William Anstee (1873-1917)

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

William Anstee, very likely a Flamstead Anstee, was born in 1873 in Marylebone to parents John Anstee and Margaret Costello (see Research Note below). Unfortunately we cannot locate the 1881 Census, which is a major source of our inability to definitively connect this family into the wider Anstey pedigree, however we know that at some point pre-1891 William became a sailor.

According to the 1891 ‘England & Wales Merchant Navy Crew Lists‘ William was an Ordinary Seaman aboard the ship ‘Bessie‘ from July 1891 to December 1891. His previous ship had been ‘Guiding Star‘, also in 1891.

In March 1899 in Durham, William, a 27 year old sailor, was indicted for “causing wilful damage to two plate glass windows“. He had previously been “twice fined for drunkenness between 1896 and 1899“. A couple of months later, again in Durham, he was indicted for a much more serious offence. The ‘Shields Daily News‘ on 15 July 1899 reported “A Brutal Offence: William Anstee (27) sailor, stood indicted with wounding Rosetta Coppoch, with intent to do grievous bodily harm at South Shields on 12 April. The allegation was that the prisoner, who was a stranger to the prosecutrix, accosted her in the street, and on her refusing to give him the price of a nights lodgings, struck her down and drew a knife across her face, inflicting two wounds, which it was stated would leave a permanent disfigurement. Prisoner alleged provocation which was denied – a verdict of guilty was returned, and prisoner was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment [with hard labour] the judge remarking that he had been guilty of a particularly brutal offence.”

After serving his sentence, William was soon in trouble again – the ‘Shields Daily Gazette‘ on 31 July 1901 reporting “At South Shields to-day, William Anstee, 29, a seaman, lodging at Levy’s boarding house, Nelson’s Bank, was charged with being drunk and disorderly…he was further charged with damaging a plate glass window and assaulting Wm Chubbs, barman” – he was committed for a total of four months.

From July 1906 to December 1906 William was an Able Seaman working aboard the vessel ‘Lord Devon‘ and by the 1911 Census he was again a prisoner in Durham Union Workhouse Prison – described as an unmarried 38 year sailor born in Marylebone.

At some point during World War One William became attached to the Mercantile Marine (Reserve) Regiment (Service Number: 780862). On 19 October 1917 he was an Able Seaman aboard ‘S.S. Hazelwood‘ (a steamer carrying a cargo of coal from Tyne towards Nantes in France to help the war effort) when it was torpedoed east of Portland Bill by a German U-Boat, sinking quickly and losing all 32 men on board, including William.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission William is commemorated at Tower Hill Memorial, where there is additional information “Son of Margaret Anstee (nee Costello), of 8, Hutchison Avenue, Aldgate, London, and the late John Anstee. Born at Marylebone.

For his services William was awarded the British War medal.

Research Note: To the best of our knowledge, Margaret (Margarita) Costello [Castello] was born in c1847 in Cork, Ireland – she was certainly Roman Catholic. She married John Anstee (who we believe was born 1817 in Edlesborough per below) in q1 1869 in Marylebone and they had children in Marylebone and Hampstead:

  • John Joseph Anstee (b 1869 Marylebone, died an infant);
  • Annie [Anna] Margaret Anstee (b 1 September 1871 Marylebone, baptised as Roman Catholic at St Johns Wood Our Lady, Marylebone on 18 October 1871 – died an infant);
  • William Anstee (b 1873 per above);
  • John Anstee (b 14 April 1875 Marylebone, baptised as Roman Catholic at St Johns Wood Our Lady, Marylebone on 11 July 1875 – died an infant?);
  • Frederick Anstee (b 1877 Marylebone);
  • John Anstee (b 1 February 1879 Hampstead, baptised as Roman Catholic at St Johns Wood Our Lady, Marylebone on 23 March 1879, died an infant in Hampstead); and
  • Charles Anstee (b 1880 Hampstead, died early in 1881)

Presumably John Anstee and Margaret Anstee were in Marylebone in the 1871 Census and Hampstead in the 1881 Census though we can currently locate neither document. It is likely that John Anstee died in 1888 in Pancras “aged 72” – if so he was born in c1816, though we need to confirm this via a census etc. Assuming that we are correct, then we can be confident that John Anstee was actually born in 1817 in Edlesborough to father Mathew Anstee, making him a Flamstead Anstee.

Complicating matters however is a John Anstee (b 1817 England) who was buried in Yerba Buena Cemetery (Defunct) San Francisco in 1850 “aged 33“, the ‘Evening Post (New York)‘ reporting on 5 September 1850 “Deaths in Alto, California: By the falling of the earth in this city on 17 July while attending to his duties as well digger – John Anstee of England

We cannot find Margaret Anstee in the 1891 Census. By the 1901 Census Margaret Anstee (widow, born 1848 Cork, Ireland) was a general servant living at 201, High Road, Willesden. By the 1911 Census, still a widow (born 1847 Cork Ireland), she was a servant at 27 New Street, City of London.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, or can locate any of the missing documentation to confirm this research thread, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

%d bloggers like this: