The Exminster Ansteys

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

Exminster Ansteys Overview

The Exminster 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 Exminster Ansteys is Benjamin Anstiss (a member of the Crediton Anstis family who was actually baptised in Crediton in 1767 as ‘Ansty’ to Anstis parents – Benjamin Anstiss was the younger brother of William Anstis of Crediton who is mentioned on the Devonport Ansteys page, another ‘Anstey evolved from Anstis‘ sub-branch).

Benjamin Anstiss and Mary Smale (m 1796 Exminster)

Benjamin Anstiss married Mary Smale in 1796 in Exminster (as ‘Anstiss’) and, for whatever reason, they decided the surnames of their first three children were to be ‘Anstey’, ‘Anstie’ and ‘Anstice’; the subsequent children were all labelled ‘Anstey’. Their children, born in Exminster, were:

  • James Anstey (b 1796 buried in 1798 as ‘Anstiss’);
  • Harriet Anstie (b 1801 buried in 1802 as ‘Anstis’);
  • James Anstice (b 1803 married Thomasin Ponsford in 1826 in Tedburn as ‘Anstey’ and moved to Chudleigh where they had children Henry Anstey (b 1826 died an infant); Eliza Anstey (b 1827); Mary Ann Anstey (b 1832); William Anstey (b 1834); Elizabeth Anstey (b 1838); James Henry Anstey (b 1841); Charles Anstey (b 1844) and John Anstey (b 1847) – numerous of these children moved to Ontario in Canada);
  • John Anstey (b 1806, married Elizabeth and moved to East Pennard);
  • Susan Anstey (b 1808);
  • Charles Anstey (b 1811, an Anstey Hero, who fought in the The Lower and Upper Canada Rebellions (1837-1838) and then married Mary Ann Stokes in 1840 in South Molten – two of his children were James Stokes Anstey (b 1842 Exminster) and Henry Charles Anstey (b 1855 Exminster));
  • Harriet Anstey (b 1814);

James Stokes Anstey (b 1842 Exminster)

James Stokes Anstey (b 1842 in Exminster, son of Charles Anstey) was living with his parents in Exminster in both the 1851 and 1861 Censuses. He married Mary Ann Trent (b 1843 in Kenn) in Exeter, St Thomas in 1863, they moved into the parish of Exeter, St Thomas where James Stokes Anstey became a “smiths hammerman” by 1871. They had a large family, namely:

  • Charles Trent Anstey (b 1864 Exminster);
  • Mary Ann Anstey (b 1866 Exeter, St Thomas)
  • Elizabeth Jane Anstey (b 1869 Exeter, St Thomas, baptised in 1874)
  • John Trenn [Trent] Anstey (b 1870 Exeter, St Thomas – an Australian Anstey Pioneer and Anstey Hero)
  • Emily Mildra Anstey (b 1872 Exeter, St Thomas, baptised in 1874)
  • James T Anstey (b 1874 Exeter, St Thomas)
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1876 Exeter, St Thomas)
  • Laura Maud Anstey (b 1877 Exeter St Thomas)
  • Sarah Jane (Jenny) Anstey (b 1879 Exeter St Thomas)
  • William Anstey (b 1883 Exeter St Thomas baptised in 1885)

By 1901 James Stokes Anstey was a widower and a Railway Labourer, still living in Exeter St Thomas. In 1903 in Exeter, St Thomas, James Stokes Anstey remarried Jane Watkins (b c1852 St Maret, Cornwall) and in 1911 James Stokes Anstey was living with Jane, still in Exeter, St Thomas, he was a “former blacksmith“. James Stokes Anstey died in 1922 in Exeter, St Thomas.

Henry Charles Anstey (b 1855 Exminster)

Henry Charles Anstey (b 1855 in Exminster, son of Charles Anstey) married Mary Jane (possibly surname ‘Martin’, born c1855 in Crediton or Exeter St Thomas) in c1873 and moved to Exeter St Thomas, becoming a “mason’s labourer”. They had a huge family there, namely:

  • Lucy Martin Anstey (b 1874);
  • William Phillip Anstey (b 1875);
  • Frederick Charles Anstey (b 1877);
  • Laura (Florence) Jane Anstey (b 1879 – married Walter Nathanual White in 1904 in Exeter St Thomas);
  • Amy Louisa Anstey (b 1881);
  • Annie Anstey (b 1882 – married Ernest John Langman in 1907 in Exeter, St Thomas);
  • Alice Anstey (b 1884);
  • Susannah (Cissy) Anstey (b 1886 – married Frederick Heal in 1911 in Exeter, St Thomas);
  • Esther Minnie Anstey (b 1887 – married William Ford in 1908 in Exeter, St Thomas);
  • Kate Anstey (b 1889);
  • Harry Anstey (b 1891);
  • Phyllis Anstey (b 1892);
  • Frank Anstey (b 1894);
  • Stanley Anstey (b 1898);

Henry Charles Anstey died in Exeter St Thomas in 1945, aged 90.

Further Details on the Exminster Ansteys

We are always on the lookout for Exminster Anstey experts alive today who are willing to add their findings and knowledge to this project. We are particularly interested in research regarding Exminster 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 Exminster 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 ‘Exminster’ 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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