William Henry Anstey, a member of the Hampton in Arden Ansteys, was born in q4 1880 (some sources incorrectly say 1878, others say 12 January 1881) in Foleshill to unmarried mother Mary Ann Anstey [Note: William Henry Anstey should not be confused with his first cousin William Thomas Henry Anstey who was also born in 1880 in Foleshill and also died in 1953].
In 1881 Census William was living with his mother Mary Ann Anstey, and his grandparents Thomas Anstey and Mary, at Paradise Grove, Crabmill Lane, Foleshill – ditto the 1891 Census.
He then married Elizabeth Phillips on 21 August 1905 in Coventry, having a son William George Anstey (b 3 October 1905 Coventry – the ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph‘ on 1 February 1921 reported “William Anstey, a youth of 38, Eden Street, who was fined 5s. for riding a cycle without a light, was stated to be afraid to come to the Court.“)
By the 1911 Census William and his family were living at 38 Eden Street Coventry where he was a labourer at a well-sinker. In 1912 per the ‘Coventry Herald‘ “William Anstey, 38 Eden Street [and others] were summoned for playing ‘Banker’ on Stoke Common on Sunday May 5 – he admitted the offence, Defendants were each fined 2s 6d with costs“.
William was not conscripted for active service until quite late in World War One. The ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph‘ on 28 September 1917 reported “Coventry Military Tribunal – Refused Claims: W. H. Anstey aged 37 a spindleman released for services by Messrs Courtaulds Ltd appealed [against his conscription] on domestic grounds stating that his wife was not strong and he was partly supporting his mother and was cultivating a large area of land for himself and another man on service. Claim refused – military to call for service 1 November “
William appealed this ruling on 10 October 1917 and the ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph‘ further reported on 11 October 1917 “TIME TO HARVEST HIS CROPS. Time to get in his garden produce was asked for by William Henry Anstey ([age] 37, [class] A), of 37, Eden Street, Coventry. ‘It has taken me years to get what I have got, and I don’t like to leave it and let it rot,’ he remarked. The Chairman of the Tribunal said it was reasonable and asked how much time he wanted. Applicant: I could do with a couple of months. Chairman: You should have it. The claim [for exemption] will be dismissed but the military wont interfere with you for 56 days.“
In fact William ended up being given 80 days to sort his affairs, because he did not enlist with the Royal Flying Corps until 31 December 1917 as an ‘Air Mechanic Class 3’ (Service Number: 116440) on “Airforce pay:-1s. 6d“. He made his will on 2 February 1918 and was then transferred to the newly created Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918 as a Private.
We have the following further details:
- From B. E. F. to 44 B Sec on 9 April 1918
- From 44 B Sec to 12 B Sec on 22 May 1918
- From 12 B Sec to 2 BW9 on 25 January 1919
- From 2 BW9 to 13 B Sec on 29 January 1919
William was then transferred to ‘G’ Reserve on 26 June 1919 and discharged on 30 April 1920. By the 1921 Census William, his wife Elizabeth, and their son William were back living in Coventry, and by the time of the 1939 Register William was a “widowed market gardener“, still living at 38 Eden Street, Coventry.
William died in 1953 living at 57 Eden Street, “aged 73” – he was buried at Coventry St Pauls Cemetery on 21 July 1953. The ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph‘ on 14 October 1953 reported that William’s son William George Anstey had been “worried by his father’s death” and whilst clearing out 57 Eden Street had thrown away two rusty, obsolete and broken guns (possibly trophies from his World War One service). Two children had asked if they could have them and he gave them permission, an act for which he was fined 20 shillings by magistrates for “giving guns to a child under the age of 14 years“.
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