William Lake Anstey, a member of the Devonport Ansteys, was born in 1818 in Devonport St Budeaux, Plymouth to parents James Anstey and Ann Wills. He is an elder brother of John Saunders Anstey and Simeon Bishop Anstey. In his early adulthood William was a painter, then in November 1836 in London, he joined the 38th Regiment of Foot (South Staffordshire Regiment) as a Private (Service Number 1254) . William was promoted to Corporal in May 1837; then to Sergeant in August 1839; then to Quarter Master Sergeant in April 1853 (in 1851 William was a Colour Sergeant at Chester Castle).
On 27 May 1857, William (still a Quarter Master Sergeant) was discharged from the 38th Regiment of Foot after over 20 years of active service, being “unfit for further military service [due to] chronic liver disease“. Of those 20 years, he had served abroad for just over 7 years, being in Zante, Ionian Islands (over 2 years from 1840 to 1843); Gibraltar (nearly 3 years from 1843 to 1845); Jamaica (6 months in 1845); Turkey (4 months) and Crimea (18 months from 1854). His Discharge Report further indicates that William was “in possession of a [silver] medal with annuity of twenty pounds for Distinguished Conduct in the field” which was granted in April 1855 during the Crimean War (1853-1856). This achievement was also reported in The Gazette on 2 June 1869.
William fought at the Battle of Alma in September 1854; the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854 and the Siege of Sevastopol (Winter 1854) during the Crimean War. It is unclear in precisely which of these battles he won the medal for Distinguished Conduct – nor is it known precisely what heroics he performed to gain the medal.
After leaving the Army, William married Catherine Murphy in Dublin, Ireland in August 1857, and by 1871 they had returned to England, living at the Artillery Barracks in Heavitree, Exeter where William was a “Branch Sergeant“. By 1891 he was an “Army Pensioner” living in Exminster. William died on 20 November 1898 and was buried at St Martins Church in Exminster, aged 80.
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