William John Anstee, a member of the Swanbourne Ansteys, was born on 25 July 1887 in Swanbourne to parents William Charles Anstee and Sarah Ann Cooper; he was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Harry Edward Anstee and Arthur George Anstee.
William grew up in Swanbourne and later Hollindon, Soulbury, then on 5 March 1909 at Aylesbury he signed up for four years of Territorial Service with the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars (Service Number: 497). On his Attestation Form he noted that he was at the time working on his father’s farm in Mursley – he was still working there as a “farmers son” at the time of the 1911 Census.
He completed his yearly Territorial Training Obligations every year, actually serving for a total of six years, until the outbreak of World War One on 5 August 1914, at which point he was embodied with the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars, but only for three weeks until 28 August 1914 at which time he was discharged under “paragraph 156 (5) Territorial Force Regulations” (not being likely to become an efficient soldier).
William continued to live in Mursley, renting a bedroom from his father at Shorndown House, Murseley in 1914. He must have again signed up for service later in the war, probably in 1916, with the Royal Engineers as a Sapper (Service Number: 268296) – the ‘Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press‘ 12 February 1916 reported that “Mr. Wm. Anstee, Mursley” was elected a member of the Shire Horse Society, so it must have been after that.
We know absolutely nothing of his war story except that in the 1918 & 1919 Electoral Register ‘Absent Voter Lists‘ all three brothers are listed as registered at Shorndon in Mursley, but absent still on active duty, namely:
- Anstee, Arthur George 209780 1 A. M. R. A. F.
- Anstee, Harry Edward 52358 Pvte 7th Royal Fusiliers
- Anstee, William John 268296 Spr, R. E.
We also know that for his services William was awarded the Victory and British War medals, and that he was in Mursley in February 1919 when he attended his mother’s funeral.
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By the time of the 1921 Census William was back living in Winslow with his brother Arthur and “Ellen Ethel Goss“. Throughout the 1920s he appeared on the Swanbourne Electoral Registers as “Land, Nearton – abode Mursley“, then in 1930 in Winslow he married Mercia Lillian North. They had children Thora J. Anstee (b 1930); Kenneth F. Anstee (b 1932); and probably two others.
In the 1939 Register William and his family were living at 1 Brickhill Road, Heath And Reach, Luton, where he was working as a gardener. William and his wife attended his brother Arthur’s funeral in 1943, then William himself died on 27 December 1947 at Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital Aylesbury – he was back residing in Mursley at the time of his death. Probate was not until 1953 with effects to his widow Mercia Lillian Armitage (she had remarried to Joseph S. R. Armitage in 1949 in Cirencester).
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