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Clan Ainslie

Clan Ainslie are a Scottish kin-group who do not have a recognised chief, and are therefore considered an armigerous clan.


Although the surname of Ainslie is of great antiquity in Scotland, it was already prominent in England before the Norman Conquest. <ref>George Way of Plean and Rommily Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 351</ref> It is a place name from outside of Scotland and is possibly identifiable with Annesley in Nottinghamshire, which itself is from the Old English 'ansett-leah' meaning 'hermitage-clearing'. Many English placenames gave rise to Scottish surnames. <ref>David Dorward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 3 </ref> The Saxon lords of Annesley in Nottinghamshire held large estates, but they fled in the face of the advancing forces of William the Conqueror to Scotland, where they were received by Malcolm III (d.1093). <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> The family is traditionally associated with the Border region.

Middle Ages

William de Ainslie, a canon of Glasgow Cathedral, witnessed a charter by Walter, Bishop of Glasgow, around 1208.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> In 1221 Thomas de Ainslie was one of the mediators appointed to settle a dispute between the monks of Kelso and the bishopric of Glasgow.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> Sir Aymer de Aynesley was a Borders knight sent to treat with the English to settle the marches in 1249.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>There are two references to the family in the Ragman Roll listing those who submitted to Edward I of England in 1296: John de Anesleye of Roxburghshire and Johan de Anesley of Cruwfurt in Lanarkshire.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>

Robert de Ainslie, Baron of Dolphinstone, accompanied his kinsman Patrick, Earl of Dunbar and March, on a crusade to the Holy Land between 1248 and 1254. It seems likely that the Laird of Dolphinstone who swore fealty to Edward I was the crusader's son, John.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>

The Ainslies were opposed to Robert the Bruce in his campaign to win the Scottish Crown and paid for this by the forfeiture of their estates. However, the family returned to favour when William de Ainslie, who had married Helen Kerr (of the family from which the present Duke of Roxburgh descends), became a favourite of Robert II. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>

Robert II of Scotland.png

Robert II

The estates of Dolphinstone were restored to him in 1377.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> The Ainslies secured their fortunes by strategic alliances by marriage with other prominent Borders families.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>They intermarried with the Pringles, Douglases, Homes and Kerrs. Marjory, daughter of John Ainslie, married Mark Kerr of Cessford, a warrior known as the Terror of the Borders. Despite this he was killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>

In 1493 Ralph Aynsle produced a remission for being treasonably associated with Alexander, formerly Duke of Rothesay. <ref></ref>

Eighteenth Century

The Ainslie family achieved their greatest distinction in the eighteenth century, and were active in the Scottish Enlightenment.

Robert Ainslie, a lawyer who was to become a friend and confidant of the poet Robert Burns, was born on 13 January 1766.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> He made the poet's acquaintance in Edinburgh in the spring of 1787, and they travelled through the Borders together, Ainslie being received at Burns' family home. He shared with Burns affections for wine, women and music. <ref></ref> <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> He later visited Burns at Ellisland where he was given a manuscript copy of Tam o' Shanter, which he later presented to the writer Sir Walter Scott.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>

Ainslie married Jane Cunningham in 1798, by whom he had a son and several daughters. <ref></ref>He divided his time between his office in Hill Street, Edinburgh, and his estate at Edingham, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. <ref></ref> He wrote several papers on agricultural subjects and legal and financial matters affecting landowners. In his later years he turned religious and became the author of two works: A Father's Gift to his Children and Reasons for the Hope that is in us. <ref></ref>

One of his brothers, Sir Whitelaw Ainslie, was medical superintendent of the Southern Division of India and the author of a detailed work on Indian native medicine. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> He was a regular contributor to the Edinburgh Magazine, and wrote a number of plays.

John Ainslie (1745-1828) was a cartographer who made one of the first surveys of Scotland. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 3</ref> He was born in Jedburgh, the youngest son of John Ainslie, a druggist, Writer to the Signet and burgess of the burgh. <ref>Adams, Ian. "Ainslie, John (1745–1828), cartographer and land surveyor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press</ref> and was educated at Jedburgh Grammar School. <ref> "Famous Sons and Daughters". Jedburgh Grammar School. Jedburgh Grammar School. Retrieved 17 May 2011.</ref> He began his career as an apprentice to the "Geographer to King George III", engraver and publisher Thomas Jefferys and worked as a surveyor and engraver for the English County series of maps. After Jefferys' death he returned to Scotland where he surveyed Scottish counties.


Ainslie's map of southwest Scotland

From 1787 to 1789 Ainslie worked on a new nine sheet map of Scotland publishing it in 1789. <ref>Ainslie, John (1789). "Scotland, drawn from a series of angles and astronomical observations...". Edinburgh: J. & J. Ainslie & W Faden.</ref> The map was a landmark in the improvement of the outline of Scotland and for the first time showed the Great Glen as a straight line and Skye, Mull, and Islay shown with more accuracy than had previously been seen.<ref>Adams, Ian. "Ainslie, John (1745–1828), cartographer and land surveyor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press</ref>

He worked as a surveyor on several civil engineering projects including the Forth and Clyde canal with Robert Whitworth, Charles Rennie on Saltcoats harbour and the Glasgow to Ardrossan canal. <ref>Adams, Ian. "Ainslie, John (1745–1828), cartographer and land surveyor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press</ref>

He wrote the standard text for his profession, the "Comprehensive treatise on Land Surveying comprising the Theory and Practice of all its Branches". <ref>Ainslie, John (1789). "Scotland, drawn from a series of angles and astronomical observations...". Edinburgh: J. & J. Ainslie & W Faden</ref> On 27 October 1776 he married Christian, the daughter and heiress of Jedburgh merchant Thomas Caverhill. He died in Edinburgh on the 29 February 1828 and is buried at Jedburgh Abbey. <ref>Adams, Ian. "Ainslie, John (1745–1828), cartographer and land surveyor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press</ref>


Sir Robert Ainslie (1730-1812) was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at Constantinople from 1776 to 1792. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> He also served as a Member of Parliament and was created a baronet in 1804. He is now best remembered for three volumes of drawings and sketches of Egypt.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>

General George Robert Ainslie (1774-1839) sold the family estates in Pilton, Edinburgh. <ref></ref> The main family relocated to England. Sir Robert Ainslie brought an estate in Lincolnshire. <ref></ref>

Like many other noble and gentry families during the nineteenth century members of the Ainslie family had prominent military careers. General Charles Philip de Ainslie commanded the 93rd Highland Regiment, which has now passed into legend as the Thin Red Line', at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref> In 1879 he changed his name by deed poll to 'de Ainslie'. <ref></ref>

The Ainslies lost their baronetcy in mysterious circumstances. Sir Robert Sharpe Ainslie (1777-58) had been a diplomat and MP but may have become reclusive in old age. <ref></ref> He married Elizabeth Wagner in 1835 after previously having a number of children and living as a couple for many years. It has been suggested that Elizabeth was originally a mistress of lower social status, but many unanswered questions about why Sir Robert failed to legitimise his relationship before having children remain.<ref></ref> As a consequence the baronetcy expired on his death in 1858.

Ainslie of Costerton

Another branch of the family remained in Edinburgh. David Ainslie of Costerton (d.1900) was a wealthy agriculturist. His will stipulated that his fortune should be used to build a hospital in south Edinburgh called the Astley Ainslie Institute as a facility where patients from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary could recuperate. <ref></ref>

There is a memorial to the Ainslie family on the wall of the parish church of South Leith.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 351</ref>

800px-Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh.JPG

Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh

References <references/>