Sir William Ashburnham, 4th Baronet (16 January 1710 – 4 September 1797) was a Church of England priest and also a baronet.
William Ashburnham was the son of Sir Charles Ashburnham, the 3rd baronet of Bromham, Guestling, Sussex. William succeeded to the title as 4th Baronet Ashburnham, on 3 October 1762. He married Margaret daughter of Thomas Pelham of Lewes, in Guestling and had a son William who became the M.P. for Hastings.
Ashburnham matriculated in 1728 and then went on to study at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1732–1733.
William Ashburnham was elected a fellowof Corpus Christi in 1733–1735, received his M.A. (Lit. Reg. ) in 1739, and granted DD in 1749.
Ashburnham was ordained 1733 and appointed chaplain to the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1741.The following year, 1742 he became Vicar of St Peter Bexhill, Sussex. He was made Dean of Chichester in 1742 and in 1743 canon residentiary of St Paul's Cathedral (a preferment he kept in commendam with the see ). Then from 1754 he was Bishop of Chichester for 43 years till his death in 1797, one of the longest episcopates for the see of Chichester. Ashburnham was also rector of Guestling, 1743–1797.
During 1767, while Bishop of Chichester, Ashburnham was asked by the dean and chapter to reduce the number of professional adult male singers in the choir (known as lay vicars).The establishment had been for eight. Ashburnham issued statutes to reduce the number to four, their wages immediately being increased by dividing amongst them the stipend originally allotted to the whole body.
The current Chichester Cathedral choir has an establishment for six lay vicars.
William Ashburnham died 4 September 1797.
Earl of Chichester is a title that has been created three times, twice in the Peerage of England and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The current title was created in the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1801 for Thomas Pelham, 2nd Baron Pelham of Stanmer.
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Sir William Ashburnham, 5th Baronet was a British politician.
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