Select Ainsworth Surname Genealogy

The Ainsworth surname comes from the place-name Ainsworth near Manchester in Lancashire. The place-name derives from the Old English personal name Aegen plus worth, meaning “homestead” or “enclosure” – hence “Aegen’s homestead.”
Other worth-ending place-names, either in Lancashire or Yorkshire, that have become surnames are Duckworth, Illingworth, Unsworth and – probably the best known – Woolworth.

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Select Ainsworth Ancestry

England. The earliest recorded person to use the surname Ainsworth was Robert of Ainsworth, born in Ainsworth about 1170, who was named in a charter in 1212. He and subsequent Ainsworths were landed gentry, probably of Norman descent.
Lancashire. The John de Aynesworth name appeared in 1370 in Baines’ History of Lancashire.  In 1396 John Ainsworth married into a wealthy family from Blackburn. By this marriage the manor of Pleasington became an Ainsworth holding.
Henry Ainsworth, born in Pleasington in 1571, was a separatist clergyman who was driven from England by the persecution of the Brownists. He ended up in Amsterdam where he became pastor of a new congregation there. Meanwhile the main Ainsworth line at home died out sometime after the Civil War.
Peter Ainsworth, born in Prestwich, lived out his adult life in Bolton. He was a master bleacher. His son Peter was a pioneer of chemical bleaching and founded the Halliwelll bleachworks in 1739. These bleachworks prospered and Peter’s son, also Peter, later became very rich and was known as “the opulent bleacher.”
In 1801, a few years before his death, he purchased the Smithills Hall estate on Moss Bank with its ancient mansion and several coal mines. A booklet of the family, The Ainsworth Family of Smithills Hall, was published by the Friends of Smithills Hall in Bolton.
From Bolton too came Robert Ainsworth, the compiler of the well-used Latin-English dictionary of 1736. Thomas Ainsworth, a lawyer in Manchester in the early 1800’s, was a descendant of the Ainsworths of Tottington near Bury. His son, William Harrison Ainsworth, became a popular Victorian historical novelist.
Elsewhere. The Ainsworth name did extend outside of Lancashire. Thomas Ainsworth was a yeoman farmer in Swanton Morley in Norfolk during Elizabethan times, wealthy enough to send his son Henry to Cambridge University to study. Henry Ainsworth became a prominent Nonconformist clergyman and scholar. Ainsworth’s Book of Psalms went out to America on the Mayflower with the Pilgrim Fathers.

America. Ainsworths made it to America. Edward Ainsworth was born near Springfield, Massachusetts in 1652. Ainsworth descendants in America were to be found in Massachuetts and later in New York, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and in Iowa and Nebraska.

Laban Ainsworth of Jaffrey, New Hampshire holds the record as the longest serving pastorate in American history, a period of seventy six years from 1782 to 1858. Francis J. Parker’s 2009 book Genealogies of the Ainsworth Families in America traces these Ainsworths.

Another Edward Ainsworth was believed to have been sent over to America by his Uncle Daniel. The story goes that he was shipwrecked off the coast of Georgia and that he was the only survivor. A descendant Edward was a physician and moved to Claremont, New Hampshire in the 1760’s.

William Ainsworth was recorded as living in Virginia in the early 1700’s. Later there were six Ainsworth brothers who moved from South Carolina into Kentucky (where they were all married) and then south in the early 1800’s into Mississippi and Texas.

Australia. Alfred Ainsworth, a relation of the Ainsworth bleaching family, emigrated to Australia on the Caroline Agnes in 1852. He became a mining surveyor in the Victorian goldfields, a position he loved, and he carried on working into his nineties.

Select Ainsworth Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Ainsworth Names

Henry Ainsworth was a prominent English Nonconformist clergyman and scholar.
Robert Ainsworth was a Latin lexicographer, author of the popular Dictionary of the Latin Tongue in 1736.
William Harrison Ainsworth was a 19th century English historical novelist.
Pug Ainsworth was an admiral of the US Navy during World War Two.

Select Ainsworths Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 3,000 in America (most numerous in Mississippi)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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