Overview of the ‘Anstey Story’ Project

Introduction

I make a bold statement – the Anstey family story, from the origin of our surname in 1143 right up to modern times, is now effectively known. The aim of this project is to make this information available to anybody so interested, and expand upon it over time.

Of course I am not saying that every detail of every Anstey who ever existed is known, but the overall structure of the Anstey pedigree from its 12th century origin to modern times, is now in place. All we need to do now is dot the (thousands of) ‘i’s and cross the (thousands of) ‘t’s – et voila!

Hopefully the launch and evolution of this project will encourage Ansteys (and Anstey descendants) across the world to get involved and share their own research and knowledge of their particular Anstey sub-branches, thus allowing ever more pieces of the Anstey jigsaw to be pieced together.

Anstey Researchers

The overseers and chief researchers of the ‘Anstey Story’ research project are myself (Gary) and my great granduncle T. J. Anstey (Tom), both of the Stoke Gifford Anstey sub-branch. Between us we have conducted many thousands of hours of Anstey research, and we have now constructed the entirety of the Anstey family pedigree structure. We have thus far co-authored four books on the Ansteys, the most recent being the third edition of:

Anstey: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry

which was published in February 2019 and which is currently available for purchase at Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Singapore and Amazon Canada.

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Of course many other Anstey researchers, both past and present, have contributed to (and continue to contribute to) expanding our knowledge and understanding of the Anstey family story. We are always happy to receive new information and research from fellow Anstey enthusiasts – see How Can You Help? for the various ‘hot topic’ appeals, and see Project Updates for the research threads, findings and ideas currently ongoing in this project.

Anstey Surname Origin

There is a huge amount of misinformation and simply incorrect claims circulating about the origin of our surname ‘Anstey’. The blame for this lies squarely with authoritative ‘Surname Origin‘ reference books such as:

  • Patronymica Britannica’ written in 1838-1860;
  • A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames’ written in 1872-1896; and
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland’ published in 2016

All three of these books (and others like them) state along the lines that the origin of the surname Anstey ‘derives in around the 16th century from any of the ten places in England called Ansty or Anstey‘. This is WRONG WRONG WRONG, as we show on pages 30-40 of our first book Anstey: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry.

In fact, as we show in Chapter One of Anstey: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry, the correct origin of our surname is that:

  • The surname ‘Anstey’ came into existence in the year 1143 ex nihilo courtesy of a gentleman called Hubert de Anstey;
  • This is the one and only time that the surname ‘Anstey’ originated;
  • All Ansteys who lived pre-1770, as well as anybody with pre-1770 Anstey ancestry in their pedigree, and the overwhelming majority of Ansteys alive today, are direct descendants of Hubert de Anstey.

How long it will take before we can actually get future editions of these authoritative ‘Surname Origin‘ reference books to correct their entries is anybody’s guess. Until we can do that, we will have to live with the fact that most people will continue to have a completely incorrect understanding of the origin of our ‘Anstey’ surname.

Anstey Surname Spelling

This is another potentially confusing aspect of Anstey surname research, but in fact it is quite simple. It is NOT THE CASE that all ‘Anstey’ are one sub-branch, all ‘Anstee’ are a second sub-branch, all ‘Ansty’ are a third sub-branch and all ‘Anstie’ are a fourth sub-branch. Even though surname spellings are fairly fixed now, this was NOT THE CASE a couple of centuries ago, and therefore ALMOST NOTHING about the origin of an Anstey sub-branch can be deduced from its current particular ‘Anstey’ spelling.

A good example of this comes from my own sub-branch, the Stoke Gifford Ansteys, where the spelling is now firmly settled at ‘Anstey’, however that is only since the late 18th century (1777 to be precise). My direct Anstey ancestors before that spelt their surname with various combinations of ‘Ansty’, ‘Anstie’, ‘Anstee’ and ‘Anstye’ (variations occasionally occurring even within the same family unit), as well as in medieval times ‘de Anestie’, ‘de Anstye’, ‘de Anesty’, ‘de Anesti’, and countless others.

In every one of my books (all co-authored with my great granduncle Tom), we have made the following statement:

One thing which is very clear is that all Ansteys, Ansties, Anstees and Anstys pre-1770 are the same family and have the same 12th century surname origin. How individual branches of Ansteys, Ansties, Anstees and Anstys came to have the particular spellings they have today is fascinating and well worthy of genealogical study, but the reason is likely to be found to be some random name spelling in some random document entered by some random clerk at some point in the past that simply stuck as the spelling for subsequent generations of that sub-branch.”

As such, throughout this project, we use the spelling ‘Anstey’ as the generic spelling of our surname, and generally speaking it can be read as ‘Anstey, Anstee, Ansty or Anstie’, though of course this will not be the case for specific sub-branches where the spelling is now settled.

The Three Types of Ansteys

With the issues of origin and spellings of our Anstey surname now dealt with, there are basically three ‘types’ of Ansteys, namely:

The distinctions are important because

  • Those descendent from Hubert de Anstey AND descendent from the Cambridgeshire Ansteys get the ‘full Anstey package’ (ie they form part of the Anstey ancestral pedigree that stretches back to 1143 AND they have the right to bear the coat of arms Or, a cross engrailed between four martlets gules‘);
  • Those descendent from Hubert de Anstey but NOT descendent from the Cambridgeshire Ansteys get the ‘half Anstey package’ (ie they form part of the Anstey ancestral pedigree that stretches back to 1143 but they DO NOT have the right to bear the coat of armsOr, a cross engrailed between four martlets gules‘);
  • Those NOT descendent from Hubert de Anstey OR the Cambridgeshire Ansteys, whilst of course still ‘Anstey’, DO NOT form part of the Anstey ancestral pedigree that stretches back to 1143, and they DO NOT have the right to bear the coat of armsOr, a cross engrailed between four martlets gules‘ (see ‘Ansteys Evolved From Anstis‘);

How do you know which type of ‘Anstey’ you are, I hear you ask? Basically, if you are an ‘Anstey’ (or ‘Anstie’, ‘Anstee’, ‘Ansty’ etc), or you have an ‘Anstey’ (or ‘Anstie’, ‘Anstee’, ‘Ansty’ etc) in your ancestral family tree, then you need to trace that ancestral line back until it connects into one of the many known Anstey sub-branches (see below). One of the purposes of this project is to provide a resource for Ansteys and Anstey descendants to be able to do this with relative ease.

Anstey Sub-Branches

Once your immediate Anstey sub-branch is connected back to one of the many known Anstey sub-branches, then hey presto you can suddenly massively expand your ancestral tree, because many more ancient Anstey sub-branch connections are already well-known (see Principal Anstey Sub-Branches for more on this). For example, in my particular case:

All of the above pedigrees/sub-branches have been thoroughly researched by me and my great granduncle Tom; many other Anstey sub-branches are known in similar detail. Hopefully over time, all of this ‘Anstey’ sub-branch knowledge can be centralised in this project and the Anstey family jigsaw can become ever more complete.

Research Rules

  • We do not involve ourselves with research involving living or recently deceased Ansteys
  • All research uploaded to the ‘Anstey Story’ project must be sourced ie it must have some form of documentary evidence backing up its claims.
  • 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.

How Can You Help?

We are always happy to add reliable Anstey surname and/or sub-branch research to the ‘Anstey Story’ project. Please contact us at research@theansteystory.com if you are interested in sharing your Anstey findings or participating in this project as an Anstey researcher.

See How Can You Help? and Project Updates for the various ‘hot topic’ appeals, research threads and ideas currently ongoing in this project.

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