Sunday 11 August 2013

(63) Ainslie of Pilton, Great Torrington and The Rolls, baronets

In setting out the criteria for the inclusion of families in this blog, I deliberately gave myself some flexibility to include families which did not meet the technical criteria but which were too interesting to ignore.  This is the first time I have taken advantage of that flexibility, since neither of the family's estates at Pilton and Great Torrington included a country house (although there was apparently a gentry house at Great or West Torrington in the early 18th century), and it would be stretching several points to call Rolls Farm anything more than a gentified farm.  Researching the family, however, has been a great detective story: one which might be called The mystery of the disappearing baronetcy.

Ainslie of Great Torrington,
George Ainslie (d. 1773), who made a fortune by commerce at Bordeaux in France, retired to his native Edinburgh and bought an estate at Pilton (Midlothian), where there had been a mansion house that burned down in 1749 and was never rebuilt.  The Pilton estate passed to his eldest son, Col. Sir Philip Ainslie (1728-1802), and to the latter’s son, General George Robert Ainslie (1774-1839), who divided it into East and West Pilton farms before 1817 and sold East Pilton in that year. It is not clear when West Pilton left the family's ownership.

The second son of the first George Ainslie, General George Ainslie (d. 1804) and his younger brother, Sir Robert Ainslie, 1st bt. (c.1730-1812), bought an estate at Great (alias West) Torrington (Lincs) in 1789.  Sir Robert, who was ambassador at Constantinople from 1775-94, provided most of the purchase price and was to enjoy the estate for life, with reversion to the General and his descendants.  Like his brother’s property, this was an estate without a capital residence, although in the 19th century it was occasionally described as the family’s seat.  The General also owned land in Huntingdonshire, at Orton Longueville, Grafham and Great Stukeley.  All these properties descended to his eldest son, Robert Sharpe Ainslie (1777-1858), who in 1812 also inherited (by special remainder) his uncle’s baronetcy.  The 2nd bt., lived mainly in London, where he had a flat in The Albany and later rented 13 Park Street, Westminster.  He built up a further estate of 600 acres at Market Stainton (Lincs), a few miles east of his main Lincolnshire property at West Torrington, but again he does not seem to have had a house of any consequence there (Market Stainton Hall, built about this time, was part of the other major landholding in the parish).  He also built up a small freehold and copyhold estate at Rolls Farm, Chingford (Essex) which he seems to have used as a country retreat. West Torrington was sold in 1859 after the death of Sir R.S. Ainslie, and the Market Stainton property either at that time or earlier.

The mystery of the disappearing baronetcy revolves around the character and circumstances of Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie.  Despite having a conventional upbringing and becoming rather briefly a diplomat and an MP, Sir Robert seems to have been an obsessively private person: he supplied no information about his family to the compilers of baronetage publications and was inconsistent in his use of his title during his lifetime; at his death he requested that his grave should not be marked in any way.  It has usually been reported that he died without surviving male heirs, and thus that the family baronetcy expired with him, but research has shown that he actually left three surviving sons and four daughters, born to Robert Sharpe and Elizabeth Ainslie between 1804 and 1825.  I have traced baptisms for most of these children in London parish registers, and the entries give no hint that they were illegitimate, but there is no trace of a marriage between the parents.  No trace, that is, until 1835, when Robert Sharpe Ainslie - no mention of the baronetcy - and Elizabeth Wanger were quietly married in the unlikely setting of Bethnal Green.  The reason his sons did not inherit his baronetcy is thus explained: under English law they were and remained illegitimate.  But how did this situation develop?  It seems probable that Elizabeth was originally a mistress, probably of lower social status, but their children were all acknowledged and they lived together as a family, so why did he wait so long to regularise their union?  The fact that when a marriage did take place it was seemingly in a rather clandestine service at Bethnal Green also suggests that there may have been an element of deception involved.  Had Sir Robert allowed the world to assume that a marriage to Elizabeth had taken place before the birth of his children?  And if so, were his children - mostly young adults at the time of the marriage - aware of their circumstances?  We shall probably never know the answers to these questions, but what is clear is that Sir Robert must have been a complex and rather self-centred man, whose choices robbed his family of the status which was rightfully theirs.

