Thomas Henry Anstey (b 1842)

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

Thomas Henry Anstey, a member of the Bampton Ansteys, was born in 1842 in Highercombe near Adelaide in South Australia, to parents George Alexander Anstey and Harriet Kingham Ruffy. Thomas was elder brother to Edgar Oliphant Anstey and Harry Anstey, and father of Thomas Christopher Ralph Anstey.

Thomas attended Rugby School in 1855 and joined the Royal Engineers as Lieutenant on 25 June 1862. In August 1869 he was aboard the ‘Idaho‘ ship which had just arrived in Liverpool from New York; he was referred to as “Lieut T. H. Anstey R. E.” By 1871, Thomas was at the ‘Royal Engineers And Royal Engineer Department’, Aldershot Camp, Hampshire. He was made Captain in 1875 and in February 1875 he embarked for Russia, to superintend the work of restoring Crimean graves of British soldiers who fell during the Crimean War.

Thomas served during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 with Newdigate’s Division in the advance from Koppie Allein, and was present at the Battle of Ulundi in July 1879. He subsequently made a triangulation survey of the route taken by the Division from Landman’s Drift to Entonjaneni. On his return to Maritzburg, he was ordered to prepare a detailed survey of the battlefield of Isandlwana, where he searched for and discovered the body of his brother Edgar Oliphant Anstey, who had died during that battle.

Thomas returned to England in early 1880 with the remains of his brother; he then married Caroline Alicia de Fonblanque in Kensington in 1881 (“Jan 5: At Holy Trinity, Brompton, Captain ‘Thomas H. Anstey, R.E., son of Mr. G. A. Anstey, of Harley-street, Cavendish- square, to Caroline A., daughter of Mr. Albany de Fonblanlque, H.B.M.’s Consul New Orleans“), having children:

  • Hermione Gioja Anstey (b 1884 Malta (“Birth: Anstey.—July 8, at :Valetta, Malta, the wife of Major T. H. Anstey, Royal Engineers“), married married Oswald Bainbridge at Holy Trinity, Brompton on 6 July 1905 – a write up of the wedding appears in ‘Gentlewoman‘ 22 July 1905 edition. After his death it was arranged in June 1918 that she would marry Major Herbert Selwyn Aston “when leave permits” – in 1920 she was described as being “very well known“);
  • Naomi Veronica Anstey (b 1887 Alverstoke, living with her family in the 1911 Census. She got engaged to Wilfred Egerton later in 1911 when she was described as “a pretty girl and popular with all who know her” though she eventually married Sir George R. Houston Boswall at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton on 25 February 1913, becoming ‘Lady Houston Boswall’ – described as “very well known” in 1920); and
  • Thomas Christopher Ralph Anstey (b 1891 – an Anstey Hero).

Thomas served in Malta for some years in the mid-1880s, but by the 1891 Census he was back in England living at Hinstock, Sycamore Avenue, Farnborough (together with a Governess, Cook, Parlour Maid, Housemaid and Under Housemaid). He was promoted to Major in 1882; Lieutenant Colonel in 1889; and Colonel in 1895. In March 1890 “Lt.-Col. T. H. Anstey, R.E., at present commanding the submarine Miners at Gosport, has been appointed C.R.E., North Camp, Aldershot“. He retired from the Army as a Colonel on 7 October 1896.

Thomas and his family were living at 45 Beaufort Gardens, Kensington in the 1911 Census. He was still living there when he died in 1916 – his death being reported in the ‘Army and Navy Gazette‘ on 4 March 1916, where it stated:

Colonel Thomas Henry Anstey, late Royal Engineers, died on the 26th of last month at 45 Beaufort Gardens S. W., aged seventy four years. Colonel Anstey entered the Royal Engineers June 1862 and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in June 1889. He was promoted to Colonel in December 1895 and retired the following year. He served in the Zulu Campaign of 1879 and was present at the Battle of Uland, receiving the medal with clasp“.

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