A LOOK BACK IN TIME: Mr Evelyn Ashley

In the nineteenth century it was not necessary for an MP to live in his constituency. On 27th April 1880, Evelyn Ashley, the MP for Poole from 1874, became MP for the Isle of Wight, winning by just 13 votes. The Isle of Wight Observer of 8th May 1880 was clearly unimpressed by his acceptance of a political appointment just a few days later.Mr Ashley continued as MP until the next general election in 1885.

Considerable interest was excited here on Monday by the news which was published in some of the London papers that the Hon. E. ASHLEY had been offered the post of Secretary to the Board of Trade. A paragraph which appeared in the Globe confirmed the statement, and asserted that the appointment had been accepted by Mr. ASHLEY, and Tuesday morning brought the news that the appointment had been approved by HER MAJESTY. Mr. E. ASHLEY is therefore by this time a full blown Secretary to the Board of Trade, with a salary (according to WHITAKER’S Almanac) of £1,800 a year. From the fact that such a good salary is paid, and that the post was offered to and declined by several politicians of greater weight than Mr. ASHLEY, we may naturally infer that it will entail a great deal of hard work. We shall doubtless see very little of the hon. gentleman in the future; his official duties will swallow up all his spare moments, and his visits to his constituents will be like those of angelic beings, which are said to be few and far between. Mr. ASHLEY has now achieved the object of his ambition, and what he has schemed and worked for years. The appointment does not involve re-election. It was hardly to be expected that his party would run the risk of losing the seat by offering, or that Mr. ASHLEY would be so incautious as to accept any appointment which would necessitate an appeal to the constituency. Many recent examples have shown us that constituencies change their opinions sometimes rather suddenly. In the case of the Isle of Wight the numbers were so close that a very slight alteration in the direction of the political wind would suffice to reverse matters, and it was hardly to be expected that a gentleman who only got into the House by the “skin of his teeth” would run any unnecessary risks. Besides, if we are informed rightly, the hon. gentleman is less ambitious for the honours than for the emoluments of office.