The sons were George Ainslie (c.1803-75) and Robert Ainslie (1812-95) who both entered the church, and Charles Ainslie (1816/21-63) of Rowntree Cottage, Edmonton, who became an architect; a fourth son, Henry Ainslie (c.1813-57) became mentally incapacitated after a period in the Army.  A sermon of George’s which survives from the late 1830s suggests that he possessed an exceptional humility and found himself inadequate to the emotional demands on a clergyman working with the urban poor; he may have had a breakdown in 1854 and thereafter never held a benefice, but worked as assistant secretary of the Church Building Society and the Additional Curates Society. 

Canon Robert Ainslie (1812-95) pursued a more orthodox clerical career, retiring as vicar of Grimsby and a minor canon of Lincoln Cathedral in 1879, and moving to live with his unmarried sisters at Rolls Farm, Chingford, which remained in the family until the death of Elizabeth Ainslie (1818-1901).  Elizabeth clearly saw her death as marking the end of the family line, but she did in fact have a nephew, Shirley Robert Ainslie, who continued the family name until his own early death in 1907.

As a coda to this story, it may be noted that following the death of Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie in 1858 his first cousin once removed, Col. Henry Francis Ainslie, a gifted amateur artist who recorded his travels in the army in a series of watercolours (three of which are reproduced below), lost no time in petitioning the Queen and the Prime Minister for the revival of the baronetcy in their favour, but the appeals were unsuccessful and the baronetcy was allowed to lapse.

Col. H.F. Ainslie, The 43rd Regiment crossing the Lachine Rapids on the St Lawrence River, 1843.
Image: Canadian Heritage Gallery

Col. H.F. Ainslie, The entrance to the Rideau Canal, Canada, 1839.  Image: Library & Archives Canada
Col. H.F. Ainslie, View of my bungalow at Poorundur, the fort of the Vizier behind, 1850.  Image: V&A Museum

The Ainslies of Pilton, Torrington and The Rolls

Ainslie, George (1694-1773), of Pilton.  Eldest son of Alexander Ainslie (c.1661-1720) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Grey, Master of Grey, born 1694.  He made a fortune by commerce as a wine merchant at Bordeaux and retired to Scotland in 1727.  He married Jean, daughter of Sir Philip Anstruther (d. 1722), kt., of Anstrutherfield (Fife), and had issue, with two children who died in infancy:
(1) Gen. George Ainslie (1722-1804) (q.v.);
(2) Col. Sir Philip Ainslie (1728-1802) (q.v.);
(3) Sir Robert Ainslie (1730-1812), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(4) Elizabeth Ainslie (d. 1808), m. in Paris, April 1754, Jacob Sandilands, merchant at Bordeaux;
(5) Christiana Ainslie; died young
(6) Jean Ainslie, m. at Angoulême, 9 December 1762, Paul, Count de Montalembert (d. 1766) of Guienne (France) and had issue a son, who died young;
(7) Penelope Ainslie, m. at Montbrison (France), Henry Conquéré de Montbrison, Seiur de Montbrison;
(8) Gratiana Ainslie (fl. 1771), m. Le Chavalier de Vivens, Seigneur de Barry, Guienne, and had issue a son.
He purchased the Pilton estate at Granton (Midlothian) on his return to Scotland, and later added further property at Craigleith and Comelybrook.
He died in 1773.

