AINSLIE, Robert Sharpe (1777-1858), of West Torrington, Lincs. and Chingford, Essex.

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



1802 - 1806

Family and Education

b. 8 Jan. 1777, 1st s. of Gen. George Ainslie of Bath, Som., gov. Scilly Isles, by Anne, da. of Samuel Sharpe, ?surgeon of Guy’s hosp. educ. Charterhouse 1789-94; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1794; M. Temple 1793; I. Temple 1800. m. c.1800 Elizabeth, 4s. 4da. suc. fa. 1804; uncle Robert as 2nd Bt. 22 July 1812.

Offices Held

Vol. London and Westminster light horse 1803-4.


Ainslie went to Lisbon in 1800 as secretary to John Hookham Frere*, who recommended him to Canning ‘in the strongest terms, as well for capacity as for good principles and good disposition’. After his return to England, he entered Parliament for Mitchell. ‘At that period’, wrote Canning later, ‘I purposely abstained from making his acquaintance because I would not seduce him into a hopeless opposition. He did not guess my reason, and I believe took the neglect ill.’ He gave a silent support to administration until 1804, when Canning informed Pitt, 9 May:

Ainslie ... voted with you on your last division, at my solicitation ... This year I had no such scruples but applied to him a day or two before your motion, through Sir Robert, with success. I do not know that he wants anything, but I suppose he may, or his uncle for him; and, by Frere’s account, he might be made very useful.

(Canning still did not know him personally.)1

Ainslie went on to support Pitt’s second administration, and when Pitt secured a baronetcy for his uncle Sir Robert Ainslie* he assured the King, 24 Sept. 1804, that he was the more pleased to obtain it for him, in that his nephew was ‘a very regular supporter of government’.2 As Sir Robert had no surviving heir male, Ainslie was granted the remainder and succeeded in due course to title and estates. He voted against the censure on Melville, 8 Apr. 1805. He seconded the address, 21 Jan. 1806.3 He voted against the Grenville ministry over Ellenborough’s seat in the cabinet, 3 Mar., and the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. After the dissolution he was not again in Parliament. He died 14 Mar. 1858, desiring that he might ‘not have even a headstone’ placed over his grave.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO 30/8/120, f. 197.
  • 2. Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2940.
  • 3. PRO, Dacres Adams mss 7/8, 15.
  • 4. PCC 1858, f. 201.