John Saunders Anstey (b 1820)

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

John Saunders Anstey, a member of the Devonport Ansteys, was born in 1820 in St Budeaux, Devonport, Plymouth, baptised on 17 September 1820, to parents James Anstey and Ann Wills – he was brother to William Lake Anstey and Simeon Bishop Anstey.

On 5 August 1839 John decided to join the Army – at the time of his enlistment he was working as a servant. He was initially posted to the 46th Regiment of Foot as a Private (Service Number: 1425) but then in May 1840 he was transferred to the 38th Regiment of Foot (1st South Staffordshire Regiment – Service Number: 1972).

John served a total of 21 years in the Army, of which over fifteen years was abroad, consisting of:

  • Mediterranean – nearly three years from 1840 to 1843 (he was in Zante, Ionian Islands in 1841);
  • Gibraltar – just over two years from 1843 to 1845;
  • Jamaica – just over two years from 1845 to 1848;
  • North America – just over three years (Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1848 to 1851);
  • Turkey – six months in 1854;
  • Crimea – two years from 1854 to 1857;
  • East Indies – just over two years from 1857 to 1859

During the Crimean War John fought in the Battle of Alma in September 1854; the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854; and the Siege of Sevastopol in Winter 1854. In India he took part in the Capture of Lucknow in March 1858, part of the Indian Rebellion.

John was discharged at Camp Colchester on 20 August 1860 “at his own request, having served 21 years, [with intention] to reside in Reigate, Surrey“. According to his Discharge Report “his conduct has been very good – he was in possession of one Good Conduct Badge when promoted to Sergeant. He would have been entitled to the fifth? Good Conduct Badge on the 3rd inst had he not been a Sergeant, never having been entered in the Defaulters Book. He is in possession of the Crimean Medal with three clasps, the Turkish Medal [for services in Crimea] and he is entitled to the Indian Mutiny Medal with clasp for Lucknow. He has been recommended for the Medal with gratuity for long service and good conduct

John received a gratuity of £10 and he began to receive his Army Pension on 4 September 1860 in Deptford, then a few days later on 10 September 1860 at Kingswood St Andrew, Surrey he married Mary Parfit (he was described as a “bachelor and a labourer“). In the 1861 Census they were living at 2, North Lane North Place, Aldershot, Farnham where John was a “pensioner Ch [Chelsea]“. By the 1871 Census they were living at Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire where John was a “pensioner born in Plymouth” – they appear not to have had children.

After this we currently lose track of John.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, or knows what became of John after 1871, please contact us at

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