by G. M. Anstey
Against the odds, my great granduncle T. J. Anstey (Tom)’s early 20th century Anstey research, conducted between 1905 and 1914, has somehow survived intact into the 21st century; that it still exists is entirely thanks to the guardians of his work over the last century. Tom’s research consists of five main parts, namely:
- his ‘Black Book’ of exquisitely drawn Anstey pedigree charts;
- his ‘Red Book of Correspondence’ containing around 120 letters that he wrote to various genealogical correspondents between 1911 and 1914, plus replies to his letters, some dated as early as 1908;
- his ‘Anstey Family Article’ written and published in the ‘South Gloucestershire Chronicle’ newspaper in January 1913;
- his ‘A5 cards’ consisting of hundreds of rectangular (vaguely A5 in size) pieces of cardboard onto which Tom made his genealogical notes and findings; and
- miscellaneous quantities of previously undocumented research of Tom’s consisting of photos, posters, interviews, notes and so on.
Like all previous research since the dawn of time, much of what Tom found is easily discoverable today, however there is a significant portion of his work that is simply unique, for example his correspondence with other Anstey enthusiasts in the early 20th century; his documentation of memories and anecdotes relayed to him by family elders alive at the time; certain of his medieval Anstey discoveries; notes which he wrote on his Black Book pedigrees; and such like.
Without these unique elements of Tom’s research and the information contained therein, it is likely that this ‘Anstey Story‘ project simply wouldn’t exist. Indeed it was Tom, over a century ago, who formulated the idea that all Ansteys could ultimately be linked up into a single pedigree, a project that he worked on right through to 1914, and which we have subsequently proven in our four co-authored books to be correct for all Ansteys pre-1770, and the overwhelming majority of Ansteys alive today. Our proof is peppered with evidence coming from Tom’s research, much of which would be extremely difficult to independently discover today.
On that note, we draw attention to our ‘Appeal for Old Research Documents and Correspondence‘ in How Can You Help? – old Anstey research really is worth it’s weight in gold, genealogically speaking of course, and the more we discover, the more comprehensively we can tell the Anstey story, as Tom’s extraordinary early 20th century research has shown!