James Robert Anstee (b 1875)

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

James Robert Anstee, a member of the Doynton Ansteys, was born in 1875 in Cold Ashton, baptised on 18 November 1877 in Doynton, to parents George Anstee Junior and Mary Alvis. He grew up in Doynton then on 14 February 1899 in Northam and Appledore he married Florrie Glover – they had children Lily Lucy Mary Anstee (b 1900 Doynton – died in 1925, see below); Florence Elizabeth Anstee (b 17 April 1903 Duntisbourne Abbotts); Charles Victor Anstee (b 8 April 1910 Cheriton Bishop – see below); and Worthy James Robert Anstee (b 1917 Tiverton – see below).

By 1901 James was a groom and domestic gardener living at 4, Village, Duntisbourne Abbotts, Cirencester and by the 1911 Census he was a dairy farmer living with his family at Halfacre, Cheriton Bishop, Devon.

On 8 December 1915 at Tiverton, around a year after the outbreak of World War One, James signed up for ‘Home Service’ – on his Attestation Form he noted that he was a married gardener and farmer living at Bingwall Cottage, Tiverton. He was initially assigned to the 12th Royal Berkshire Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 29370), however for whatever reason (probably because he later agreed to overseas service) he was then reassigned to the Labour Corps (Service Number: 97204).

He was initially posted to the Army Reserves, then on 14 July 1916 he was mobilised and reported for duty at Tiverton – he was posted to 621 Agricultural Company, part of the Labour Corps (at this time he was living at Warnicombe Cottage in Tiverton). Then, despite initially signing up for Home Service only, on 19 August 1916 he joined the British Expeditionary Forces in France – by now he was part of the 163rd Labour Company of the Labour Corps.

We have no further details of his war story in France except that in early November 1917 he was reprimanded and docked three days pay for “when in active service absenting himself without leave until reporting at Victoria Station at 6am on 10 November 1917“. We also know that he “served with the Labour Corps in France and Belgium” and appeared to survive the war physically unscathed – one document also indicates that he served in the “Southern Theatre of War“.

In the 1918 Electoral Register James was registered at Halfacre Farm in Cheriton Bishop as an ‘Absent Voter’ still on active service – he was still on active service according to the 1919 Electoral Register, now registered at Warnicombe Cottage, Tiverton. He was discharged in around May 1919, and for his services he was awarded the Victory and British War medals.

James returned to live with his family in Tiverton, where they were still residing at Warnicombe Cottage in 1922. The ‘Western Times‘ on 24 December 1925 reported “DEATHS. ANSTEE. — At Johannesburg, South Africa, December 16th, Lily Lucy Mary, eldest daughter of James Robert and Florence Anstee, of Half Acre, Cheriton Bishop, aged 26.

Florrie and her son Worthy were living at Holewells, Crockernwell, Crediton in the 1939 Register – it is unclear the whereabouts of James at this time.

James died on 6 June 1948 living at Franklyn Bungalow, Brampford Speke – probate was to his son Worthy James Robert Anstee “farmer“. Note: Worthy himself died on 30 July 1953 at Hole Farm, Cheriton Bishop, probate was to his brother Charles Victor Anstee “naval pensioner” (Charles served in the Royal Navy (Service Number: JX 128819)).

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

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