(Capcom's primary storyline)
Dr. Edward Ashford, 5th Earl Ashford (エドワード・アシュフォード Edowādo Ashufōdo ) was a British virologist and co-founder of Umbrella Pharmaceuticals.
The young Edward, then The Lord Ashford, developed a fascination with eugenics while growing up and associated with circles consisting of influential figures in virology such as Dr. Oswell E. Spencer, The Earl Spencer; Dr. Beardsley, The Earl Beardsley; Dr. Henry, and Dr. James Marcus.[note 1] Ashford; Spencer and Marcus in particular grew interested in Stairway of the Sun during the 1960s. A West African Asteracean, Stairway of the Sun was central to the religion of the Ndipaya, according to Henry Travis' eighteenth century work, the Natural History Conspectus. Spencer and Marcus hypothesised that a mutagenic virus produced by the flowers was responsible for granting its consumers the superhuman powers Travis detailed, and the two and Marcus' protege Brandon Bailey set off to recover a flower. The recovered flowers indeed contained a virus, which the hypothesised virus was indeed discovered in.
Ashford; Marcus and Spencer shared the ideals of using the Progenitor Virus for the eugenics movement and create a generation of educated superhumans that would pioneer a new age. Unfortunately for the circle, Progenitor was virtually useless in its natural state, as the number of people who could benefit from infection were almost non-existent. The virus would require a great deal of modification to ensure candidates for the program would not be killed. None in the circle had such funding available, and consequently Spencer proposed they establish a pharmaceutical company that would raise funding. Edward agreed to the proposal along with a reluctant Marcus. Alongside pharmaceuticals, the three founders agreed to separate Progenitor into a eugenics and a bioweapons project so profits would come from catering to the American military. This plan became known as the "t-Virus Project".
In competition for results, Ashford; Marcus and Spencer went their separate ways and founded their own laboratories. By mid-1968 Ashford was working with his son, Alexander, at a newly finished laboratory constructed out of an abandoned mine in Antarctica. However, Alexander's expertise was in genetics and not virology, bringing fear to the two that should Edward die prematurely the Ashford influence over their new world would cease to be. Edward was left to work on his own while his son toyed with human cloning to create an adopted child who would continue the research for this very purpose.[excerpt 1] [excerpt 2]
Death and legacy
In July 1968, Edward fell victim to an accident orchestrated by Spencer and died from Progenitor virus infection. For the next thirteen years the Antarctic Base made no breakthroughs on their mutant strains, while Spencer and Marcus' "t-Viruses" developed the ability to create zombies in 1978. Veronica's clone, Alexia, began research on Progenitor again in 1981 as a child prodigy. However, she herself disappeared from public life after exposure to her new t-Veronica Virus later that year, soon after Alexander himself was infected. Both survived, but were kept in hiding and legally declared missing and legally dead, respectively. The Earldom therefore fell to Alfred, a male clone of Veronica born out of an anomaly in the same experiment that created Alexia. With no knowledge of virology, Alfred was in no position to continue the family's research, and gained employment in the company as an adult to control a paramilitary base on Rockfort Island. Because of this deterioration in the family's power and prestige, the idea that the family had been cursed was held.
Family tree of the Ashford dynasty
- Yasuhiro Seto, the developer of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, has stated in his blog regarding the Ashford Family: "The Ashford family bloodline was cursed ever since Edward, the fifth generation family head, founded the Umbrella Corporation. This curse also affected his heir Alexander, and his children Alfred and Alexia." This curse would eventually cause the gradual decline and eventual extinction of the once proud Ashford family.
- Edward's only known physical appearance is of a portrait in the Palace on Rockfort Island that portrayed him as a man in his fifties.
- Kaitai Shinsho, p.287:
Q7. "プロジェクト 『コード：ベロニカ』 とは、 アレクサンダーとエドワードとの共同計画だった？"
A7. "エドワードも知ってはいましたが、 アレクサンダー独自の計画です。"
- Kaitai Shinsho, p.287:
A8. "当初はアレクサンダーとエドワードでウィルスの共同研究をしていたのですが、 ウィルス研究者としての才能に限界を感じたアレクサンダーは、 みずからウィルス研究者としての道を断念したのです。 そして遺伝子工学の道を選び、 「コード：ベロニカ」 計画を立ち上げることになります。"
- Capcom. Resident Evil 5. (Capcom). File: History of RESIDENT EVIL.
- Resident Evil 5 (2009), file: "From Chief Researcher Brandon's Journal - No. 1".
- Resident Evil 5 (2009), file: "Albert Wesker".
- Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), file: "Alexander's Memo".
- Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), file: "Veronica Report".
- Resident Evil 5 (2009), file: "History of RESIDENT EVIL".
- Wesker's Report II.
- Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), file: "Newspaper Clip".
- Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), file: "Virus Report".
- Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), file: "Alfred's Diary".
- Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), file: "Butler's Letter".
- The Henry and Beardsley families were explored by Flagship in their expanded universe stories as other members of this circle, though their depiction in them is not canonically grounded.