by Gary. M. Anstey, chief researcher of the Anstey story project.
See ‘Anstey: A Complete History From the Norman Invasion to World War One‘ for much more on the Stoke Gifford Ansteys. In addition to biographies of various Anstey individuals who make up this sub-branch, the book contains a plethora of Anstey research and statistics, including an analysis of how the Stoke Gifford Ansteys fit into the pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anesti, the 12th century originator of the ‘Anstey’ surname.
SG 32. Henry Charles Anstey: Known as Charlie, he was born in December 1875 in Bristol to parents Henry Anstey (SG 23) of Bristol and Louisa Agate. He was second cousin to Tom (SG 30), one of the chief researchers of the Anstey story project, and they knew each other very well. He grew up in Bristol, attending Bristol Grammar School in 1889, then in 1897 he joined the Volunteer Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment (aka 1st Bristol Volunteers) as a 2nd Lieutenant .
Soon after this, he began working as a solicitor at Canada House, Baldwin Street in Bristol, having been admitted as a lawyer in November 1898. In March 1899, he married Edith Spornburg Furber in Bristol.
In early 1901, he was promoted to Lieutenant in the 5th Royal Warwickshire Regiment 3rd Battalion Militia and later that year (on 2 December 1901) he became a ‘full time’ Army Officer, thence set off to fight in the Second Boer War. He returned on 29 September 1902 on the ‘SS Briton‘ following the end of the conflict, receiving a medal with clasp ‘Cape Colony 1902‘, and returning to his part time Army status.
By 1904 Charlie, by now a Captain, was working as a solicitor at Broad Street Chambers, 52 Broad Street, Bristol. He continued to train with the Army Reserves for at least 25 days per year each year from 1903 to 1909, sometimes at Budbrook Barracks. In the 1911 Census he was described as a “Solicitors Officer Special Reserves” visiting Orange Grove in Bath with his wife Edith.
Just before the outbreak of World War One in 1914, he divorced his wife because she had run off to Colombo with a lover. The divorce was reported in ‘The Times‘ newspaper, the article beginning:
“A Solicitor’s Petition: ANSTEY v. ANSTEY AND DUDLEY. In this undefended divorce case Henry Charles Anstey petitioned for the dissolution of his marriage with Edith Spornberg Anstey on the ground of her adultery with Campbell Dudley. Mr. W. O. WILLIS said that the petitioner and respondent were married on March 14, 1899, at St. Stephen’s Church, Bristol; there were no children of the marriage. The petitioner was a solicitor, and carried on business at first in Bristol and later in London. In October 1912, the co-respondent’s father, an old friend of the petitioner, asked the latter to befriend his son on his return to England after eight years’ absence, and the co-respondent became a visitor to the house…“
He remarried almost immediately, this time to Yvonne Eugenie Petronille de La Chappelle in Hanover Square London on 20 Nov 1914 (at which time he was a solicitor in Holburn, Bank Chambers 329).
Charlie has the honour of having the first ‘Anstey war related’ mention in a newspaper after the outbreak of hostilities – the ‘Clifton and Redland Free Press‘ 14 August 1914 reporting “Capt. H. C. Anstey (5th Warwicks), solicitor, and son of Alderman Henry Anstey, is with the Bristol [British?] Expeditionary Force.“
He fought in World War One, entering the France Theatre of War in August 1915, being awarded the 1914/15 Star, Victory and British War medals. His World War One Service Record is held at the National Archives, reference “WO 339/9550 – Captain Henry Charles ANSTEY – The Royal Warwickshire Regiment“, however it has not yet been digitised and can only be viewed by visiting Kew. Anybody who has access to this source, please contact us at email@example.com.
According to the ‘Western Daily Press‘ newspaper dated 18 September 1915, we find a “Promotion for Captain Anstey: Captain H.C. Anstey who has been on active service from the commencement of the war, has been given a Divisional Staff appointment with the British Expeditionary Force in France. Captain Anstey is the only son of Alderman [Henry] Anstey.“
One of the roles that Charlie performed under this appointment was that of ‘Military Representative at the House of Commons’ (and later ‘National Service Representative’), arguing and appealing against ‘exemption from military service’ cases, which were normally held at the London Appeal Tribunal at the House of Commons. The first such case we find reported was in March 1916 where, per the ‘Westminster Gazette‘ “an ostrich feather dyer appealed [for an exemption from military service] for his two sons, aged 20 and 22, and pointed out that they were indispensable as the business depended on a secret process. Twenty other firms, employing between 1,500 and 2,000 hands, depended upon their business continuing…Captain Anstey, the military representative, asked if it was contended that it was of national importance that ladies should continue to wear ostrich feathers in their hats…“
Well over a hundred such appeal cases mentioning Charlie were reported in newspapers over the following two years or so; the last one we find was in March 1918. The ‘Westminster Gazette‘ reported on 30 April 1918 that “Captain Anstey, who acted as military representative at the House of Commons Tribunal almost since its inception, and later as National Service representative, is voluntarily resigning that position in order to rejoin the Army. Captain Anstey has already seen service in the present war, and he also served for two and a half years during the South Africa campaign“.