Engraving of Sir Philip Ainslie from
a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1876
Ainslie, Col. Sir Philip (1728-1802), kt., of Pilton. Second son of George Ainslie (d. 1773) and his wife Jane/Jean, daughter of Sir Philip Anstruther, kt., born 1728.  Educated at Westminster School; entered the army, 1754; Col. of 7th Dragoons; also served as Lt-Col. of cavalry in the service of Portugal and as aide-de-camp to Prince Charles of Mecklenberg; retired 1786; knighted, 25 February 1778.  He married, 15 March 1772 in Edinburgh, the Hon. Elizabeth (d. 1787), daughter of John, 11th Lord Gray and had issue, with four other children who died in infancy:
(1) Maj-Gen. George Robert Ainslie (1774-1839) (q.v.); 
(2) Lt-Col. Charles Philip Ainslie (1779-1811) (q.v.)
(3) ?twin, Margaret Jane Ainslie (1781-1837), m. 7 January 1801 (as his second wife), Francis Stuart (1771-1848), 10th Earl of Moray, and had issue five sons and five daughters; died 3 April 1837;
(4) ?twin, Charlotte Elizabeth Ainslie (b. 1781); m. Col. Thomas Inglis (d. 1822) of 39th Regiment and had issue two daughters;
(4) Louisa Barbara Ainslie (b. 1782), born May 1782; m. 1803 John Lee Allen of Errol House and had issue three sons and three daughters; 
(6) Philip Barrington Ainslie (1785-1869); served in Royal Navy, 1799-1803; sugar planter in Jamaica, 1804-06; employed by Edward Corrie & Co., shipping merchants, 1806-26; factor of the Morayshire estates of his brother-in-law, the Earl of Moray, who named Ainslie Place in Edinburgh after him; described as 'an agreeable and interesting companion, but of a violent and unforgiving temper'; m.1, 25 May 1807 Bridget, daughter of Edward Corrie of Liverpool, merchant, and had issue a daughter, who died young; m.2 Isabel Ellerton of Ellerton House (Fife) and m.3, 13 January 1852, Sophia Mary, daughter of Thomas La Coste of Chertsey (Surrey); lived at St. Colme, Aberdour (Fife) and later at The Mount, Guildford (Surrey); died 18 June 1869; will proved 30 July 1869 (estate under £3,000); his widow died in 1885 and her will was proved 27 June 1885 (estate £3,599);
(7) Christina Ainslie (1786-94); died young.
He also had, prior to his marriage, an illegitimate son:
(X1) Philip Callard Ainslie (1768-1833); educated at Dr. Thompson's school in Kensington (Middx), Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1784; BA 1789) and the Middle Temple (admitted 1783; called to the bar, 1792); practised as a barrister; bencher of Middle Temple, 1828 and Reader, 1832; m. 22 May 1794, Janet Paget Hutchings later Medlycott (d. 1839); died without issue, 6 September 1833; will proved in Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 20 September 1833.
He inherited the Pilton estate from his father in 1773, but lived (after his retirement from the army) in St. Andrew's Square, Edinburgh.
He died 19 May 1802.

