A brief History:
Although the surname of Ainslie is of great antiquity in Scotland, it was already prominent in England before the Norman conquest.
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 generously by Malcolm III.
They soon became settled around Dolphinstone. William de Ainslie, a canon of Glasgow Cathedral, witnessed a charter by Walter, Bishop of Glasgow, around 1208.
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. Sir Aymer de Aynesley was a Borders Knight sent to treat with the English to settle the marches in 1249.
There are two references to the family in the Ragman Roll of 1296. 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.
The Ainslies were opposed to Robert the Bruce in his campaign to win the Scottish Crown and paid for this by forfeiture of their estates. However the family returned to favour w hen William de Ainslie, who had married Helen Kerr became a favourite of Robert II.
The estates of Dolphinstone were restored to him in 1377.
Robert Ainslie became a friend and confidant of Robert Burns. Sir Robert Ainslie was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at Constantinople from 1776-1792. He also served as a Mp and was created a baronet in 1804. He is now best remembered for a series of 3 volumes of sketches of Egypt.
The Ainslie arms clearly allude to their early crusading exploits but eve in more recent times they have enjoyed high military rank.
General Charles de Ainslie commanded the 93rd Highland regiment at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 which has now passed into legend as the thin red line. The family were also distinguished lawyers, and David Ainslie of Costerton, who died in 1900, left a fortune amassed from his legal practice to build the Astley Ainsley Hospital in Edinburgh.
There is a memorial to the family on the wall of the parish church of South Leith.
Return to the Brook-Glasgow Family Homepage