David Ashworth was born in Clayton le Moors. Lancashire in 1836. His father was Lawrence Ashworth who was a calico block printer by trade. He had been born in Clayton le Moors in 1810 and had married Mary Butterworth from Rishton around 1831. David had a brother Daniel and two sisters Margaret and Catherine. (Catherine died young and is buried at Church Kirk, church nr Accrington)
Towards the end of the 1830's the printing trade became largely mechanised and Lawrence found it hard to obtain work so, in 1842 travelled to the United States in the hoping of brighter prospects in his trade and a better life for his family. He soon found employment in the calico printing works of Benjamine Cozzen, at Crompton. Rhode Island.
Calico Block Printing
Calico Block Printing by Hand
Calico Block Printing by Machine
Within two years mechanisation arrived in the USA and once again Lawrence was out of employment but eventually found work at The American Print Works in Fall River. Massachusetts. Here he was later joined by his wife and three children, David, Daniel and Margaret. Lawrence and Mary later had two more children Lawrence and Sarah, who were born in America.
In the following years Lawrence also worked at Dunnell's Print Works in Pawtucket. Rhode Island, The Cove Print Works in Providence, and at S.H. Greene & Sons at Riverpoint, finally returning to Crompton to take charge of the bleaching department of the Print Works there.
David obviously inherited his fathers adventurous spirit for on his seventeenth birthday in 1853 he left the United States to seek his fortune in the goldfields of Australia. It took him more than a year to reach Australia due to a curious incident. When the ship he was travelling on called at Cape Town, South Africa, the crew found that the Captain had planned to desert the ship taking the passengers money. Luckily the plan was discovered and the Captain was put ashore, and the journey eventually completed.
David spent the next twelve years working in the goldfields and must have been very successful as in 1866 he bought passage on the 'General Grant' from Melbourne to London. It is reported that he was intending to purchase a a ship for use in coastal trade in Australia, We do know for certain that before sailing he sent money home and deposited a large sum in an Australian bank. For after being rescued from the Auckland Islands he returned to Australia and purchased a very successful asphalt business.
Two years after his return he and two friends purchased the 'Daphne' - a 48 ton schooner with which they returned to the Auckland Islands on a salvage attempt on the 'General Grant'. A party including David set out from their harbour in a longboat bound for the wreck site and were never seen again.
The full account of this expedition is listed in the salvage section of this web site.
To be continued - more information available soon
Note: I am indebted to June Huntingdon of Accrington near Clayton Le Moors for information regarding the Ashworth family