Bermuda has recently lost a great, longtime friend in the person of Philip T. Ashton, from Meriden, Connecticut — with his wife, Jane, a regular visitor to our island since the late 1970s and a man with a strong and generous interest in our history and our artefacts, and also in the institutions that thankfully preserve them for posterity.
Phil’s particular interest, in this regard, was in printed Bermudiana: the impressive array of books and articles, as well as brochures and other ephemera pertaining to Bermuda that were published over the centuries, and which — whether famously or in obscurity — recorded so much about us and the ways in which we have been perceived by the world, or indeed in which we have perceived ourselves.
For many years, Phil assiduously collected and compiled such items — the humble as well as the renowned and the monetarily valuable — and in recent times devoted much of his enormous energy in “retirement” to preparing a considerably expanded and updated edition of the late A.C. Hollis Hallett’s reference book Bermuda in Print, which I am sure I am not alone in looking forward to seeing in print — courtesy, if I am not mistaken, of the National Museum of Bermuda Press — hopefully at some stage in the not-far-distant future.
Ultimately, the National Museum will be the happy repository also of Phil’s impressive and voluminous personal collection of printed Bermudiana.
Those who did not have the pleasure and privilege of knowing him will therefore nonetheless be able to benefit in the future, whether directly or indirectly, from his very special and highly important contributions to Bermuda’s cultural patrimony.
For myself, I shall miss him as a friend and as a colleague, and for his enduring enthusiasm for our little island and its history. Many will, I am sure, join me in sending our deep sympathy to Jane Ashton and to their children and grandchildren for their loss.
JONATHAN LAND EVANS