Ayrton was born at Ripon and baptised on 19 November 1734. His father was Edward Ayrton (1698-1774), a 'barber chirurgion,' who became an alderman in Ripon on 14 August 1758, and mayor in 1760. Edward Ayrton's eldest son, William (baptised 18 November 1726), was organist of Ripon Minster from 7 June 1748 until his death on 2 February 1799. By his wife Catherine (who died at Chester on 19 September 1819) he had two sons, both of whom were organists of Ripon Minster. The elder of these, William Francis Morel, was born in 1778, and succeeded to his father's post on 25 June 1799. Soon after he moved to Chester, where he died on 8 November 1850. His brother, Thomas, was born in 1782, and was organist of Ripon Minster for nearly twenty years before his death on 24 October 1822. Edmund Ayrton, the second son of Edward Ayrton, the barber-surgeon, was originally destined for the church but, displaying considerable musical talent, was placed under Dr. James Nares, the organist of York Minster. He succeeded Samuel Wise as organist, auditor, and rector chori of Southwell Minster in 1755. Here he married, on 20 September 1762, Ann, the daughter of Benjamin Clay, by whom he had fourteen children, several of whom died in infancy. Dr. Ayrton's wife died on 14 May 1800.
Ayrton died on 22 May 1808, at 24 James Street, Buckingham Gate, Westminster. He had managed to rent a large house with a garden of three acres for a low rent because others believed it to be haunted. He was buried in the west cloisters of Westminster Abbey on 28 May. His sister married Nicholas Thomas Dall, the Danish painter.
Ayrton became a member of the Royal Society of Musicians on 2 June 1765 (Records of Roy. Soc. of Musicians). In 1764 he was appointed a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and soon after became a vicar choral of St. Paul's Cathedral, and a lay vicar of Westminster Abbey. He succeeded Nares as master of the children of the Chapel Royal in 1780. Ayrton took the degree of Mus. Doc. at Cambridge in 1784, on which occasion the anthem he wrote as an exercise was performed in the church of Great St. Mary's, and afterwards in London at the peace thanksgiving at St. Paul's on 29 July 1784. The Oxford degree of Mus. Doc. (ad eundem) was conferred upon him in 1788. He resigned the mastership of the children in 1805.
He was: 
- Organist of Southwell Minster 1755 - 1764
- Gentleman of the Chapel Royal 1764
- Vicar Choral of St. Paul's Cathedral, 1767
- Lay Vicar of Westminster Abbey 1780
- Master of the Choristers of the Chapel Royal 1780 - 1805
|Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal
John Stafford Smith