The ‘Horfield and Bishopston Record’ added on 10 May 1918 that “Captain Anstey, son of Alderman Anstey of Bristol, Military representative at the House of Commons tribunal, is voluntarily resigning to rejoin the Army“.
By September 1918 he was Staff Lieutenant, 1st Class., 3 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (temp). After the war ended, and certainly by 1921, he set up ‘Anstey & Co Solicitors‘, based at 30 Essex Street W. C. The ‘Clifton and Redland Free Press‘ 1 September 1921 reported “Captain H. C. Anstey, who joined the 1st Bristol Volunteers in 1897 and who saw active service in both the Boer and recent wars, has retired owing to ill-health“.
In 1923, his wife Yvonne died of pulmonary tuberculosis, cardiac failure, so in 1925 in St George Hanover Square he remarried to Dorothy Page (b 1893). From 1926 to 1929 they were residing at 4 Bridge View Maidenhead in Berkshire according to Electoral Registers – where he was referred to as ‘Harry Charles Anstey’.
By 1924 he was a Major – the ‘Liverpool Echo‘ on 22 November 1927 reported “A DECAYED TOOTH. Mr. Justice Salter asked what was the matter with the lady? Mr. Watts.–We say she simply had a bad mouth caused by a decayed tooth. The doctor told her to go to a dentist, and went there himself when gas was given. But the serious thing is that the doctor advised that she should undergo a private examination by him, and said there was no necessity to go to a nursing home or have a nurse present; that she should be examined in the flat, where she was alone and no servant present. When Major Anstey returned at home from France and the doctor advised, he wrote to him and said he was never to attend his wife again and demanded an explanation of these facts. I am applying to have this action transferred to the High Court. Justice Salter.–The lady knew what was wrong with her, , and knew the advice she received. Why did she want further particulars? SIX VISITS TO FLAT. Mr. Watts.-She says the doctor has only attended her for a bad mouth, owing to decayed teeth, and there could have been no reason for this private examination. I want to tie him down as to whether he was attending her for anything other than the bad mouth. If he has only , been attending her for a bad mouth there would have been no necessity there would have been for him to go there six or seven times. Mr Justice Salter, -Six were visits to her flat?-Yes. Mr. Justice Salter said he thought the county court judge was right. There were ample particulars given. If doctors were called upon to expound and give particulars of each visit they could never carry on the business of their profession. The application would be dismissed. Justice Talbot concurred. Before Justices Salter and Talbot, in the King’s Bench, today, Mr. J. H. Watts, on behalf of Mrs. Dorothy Anstey, the wife of Major Anstey of Maidenhead, applied ex parte for leave to appeal against the order of the judge of the Windsor County Court, who refused to sanction on order for Dr. R. R. Foote, of Maidenhead. to supply further and better particulars of professional attention. Mr. Watts said the claim was for three guineas medical attendance, and Mrs Anstey asked for particulars of the claim and was given them.“.
Charlie continued to run ‘Anstey & Co Solicitors‘, located at Panton House 25 Haymarket between 1923 and 1936 and 58 Grosvenor Street Mayfair between 1941 and 1954. At the time of the 1939 Register, he was described as a “married solicitor“, staying at the St Regis Hotel in Westminster.
He died in 1960, having had no children with any of his wives – his death was reported in ‘The Gazette‘, which noted that he was living at 1 Seymer Place, Swannage, Dorset, a “retired solicitor [who] died 14 March 1960…Notice of claim to be given by 7 June 1960 to Coutts & Co, 440 Strand, London WC2 (Coutts and Co and Dorothy Anstey)“.
He was buried on 18 March 1960 at Godlingston Cemetery, Swanage, headstone inscription “Colonel retired“. His widow Dorothy died in 1972 at Christchurch, Bournemouth.
[Additional Note from a descendant alive today: “he lost a lot of money gambling and lived way beyond his means. The family recollection is that his father Henry [SG 23] bailed him out to the tune of several thousand pounds and then disowned him. Charlie’s second wife is particularly interesting, Yvonne Eugenie Petronille de la Chapelle, born 1893 in France and daughter of Jean Joseph Xavier Alfred de Morton Compte de la Chapelle (1830-1914), an ‘adventurer extraordinaire’ who travelled the world, got involved in the American and Australian gold rushes as well as several wars. Henry died in Dorset on 14 March 1960; he had no children so the line became extinct.”]
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