John Anstee, a member of the Flamstead Anstees, was born on 13 December 1883 in Harpenden to parents Thomas Anstee and Sarah Reid. He was brother to fellow Anstey Hero George Anstee, growing up living at Harpenden Common, Harpenden. He attended Harpenden British School where in 1896 he received a prize of a silver watch and chain for “never having missed a day’s school in five years“.
In November 1899, aged only 16 and a labourer by trade, John joined the Royal Navy as a “Boy 2nd Class“, serving on ‘HMS St Vincent‘ (a training ship for boys) in Haslar, Hampshire. Then on his 18th birthday (13 December 1901) he signed up for a period of twelve years as an Ordinary Seaman (Service Number: 207080). At the time of the 1911 Census John was an ‘Able Seaman’ visiting the Unicorn Road And Stoke Street Landport Portsmouth.
After serving on numerous ships, on 13 December 1913 he re-signed up for another twelve years – by this time he was a Petty Officer (Able Seaman).
At the outbreak of World War One, John was serving on HMS Victory (I) as a Leading Seaman. He immediately transferred to HMS Agincourt, on which he served throughout the war – the ship spent the bulk of her time on patrols and exercises, although she did participate in the Battle of Jutland in 1916. On 12 February 1917 John received “Traced? medal“, presumably for his services in the Battle of Jutland – he also received a ‘War Gratuity’ at war’s end.
Just after the end of the war, John married Olive Rose Carter in q1 1919 in Luton and they had a son Jack Anstee (b 1921 Portsmouth). Officially in 1919 John was registered as a voter at Hempstead Road, Redbourn together with his nephews Owen George Anstee and Harold Anstee, though the Electoral Register indicates that he was “a – RN” (“absent military or naval voter currently serving in the Armed Forces”) at this time.
This continued to be the case right up to 1927 (presumably now no longer with the Royal Navy), by which time he was indicated as ‘actually residing’ at Hempstead Road, Redbourn with his brother George Anstee and his family. However by 1928 he was no longer deemed residing with his brother – he was presumably with his wife and son. Certainly this was the case in the 1939 Register where John was a caretaker at Prudential Chambers, living at 111 Ashburnham Road, Luton together with his wife Olive and their son Jack.
John died in 1953 in Luton – the ‘Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle‘ on 16 April 1953 noting “Mr John Anstee of 111 Ashburnham Road, Luton, who died on February 18 left 1,705 gross – probate has been granted to his widow Mrs Olive R. Anstee of the same address, the sole executrix“. His widow Olive died in Luton in 1973.
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