he Idea of enquiring into family history is not new. At some time or other everyone has wondered who his forebears were, and how their surname originated. Indeed many people have made an effort to trace their particular ancestors, and a few have taken the process further by researching the origins and history of the complete family clan.
In the case of Royalty, or the Nobility, the story of their evolution over the years has been carefully maintained for centuries, but even so there are many gaps in their family trees. However, it is true to say that for people whose roots lie in common stock there are very few published accounts dealing with their growth since the Middle ages or earlier.
The information which this web site contains regarding the ‘Ayling’ family may not be unique in general terms, but it is probably the only record so far which deals in detail with the historical meaning of the name, and which traces the development of the family since early times. It is the result of a research programme extending over many years by a voluntary organisation called the ‘Ayling Family Registry’ which has examined all the available sources of information.
Since July 1837 national records have been kept in London of all births, marriages and deaths which took place in England or Wales. Full details are stated on certificates which can be purchased, but from the basic information given by indexes it was possible to complete various lists covering all Ayling events right up to the present time.
Church registers are an extremely important source of information, extending over a period of more than four hundred years, but their quality varies a great deal, as can be imagined. For example, even the standard form of writing has changed considerably since 1600. The registers first began to be used by Parish Churches about 1540, but it was many years before they were available everywhere, and before they could be relied upon by researchers as being reasonably complete and accurate. Improvements in the registers were made in the middle of the 18th century, and then in 1812 books of a modern style were introduced.
The old original parish registers used to be kept on the church premises, but for safety’s sake most of them have now been moved to record offices set up in county towns. There they can be inspected by the public in a properly controlled manner, but usually copies on micro-film are available instead of the originals, thus saving wear and tear on valuable old documents.
The ‘Ayling Family Registry’ has examined the records for hundreds of parishes where Ayling events might have taken place, and has listed all available details for baptisms, marriages and burials, that could be found. This work is still continuing, but the size of the problem is such that it will never be 100% complete. Nevertheless, a very large proportion of all Ayling births and marriages have been traced, especially in the period from 1750 to 1875. Before that, it becomes increasingly doubtful whether further research is worth while, except in certain important and specific cases.
Another very valuable source of information is provided by the national census. These have been carried out every ten years since 1801, and copies for 1881 and earlier can be inspected in Record Offices. The earliest most useful one is 1851, but 1841 is also available. The Ayling Family Registry has extracts for many towns and villages, which are a great help in building up the family groups in existence at the time.
From the sixteenth century onwards, some Aylings made a will before they died, and where copies are available, extracts have been taken of appropriate details which might help in tracing the family concerned.
Street and business directories were published at various dates from the early 1800’s, and some of these can still be seen in libraries, or record offices. Here again, extracts have been taken of all Ayling entries that have been found.
As regards the origin and meaning of the name Ayling, it was necessary to research back for some 1500 years to the early Anglo-Saxon era, and also to the time of the Norman invasion in 1066. Fortunately, a number of books about early British history were available to refresh one’s knowledge of those days. Thanks are gratefully extended to all those scholars whose accumulated works have provided such a magnificent fund of information for the benefit of later generations.
Many present-day Aylings have been contacted by the Ayling Family Registry, including members of large family groups in Australia, New Zealand, America and even in Argentina. All these good people have given information regarding births, marriages and deaths for themselves and their ancestors as far as possible. This has enabled family-trees to be duly registered, free of charge, and some of these are quite extensive; even so it would not be too difficult or expensive to extend some cases still further back into the past.
In conclusion, it is clear that the name ‘Ayling’ has ancient and noble origins, and it has flourished for very many years. May it long continue.
The Author, Kenneth Gordon Ayling, F.C.A. (deceased)
Born 20th January, 1914
A descendant of John Ayling of 1478.
The Ayling Family Registry was originally set up by Mr K.Ayling to collate facts and information regarding the Ayling Family line. It is no longer in existence.