Ainslie, Lt-Gen. George Robert (1774-1839).  Eldest son of Col. Sir Philip Ainslie (1728-1802) and his wife Eliza, daughter of John, 11th Lord Grey, born 1774.  Entered the army as ensign in the 19th regiment in 1793, promoted lieutenant, 1793, captain in the 85th regiment, 1794 and major, 1799. He seems to have shown no particular capacity as a soldier or much ardour for a military life, and so was in 1800 promoted Lt.-Col. of the Royal Birmingham Regiment of Fencibles and in c.1802  inspector of volunteers in Lincolnshire. Family influence next secured him appointment as Governor of St. Eustatius 1812-13, from which he was moved to Dominica 1813-14; he was recalled after exhibiting particular cruelty to the local maroon population, but was later appointed Lt-Governor of Cape Breton Island 1816-20.  There he quarrelled with the other British officials and made enemies of most of the leading citizens, whom he denounced in an intemperate letter of resignation as "a set of deceitful, unprincipled aliens, embued with the Yankee qualities".  By contrast with his failure as a soldier and a diplomat, he was notably successful and assiduous as an antiquarian coin collector.  He specialised in Anglo-Norman coins, collected across the British Isles and in Normandy and Brittany, on which he published a monograph in 1830.  He was a fellow of the Societies of Antiquaries of London, Edinburgh and France.  He married, 17 December 1802, Sophia Charlotte (c.1776-1870), daughter of Christopher Neville of Wellingore (Lincs), and had issue:
(1) Lt-Col. Henry Francis Ainslie (1803-79), born 11 December 1803; joined the 83rd Regiment, 1824; served in Ceylon, Canada and India; retired as Lt-Col., 1855; a gifted amateur topographical artist whose watercolours are in museums in Canada and the UK; claimed the family baronetcy unsuccessfully, 1858-63; died unmarried and without issue in London, 29 March 1879; will proved 3 May 1879 (estate under £5,000).
(2) Sophia Mary Ainslie (1805-1906); born 2 February 1805; m. 1840 Rev. Richard Kempthorne and had issue; died 24 December 1906 aged 101; will proved 14 March 1907 (estate £205);
(3) Frederick Robert Ainslie (1809-54); died unmarried of wounds received at the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimea;
(4) Georgiana Grace Ainslie (1811-1907); born 19 August 1811; died unmarried, 30 April 1907, aged 95; will proved 4 June 1907 (estate £1,202)
(5) Caroline Matlida Ainslie (1815-93); born 17 December 1815; m. Henry Fowler Mackay (1803-1901) and had issue one son and one daughter; died 18 December 1893; will proved 14 July 1894 (estate £595)
(6) A daughter; died young.
He inherited the Pilton estate from his father in 1802, but sold part of it in 1817.  He lived at Wellingore (Lincs), the home of his wife's family.
He died 16 April 1839 and his will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 15 June 1839.  His widow died at Bath, 31 October 1870, aged 94, and her will was proved 15 November 1870 (estate under £450).

Ainslie, Lt-Col. Charles Philip (1779-1811).  Third son of Col. Sir Philip Ainslie (1728-1802) and his wife Eliza, daughter of John, 11th Lord Grey, born 8 July 1779.  Served in the Army (Lieutenant-Colonel, Queens Own 4th Dragoons); Deputy Adjutant-General of British army in Sicily at Messina.  He married, 12 May 1807, Mary Anne (1785-1830), daughter of James Atkinson of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and had issue:
F.Y. Hurlstone, portrait of
Maj-Gen. C.P. de Ainslie
(1) Maj-Gen. Charles Philip Ainslie (later de Ainslie) (1808-89), born 18 March and baptised 12 April 1808 at St Andrew, Newcastle-on-Tyne; educated at Charterhouse; served in the Army (Lieutenant, 1825; Captain, 1830; Major, 1842; Lt-Col., 1847; Colonel, 1857; Major-General 1862); Col. of 1st Dragoons, 1869; fought a duel near Canterbury with Lord Elibank (then engaged to his sister), 1832; changed his name to de Ainslie by deed poll in 1879; author of The Cavalry Manual, 1843, Sketches Here and There, 1877; Life as I have found it, 1883; Historical Record of the First, or Royal Regiment of Dragoons, 1887; married 1st, 17 April 1834 at Kinfauns (div. 1843), the Hon. Jane Anne (1806-73), daughter of Francis Gray, 14th Lord Gray; and 2nd, 13 July 1843, Lady Sarah Elisa (1813-47), daughter of the 11th Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne and widow of G.A. Campbell; died 1889;
(2) Mary Anne Ainslie (1809-82), born 28 December 1809 and baptised at St. Marylebone (Middx), 27 January 1810; married, 23 April 1833, John Gray (1798-1867), 15th Lord Gray; died without issue at Pau (France), 16 February 1882;
(3) Philip James Robert Ainsley (b. & d. 1811); born 25 November 1811; died 25 December 1811.
He died at Messina, 19 December 1811 and his will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 10 June 1812. His widow married 2nd, 1 June 1818 at Fulham (Middx), Lt-Gen. Sir Thomas Bradford GCB GCH (1777-1853), and had further issue two sons and three daughters; she died at sea while returning from India in about May 1830.

