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 (b 1767 in Crediton) – hence the Exminster Ansteys are a sub-branch of the Crediton ‘Anstey evolved from Anstis‘ sub-branch. Many of this sub-branch were Catholic, which is somewhat unusual for Ansteys.

Benjamin Anstiss (b 1767 Crediton)

Benjamin Anstiss was born in 1767 in Crediton to parents William Anstis and Elizabeth. He 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 – see below);
  • John Anstey (b 1806 – the ‘Western Times’ 20 December 1834 noted that “John Anstey, a labourer, was charged by Mr J. Whippel of Exminster, with having, along with two others, stolen a quantity of potatoes…John Anstey grounded his claim to the potatoes on an alleged custom that existed in the parish of Exminster…“. He 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 Anstice (b 1803 Exminster)

James Anstice was born in Exminster in 1803 to parents Benjamin Anstiss and Mary Smale. He married Thomasin Ponsford in 1826 in Tedburn as ‘Anstey’ and lived in first Exminster and later Chudleigh where they had children:

  • Henry Anstey (b 1826 Exminster, died an infant);
  • Eliza Anstey (b 1827 Exminster – moved to Ontario, Canada with at least two of her brothers);
  • Mary Ann Anstey (b 1832, Chudleigh);
  • William Anstey (b 1834 Chudleigh – co-patriarch of the Whitby, Ontario Ansteys of Canada);
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1838 Chudleigh – moved to Ontario, Canada with at least two of her brothers);
  • James Henry Anstey (b 1841 Chudleigh – co-patriarch of the Whitby, Ontario Ansteys of Canada);
  • Charles Anstey (b 1844 Chudleigh) and
  • John Anstey (b 1847 Chudleigh, married Susan Coyle on 28 February 1876 at Liverpool, St Peter in a Roman Catholic marriage – he was living at Sparling Street at the time. By by the 1881 Census they were living at 24, Sparling Street, Liverpool where John Anstey was a dock labourer. They had sons James Anstey (b 5 June 1878, baptised 16 June 1878 at Liverpool, St Peter, died 1880); John Joseph Anstey (b 1880 – an Anstey Hero) and Peter Herman Anstey (b 1884 – an Anstey Hero). By the 1891 Census John Anstey was a painter, still living in Sparling Street. On 21 May 1895 John was admitted to the Liverpool Workhouse – he was described as Roman Catholic with nearest relative his wife “Susan Anstey of 26 Sparling Street“. He was either “discharged or died” on 26 July 1895. Susan Anstey died in 1900 in Liverpool)

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, living with his family at Boycotts Court, St Thomas the Apostle in 1881, working as a labourer. Then on 20 June 1882 he joined the Army, posted to the 4th Battalion Devonshire Regiment (Service Number: 122). On 9 August 1882 he was transferred to/enlisted in the Royal Marines and in the 1891 Census he was living with his family, described as an “unmarried solider“. At some point well before 1903 he emigrated to Australia because Charles Anstey was a “miner of long experience” witness to the Mount Morgan, Queensland Mining Disaster in 1908. Charles Anstey married Catherine Morris (b 1867, known as Kate) in Queensland on 14 April 1903 and they had at least three sons William Henry Anstey (b 1904); Charles James Anstey (b 1904); and Arthur [Bernard and/or Trenn] Anstey (b 1906, won the George Medal in 1950 for bravery). In the 1910 to 1914 Electoral Registers the family were living at Mount Morgan (Fitzroy in 1911; Mundingburra in 1912 and 1914 and Capricornia in 1913). Charles Anstey died in Queensland on 29 June 1915, parents confirmed as “Mary Ann Trenn and James Anstey“. The ‘Rockhampton Morning Bulletin‘ on 28 July 1915 noted “Death: Anstey on the 29 June 1915 at Mount Morgan Charles Anstey late of Exeter, County Devon” – he was living at Leister Street off East Street at the time of his death and buried at Mount Morgan Cemetery. The ‘Rockhampton Morning Bulletin‘ on 29 June 1916 reported “ANSTEY: In Loving memory of my dear husband Charles Anstey who departed this life June 29 1915 – inserted by his loving wife and sons Mount Morgan“. Kate Anstey was buried on 11 December 1954 at Mt Morgan Cemetery – the ‘Rockhampton Morning Bulletin‘ reporting “FUNERAL NOTICES THE Relatives and Friends of the late MRS KATE ANSTEY, of Lester Street, Mt Morgan, widow of the late Mr Charles Anstey, are respectfully invited to attend her Funeral, to move from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Gordon Street, This (Saturday) Afternoon at 2“);
  • Mary Ann Anstey (b 1866 Exeter, St Thomas, known as Polly. She married Alfred Coles [Cole] in 1895 in Bristol. In the 1901 Census they were living at 193, Clarence Road, Bristol with her ‘brother’s William Anstey and Charles Anstey (Alfred Cole was described as a chimney sweep born 1854 in Bristol). By the 1911 Census for some reason their surname had changed to ‘Dymock‘ but it is certainly them living at 22 Stoney Hill, Bristol, as ‘Alfred Dymock‘ was a chimney sweep born 1854 in Bristol – Charles Anstey, now described as their ‘nephew’ was still living with them);
  • 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, a laundress living at home in 1891);
  • James T. Anstey (b 1874 Exeter, St Thomas, a ‘tool boy’ living at home in 1891. He married Catherine Wills, known as Kate, in 1897 in St Thomas, having children in Exeter St Thomas William Charles Anstey (b 1897, known as Charlie); Frederick James Anstey (b 1899); William John Anstey (b 1902, died in 1907 buried at Exeter St Mary Major on 27 April 1907); Doris Minnie May Anstey (b 1904); Reginald Thomas Anstey (b 1906); Ernest George Anstey (b 1908); and Wallace Jim Anstey (b 1911). In the 1911 Census James was a gas house stoker living at 34 Quay Lane Exeter with his family);
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1876 Exeter, St Thomas, a general servant living at home in 1891);
  • Laura Maud Anstey (b 1877 Exeter St Thomas, known as Maud, a general servant living at home in 1891);
  • Sarah Jane (Jenny) Anstey (b 1879 Exeter St Thomas, known as Jane, alive in 1891);
  • William Anstey (b 1883 Exeter St Thomas baptised in 1885 – an electric car conductor living with his ‘brother’ Charles and sister Mary Ann Coles at 193, Clarence Road, Bristol in the 1901 Census. By the 1911 Census he was an unmarried marine stoker living at 21 Stoney Hill, Bristol – next door to Charles); and
  • Charles Anstey (b 1898 Exeter – living with his ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ William and Mary Ann Coles at 193, Clarence Road, Bristol in the 1901 Census (though they were actually his uncle and aunt). By the 1911 Census he was still living with his aunt, now going by the name Polly Dymock, at 22 Stoney Hill, Bristol – next door to William)

