Robert Anstey (b 1760)

by Gary. M. Ansteychief researcher of the Anstey story project.

Robert Anstey, a member of the Blewbury Ansteys, was born in 1760 in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire to parents Christopher Anstey (the famous 18th century poet) and Ann Calvert. He was educated at Eton and went on to study at Cambridge University.

In around 1780, Robert joined the 23rd Regiment of the Light Dragoons, led by Colonel Sir John Burgoyne, and in early 1782 they proceeded on board either the ship ‘Ceres‘ or ‘Royal Henry‘ to India “for the protection and defence of the possessions of the East India Company“, arriving later in 1782.

In 1786 the 23rd Regiment of the Light Dragoons was renumbered the 19th Regiment of the Light Dragoons. Around the same time Robert was promoted from ‘Cornet’ (Second Lieutenant) to Lieutenant. In March 1791 Robert was further promoted to Captain Lieutenant. Then in April 1791 at St Swithin’s Church in Walcot near Bath, Robert married Lucretia, a lady of the Holy Roman Empire and widow of William Light.

The couple returned to India in May 1791 (we know this because in 1792 there was a “Complaint by Capt. Robert Anstey of ill-treatment of troops on board by Capt. William Smith of the Company’s ship ‘Dublin’” – this ship had sailed from England in May 1791, presumably with Robert and his bride aboard, arriving in Madras in August 1791). Whilst in India, Robert and Lucretia had a child who died. Robert left his regiment in 1793, and by 1794 the couple were back in England, where Lucretia died later that year in Tiverton, Devon.

The big question is therefore what role did Robert play (if any) in the Third Anglo-Mysore War in India between 1790 and 1792. Robert’s regiment was certainly heavily involved, indeed their actions are well documented in Chapter Four: ‘War With Tippoo 1790‘ of the book ‘The Nineteenth and Their Times‘ by John Biddulph. However, it is very unclear whether Robert was actively involved in the conflict, given that he was certainly in England for at least part of it. Research continues on this point.

In any case, Robert later remarried to Louisa Cane in 1796 in Bath; by this time he was living at Canon’s Leigh House in Devon. His later military service was serving under the Loyal Tarbert Fencible Infantry, which was set up by Sir Edward Leslie, 1st Baronet in 1798. Robert was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1799, however the regiment was short-lived and disbanded in 1802. Robert later worked as Deputy Chairman of the Bath Committee, National Benevolent Institution.

Robert died in 1818; he is buried at St Swithin’s Church in Walcot near Bath.

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