Ainslie, Sir Robert (1730-1812), 1st bt..  Third son of George Ainslie (d. 1773) and his wife Jane/Jean, daughter of Sir Philip Anstruther, kt., born 1730.  A career diplomat, who commended himself to official notice by a deft piece of spying in Paris in 1771 and was rewarded by appointment as British ambassador at Constantinople, 1775-94; elected a member of the Dilettante Society, 1795, and sponsored the publication of Mayer's drawings of Egypt, Turkey and Palestine in 1801-06; MP for Milborne Port 1796-1802; knighted 20 September 1775; created a baronet, 19 November 1804, with special remainder to the heirs of his brother, George; described as 'not only a man of cultivated tastes and literary attainment, but also of determined courage, being somewhat choleric and sudden'.  He was unmarried but had issue at least one illegitimate son, who died 20 December 1796 on the eve of his intended marriage.
He purchased the Great Torrington estate in Lincolnshire in 1788 jointly with his older brother, Gen. George Ainslie.  Both men left their shares in the property to his nephew, Robert Sharpe Ainslie, who also inherited the baronetcy.
He died 21 July 1812; his will was proved in the PCC, 5 August 1812.

Ainslie, Gen. George (1722-1804).  Eldest son of George Ainslie (d. 1773) and his wife Jane/Jean, daughter of Sir Philip Anstruther, kt., born 1722.  General in the Army; Col. of 17th Foot; Governor of the Scilly Isles; aide de camp to King George III.  He married 25 July 1774, Anne, daughter of Samuel Sharpe esq., author of Letters on Italy, and had issue:
(1) Jane Eleanor Ainslie (1775-99), born 7 October 1775; m. 3 December 1794, William Corbett, son of Thomas Corbett of Darnhall (Cheshire) and Elsham Hall (Lincs) and had issue; 
(2) Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie (1777-1858), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(3) Lt. George Ralph Ainslie (1778-96); born 11 March 1778; lieutenant in the Navy; died unmarried and without issue on HMS Courageux, 1796;
(4) Frances Anne Ainslie (b. 1781), born 28 October 1781; m. 28 August 1798, George Robert Heneage of Hainton Hall (Lincs) and had issue; 
(5) Mary Christina Ainslie (1785-1817); born 2 June 1785; m. Lt. Col. P. Sandilands; will proved in Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 7 March 1817;
(6) Anne Penelope Ainslie (1786-1887), born 6 November 1786; m.1 Capt. F. Price, Coldstream Guards and m.2, 1821 Henry Charles Hoare (1790-1852) and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 31 March 1887, aged 100; will proved 22 April 1887 (estate £3,864).
He purchased the Great Torrington estate in Lincolnshire in 1788 jointly with his younger brother, Sir Robert Ainslie, 1st bt.  Both men left their shares in the property to his son, Robert Sharpe Ainslie.
He died 7 July 1804.

