Robert Anstee (b 1624)

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

Many thanks to Nigel A. Anstey, a member of the Chew Magna Ansteys (a sub-branch of the Dyrham Anstees), for his contribution to this research thread.

Robert Anstee, the patriarch of the South Gloucestershire Ansteys, was baptised in Knowstone, Devon, in 1624 to parents Richard Anstye and Katherine, of the South West Peninsula Ansteys.

As a child, Robert lived in both Knowstone as well as next-door parish West Anstey, however by 1641 the family was certainly living in Knowstone. A year later in August 1642, the English Civil War began. Nigel A. Anstey, who researched heavily this event, noted that:

In the following months, Sir Ralph Hopton MP for Wells in the Long Parliament and a staunch supporter of the King, raised a Royalist army in Cornwall and Devon. He then proceeded to clear Parliamentarians from the rural areas of these two counties, achieving a major success against a Parliamentary army at Stratton near Bude on 16 May 1643. Hopton and his army then marched across Devon on their way to join forces with the army of Prince Maurice at Chard, meeting up on 4 June 1643.”

Robert Anstee then joined Sir Ralph Hopton’s Royalist Army as it passed Knowstone in late May or early June 1643. Nigel A. Anstey continued:

By 3 July 1643, Hopton’s army had reached Marshfield, which was friendly territory as Squire John Wynter, owner of the Dyrham Park Estate in nearby Dyrham, was a staunch Royalist. On 5 July 1643, Hopton’s Royalist forces fought the Parliamentary Army of Sir William Waller at the Battle of Lansdowne Hill near Dyrham and the Royalists suffered heavy casualties.

According to Wikipedia:

The two forces [Royalists and Parliamentarians] engaged in indecisive skirmishing for two hours until Hopton tried to withdraw. Waller sent his horse and dragoons against the Royalist’s rearguard, and they routed the Royalist cavalry, although the infantry stood firm. Hopton’s army then turned about and ultimately defeated the Roundhead cavalry in a confused action. With his Cornish foot regiments already advancing without orders, Hopton at last attacked Lansdowne Hill. As they charged up the steep slopes towards the Parliamentarian position on the crest, Hopton’s cavalry suffered badly, and many panicked. 1,400 of them fled

Robert Anstee fought in that battle, though we are unsure in what capacity (he certainly wasn’t an officer because his name does not appear on the full listing of Hopton’s Officers in the library at Bath). Robert was very likely injured and thus decided to remain in Dyrham, marrying Elizabeth in either 1644 or 1645. Robert and Elizabeth had two children in Dyrham, namely Robert (b 1646) and George (b 1649). These two gentlemen went on to become the patriarchs of the two principal Dyrham Anstee sub-branches.

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