester. He soon became a skilled workman in wood and iron. Having been entrusted with the building of some coal wagons for the Manchester and Leeds Railway, he commenced building railway wagons resulting in the large works at Openshaw for making railway carriages and wagons. A forge, rolling mill and puddling furnaces were also added to make iron for the manufacture of general railway plant.
John Ashbury died at his residence in Kensington, London on the 2nd September 1866 age 60 years following a short illness. John Ashbury, his wife Frances and their son James Lloyd Ashbury (1834-1895) - a conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency of Brighton and a keen yachtsman, first challenger for the Americas' Cup; are buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.