Ainslie, Sir Robert Sharpe (1777-1858), 2nd bt., of Rolls Farm.  Eldest son of Gen. George Ainslie (d. 1804) and his wife Anne, daughter of Samuel Sharpe esq., born 8 January 1777.  Educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge (adm pensioner 1793; BA 1798; MA 1802), Middle Temple (adm. 1793) and Inner Temple (transferred 1800); attorney at law; secretary to John Hookham Frere, ambassador in Lisbon, 1800-02; MP for Mitchell 1802-06; may have become reclusive in old age; did not always use the baronetcy title.  He married, 26 June 1835 at Bethnal Green (Middx), Elizabeth Wanger (1785-1868) with whom he had apparently lived as husband and wife for over thirty years in apparent respectability, and by whom he had previously had issue: 
(1) Rev. George Ainslie (c.1803-75) (q.v.); 
(2) Frances Ainslie (1811-84), m. 10 August 1848 Charles Matthew Whitehurst of Battersea Hill (Surrey); died without issue, 27 May 1884 at Churchfields, Woodford (Essex); will proved 16 July 1884 (estate £22,804); 
(3) Canon Robert Ainslie (1812-95) (q.v.); 
(4) Lt. Henry Ainslie (1812/13-1857), perhaps a twin of (3), baptised 20 October 1813; became mentally incapacitated after military service; 
(5) Charles Ainslie (b. 1816), born 11 June and baptised 2 August 1816; apparently died young;
(6) Elizabeth Ainslie (1817-1901) (q.v.); 
(7) Charles Rowntree Ainslie (c.1820-63) (q.v.); 
(8) Anne Ainslie (1825-80), born 12 May and baptised 2 September 1825; died unmarried at The Rolls, 20 May 1880; will proved 15 June 1880 (estate under £18,000); 
(9) Margaret Ainslie (1826-50); married, 30 October 1849 at Chingford (Essex), Edward Barr, architect, son of John Barr of Littlebury (Essex) and had issue.
It is possible that the baptism of Elizabeth, daughter of Elizabeth Wanger, in 1805 relates to another child who died young.
On his death the baronetcy expired, not as recorded by the History of Parliament because all his sons predeceased him but because they were all born before the marriage of their parents, and were not, by English law, legitimated by that marriage.
He inherited the Great Torrington estate in Lincolnshire from his father and uncle in 1804 and 1812 and built up a 600 acre property at Market Stainton (Lincs), but lived mainly in London, where he had a flat (G3) in the Albany 1811-21 and then leased 13 Park St, Westminster.  He built up a copyhold and freehold estate at The Rolls, Chingford (Essex) which passed on his death to his widow and unmarried daughters and was sold after Elizabeth Ainslie died in 1901.
Died 14 March 1858; desired to be buried in an unmarked grave.  His widow died 15 September 1868, aged 83.

Rev. George Ainslie
Ainslie, Rev. George (c.1803-75).  Eldest son of Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie (1777-1858) and Elizabeth Wanger; possibly born 28 July 1803 and baptised 18 April 1804. Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (BA 1825; MA 1829); clerk in holy orders (deacon 1828; priest 1829); curate of Walworth 1828, 1838-48; rector of South Willingham (Lincs), 1830-37; vicar of Barkway with Reed (Herts), 1837-38; perpetual curate of St Philip Clerkenwell 1850-54; resigned; perhaps on having a breakdown; assistant secretary of the Church Building Society, Whitehall, 1857-75 and of London Assistant Clergy Society, 1857-75.  He was unmarried and without issue.
He died 14 May 1875, and his will was proved 31 May 1875 (estate under £18,000)

Ainslie, Canon Robert (1812-95), of Rolls Farm.  Second son of Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie (1777-1858), 2nd bt., and Elizabeth Wanger, baptised 20 October 1813 at Christ Church, Southwark.  Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (BA 1840; MA 1844); clerk in holy orders (deacon 1840; priest 1841); vicar of Sixhills (Lincs) 1841 and Ludford Magna 1842; rector of East Barkwith (Lincs) 1843-54; vicar of Grimsby 1854-79; rural dean of Grimsby; minor canon of Lincoln Cathedral 1864-95; at one time Warden of the House of Charity in Soho.  He retired in 1879 and lived with his unmarried sisters at Rolls Farm.  He was unmarried and without issue.
He died 27 November 1895, and his will was proved 25 February 1896 (estate £26,267).

Ainslie, Charles Rowntree (c.1820-63), of Edmonton.  Youngest son of Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie (1777-1858), 2nd bt., and Elizabeth Wanger, born 1820/21, architect. Articled to Sir Charles Barry; elected ARIBA 1851 and FRIBA 1860; designer of churches and schools; one of the founders of the Alpine Club, c.1860.  He married, 25 August 1859, Emma (1823-1909), daughter of James Peppercorne esq of Woodford (Essex) and had issue:
(1) Margaret Ainslie (1860-1900), died unmarried and without issue, 9 January 1900; will proved 20 February 1900 (estate £2,667);
(2) Shirley Robert Ainslie (1861-1907), born 3 December 1861; educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge; lived at Rowntree Cottage, Edmonton (Middx); died unmarried and without issue, 6 July 1907; will proved 10 August 1907 (estate £14,795).
He lived at Rowntree Cottage, Edmonton, a house which he perhaps designed himself.
He died 27 May 1863 and was buried at Edmonton.  His will was proved 21 August 1863 (effects under £10,000).  His widow died 22 March 1909 and her will was proved 8 April 1909 (estate £33,932).

