How Can You Help?

Researching the entirety of the Anstey family story is such a mammoth task that there is always room for Anstey enthusiasts and researchers to help expand our knowledge and understanding of our Anstey ancestors, and participate in the ‘Anstey Story‘ project. Anybody so interested feel free to contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

To give some idea of the sort of Anstey research that would be very helpful, we list a few appeals below (also check out the Project Updates page for the most recent “hot off the press” Anstey research threads and findings).

General Appeal

All research since the dawn of time contains errors of fact, deduction, logic and reasoning, as well as more basic errors such as typos and simple misunderstandings. Therefore we urge anybody and everybody to question all aspects of the research contained in this project, and let us know if they disagree, or can provide better explanations and conclusions. That way we inch ever closer to the full and complete story of the Anstey family.

Appeal for Old Research Documents and Correspondence

In times past, family surname research was quite popular (as it is still today), and many Anstey enthusiasts corresponded frequently with each other by letter, documenting their ancestral findings and exchanging ideas. Indeed one of the overseers and chief researchers of the ‘Anstey Story‘ project, T. J. Anstey (Tom), was one such gentlemen, and fortunately his research and correspondence has survived the passage of time and now partially resides with his great grandnephew G. M. Anstey (Gary).

The contents of Tom’s research documents, especially the correspondence with fellow researchers in the early 20th century, are an absolute goldmine of ancestral information and snippets which, to put it bluntly, are one of the principal reasons that we have managed to connect together the entirety of the Anstey pedigree.

It is clear that there must be copious quantities of Anstey research and correspondence from past times which has not yet been unearthed; much of it is likely sitting gathering dust in lofts or basements somewhere. To give but one example – one of Tom’s early 20th century correspondents (Rev. Martin Anstey) wrote in a letter to Tom dated 29 April 1911 that:

I have a good many ancient documents in our old oak chest and some years ago I spent a summer trying to sift them and learn what I could about the origin of our family”.

We don’t doubt that “old oak chest” is still in existence somewhere, along with many hundreds of similar chests around the world crammed full of genealogical Anstey goodies.

As such, anybody who knows of the whereabouts of (or better still, possesses) any passed down Anstey research, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

Appeal for Passed Down Anstey Anecdotes

Anecdotes that have been passed down Anstey sub-branches from generation to generation can be extremely useful in making connections and advancing our Anstey story project. By definition, these sub-branch anecdotes reside privately with sub-branch members and if they are not shared then they will never be known by the wider Anstey community.

However, in order for the anecdotes to provide any useful genealogical information, it is vital that they have actually been passed down the Anstey sub-branch in question from generation to generation, and not for example read in a book and then passed down.

Thus far we have discovered five different types of anecdote passed down Anstey sub-branches through the generations, being:

  • The Ansteys ‘came over with the Normans‘;
  • The Ansteys ‘were connected to King Stephen‘;
  • The Ansteys ‘once lived in a castle‘;
  • The Ansteys ‘are descendent from knights‘; and
  • The Ansteys are entitled to bear the coat of arms ‘Or, a cross engrailed between four martlets gules’ (or variant).

All of these anecdotes are basically true, and different versions and combinations of them appear in different Anstey sub-branches. If you have heard Anstey elders in your sub-branch mention any of the above five anecdotes being passed down to them by their Anstey ancestors, or any variation of the above anecdotes, or any other ancient Anstey anecdote not listed, please get in touch with Gary at research@theansteystory.com.

Pre-Anstey Ancestors Appeal

Even though the basic pre-Anstey ancestral pedigree of Hubert de Anstey‘s ancestors is now known, there is still much work to do to solidify the foundations. At the end of Appendix One of the third edition of ‘ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry‘, co-authors G. M. Anstey (Gary) and T. J. Anstey (Tom) write:

The main source which will either advance, confirm or refute this tentative strand of research [the pre-Anstey ancestral pedigree] is the ‘Chartulary of St John the Baptist of Colchester (Roxburgh Club)’. Eudo the Dapifer founded the Abbey of St John the Baptist, Colchester at the end of the 11th century and the chartulary contains around three thousand of its charters. Unfortunately it is privately printed, written in Latin and not indexed by person; hence it is an enormous undertaking to sift through each and every one of the charters to piece together clues hidden therein… A thorough investigation of this source would obviously be of great benefit to this research strand, given that within the chartulary are numerously mentioned Hubert the Chamberlain (Hubert de Anstey), Gervase de Cornhill, his father Roger as well as other members of the family. It is only through a thorough investigation of these clues that our tentative pedigree can be made to stand on firmer genealogical ground.

