Correspondence of William Francis Ainsworth (1807-1896)

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 40 letters from William Francis Ainsworth to Sir J. Philippart (editor of the Army and Navy Journal, and who died 1874) about the Fulham and Hammersmith Dispensary (West London Hospital). Ainsworth's novelist cousin William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882) is mentioned.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Francis Ainsworth was born in 1807 and came from Lancashire. He followed natural history classes at Edinburgh University. He became a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1827. Ainsworth then studied geology in London, Paris (at the Ecole des Mines) and Brussels before taking up medical work, chiefly in relation to cholera, in England and Ireland. In 1835 he accompanied an expedition to the Euphrates under Francis Rawdon Chesney (1789-1872) as a surgeon and geologist, and between 1838 and 1840 he took charge of an expedition to the Christians of Chaldea. Ainsworth published accounts of both expeditions including observations in zoology. His publications include Travels in the track of the ten thousand Greeks (1844), and A personal narrative of the Euphrates expedition (1888). He edited Lares and penates, or, Cilicia and its governors: being a short historical account of that province from the earliest times to the present day (1853) and provided a geographical commentary in The Anabasis: or, Expedition of Cyrus and the memorabilia of Socrates (1872). In 1830, Ainsworth had founded the Edinburgh journal of natural and geographical science and was the editor of New monthly magazine in 1871. He was an original Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.William Francis Ainwsorth died in 1896.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Purchased as miscellaneous letters in 1964, Accession no. E64.10.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) The dictionary of national biography. The concise dictionary. Part 1. Reprinted. London: Oxford University Press, 1953.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: travel notes and journal, 1838-1840, and 1837-96: letters (49) to Royal Geographical Society, 1837-1896, Royal Geographical Society, see RGS Archives pp145-46, 161, and p101; letters (10) to T.J. Pettigrew, 1843-1860, Yale University Libraries: Beinecke Library, Ref. Pettigrew NRA 18661 Osborn coll; and, letters to Viscount Ponsonby, 1837-1841, Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections, Palace Green Section, Ref. GRE/E9 NRA 6228 Grey.