George Henry Anstee (b 1856)

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

George Henry Anstee, a member of the Chewton Mendip Ansteys, was born on 6 October 1856 in Stanton Drew to parents William Anstee and Matilda Smith. He grew up living at Bromleigh Farm, Bromleigh Road, Stanton Drew (in 1861) and by the 1871 Census he was living with his family at Primitive Methodist Chapel, High Littleton, Clutton.

In 1881 “THE ELECTRIC LIGHT FOR BRISTOL. Mr. George Anstee, of Totterdown, has shown us his plan for lighting portions of the city by means of electricity at a very trivial cost. 

On 29 October 1885 George married Clara Wyld at St John the Baptist Church in Bedminster – at the time of his marriage he was an engineer living at St Luke’s Road. They had two children George Henry Anstee (b 1887 Barton Regis, baptised in 1895 in Bristol – see below) and Gertrude Kate Anstee (b 1891 Barton Regis, also baptised in 1895 in Bristol – living at 173 Stapleton Road, Bristol in the 1911 Census).

In 1891 the family were living at St Agnes Road, Barton Regis, then in 1898 George decided to emigrate to South Africa without his family – certainly in the 1901 Census Clara and her son George were still living at 86, Ashley Road, Bristol.

The ‘Bristol Mercury‘ on 6 March 1900 gives us a wonderfully detailed story of George’s experience in South Africa, including a stint fighting in the Second Boer War. It states “Another Letter from the Front: Mr A. Adams [George’s brother in law] foreman at the Whitson Depot of the Bristol Tramways Company has received a letter from a relative of his, Mr G. H. Anstee, who writes from the Military Hospital at Pietermaritzburg. G. H. Anstee, who is a mechanic and was formerly a traveller for Messrs Llewellyn and James, Castle Green, removed to Johannesburg in October 1898 and when hostilities began, and the mines, in connection with which he held a good appointment, were closed, Mr Anstee volunteered into Thorneycroft’s Mounted Infantry. When wounded he was in hospital at Mooi River, from which place he writes. He says – ‘I doubt you have by this time got over the astonishment at my joining the Army. Well I have had three months at the front. I have fought in three battles and have joined in one bayonet charge and thank God I have only got a bullet through my right wrist. It is marvellous how it went through without smashing my wrist. The first battle I was engaged in was Mooi River when only three of the T. M. I. were killed and wounded. The next was at Colenso 13th December when 47 T. M. I. were killed and wounded. The next was January 25th at Spion Kop when I took part in a bayonet charge at night and fought in a deadly battle all next day when 138 were killed and wounded. So you see my regiment is smashed up. We are now sent back from the front and I don’t expect we shall be so prominent again in the fighting line. I joined purely out of patriotism. I wanted to be in battle but I did not expect such a dose. My health has been splendid right through but I assure you I never valued a gun and good horse so much as I have since joining the T. M. I. I expect to be released on the Army reaching Pretoria. Up to now I shall have medals and bars, if nothing else“.

All we can add to the above is that George’s Service Number with Thorneycroft’s Mounted Infantry was #7130 and that he was wounded at Spion Kop on 25 January 1900 – hence his letter from the hospital.

It is somewhat uncertain what happened to George next, though we know that by 1911 he had returned to England and separated from his wife because in the 1911 Census Clara and her son George (Junior) were still living at 86 Ashley Road, Bristol (they were still living together in Bristol in 1921) whereas George (Senior) was living with his mother Matilda Gosby (widow) at 30 Thomas Street St Paul’s Bristol – he was an engine fitter and described as “married/separated“.

Clara died in 1934, still living at 86 Ashley Road, Bristol – probate was to her daughter Gertrude. The next we hear of George (Senior) is when he died on 26 December 1937, at the time living at 3 Bushey Grove, Totterdown, Bristol – probate was also to his daughter Gertrude “spinster” (who incidentally died in 1958 in Bristol, still a spinster).

George (Senior) had clearly accumulated a nice portfolio of properties in Totterdown because the ‘Western Daily Press‘ on 12 March 1938 reported “Estate of GEORGE ANSTEE, Deceased, Lots 1 to 5. Estate of G. H. ANSTEE, Deceased. Lot 6. Totterdown, Bedminster, and Newfoundland Road. Mr A. Victor Osmond will SELL by AUCTION at the Bush Hotel Totterdown on WEDNESDAY, March 23, 1938…[numerous dwelling houses in Bushy Park, Bushy Grove, King Street, Princess Street, and Albion Street]

George Henry Anstee (Junior) had a rather sad end to his life. The ‘Western Daily Press‘ on 2 October 1909 reported “BETTING RAID AT BEDMINSTER, Benjamin Rudge, 42, was charged with having, on September 30th and other days during the past six months, kept a shop No. 17, White house Street, as a betting house. George Anstey. 22, was charged with using it for the purposes of betting, and Wm. Ridler, 22, was charged with being found there for the purposes of betting. Mr. Tyrell from the Town Clerk’s Office, prosecuted; Mr. F.E Metcalfe defended Rudge, and Mr. E.J Watson defended Anstey. Mr. Tyrell stated that Rudge was the occupier of No. 17, Whitehouse Street, where he carried on a boot-repairing business. Observations were kept on the shop, with the result that men women, and boys were seen there, most of them just going, into the shop and out again, and only a few carried boots: Among the persons who went there on several occasions were the two defendants Anstey and Ridler. When the police searched the premises warrant the three defendants were there. They found close by the defendant Anstey an envelope addressed, George Anstey, Esq. Ashley Road, BristoL’ cards relating to foot ball betting, a list of matches to be played on Saturday, and two betting slips to horses running on Thursday. On Ridler were found betting slips, Three betting football cards, and a sporting paper.“.

He married Eleanor Bunce in 1923 in Bristol – they had daughters Marguerite E. Anstee (b 1924 Bristol) and Cynthia E. Anstee (b 1926 Bristol). He then committed suicide in 1927 – the ‘Western Daily Press‘ on 26 July 1927 reporting “To Hurry Matters Along – an Uphill Invalid who Thought he must Die. An inquest was held in Bristol yesterday on a General Hospital patient who committed suicide under the delusion that he would never recover. He was George Henry Anstee (39) of Gwendolen Villa, Beach Road, Uphill, Weston Super Mare and was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday. His leg was amputated on Friday. Dr Griffiths said that on Saturday evening Anstee cut his throat with a razor with which he had shaved the previous evening, and which he had concealed under a pillow. Asked why he did it, Anstee replied that he was going to die anyway in two or three days and just wanted to hurry matters along. The man was not delirious but be had an obsession that his leg was going to fester and that though the leg had been amputated his life would not be saved. There was actually no wound at all on the leg, which was amputated for old infantile paralysis. Anstee died on the Sunday morning. A verdict of suicide while of unsound mind was returned“.

In the 1939 Register George (Junior)’s widow Eleanor and two children were living at Aberdeen Road, Bristol.

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