The following research comes from Wendy Corbett Kelley of Sydney, Australia:
I wasn't born in Ashburton, nor have I ever lived there. I first visited in 2002 while on a Family History Hunt, and I've been back more than seven times. There is just something about Ashburton...not just my family connections, but the town itself.
It was my 3rd great grand uncle who once lived in Ashburton. He was the Rev John Ward Lay, born in 1804 and the second child of eight to John Lay Esq. and his wife Mary née Ward, of Crepping Hall in Wakes Colne, Essex. John Ward Lay (JWL) attended St. John's College, Cambridge from 1822 until his graduation in 1827, when he was ordained a member of the Anglican clergy.
He was given the curacy of St Andrews, Colne Engaine in Essex where the incumbent minister was the Rev. Greenwood. Reverend Greenwood had a young daughter Caroline, and at some stage romance blossomed - Caroline was later to become JWL's wife.
In 1836 JWL was given his own parish, that of St Peter's in Roydon, Essex, and in 1839 he and Caroline were married in her father's church in Colne Engaine. For very personal reasons, in 1843 JWL made the monumental decision to leave the ministry, move to Devon and become a gentleman farmer. He and his wife Caroline were living on Tor Hill in Kingskerswell where they had a small orchard and JWL was honing his farming skills. It was here that their first child, a daughter named Caroline (called Carry) was born in 1849.
In late 1852 a property called the Lower Hele Estate near Ashburton came onto the market. JWL purchased it and the family moved into its new home in early 1853
Caroline gained her BA at London University which in 1878 had become the first university in the UK to admit women to its degrees. 4 women passed its BA degree in 1880, and in 1881 2 women gained a BSc. Caroline obtained her BA in 1885. By 1895 over 10% of its graduates were women.
http://www.london.ac.uk/history.html - Accessed 4-10-2015