George Anstee (b 1877)

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

George Anstee, a member of the Barnet Anstees, was born in q1 1877 in Union Street, Barnet to either father Charles Thomas Anstee or mother Jane Anstee.

[Note: It is unclear which of these two siblings was his biological parent. In his October 1899 Attestation Form for the Lincolnshire Militia he noted his next of kin as his “Mother Mrs Jane Anstee 28 Union Street, High Barnet” and a couple of months later in the December 1899 Attestation Form for the Royal Field Artillery he noted his next of kin as his “Father Charles Anstee, 28 Union Street High Barnet“.]

Either way, he was brought up by neither of them because in the 1881 Census he was living with his grandfather John Silston and uncle Arthur John Anstee at 40, Union Street, South Mimms, and by the 1891 Census he was living at Barnet Union Workhouse in Union Lane, Barnet.

Very soon after this, George moved to Grimsby to serve a five year apprenticeship with the ‘Grimsby Ice Company‘, training to become a fisherman. The ‘Lincolnshire Chronicle‘ 30 November 1894 edition reported “FISHING APPRENTICES.–At the Borough Police-court on Monday, George Anstee. from the Barnet Union, a fishing apprentice to the Great Grimsby Ice Company, was charged with disobeying orders by neglecting to go to sea, in the smack Robin Hood, on the 13th inst.—The lad pleaded guilty.— The company’s agent said the defendant absconded, and took with him three other lads, who had not yet been apprehended. -Defendant had nothing to say to the magistrates, and he was committed for one month’s hard labour.“.

Then on 21 December 1899, he decided to join the Army, signing up in Lincoln for twelve years of service. On his Attestation Form George noted that he was a “fisherman aged 20 years 11 months born in High Barnet and Church of England“, and that he was already serving with the 3rd Lincoln Regiment Militia (which he had joined on 24 October 1899 in Lincoln).

George was posted to the Royal Field Artillery (Service Number: 2650) and to say that his service was somewhat tumultuous is a bit of an understatement. After joining his unit in Woolwich on 23 December 1899 he:

  • Deserted at Woolwich 2 April 1900 – he was caught within a couple of days and “held at a Bedfordshire gaol as a deserter awaiting escort
  • Rejoined his unit awaiting trial 7 April 1900
  • Tried and convicted of desertion 24 April 1900 with “all former service forfeited on conviction of desertion
  • Imprisoned for 28 days as punishment for desertion 24 April 1900 – 22 May 1900
  • To duty as a Driver 22 May 1900
  • Committed Crime 18 June 1900
  • Imprisoned by C. O. 19 June 1900
  • To duty as a Driver 29 June 1900
  • Committed Crime and awaiting trial 2 July 1900
  • Tried and imprisoned 10 July 1900 for 42 days
  • To duty as a Driver 21 August 1900

After this, matters calmed down somewhat and George actually served with the Royal Field Artillery for a total of nearly three years, being:

  • Home – from 21 December 1899 to 5 December 1900
  • India – from 6 December 1900 to 28 November 1902
  • Home – from 29 November 1902 to 30 December 1902

George was eventually discharged on 30 December 1902 at Netley as being “medically unfit for further service” due to being “invalided home” from India because of an injury picked up whilst there (“rupture of muscles in right groin on 2 April 1902 whilst on duty“). His character throughout his service had been deemed “indifferent“, though on the plus side “he has had no entry for drunkenness during his service“.

At the time of his discharge he was with the 51st Battery of the Royal Field Artillery – he intended to return to Grimsby to resume his trade of fisherman.

We cannot locate George in the 1911 Census and the next we see of him is at the outbreak of World War One when he signed up for active service at Shepherd’s Bush on 25 September 1914. On his Attestation Form he wrote that he was 34 years old; that he was unmarried; that he was a “fisherman born in High Barnet“; and bizarrely that he had never previously served in the Army. He also noted that his next of kin was his “Aunt Mary Ann Silstone, 38 Bell’s Hill High Barnet” who was surely related to his grandfather John Silston.

George was posted to the 22nd (Kensington) Service Battalion Royal Fusiliers (Service Number: 894) as a Private. However a mere 44 days later, on 7 November 1914 at Horsham, he was discharged as being “medically unfit“, but with military character “good“.

After this we lose track of him completely.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, or knows what became of George, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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