Richard Anstey (b 1798)

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

Richard Anstey was born in 1798 in Ansford, Somerset to parents John Ansty and Virtue Francis – he is thus a member of the Castle Cary Ansteys. Richard Anstey is of great interest to the Anstey Story project because he became an Anstey convict sent to Australia in 1849.

In 1821 in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, Richard Anstey married Hannah Daniels and they had the following children:

  • Mary Anne Anstey (b 1822 Stonehouse, died a child in 1828 in Stonehouse);
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1823 Stonehouse – in 1851 she was a clothworker in Stroud with a “bastard son George” born in 1846);

Hannah then died in 1827 in Stonehouse and Richard Anstey remarried Sarah Ann Hill (b 1802 Upton St Leonards, Painswick, Gloucestershire), having children:

  • Anne Anstey (b 1829 Stonehouse, became a seamstress in Stonehouse, unmarried in 1861 living with her mother);
  • Thomas Anstey (b 1831 Stonehouse became a general labourer, married Ann French (b 1842 Frocester) in 1862 in Leonard Stanley near Stonehouse. They were living in Stonehouse in 1881, seemingly with no children. Thomas was a widower in Stonehouse in 1911 and died in 1922);
  • John Anstey (b 1832 Stonehouse, became a lamp trimmer, married Mary Ann (b 1833 Standish) and had children in Stonehouse Henry Anstey (b 1860); John W Anstey (b 1863); Alice S E Anstey (b 1865); Annie Louisa Anstey (b 1868); Arthur L. Anstey (b 1871) and Edith Mary Anstey (b 1881))
  • Ellen Anstey (b 1834 Stonehouse, married Charles Mills in Stroud in 1858);
  • William Anstey (b 1837 Stonehouse);
  • Henry Anstey (b 1839 Stonehouse, became a crate maker, unmarried in 1861 living with his mother. By the 1881 Census he was living in Eton, Buckinghamshire with his wife Mary Ann Stevens (who he married in Eton in 1867) and a large family, all born in Slough from 1867 onwards);
  • Sarah Anstey (b 1847 Stonehouse)

In the 1841 Census, the children were living at Oldends, Stonehouse, Stroud, Gloucestershire with a (presumed) relative Ann Anstey (b 1806). Richard Anstey and Sarah (parents) were not there. In the 1851 Census, the family, now “headed” by Sarah Anstey (a woolpicker) were living at the Crown and Anchor in Stonehouse By the 1861 Census Sarah Anstey (mother) was a widow, still living in Stonehouse with some of her children.

There is a good reason why Sarah Anstey was described as “head of household” in the 1851 Census, that being that her husband Richard Anstey was frequently in trouble with the law. For example in 1840 “Richard Ansty of Ansford Somerset” was mentioned with regards to the Gloucestershire Police Force for absconding, (incidentally, his birth year was given as 1806 – indeed in various documentation, Richard Anstey‘s year of birth is given as anything between 1795 and 1806). Then in March 1846 in the Gloucestershire Sessions Richard Anstey was sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour for larceny “stealing a fowl from E. F. Gyde“.

Two years later, on 4 January 1848, again at the Gloucester Quarter Sessions, Richard Anstey was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and transportation to Australia as a convict. The ‘Bristol Mercury‘ newspaper on 15 January 1848 reported that “Richard Anstey [was sentenced to] transportation [to Australia] for seven years, having previously been convicted of felony – for stealing £21 10s, the property of the Bristol and Birmingham Railway Company“.

As Prisoner Number 49/591, Richard Anstey was imprisoned at the ‘House of Correction’ in Bath while awaiting transportation, where his year of birth was given as 1796, his occupation ‘Engineer’, also that he was married with nine children. On 1 June 1849, he was transported on the ‘Mount Stewart Elphinstone‘, arriving in Moreton Bay near Brisbane, Queensland on 1 November 1849.

Luckily for Richard Anstey, soon after his arrival at Moreton Bay, he received his ‘Ticket of Leave’ on either 11 March 1850 or 30 June 1851 (a ‘Ticket of Leave’ was a form of bail or licence which allowed a prisoner to start to build a new life in Australia before the official end of his sentence).

However by August 1851 Richard Anstey had “absconded” at Moreton Bay, the report for his arrest stating “The undermentioned prisoner of the Crown, being absent from his district is illegally at large. Richard Anstey. Mt St Elphinstone, 49, Somersetshire, farm labourer, 5 feet 7 inches, dark sallow complexion brown mixed with grey hair, grey eyes, lost two front teeth upper jaw, scar in the right eyebrow… Ticket of Leave Moreton Bay since the 30 June 1851“. His ‘Ticket of Leave’ was duly cancelled for being absent from the District of Moreton Bay in August 1851.

On 18 April 1857 Richard Anstey was still living in Moreton Bay, Queensland, “charged with simple drunkenness, admonished and discharged“. In 1858 he donated to the ‘Donegal Relief Fund‘ and we have unsourced reports that he died on 20 February 1861, presumably in Moreton Bay, Queensland.

It seems very likely indeed that there are no Australian Anstey descendants of Richard Anstey alive today, as the entire family seemed to remain in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire. However we would appreciate any information to the contrary, perhaps he married in Queensland between 1850 and 1861? Anybody who can add anything to this research thread, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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