Ashby was born on 19 August 1886 at Tysoe in Warwickshire and died at Oxford on 9 September 1953. His upbringing in a reforming rural family in Tysoe coloured his academic interests. His father was a self-taught surveyor as well as a small farmer, a Methodist lay preacher, poor law guardian and local agent for the Labour party. Ashby's initial schooling ended early, at age twelve, when he went to work with his father. His father's Labour Party connections may have been responsible for his attendance at Ruskin College with a Charles Buskin scholarship in 1909. His diploma (with distinction) led to the publication of his first book, One Hundred Years of Poor Law Administration in a Warwickshire Village in 1912, the same year that he was given a scholarship to the Institute for Research in Agricultural Economics at Oxford.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.