“Willelmus de Anestay” – Anstey Imposter

In ‘ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry‘ we discuss ‘Anstey imposters‘ and how it is so important that we can successfully recognise and eliminate them from the medieval Anstey story. Sometimes this can be devilishly difficult to do, so we have provided many examples in Appendix Three (‘Notes for Medieval Anstey Researchers’) of our first book. During our research for the fourth edition we have come across another excellent ‘Anstey imposter‘ example which we share below and will add to the fourth edition of ‘ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry‘ when it is published.

Willelmus de Anestay’: In ‘Bracton’s Notebook: A collection of cases decided in the King’s courts during the reign of Henry the Third’ Volume Three on page 646 there is reference in the year 1225 to “Williemus de Anestay” and “Williemus de Anestay et Johannes”, which got us very excited because we thought it was referencing the two sons of John (I) de Anstey. However, the fact that the section of the book in which we found the reference was entitled ‘Pateshull’s Eyre in Yorkshire’, combined with the fact that in the deed/charter it states “Willelmus de Anestay terciam partem duarum bouat terre cum pert in Anestay …” (which very roughly translates along the lines of “William of Anestay one third part of land in Anestay”) means we can be confident that this gentleman is an Anstey imposter of the type ‘William who lives in the district of Ainsty in Yorkshire’ and therefore not in the slightest connected to the medieval Ansteys.

Pity … but better to weed out the Anstey imposters early so the true medieval Anstey story can thus be told more accurately.


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