The term originated as a result of a pseudo "obituary" submitted by young London journalist, Reginald Shirley Brooks that appeared in the Sporting Times Newspaper as a result of Australia's first victory on English soil over the full strength of England, on August 29, 1882. The 'obituary' read "In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia."
Before England's defeat at The Oval, by seven runs, arrangements had already been made for the Hon. Ivo Bligh, afterwards Lord Darnley, to lead a team to Australia. Less than a month later, they left with the sole intention of winning back the Ashes. Meanwhile, Australia won the first Test by nine wickets, but based on the fact that England won the next two, it was readily acknowledged that they brought back the Ashes.
It's been the opinion of most that the real Ashes - a small urn thought to contain the ashes of a bail used in the third match - were given to Bligh by a group of Melbourne women. In 1998, Lord Darnley's 82-year-old daughter-in-law said they were the remains of her mother-in-law's veil, not a bail. Other evidence has suggested a ball. Needless to say, the true origin of the Ashes is still very much debatable.
After Lord Darnley's death in 1927, the urn was given to MCC by Lord Darnley's Australian-born widow, Florence. It can be seen in the cricket museum at Lord's, together with a red and gold velvet bag, made specially for it, and the scorecard of the 1882 match.
The text on the urn is as follows:-
When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.
The Ashes urn is one of the world's most famous and smallest trophies.
Who will you be betting on to be the proud holder of the glorious title of Ashes Champions?