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Ashford, Charles (1864–1943)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

Coombemartin Station (Qld) 'perjurers', 1894 [Ashford is second from left, bottom row]

Coombemartin Station (Qld) 'perjurers', 1894 [Ashford is second from left, bottom row]

Queensland Police Museum, PM0270

Charles Ashford (1864-1943) shearer, gaoled trade unionist, bootmaker

Birth: 1864 at Yeovil, Somerset, England, son of Alfred Ashford, railway labourer, and Harriet, née Dodge, a glover. Marriage: 29 September 1899 at Rockhampton, Queensland, to Brisbane-born Louisa Bertha Yapsom, daughter of a Chinese father. They had a son and a daughter. Death: 23 November 1943 in hospital at Rockhampton. Religion: Anglican 

  • Arrived at Cooktown, Queensland, aboard the Chyebassa on 19 November 1881. Was a shearer in the western district from about 1887.
  • Lived at Rockhampton and was active in the 1894 shearers’ strike, harassing striker-breaking shearers.
  • Shot in the left hip at Coombemartin Station on 20 July 1894. Severely wounded, he spent several weeks in hospital. He accused Police Inspector Carr (according to one witness “that fat-bellied bastard”) of shooting him but a jury found Charles Prior guilty of the offence.
  • Convicted of committing perjury at the trial of Prior, Ashford was sentenced on 26 November at Rockhampton by judge Granville Miller to imprisonment with hard labour for two years. In sentencing the prisoners Miller referred to Ashford’s reported remark “If we can manage to cage old Carr” as evidence of a deliberate conspiracy.
  • Prison records described him as a shearer, born in England, who could read and write, 5 feet 4 inches (152 cm) in height, of slight build with a fair complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes. He had a bullet wound in his left hip, bracelets on his right and left wrists, several moles in the small of his back, a scar in the centre of his forehead and a scar over his right temple. He gave his religion as Church of England. His weight on admission was 9 stone 8 lbs (60.3 kg).
  • Worked in the boot shop in St Helena Island prison. Was unwell due to his wound and the bullet in his abdomen. He was released on 29 September 1896 after serving his full sentence. His weight was then 8 stone 12 lbs (55.5kg).
  • Worked as a bootmaker at Rockhampton after his discharge. A pensioner in later life.
  • Cause of death: diagnosed as paraplegia, which may have been associated with the bullet he had declined to have removed (though he’d had a long life compared to many of his gaoled companions).

Additional Resources

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Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Ashford, Charles (1864–1943)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/ashford-charles-32369/text40121, accessed 10 December 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Coombemartin Station (Qld) 'perjurers', 1894 [Ashford is second from left, bottom row]

Coombemartin Station (Qld) 'perjurers', 1894 [Ashford is second from left, bottom row]

Queensland Police Museum, PM0270