Henry Charles Anstey (b 1872)

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

Henry Charles Anstey, a member of the Chatham Ansteys of Kent, was born in July 1872 in Sheerness to parents James Anstey and Esther Elizabeth Billings. He grew up in Sheerness and had become an Apprentice Engine Fitter at Sheerness Dockyard by c1890. In 1895 he married Elizabeth Ellen Wilton at St Jude in East Brixton and they had children:

  • Edith C. E. Anstey (b 1897 Malta);
  • Phyllis Hester Anstey (b 1899 Medway, married Rev. Austin Grey Collier in Kingsley in June 1929);
  • Ruth Eleanor Anstey (b 1901 Medway);
  • John Charles W. Anstey (b 1903 Greenwich); and
  • Ursula Naomi Anstey (b 1907 Grantham)

In the 1901 Census the family were living at 12, Kingswood Road, Gillingham, Medway where Henry was an Engineer in the Royal Navy, and then in 1910 they moved to Chile – see below obituary.

At the outbreak of World War One in 1914, Henry, by this time a highly experienced Naval Engineer, offered his services to the Royal Navy and was advised to retain his position in Chile, but in 1917 he resigned that appointment and returned to England, being attached to the Admiralty as ‘Deputy Assistant Director of Materials and Priority‘ to help the war effort.

A detailed obituary of Henry appears in ‘Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers‘ Volume 144 Issue 1 page 140. It reads:

Eng. Commr. HENRY CHARLES ANSTEY, O.B.E., R.N., ret., who was born in 1872, had a distinguished career both in the Royal Navy and in the engineering profession. After serving as engine fitter apprentice at Sheerness dockyard from 1887 to 1891, he obtained an Admiralty Scholarship and entered the Royal Naval Engineering College, Devonport, as engineer student. He entered the Royal Navy as assistant engineer in 1892 and underwent a special course of study at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, until 1895, serving during vacations as junior engineer officer on H.M. ships Apollo, Benbow and others. He was senior engineer of HMS Polyphemus from 1896 to 1899, and was in charge of the machinery of the Angler and other ships until he went, in 1901, to the Admiralty for three years, during which time he was engaged on experiments in the use of liquid fuel, and on internal combustion engines. He resigned from the active list and was placed on the emergency list in July 1904, when he secured the position of manager to Messrs. R. Hornsby and Son, Ltd., at Grantham, where he was engaged in pioneer work connected with the use of oil engines for marine purposes. In 1910 he accepted the post of engineer-in-chief to the Chilian Navy and soon became head of the Department of Naval Construction in Chile. On his return to England, he rejoined the active list of the Navy, and from 1917 to 1919 held the post of Deputy Assistant Director of Materials and Priority at the Admiralty. He was responsible for the design of a special type of vessel for salvage work, several of which were built for the Admiralty. On reverting to the retired list in 1919, he was awarded the O.B.E. He then became manager of the copper and brass works of Messrs. T. Bolton and Sons, Widnes, and held that position up to the time of his death, which occurred on 17th May 1940. Commander Anstey was elected a Member of the Institution in 1905, and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Naval Architects.”

Additional Note: Some more personal details of Henry’s life are as follows:

In q4 1919 in Kensington he married Florence L. Hardie (known as Floie, daughter of Mr and Mrs William Hardie) – at the time he was ‘Engineer Commander’ living at Thornbury Hall, Cheadle. They had children in Cheadle:

  • Richard H. Anstey (b 1921);
  • Peter S. Anstey (b 1923); and
  • Christopher Robin Paul Anstey (b 1925, known as Robin – married Mary Cockburn in 1946)

In 1929 he was described as “Engineer Commander H. C. Anstey OBE R. N. of Thornbury Hall Cheadle“. At the time of his 1940 death, he was living at Thornbury Hall, Cheadle – now described as “Engineer Commander Henry Anstey C. R. E, R. N.

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

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