Henry Ashby was born at Carshalton, Surrey, the son of Quaker parents, John Ashby, engineering miller, and his wife Charlotte Gibbon. He was educated at Ackworth School, near Pontefract, and the Flounder’s Institute, Ackworth, and acted as a private tutor in Ireland before beginning his medical studies at Guy’s Hospital. He won the gold medal for clinical medicine and, after qualifying in 1873, obtained junior appointments at Guy’s. He moved in 1875 to Liverpool, however, to become demonstrator of anatomy in the School of Medicine and assistant physician to the Infirmary for Children. A further move after three years took him to Manchester, where in 1878 he was elected physician to the Manchester (Pendlebury) Hospital for Children. From 1880 until his death he lectured on diseases of children, first at Owens College and then at Victoria University, and for the first two years of this period taught animal physiology as well. Ashby did much to improve the health and living conditions of Manchester children by drawing attention to the need for improved milk supplies, municipal creches for the motherless, instruction in schools on child hygiene, and the care of the feeble-minded. In this last connection he gave valuable advice to the Manchester committee entrusted with the education of feeble-minded children on the establishment of a colony for them at Sandlebridge in 1902. Of Ashby’s written works the most celebrated was Diseases of Children, Medical and Surgical (1899), which reached a fifth edition in 1905. Although somewhat brusque in manner, Ashby had the gift of inspiring confidence in his young patients. He married in 1879 Helen, daughter of Rev. Francis Edward Tuke of Borden, Kent, and left a daughter and two sons, one of whom was H. T. Ashby, F.R.C.P. He died at Didsbury, Manchester.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1908; B.M.J., 1908; D.N.B., 2nd Suppl., I, 64]