Reginald John Anstey (b 1880)

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

Reginald John Anstey, more commonly known as simply Reginald Anstey, a member of the Kennford Ansteys, was born on 24 December 1880 in Kenton to parents James Arthur Anstey and Jane Louisa Shilston, baptised in Kenton on 13 February 1881. He grew up living in Kenton then on 17 January 1900 he decided to join the Army in Exeter in order to fight in the Second Boer War.

On his Attestation Form, Reginald noted that he was a 20 year old gardener born in Kenton, and that he was already serving with the “1 V. B. A.? Reg“. He was posted to the 1st Volunteer Battalion (1st Rifle Volunteers) Devonshire Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 5524), embarking for South Africa on 16 February 1900.

After fighting in South Africa for just over a year, Reginald arrived back in England on 9 June 1901. The ‘Western Times‘ 10 June 1901 edition gives a detailed report of the rapturous greeting which awaited them from huge crowds gathered in Exeter, the Mayor of Exeter stating “All we can say is that we are glad indeed to have you back again. You have been good soldiers and no less so because you were citizen soldiers. I heartily welcome you back again to this County and this City…” In the list of soldiers that followed was included “Private R. Anstey, Vicarage Cottage, Starcross“.

Reginald was discharged from service on 17 June 1901, with entitlement to the “South African War Medal 1900/1901“. His service is also commemorated on a Tablet at the Regiment Drill Hall where he was noted as “of Kenton” (see below for more details on his service).

In 1902, Reginald became a policeman. He then married Elizabeth Mary Simon in 1908 in St Austell, Cornwall and they had children John James Reginald Anstey (b 1908) and Maria Louise Anstey (b 1910). It is very likely Reginald who was being referenced in the ‘Western Daily Mercury‘ 31 May 1912 edition report on Devon police, when it stated “The following constables were granted accelerated service for meritorious acts and conduct…Reginald Anstey…”.

In the 1911 Census Reginald was still a police constable, living with his family at 17 Exeter Road, Newton Abbot, Highweek. By 1918 the family were living at 8 Summerland Street, Walborough and by 1920 they were living at Townsend in Beer (he moved in September 1918 having been transferred).

Reginald retired as a policeman in 1929 – the ‘Hartland and West Country Chronicle‘ on 26 October 1929 reported “After 27 years service in the Devon Constabulary, PC Reginald Anstey retired the first week of October. He came to Clovelly from Beer in 1922. PC Anstey was a member of the Old 1st Rifle Volunteers (Exeter) and served with the 2nd Devon Regiment in the Boer War, for which he received the Queen’s Medal and five bars. A good shot, he won a good many prizes whilst at Newton Abbot. He was a police trumpeter at the Exeter Assizes, a position he filled for many years. Possessor of a fine voice, he has taken solos in the choir of the Parish Church. He is remaining at Clovelly. His previous stations include Newton Abbot, Silmouth, Honiton and Ottery St Mary.

By the 1939 Register Reginald, a “retired police officer“, and his wife Elizabeth were living at Slerra, Bideford. In the ‘North Devon Journal‘ 9 March 1950 edition appears a photo of Reginald alongside an article of him reminiscing about his Second Boer War Service which states “Veterans From The Veldt Recall Past Campaigns…Mr Reginald Anstey of Higher Clovelly was with the 1st R. V. (Exeter) but joined the Barnstaple party and must have liked their company for on coming back from Africa in 1902 he joined the Devon Constabulary and served in the North Devon area for the greater part of 27 years. He was at Clovelly when he retired in 1929 and in 1930 he was a reserve constable at Ilfracombe. Mr Anstey is 69 years of age – he put his age on [upwards] to serve in the Boer War. Asked if he remembered any of his companions he immediately recalled ‘Sergeant Southcombe’. ‘I remember him well’ he added – when Capt Southcombe was told this, he replied quietly ‘I bet he did’. There must be a story behind the remark but bygones better be bygones

Reginald died in 1972 in Barnstaple.

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