William Anstey (b 1877)

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

Many thanks to Anne Anstey for her contribution to this biography.

William Anstey, a member of the East Stoke Ansteys, was born on 27 May 1877 (some sources incorrectly say 27 May 1879) in Branksea Island, Studland to parents William Anstey and Elizabeth Collins Hatchard. On his twentieth birthday, 27 May 1897, he signed up for service with the Royal Navy as a Seaman for a period of twelve years (Service Number: 187429), having already served as a “Boy 2nd Class” since 23 January 1896 on the ships ‘Boscawen‘ and ‘Edinburgh‘.

Whilst serving in the Royal Navy, William married Sarah Jane Hodges in 1900 in Poole and by the 1901 Census he was was described as an Able Seaman (at the time working at ‘HMS Vernon‘, a shore establishment of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth) living at 18, Simpson Road, Town, Portsmouth with their son William Charles John Anstey (b 1901 Portsmouth). They also had children Leonard Valentine Anstey (b 1907 Portsmouth); Doris May Anstey (b 1914 Portsmouth); and Ronald Anstey (b 1917 Portsmouth, who has Anstey descendants alive today).

At the end of May 1909, his twelve years of service complete, William signed up again with the Royal Navy. He passed his ‘Petty Officer’ exams on 1 June 1909 and by the time of the 1911 Census the family were living at 7 Renny Road, Kingston, Portsmouth. William was not with them however, he was away serving on ‘HMS Odin‘ in the Persian Gulf Campaign as a Petty Officer, for which he was awarded the Naval General Service Medal with clasp ‘Persian Gulf 1909-1914‘. 

William was still in the Royal Navy at the outbreak of World War One in 1914, being promoted to Chief Petty Officer at some point. Details of his war service are as follows:

  • HMS Vernon‘ – 26 October 1913 to 8 November 1914
  • HMS Victory I‘ – 9 November 1914 to 21 January 1915
  • HMS Dido‘ – 22 January 1915 to 7 March 1917
  • HMS Attention II‘ – 8 March 1917 to 31 May 1918
  • HMS Victory I‘ – 1 June 1918 to 1 July 1918
  • HMS Columbine‘ (presumably until war’s end) 

For his service, William was awarded a ‘War Gratuity’ as well as the 1914 Star medal, the Victory medal and the British War medal – he was also awarded a Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct medal.

After completing his service with the Royal Navy, probably in August 1919 (when he began to receive his naval pension) and with character deemed “very good“, William joined the Merchant Navy, spending at least a dozen years with them. By 1935 he had become a “beer retailer” living in Southampton and in the 1939 Register William and his wife were living at Baltic Tavern, Chapel Road, Southampton where he was a “N. Publican” and a “naval pensioner“.

According to his granddaughter “William was the proprietor of the Baltic Tavern in Chapel Road, Southampton in 1940 at the time it was bombed during World War II. My grandparents, my aunt and her baby daughter (my cousin), and the dog, Gyp, had taken refuge from the bombing in the basement of the Baltic Tavern (where the beer barrels were stored). They were later rescued unharmed, the only casualty being the canary, Joey, in the dining room upstairs, who died of shock. William Anstey later became the proprietor of the Pensioners Arms. He had spent 25 years at sea in the Royal Navy and 20 years in the Merchant Navy. He was an honourable man and respected by all who knew him.

William died on 20 July 1967 aged 90, living at 10 Morris Road, The Polygon, Southampton.

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

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