The Devonport Ansteys

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

Overview of the Devonport Ansteys

The Devonport Ansteys of Devon are an ‘Anstey evolved from Anstis‘ sub-branch. Hence they are originally part of the ‘Anstis’ family, and thus do not connect to the wider Anstey pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anstey. The patriarch of the Devonport Ansteys is James Anstey (born 1789 in Crediton) – hence the Devonport Ansteys are a sub-branch of the CreditonAnstey evolved from Anstis‘ sub-branch.

James Anstey (b 1789 Crediton)

James Anstey was born 1789 in Crediton, the son of William Anstis of Crediton and Elizabeth Lake. In 1813 James Anstey, together with his wife Ann Wills (who he married in Portsmouth St Thomas on 25 June 1811), moved to Devonport, where they proceeded to have a large family packed with sons, being:

  • Arthur Thomas Anstey (b 1813, baptised 1 January 1813 St Budeaux, father a seaman)
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1813 – baptised in next door Egg Buckland, died an infant)
  • Ann Elizabeth Anstey (b 1815, baptised 14 May 1815 St Budeaux – father a publican)
  • James Henry Anstey (b 1816, baptised 1 September 1816 at St Budeaux)
  • Hannah Tryphena Anstey (b 1817, baptised18 May 1817 St Budeaux – father a publican)
  • William Lake Anstey (b 1818 – an Anstey Hero)
  • Samuel James Lake Anstey (b 1819, baptised 19 September 1819 St Budeaux – father a labourer)
  • John Saunders Anstey (b 1820 – an Anstey Hero)
  • Frederick Lake Anstey (b 1821, baptised 16 September 1821 St Budeaux – father a victualler. Known as Fred, he married Mary Gasking Foale on 21 April 1846 in Plymouth, Charles the Martyr. By the 1851 Census Frederick was a cabinet maker living with his wife, mother in law Harriet Foale and an orphan/nephew Samuel Crossing (b 1848, later renamed ‘Anstey’) at 8, Tavistock Street, Charles the Martyr, Plymouth. The family emigrated to America (see Further Details #1 below) and by the 1860 Census they were at 2nd District 10th Ward Brooklyn, Kings, New York – Fred was an upholsterer. They appear to have had no children of their own; in the 1880 Census Fred was again a cabinet maker, living with Mary at Brooklyn, Kings, New York. Fred died in Brooklyn on 29 June 1896, buried at GreenWood Cemetery Brooklyn, Kings County with his wife)
  • Harriet Jane Anstey (b 1823, baptised 14 September 1823 – died an infant)
  • Susan Sarah Anstey (b 1823, baptised 14 September 1823 St Budeaux, father a victualler. Known as Sarah, she never married and in the 1911 Census she was boarding at 8 Channel View Terrace Plymouth)
  • Edwin George Anstey (b 3 May 1825, aka George Edwin Anstey, baptised 3 December 1826 St Budeaux, died 1837 – the ‘Western Courier‘ on 1 February 1837 reporting “Melancholy accident and loss of two lives. On Saturday morning last as some men at work on Mr Franklin’s new building, Fore Street Devonport were, with the assistance of shears and a tackle, endeavouring to raise a large block of stone to its place and had nearly succeeded when some part of the gear suddenly gave way and the mass of stone was precipitated outwards with great violence and striking a large scaffold pole which stood against the building, broke it into three pieces. The shattered pole fell towards the opposite side of the street and the fragments in their descent struck two boys on the head with such fatal force as instantly to deprive one of life while the other lingered for but a very few minutes. The heads of both were woefully shattered and must have presented a heartbreaking sight to their bereaved parents. The names of the little sufferers were Joseph Horn and George Edwin Anstey, son of Mr J. Anstey of the New Inn, Knackersnowle…“)
  • Edward Solomon Anstey (b 1827, baptised 12 August 1827 at St Budeaux – father a victualler. The ‘Essex Standard‘ on 28 December 1849 reported “When the cholera was raging at New Passage Plymouth and the greatest difficulty was found in inducing competent persons to peril their lives in giving necessary assistance to the sick and dying, there was one young man who volunteered his services and elicited the admiration of all who were witnesses to his exertions. When the pestilence had disappeared he resolutely refused to accept any pecuniary reward. The late mayor however resolved that his conduct should not go unrewarded… The young man, whose name is Edward Solomon Anstey, and who is a labourer in the dockyard, has accordingly received a Bible and Book of Common Prayer, elegantly bound, and having the following inscription on the fly-leaf:—” Presented by the Mayor of Devonport (John Beer) to Edward Solomon Anstey as a token of respect for his assiduous, kind and disinterested attention to several sufferers of cholera during the awful visitation of that mortality in 1849“. Edward was a messenger at HM Dockyard living with his father at 122, Navy Row, Stoke Demerel, Stoke Damerel in the 1851 Census. He married Emma Towl in Plymouth on 21 March 1861 having children Sydney Carrington Anstey (b 14 January 1862 – the ‘Western Daily Mercury‘ reported “BIRTHS. ANSTEY—Jan. 14, In Arundel Crescent, Plymouth, the wife of Mr. Edward Anstey, H. M. Dockyard, of son.” baptised 26 March 1862 in Plymouth and died September 1862); Emma Anstey (b 1864, unmarried and living with her parents in 1901 – by the 1911 Census she was still single and living with her sisters at Whitfield Lodge Yelverton); Kate Elizabeth Anstey (b 1866, unmarried and living with her parents in 1901 – by the 1911 Census she was still single and living with her sisters at Whitfield Lodge Yelverton); Florence Jane Anstey (b 1867, unmarried and living with her parents in 1901 – by the 1911 Census she was still single and living with her sisters at Whitfield Lodge Yelverton. She died in Plymouth in 1930, still unmarried); and Edward Solomon Anstey (b 1870, died 1871). Edward Solomon Anstey was an insurance agent in the 1871 Census living at St Aubyn Street, Stoke Damerel. By the 1901 Census they were living at Whitfield, Yelverton, Buckland Monachorum where Edward was a “commission agent“. Edward died on 22 March 1905 in Devonport Devon, probate to his widow Emma Anstey)
  • Richard Tidball Anstey (b 11 March 1828, baptised 26 October 1828 St Budeaux. He joined the Royal Navy as a stoker in 1845 (presumably signing up for twelve years) – he was a stoker on ‘HMS Spiteful‘ in 1849 and 1850 based at 122 Navy Row, New Passage Devonport. In 1857 in Lewisham he married Eliza Spain – see Further Details #1 below)
  • Simeon Bishop Anstey (b 1832, an Anstey Hero, American Anstey Pioneer and patriarch of the Brown, Kansas Ansteys of America); and
  • a daughter (b 1833, the ‘Exeter Flying Post‘ on 11 April 1833 reported “At Knackersknowle near Plymouth the wife of Mr Anstey, innkeeper, of a daughter, making her 25th child“)

