Robert Ainsworth (lexicographer)

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Robert Ainsworth (September 1660 – 4 April 1743) was an English Latin lexicographer, and author of a well-known compendious Dictionary of the Latin Tongue.


He was born at Clifton, Lancashire in September 1660.[1] After he had finished his own education, he commenced as schoolmaster at Bolton; from there he went to London; and at Bethnal Green, Hackney, and other suburban villages, continued to keep a school, until he retired some years before his death.

Ainsworth died on 4 April 1743, at the age of 77. He was buried at St Matthias Old Church, Poplar, and an inscription in Latin verse, written by himself, was placed over his remains and those of his wife.


In 1736, after about twenty years' labour, Ainsworth published his major work, with a dedication to Richard Mead, and a preface explaining his reasons for undertaking it. Improved editions by Samuel Patrick, John Ward, William Young of Gillingham,[2] Isaac Kimber (editing 1751)[3] and Thomas Morell successively appeared; Ward and Young's (1752) in folio, the others in quarto. Nathaniel Thomas's version was from 1758. John Carey's (1816) was a later version; there were also abridgments by Young and Morell. Another 19th century edition was that of Benjamin Wrigglesworth Beatson with William Ellis, based on the 1752 edition.[4]

This dictionary was an improvement on all that had preceded it in England: that of Alexander Adam was a further advance.

Ainsworth was author also Monumenta Vetustatis Kempiana (1720, an expansive account of the classical collection of John Kemp),[4] of A Short Treatise on Grammar, and some smaller pieces. He is said to have been a hunter after old coins and other curiosities.



  1. ^ Fuller, Tony (1998). Memorial Inscriptions at the East India Chapel, Poplar. Hornchurch: Armenians in India Press. 
  2. ^ Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review. 1837. p. 366. 
  3. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Kimber, Isaac". Dictionary of National Biography 31. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  4. ^ a b  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). "Ainsworth, Robert". Dictionary of National Biography 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co.