Walter James Anstey (b 1889)

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

Walter James Anstey, sometimes known as James, a member of the Tiverton Ansteys, was born on 18 April 1889 in Bridgwater to parents James Anstey and Ann Meaker. The family became poverty stricken and by 1901 Walter was a “pauper aged 12” in the Bridgwater Union Workhouse. Per the below newspaper article, he “joined the former Bridgwater Volunteers as a boy bugler and later they were absorbed by the Territorial Army.”

By the 1911 Census Walter was an unmarried dairyman boarding at 29 Mount Street, Bridgwater. Then on 24 September 1911 he married Mary Rebecca Durant at St Mary’s Church, Bridgwater and they had two children in Bridgwater Florence Ethel Anstey (b 1912, married and living at Ashcott in 1961 – see below) and Gladys Lilian Anstey (b 21 October 1914, married and living at Ashcott in 1961 – see below).

Walter served during World War One as ‘James Anstey‘, though we only have sporadic details of his war story. We know that:

  • Per the below newspaper article, “During the First World War he served abroad with the Somerset Light Infantry, ending his Army career as a bugle-major“; 
  • Adding to this, we know that served with the Somerset Light Infantry under Service Number 295583, first a Private and by 1919 a Corporal with the 12th Battalion;
  • He was awarded the Victory and British War medals, as well as a Territorial Force War Medal (Somerset Light Infantry); and
  • The ‘Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser‘ on 15 October 1919 reported “Territorial Forces Efficiency Medal. The following members of the West Somerset Yeomanry have been awarded the Territorial Efficiency Medal: – … Bridgwater – Corpl. J. Anstey

By the 1921 Census Walter was back living in Bridgwater with his family and at the time of the 1939 Register they were at 34 Market Street, Bridgwater where Walter was a farm worker (general).

The ‘Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser‘ on 30 September 1961 adds further details to his life: “Shapwick Couple’s Jubilee – the days when coal was 1s 2d a cwt were recalled by Mr and Mrs Walter Anstey of 1 High Street Shapwick, who celebrated their golden wedding on Sunday. Married at St Mary’s Church Bridgwater they lived for many years in Market Street and ten years ago moved to Shapwick to be nearer their married daughters who live at Ashcott. Looking back on the earlier years of his marriage, Mr Anstey recalled coal being 1s 2d a cwt but considered the most striking differences were in the change of food prices. Mr Anstey joined the former Bridgwater Volunteers as a boy bugler and later they were absorbed by the Territorial Army. During the First World War he served abroad with the Somerset Light Infantry, ending his Army career as a bugle-major. After the War he returned to farm work at Horsey for nearly 30 years before his retirement seven years ago.

Walter died in 1980 in Taunton Deane, Somerset.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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