Important Note: We have now located the ‘Chartulary of St John the Baptist of Colchester (Roxburgh Club)’ and are working through its contents (see Project Updates).

Medieval Ansteys Appeal

Even though the story of the medieval Ansteys is now known and documented, it is clear that we are still a long way from being in possession of all the facts, and this creates a wonderful opportunity for fellow Anstey research enthusiasts to help advance this project. We know we do not possess all the facts because we are finding new snippets of information all the time, but it is abundantly clear that there is much more to find. This new information will come from mainly four sources, which are:

  • Medieval documentation which is being made publicly available for the first time (there is an extraordinary amount of new genealogical information appearing online all the time).
  • Documentation which has long existed in the public domain but that we have simply not yet discovered.
  • Medieval documentation that we know is available and relevant, but is currently inaccessible because we lack the necessary skills to decode their contents (primarily medieval documents which have not been translated or transcribed from their original Latin). To give but one example, at the National Archives at Kew in London there are 4,135 rolls recording the proceedings of the ‘Common Bench‘ (‘Court of Common Pleas‘) covering the years from 1273 onwards. This court heard civil litigation, and the rolls are certain to contain a huge amount of genealogical information relevant to our medieval Anstey story. Many have been digitised and can be viewed online; however almost all of them exist only in their highly abbreviated Latin form and therefore are currently effectively off-limits to all but those with a specialised medieval history background.
  • Private cartularies compiled by religious communities, secular corporations and wealthy families, which provide extraordinary details of landholdings, legal transactions and day to day business. Approximately two thousand such cartularies have survived from the 12th to the 16th century and the few that we have seen have proven to be goldmines of information. Currently we have only been able to access a tiny percentage of these cartularies; certainly less than ten percent.

Therefore we make an appeal to any researchers so interested. Please get in touch with Gary at research@theansteystory.com if you can help advance the medieval Anstey story from the 12th to the 14th century. All new information forthcoming will appear in the upcoming fourth edition of ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry‘ with full credit given to the relevant researchers (the latest findings are being uploaded to this project as they are discovered – see the tag “Anstey Our True Surname Origin Fourth Edition”.)

[Note: Anybody interested in getting involved with medieval Anstey research would be well advised to read Appendix Three of the third edition of ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry‘ by co-authors G. M. Anstey (Gary) and T. J. Anstey (Tom) , which is full of useful tips and ideas regarding medieval Anstey research.]

Coats of Arms Appeal

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The coat of arms ‘Or, a cross engrailed between four martlets gules‘ (or variant), which many Ansteys are entitled to bear, forms an essential element of our research. We estimate there are many hundreds of these coats of arms in existence around the world, be they:

  • hanging on the walls of private residences in times gone by;
  • adorning monuments;
  • on plaques/effigies/roofs/brasses/chantries in churches and cathedrals;
  • on stained glass windows;
  • on bookplates glued inside books;
  • on ancient (or modern) seals;
  • on ancient Rolls of Arms;
  • referred to in letters or other correspondence;
  • in old photos;
  • described and/or illustrated within the pages of old books (both private diaries and notebooks as well as official manuscripts); or
  • no doubt in any of a multitude of other locations;

However finding them all is another matter; sometimes it can be devilishly difficult without local knowledge and help (currently we have ‘discovered’ over 70 pre-20th century examples of our coat of arms). Therefore we make an appeal to anybody who knows the whereabouts of (or has any evidence of) any pre-20th century coats of arms ‘Or, a cross engrailed between four martlets gules‘ (or variant), or even better if you currently own one which has been passed down the generations by your Anstey ancestors, please get in touch with Gary at research@theansteystory.com.

Anstey Sub-Branch Experts Appeal

Are you an expert on a specific Anstey sub-branch? Have you researched the Anstey line back in time, ideally to the 1700s or before, and are looking to try and definitively connect it to the known Anstey pedigree stretching back to Hubert de Anstey in 1143? If so, we would be very pleased to hear from you – please get in touch with Gary at research@theansteystory.com.

Anstey Heroes

We have recently set up the ‘Anstey Heroes‘ section of the Anstey Story project. Anybody who has researched their Anstey ancestors’ wartime heroics in either the First Boer War, the Second Boer War, World War One or World War Two, and wishes for their (original) findings to be uploaded to this website, please contact gary@theansteystory.com.

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