Henry Charles Anstey (b 1875)

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

Many thanks to Vincent Duggleby for his contribution to this biography.

Henry Charles Anstey, known as Charlie, a member of the Stoke Gifford Ansteys, was born in December 1875 in Bristol to parents Henry Anstey of Bristol and Louisa Agate. Charlie was second cousin to T. J. Anstey (Tom), one of the chief researchers of the Anstey story project., and they knew each other very well. Charlie grew up in Bristol, attending Bristol Grammar School in 1889, then in 1897 he joined the Volunteer Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment 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, Charlie married Edith Spornburg Furber in Bristol.

In early 1901, Charlie 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 (1899-1902). Charlie 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, Charlie 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…

Charlie 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 ‘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 Expeditionary Force.

Charlie fought in World War One, entering the France Theatre of War in August 1915, winning the Victory, British War and 1914/15 Star 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 research@theansteystory.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 Charlie was Staff Lieutenant, 1st Class., 3 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (temp). After the war ended, and certainly by 1921, Charlie set up ‘Anstey & Co Solicitors‘, based at 30 Essex Street W. C. 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).

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, Charlie was described as a “married solicitor“, staying at the St Regis Hotel in Westminster.

Charlie died in 1960 – 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 1960Notice of claim to be given by 7 June 1960 to Coutts & Co, 440 Strand, London WC2 (Coutts and Co and Dorothy Anstey)“.

Charlie was buried on 18 March 1960 at Godlingston Cemetery, Swanage, headstone inscription “Colonel retired“. His widow Dorothy died in 1972 at Christchurch, Bournemouth.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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