AINSLIE, Sir Robert (?1730-1812), of Great Torrington, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1796 - 1802

Family and Education

b. ?1730, 3rd s. of George Ainslie of Pilton, Edinburgh by Jane, da. of Sir Philip Anstruther of Anstrutherfield, Fife. m. 1s. d.v.p. Kntd. 20 Sept. 1775; cr. Bt. 13 Oct. 1804.

Offices Held

Ambassador to the Porte Sept. 1775-June 1794.


Ainslie, a cadet of the Ainslies of Dolphington, was bred at Bordeaux where his father (d.1773) was a merchant.1 As ambassador to the Porte he was long on the best of terms with Sultan Ahmed IV, but by 1793 there were complaints of his ‘absolute unfitness for his situation’. He was retired from Constantinople and obtained a civil list pension of £1,000 p.a. (8 Sept. 1796).2 He was then in Parliament. If his friend the Earl of Leicester had had his way, he would have come in for Great Yarmouth on a vacancy in 1795. Leicester wrote to Pitt, 20 May, that

having ... served his Majesty’s government for nearly [20 years] ... in a most distinguished station, and in which he has rendered most essential services to his country, I cannot help thinking he will have a preferable claim to the support of ministry on the present vacancy than of any other person almost that may offer.3

Another candidate was preferred and Ainslie had to wait until the general election, when he survived a contest at Milborne Port, the erstwhile patron of which, Sir William Coles Medlycott, had a sister married to Philip Ainslie, his barrister kinsman.

Ainslie was expected to support Pitt’s ministry and did so in silence. He voted for the assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798. In October 1800 he received Pitt’s circular to attend.4 He defaulted on the call of the House, 17 Mar. 1801, but appeared two days later. He did not seek re-election in 1802. Two years later he applied to Pitt for a baronetcy. His son and heir had died on the eve of marrying a daughter of William Baldwin* in 1796 and he sought a remainder of his title for his nephew Robert Sharpe Ainslie*. Pitt the more readily granted the application in that his nephew was ‘a very regular supporter of government’ in the House.5

Ainslie died 21 July 1812 ‘in his 83rd year’, celebrated for his collection of oriental coins and prints. He left his estates in Lincolnshire and Huntingdonshire to his nephew aforesaid.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 383; Gent. Mag. (1773), 469.
  • 2. Annual Reg. (1789), 170; Add. 34449, f. 109; Debrett (ser. 3), v. 477.
  • 3. PRO 30/8/151, f. 107.
  • 4. Lincs. AO, Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss 2Td’E H2/5.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. (1796), ii. 1262; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2940; Canning and his Friends, i. 110.
  • 6. DNB; PCC 360 Oxford.