A new book by Catholic priest and social historian R.W.H. Miller titled Dr Ashley’s Pleasure Yacht is due for publication on January 26. (ISBN: 9780718894504)
The book is a historical look at the life of The Rev John Ashley and the origins of the Mission to Seamen, the first book to explore this historical aspect of the mission.
The traditional story is that Ashley’s son, out walking by the Bristol Channel with his father, in the early 1830s, asked how the islanders could go to church.
Ashley went to see, and from the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm seeing large fleets of wind bound ships, asked himself the same question.
He used his own money (deriving mainly from the trade of sugar and slaves) to build a schooner, which he sailed in all weathers to provide an answer, in the process creating for himself a place in the ancestry of several Anglican and Catholic societies, of which Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), the Mission to Seafarers, the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen (now called Fishermen’s Mission), continue to provide seafarers with a valued and often heroic service.
Miller, currently a Catholic priest in the west of England, has been a long-time student of Maritime Social History and member of the Society for Nautical Research and the International Maritime Economic History Association. He has worked for both AoS and the Missions to Seamen. He is the author of Priest in Deep Water (2010) and One Firm Anchor (2013). To order a copy of the book email: [email protected].