Aylmers at prayer

A number of Aylmers have made their careers in religion.

Catholic or Protestant?

The question of Aylmer religious affiliations is an interesting one. The English branch appears to be securely Protestant, and so presumably were the post-Cromwell land-owning Aylmers of Ireland – in contradistinction to the rural labourers, but were these just English emigrants who got down on their luck? But this is surmise on my part and if anyone knows better please tell me.

But as you will see below there are a couple of exceptions to the Protestant rule.

Two bishops and sundry others

The most influential praying Aylmer was undoubtedly Bishop John Aylmer, Bishop of London to Queen Elizabeth I, about whom there is more information here.

He is not the only bishop though. In the pre-Norman 11th century, Aylmer (or Aethelmaer) was (the last) Bishop of Elmham from 1047 to 1070, when he was deposed and later died. (North) Elmham is in Norfolk; Aethelmaer therefore is one of the first East Anglian connections that feature so heavily in the Aylmer name.

Rev William Aylmer was one of the founding fathers of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. Follow this link for more information.

Abbot Aylmer (Giliani) of Piacenza, assuming he came from the town in what is now northern Italy, was rather more remote from the known seat of Aylmerdom. He rose to become the 12th master general of the influential Dominican order, which he headed from 1304 to his resignation in 1311 over the suppression of the Knights Templar; he lived to 1327.

Other religious Aylmers include:

  • John Aylmar (close enough) was the first listed rector of Little Braxted in Essex, his term running to 1386;
  • Samuel Aylmer, died 1636, Prebendary of Finsbury, St. Paul’s, London, from 1581-1583;
  • Theophilus Aylmer, died 1626, also Prebendary of Finsbury, from 1583-1626, and Archdeacon of St. Paul’s from 1591-1626;
  • Charles Aylmer (1786-1847), a leading Irish Jesuit who studied in Lancashire and Sicily. By contrast, his brother was one of the best swordsmen in Austria;
  • John Aylmer, Canon of Bristol from 1750-1793; and
  • William Aylmer, vicar of St Peter’s, Akaroa, New Zealand from 1851 to 1871, and a founding father of the city of Christchurch – see here for more information.

Samuel and Theophilius were I believe sons of Bishop John.

Clearly not an Aylmer of direct lineage, but perhaps related, Henry Aylmer Skelton (1884-1959) was Bishop of Lincoln.

As notary public for Norwich, one Robert Aylmer acted for John Godesell in a heresy trial of 1429.

In the early 16th century, another John Aylmer is thought to have been one of the master masons of Westminster Abbey.