Albert Anstey, a member of the Tarrant Keyneston Anstys, was born on 14 March 1847 (or possibly 1846), baptised 2 May 1847 in Tarrant Keyneston to parents George Anstey and Alicia Elizabeth Adams. He was an agricultural labourer living with his family in Tarrant Keyneston in 1861, then in 1867 both of his parents died within three weeks of each other.
On 12 September 1870 Albert joined the Royal Navy as a ‘Stoker 2nd Class’, signing up for a period of ten years service (Service Number: 15623B). During this time he served on numerous ships for short periods, as well as ‘HMS Serapis‘ from 12 September 1870 to 11 September 1873. Then on 3 August 1880 he signed up for another stint of ten years with the Royal Navy.
In the 1881 Census Albert was a “leading stoker” on the Royal Navy vessel ‘Bacchante‘ which was at that time positioned at Simon’s Bay, Cape Of Good Hope. The vessel ‘Bacchante‘ is particularly interesting because while he was serving on it, none other than two of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren, Prince Albert Victor, known as ‘Eddy’ and Prince George (later to be King George (V)), were also aboard.
According to ‘George V: Never a Dull Moment‘ by Jane Ridley, “at 10am on 10 September 1880, Eddy and George, smartly dressed in midshipmen’s uniforms, departed on their most testing voyage so far in ‘Bacchante’ – a two year world cruise…After the squadron had crossed the Atlantic to the Falkland Islands, the plan to round Cape Horn and make for the Galapagos Islands was interrupted by news of the outbreak of the First Boer War in South Africa, where the Boers of Transvaal rebelled against British rule. The Bacchante was ordered to the Cape…after six weeks at anchor off the Cape the Bacchante set sail for Australia, returning via Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Ceylon and the Suez Canal…”
Other sources state that the ‘Bacchante‘ was “briefly of assistance in the First Boer War“, and Albert’s Service Record does contain a note stating “wfor? Medal 13 May 1881” – whether that is connected to the First Boer War we are not yet sure.
We can be fairly certain that Albert joined the ‘Bacchante‘ on 10 September 1880 along with the two princes (though presumably having a much different maritime experience), and we can also be confident that he remained with the ‘Bacchante‘ for the duration of the two year voyage. Newspapers reported in June 1881 that “Albert Anstey [was] leading stoker of the Bacchante“.
Whether he was still on the ‘Bacchante‘ in 1885 when it took part in the Third Anglo-Burmese War, we have not yet conclusively established – research continues.
On 25 November 1890, Albert signed up for a third stint with the Royal Navy, this time for a period of five years, still a “leading stoker” (Service Number: 43298 and previously 15.623).
After his discharge from the Royal Navy, presumably in 1895, we believe that Albert married Eliza Horsley (b 1837 Fakenham) in 1897 in Walsingham, Norfolk and in the 1901 Census they were living at Bridge Street, Fakenham, Walsingham where Albert was a confectioner & greengrocer.
[Research Note: Even though the 1901 Census states “William Anstey” rather than ‘Albert Anstey’ we are quietly confident that this is an error as everything else fits perfectly – plus there were VERY few Ansteys in Norfolk in the early 1900s]
By the 1911 Census Albert was a widower and ‘Navy pensioner‘ boarding at Fakenham, Colkirk, Norfolk with his sister Eliza Jane Nobes and her family – he was still living with them in the 1921 Census. Albert died in 1925 in Mitford, Norfolk.
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