In 1881 the family were living at Boycotts Court, St Thomas the Apostle where James Anstey was a labourer and in 1891 they were living at Cowick Street, St Thomas where James Anstey was a smith. 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 the 1911 Census James Stokes Anstey was living with Jane at 10 Hawkins Buildings St Thomas Exeter, he was a “former blacksmith“. James Stokes Anstey died in 1922 in Exeter, St Thomas, buried in Exwick Cemetery, Exeter, plot reference “Div: AC No: 103“.

Henry Charles Anstey (b 1855 Exminster)

Henry Charles Anstey (b 1855 in Exminster, son of Charles Anstey) married Mary Jane Martin (b 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 1873);
  • William Philip Anstey (b 1875 – an Anstey Hero);
  • Frederick Charles Anstey (b 1876 – an Anstey Hero);
  • Laura (Florence) Jane Anstey (b 1880 – married Walter Nathanial 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, a servant at 21 Avenue Road Hammersmith in the 1911 Census);
  • Susannah (Cissie) Anstey (b 1886, known as Cissie. She was a cook at The Royal Devon And Exeter Hospital in the 1911 Census and she married Frederick Heal later in 1911 in Exeter, St Thomas);
  • Esther Minnie Anstey (b 1887 – married William Ford in 1908 in Exeter, St Thomas);
  • Bertha Kate Anstey (b 1889, aka Kate Bertha Anstey – she was an unmarried kitchen maid domestic at 13 Manor Road B’mouth, Bournemouth in the 1911 Census and she was at Furzeleigh House Axminster in the 1930 Electoral Register);
  • Harry James Anstey (b 1890, died in 1892 buried at Exwick Cemetery in Exeter);
  • Phyllis Anstey (b 1892 – was an “under housemaid domestic” in the 1911 Census at The Hall Dartington. She died in 1919 “age 27“, buried in the family grave at Exwick Cemetery, Exeter, plot reference “Div: V No: 33“);
  • Frank Anstey (b 1893 – an Anstey Hero);
  • Stanley Leonard Anstey (b 1898 – an Anstey Hero);

In the 1901 Census, the family were living at Cowick Street, St Thomas the Apostle, St Thomas, Exeter – Henry Charles Anstey was a mason’s labourer. They were still living there in the 1911 Census together with a granddaughter Winnie Anstey (b 1896). In 1914 the family were described as “[having] thirteen children, [the] parents being very respectable” (‘Western Times‘ 18 September 1914).

In the 1939 Register Henry Charles Anstey, a retired builders labourer and a widower, was still living at 80 Cowick Street with his youngest son Stanley (by now an invalid).

Henry Charles Anstey died in Exeter St Thomas in 1945, aged 90. He was buried in the family grave at Exwick Cemetery, Exeter, plot reference “Div: V No: 33“, where his wife Mary Jane Anstey had been buried in 1933.

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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