The 'Ashurst' statue, forming part of the ancestral decoration of the picture-hung staircase at Waterstock House, Oxfordshire, has been identified with William Ashurst, who served as Lord Mayor of London in 1693-4. It is suggested that this figure was possibly made for the Lord Mayor of London's pageant of 1693, when Sir William Ashurst (d.1710) assumed the Mayoralty. Sir William had a long, diverse and creditable career in London, where he was a successful merchant. He was Alderman for Bread Street 1687-88 and Alderman for Billingsgate 1688-1720. Knighted in 1687 and Sherrif 1691-92. From 1679-1683 he was a member of the common council and three times M.P. for London 1689-90, 1695-1702, 1705-1710. He was Master of the Merchant Taylor's Company 1687-1688 and resident of the Honourable Artillery Company 1708-20. He also had five periods as Director of the Bank of England, between 1697 and 1714.
His father was Alderman Henry Ashurst who died in 1680 and was brother of Sir Henry Ashurst of Waterstock, Oxfordshire 1645-1711. Major H. Ruck-Keene is 8th in direct descent from Sir Henry Ashurst and before moving to Cornwall occupied the family home, Waterstock, where the figure had stood for several generations.
It was, presumably, moved there when Sir William gave up his seat at Highgate sometime in the early 18th century. It has been suggested, although cannot be confirmed, that this figure (affectionately known as Charlie) was made by the same hand as the famous Gog and Magog, formerly at the Guildhall in London.
Other theories suggest that the figure was designed as more permanent fixture than that for use in a pageant, for which purpose it would have more likely been manufactured from papier mâché. The modelling of the figure is akin to the trade figures, such as those displayed outside tobacconists and gunsmiths for example, a practise dating from the early 17th century. Alternatively the figure indeed may portray William Ashurst, but commissioned as a commemorative figure for display in an exchange or guild hall.
A hole has been drilled in the righthand corner of the mouth and family tradition has it that this was done by a footman at Waterstock who stuck a pipe in it. He was summarily dismissed for the vandalistic prank.