by George J. Dance

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Hew Ainslie, from A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns, and Poems, 1892. Courtesy Internet Archive.

Hew Ainslie (5 April 1792 - 11 March 1878) was a Scottish poet.[1]


Ainslie was born at Bargany, in Ayrshire, the only son of George Ainslie. He was educated at the academy in Ayr. In 1809 he moved with his family to Roslin, near Ediburgh. In 1812 he married his cousin, Janet Ainslie, who would bear him 10 children (7 of whom would survive to adulthood).[2]

Ainslie studied law in Glasgow, and then worked as a clerk in the Register House, Edinburgh. In 1820 he and his friends James Wellstood and John Gibson revisited Ayrshire on foot, which became the basis for Ainslie's first book, A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns, published in 1822.[2]

Ainslie and Wellstood sailed to New York City in 1822, and bought a farm near Renslaer, New York. Mrs. Ainslie joined him there with their 3 children in 1823. In 1825 Ainslie's family joined Scotsman Robert Owen's commune in New Harmony, Indiana; when that venture collapsed they moved first to Cincinnati, Ohio, and then to Louisville, Kentucky. In 1829 Louisville Ainslie opened and ran a brewery, which was destroyed by a flood in 1832. He worked for a while for another Louisville brewer, and in 1840 opened the first brewery in New Albany, Indiana. After it was destroyed he worked at the Boone Foundry in New Albany, where his eldest son, George, was a partner.[2]

Ainslie published a collection of Scottish Ballads and Songs in 1855. His wife died in 1863, and that same year he returned to Scotland for a visit. In 1868 he went to live with his son George in Louisville, where he spent his final decade.[2]



Ainslie is one of the group of Scottish singers represented in Whistle Binkie (Glasgow, 1853).

His Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns was reissued in a commemorative edition on the centennial of his birth in 1892.<[2]

His poem "Willie and Helen" was included in the Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900.[3]




Collected editionsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. Hew Ainslie,, Web, May 4, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Conrad Selle, Early New Albany Brewer and Scottish-American Poet Hew Ainslie, NA Confidential, December 8, 2012. Blogspot, Web, June 25, 2013.
  3. "Willie and Helen". Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor, Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919)., Web, May 4, 2012.
  4. Scottish Songs, Ballads, and Poems (1855), Internet Archive. Web, June 25, 2013.
  5. A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns (1822), Internet Archive. Web, June 25, 2013.
  6. A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns, and Poems (1892), Internet Archive. Web, June 25, 2013.

External linksEdit

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