Alfred Ashworth was born in 1843, eighth child of Edmund Ashworth and Charlotte Christy. The Ashworths were an established family of yeoman farmers in central Lancashire who had moved into textile manufacture in the 18th century and become very prosperous. Edmund Ashworth made his home at Egerton Hall, near Bolton, where his children grew up.
Unlike his two oldest brothers, Alfred did not enter his father’s cotton-spinning business at Egerton Mill but worked instead in the towelling manufacturing firm that his mother’s family owned. In 1874 he became a director, and was chairman from 1901 to 1908. He married Edith Alice Bower in 1881 and they had one son, Philip.
For many years they lived at Tabley Grange in Cheshire but in 1898 moved to Horsley Hall near Gresford, Denbighshire. Alfred had Horsley Hall enlarged and remodelled in a Jacobean style - most probably at his son Philip's instigation – and laid out extensive gardens. Philip continued this work after his father’s death in 1910 when he inherited the house. Unfortunately, Philip was extravagant in his tastes; he sold the hall in 1917 and was declared bankrupt in the 1920s.
Alfred was a keen sportsman, hunting and shooting regularly. He was a member of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire for many years. He served as a Justice of the Peace and, in 1909, as High Sheriff of Denbighshire.