At the time of his marriage, James Anstey was a seaman (not to be confused with his uncle James Anstey who served as an Able Seaman on the ship ‘La Resolu‘ in 1798 and ‘Myrmidon‘ in 1800).

In around 1814 James Anstey became a victualler of Knackers Knowle, and he was declared an insolvent debtor in 1826. The ‘Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser‘ on 12 July 1826 reported “James Anstey of Knackersknowle, victualler, was remanded till he had been in custody six months since the filing of his petition

The ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette‘ 06 April 1833 reported “Died: March 29 at the New Inn, Knackersnowle, Mrs [Ann] Anstey, wife of Mr Anstey” – she must have died from complications due to childbirth and she was buried in Devonport on 3 April 1833

By the 1841 Census James Anstey was living at Punder Cottage, Charles the Martyr, Plymouth with some of his children – he was once again a mariner. By 1851 he was living with his son Edward at 122, Navy Row, Stoke Demerel, Stoke Damerel.

Further Information on the Devonport Ansteys

#1. Family stories say Simeon Bishop Anstey and two brothers were working as seamen and jumped ship when they arrived in America between 1855 and 1858. One brother stayed on the east coast, another went to Canada, while Simeon headed west, making his home in Brown County, Kansas. One of the brothers is probably Richard Tidball Anstey as we lose track of him after his marriage in 1857 and he was a seaman – the other is probably Frederick Lake Anstey

We are always on the lookout for Devonport Anstey experts alive today who are willing to add their findings and knowledge to this project. We are particularly interested in research regarding Devonport Ansteys who fought in World War One, preferably with personal souvenirs such as letters sent by the soldiers or military photos etc. Anybody who has such expertise and inclination, please contact us at

We have already uploaded bits of information and documentation about the Devonport Ansteys, and continue to upload more all the time (see Project Updates), however it is spread over various segments of the website.

The best way to find said information is to enter ‘Devonport’ in the search box at the bottom of this page and a list of relevant pages will appear.

Anybody who finds any mistakes on this page, please contact us at and we will correct it.

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