John Milum Anstey, a member of the Kennford Ansteys, was born on 15 or 18 March 1870 (sources differ), baptised 26 June 1870 in Kenton, to parents James Arthur Anstey and Rhoda Milum. He grew up in Kenton and by 1891 he was a trainee baker living at Pilton Street, Pilton, Barnstaple. A year later in 1892 he married Mary Ann Hart in St Thomas, having children in Exeter Rhoda May Anstey (b 1893, known as May, living with her ‘Hart’ grandparents at 11 Courtenay Road Exeter in the 1911 Census – also see below); Lydia Mary Anstey (b 1898, known as Lil – see below); John Henry Anstey (b 1900, known as Jack – “BIRTHS. Anstey.—Oct. 13. at 21, Union-street, St. Thomas, Exeter, the wife of John M. Anstey, of a son” also see below); and two others who died before 1911.
In 1901 the family were living at Union Street, St Thomas where John was still working as a baker and confectioner – by the 1911 Census however he had become a Minister (see below for more details), living with his family at 81 St Albans Road, Darwen, Lancashire.
During World War One John entered the ‘France’ Theatre of War on 15 March 1916 as part of the Young Men’s Christian Association attached to the British Army – at the time he was living at Redwood, Dentons Green Lane, St Helens.
We suppose that his role was to provide spiritual solace – we have no specific details – though the YMCA website states “In November 1914 the YMCA worked with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to establish the YMCA in Havre, expanding into further centres in Rouen, Boulogne, Dieppe, Abbeville, Etaples, Calais, Dunkirk, Abancourt, Paris, Marseilles, Trouville and Cherbourg. By 1918 over 300 YMCA centres had been established in France. Most camps featured a canteen, chapel, concert hall, library, games room, classroom, and a quiet room. The centres were staffed by approximately 1,700 volunteers“. Presumably John was one of said volunteers and for his services he was awarded the British War medal.
The ‘Express and Echo‘ on 17 October 1940 gave a full obituary of John’s life, reporting “Life of Service Ends: Funeral of Mr. J. M. Anstey at Countess Wear: The funeral took place at Countess Wear yesterday of John Milum Anstey of ‘Millward’ Countess Wear, who passed away peacefully after a short illness. Mr. Anstey was some time ago in business in Exeter but later entered the Methodist Ministry and took charge of the Franklin Street and Deptford Methodist Churches, Sunderland. Subsequently he became pastor of the Lynwood Methodist Church, Darwen, Lancs but later became the Missionary at the Arthur Street Mission and Ragged School St Helens, Lancs where for over twenty years he was the beloved leader and spiritual guide of many young people who have since in their turn gone out into the Mission field. Since his retirement ten years ago he has taken an active part in the work of the Mint, Exeter as a class leader and local preacher…The mourners were the widow, Mrs R. M. Wickings and Mrs L. M. West (daughters); Mr J. H. Anstey BSc A.I.C. (son); Mr B. Perkins (nephew); Mr Wickings (friend)…”.
All we can add to the above is that in q3 1939 he remarried to Lottie Milum Edwards in Newton Abbot (presumably a relative of his mother) and by the 1939 Register they were already living at Milward, Countess Wear, Exeter where John somewhat bizarrely described himself as a ‘retired baker‘.
John died on 14 October 1940 still living at Milwood, Topsham Road, Countess Wear, Exeter – probate was to his widow Lottie Milum Anstey and daughter Rhoda May Wickings (wife of William Alfred Wickings).
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