Alfred Anstey (b 1874)

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

Alfred Anstey, a member of the Tiverton Ansteys, was born in 1874 in Tiverton to parents Thomas Anstey and Anna Marie Coles. He grew up in Tiverton and after obtaining a Law degree from Jesus College, University of Cambridge, he became a solicitor. At the time of the 1901 Census he was visiting 19 Princes Square, Paddington, London, described as a “solicitor not in practice“.

Alfred married Ilma Constance Butterworth on 12 August 1903 in Tiverton and they had children in Tiverton and later Exeter Ilma Coles Anstey (b 1904, died an infant); Thomas Anstey (b 1905); John Anstey (b 3 January 1907 – “Brigadier Sir John Anstey Tobacco industry executive who, as a wartime SOE officer, ran clandestine operations against Japanese forces in the Far East One of the youngest brigadiers in the British Army in the Second World War, John Anstey had a distinguished career in the Special Operations Executive. He commanded the SOE unit in Operation Dragoon — the American-led invasion of the South of France two months after D-Day in Normandy. Later in the war he played an important part in SOE’s immensely successful operations in the Far East. Before the war he had worked in the tobacco industry, and he went on to make a successful career in it afterwards. Born in Devon and educated at Clifton and Trinity College, Oxford, John Anstey had joined WD & HO Wills in Bristol in 1927. During the 1930s he established himself as a key member of the management teamwent on to be Chancellor of Nottingham University“); Alfred William Anstey (b 1909); and Constance Ruth Anstey (b 1914).

In the 1911 Census the family were living at 13 Lyndhurst Road Exeter – Alfred was still working as a solicitor.

The ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette‘ on 23 August 1940 reported on Alfred’s death, giving a very detailed obituary – “DEATH OF MAJOR ALFRED ANSTEY: Former Mayor and Sheriff Of Exeter: Mayor of Exeter in the Coronation year 1937, former Sheriff, and a greatly respected personality in many prominent spheres in the city and county, Major Alfred Anstey, of Matford House, Exeter, died yesterday morning after a brief illness. News of his passing will be received with sorrow by a great circle of friends. Aged 66, Major Anstey was taken seriously ill on Monday, and in spite of devoted attention his condition gradually weakened. To his widow and family great sympathy is extended.

His Busy Life: Major Anstey was the only son of Mr Thomas Anstey, a well-known Tiverton resident, who was a member of the Town Council and Board of Guardians, and churchwarden of St. Peter’s for many years. Educated at Blundell’s School and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took his law degree, Major Anstey was articled for three years to the late Mr. E. H. Houlditch, of the Exeter firm of solicitors, Messrs Battishill and Houlditch. In 1899 he passed his final law examination and when Mr Battishill retired in 1908 Major Anstey became a partner with Mr Houlditch and took up residence in Exeter. On the death of Mr Houlditch Mr Anstey was joined by Mr Vincent Thompson. Although helping quietly in many ways, Major Anstey was not able to devote himself fully to civic life, owing to the many calls on him professionally until in 1929 he accepted office as Sheriff of Exeter during the Mayoralty of Mr H. C. Rowe. During his Shrievalty he won high praise for the diligent discharge of his duties…Following his Mayoralty, Major Anstey continued his active interest in city affairs and it was typical of his sense of public duty that on the formation of the L. D. V. now the Home Guard, he immediately accepted the post of Commanding Officer of the local battalion…

To the task of L. D. V. commander Major Anstey brought wide military experience extending over 44 years. As a subaltern he joined the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment when it was commanded by the late Sir John Kennaway, and when the 1st R. V. and the 3rd Battalion were merged into the 4th Devons on the formation of the Territorial Army, he was commissioned as a junior Major. On the outbreak of war [World War One] he served with the battalion in India and Mesopotamia until invalided back home in 1916. He took part in the operations connected with the attempt to relieve Kut and the climate and hardships of the campaign seriously affected his constitution. After leaving the Army, Major Anstey displayed active interest in the Old Comrades Association and rarely missed the annual reunions…

In all his activities Major Anstey had a loyal helpmate in his wife, who was formerly Miss Butterworth, member of a family which moved to Devon from Surrey. Mrs Anstey was bereaved three years ago by the death of her mother who lived at St Aubyn’s Tiverton. During her husband’s Shrievalty, and as Mayoress, Mrs Anstey gave devoted service to the city. There are three sons and one daughter. The eldest son Major T. Anstey who distinguished himself as an oarsman when at Jesus College, is the husband of Lady Evelyn Anstey, sister of the Earl of Devon. The other sons are Mr John Anstey who is now serving with the Somerset Light Infantry and Mr A. W. Anstey, a former under-Sheriff of Exeter, who is a Major in the Devonshire Regiment. The daughter is Mrs G. Bigland Wood, whose husband is also in the Devonshire Regiment and who was married in Exeter Cathedral four years ago.”

Additional Notes: He entered the Mesopotamia Theatre of War on 1 March 1916 – for his services he was awarded the Victory and British War medals, as well as a Territorial Force War Medal

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

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