Ainslie, Elizabeth (1817-1901), of Rolls Farm.  Second daughter of Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie (1777-1858), 2nd bt., and Elizabeth Wanger, born 1817 and baptised 7 September 1817 at St. John the Evangelist, Westminster.  She was unmarried and without issue.
She and her unmarried sisters inherited The Rolls alias Rolls Farm, Chingford from their father in 1858, and she was the last survivor of the family.
She died in 1901 and her will was proved July 1901 (estate £18,356).  She bequeathed £1,000 for the erection of a permanent church for the parish of St. Ann, Chingford, and directed that her horses be shot within seven days of her death.


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, successive editions; Chelmsford Chronicle, 2 August 1901; J.R. Ainslie, The Ainslies of Lasswade, 2nd edn, privately published, 2003.  

Location of archives

Ainslie family of Pilton etc: miscellaneous family papers, 1765-1907 (Cornwall Record Office, AD1930/2)

Revision & Acknowledgements

This post was first published on 11 August 2013 and revised on 10 May 2015, 15 October 2016 and 11 August 2023. I am most grateful to Robert Wheeler, John Ainslie and Bill Norton for additional information and corrections.


  1. James asks "Does anyone know who is the J Ainslie whose portrait was sculpted in Rome in 1833?". (James - sorry I cannot publish your comment directly but you included your email address, and I cannot edit comments)

  2. Very interesting. 8 had wanted to know about Elizabeth Ainslie 1817-1900. Now I know. And found info about Ambassador to Constantinople, sugar plantation owner and Dominican Governor. How did Elizabeth fill her money-loaded days?

  3. I was staggered to find all this info on the web! I just wanted to know why there was a horse trough on Church St Edmonton with the words 'in memory of Emma Ainslie of Rowantree 1909'. Thank you so much, mystery solved as to who she was but why the trough?

    1. They were quite common memorials - the idea being to provide a public amenity at the same time as a memorial.

  4. Hey, I was doing a quick search for Colonel Henry Francis Ainslie because I have a notebook of his. In one half he's written a history of his mother's family (who he calls 'The old Nevilles) and the other half is poetry that he says is written by 'my dear brother to whom this book belonged'

    1. The Neviles of Wellingore and Aubourn Hall are on my list for a future post!

  5. Hello - I am researching a
    property in Inveresk, Scotland called Oak Lodge. Title deeds apparently show the site of the building being sold to Alexander Ainslie in 1727. Alexanders son was George Ainslie. He was a wine merchant trading in Bordeaux. He inherited and later it passed to Philip and Robert Ainslie. It must be the same family. But this blog gives Alexanders death as 1720. That would mean he was dead when he bought the building plot. Can you help me with any validation of the dates? I can't find any entry in ancestry software.

    1. Scotland's People Online includes the parish register of Inveresk & Musselburgh recording the birth on 10 August 1721 of John Alexander Ainslie. The entry reads: "Alexander Ainslie, late baillie of Musselburgh now deceased and Elizabeth Mercer his spouse, their son John Alexander was born 10 day of August and baptised the fourteenth by Mr John Williamson. John Campbell, William Ainslie and James Ainslie, who held up the child". This is suspect is the origin of the statement that Alexander Ainslie died in 1720, although the maiden surname of his wife in this entry is not the same as that of George's mother (a second wife?). The burials for this parish at this time are not online and may not survive. There were, however, other Ainslies around at Inveresk: an Alexander Ainslie and his wife Marion Walker baptised a child named Alexander at Inveresk in 1736, for example. Sorry not to be able to offer greater clarity.

    2. Thanks for the quick response. That helps. Its all a bit murky.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.