Henry Francis Anstey (b 1847)

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

Henry Francis Anstey, known as Harry, a member of the Bampton Ansteys, was born in July 1847 in Highercombe, South Australia to parents George Alexander Anstey and Harriet Kingham Ruffy. Harry was brother to Thomas Henry Anstey and Edgar Oliphant Anstey, amongst others.

By 1861, Harry was a student at Rugby School in England; he attended Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1866 and became a Civil Engineer (in the 1871 Census he was living with his family at Harley Street, Marylebone, an “engineering student chemistry“). He married Edith Euphemia Carnegie (daughter of Major John Carnegie, she died in 1926 in Camberley, Surrey) in January 1877 in Notting Hill, Kensington, London, with whom he had four children being:

  • Leila Carnegie Anstey (b 1880 Pimlico, Middlesex, married Andrew George Wood in St Paul, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge in 1901. In the 1911 Census they were living in Shropshire with their two daughters and thirteen servants. Andrew died in 1916 and Leila died in 1924 as a result of a car crash in Belgrave Square – both are buried in the Wood family mausoleum at Brookwood Cemetery);
  • Edgar Carnegie Anstey (b 1882 Redruth, Cornwall, an Anstey Hero)
  • Violet Carnegie Anstey (b 1887 in Paddington, London, married Talbot Stanley Dean Pitt in 1909 in Chelsea and then after her first husband died she remarried Geoffrey Delves Broughton in 1913 in Farnham, Surrey. Violet died in 1938)
  • Robert Alexander Carnegie Anstey (b 1890 in Jarrahdale near Perth in Western Australia, an Anstey Hero)

In 1887 Harry and his family moved to Western Australia, arriving on the ship ‘The Yeoman‘. On arrival, he set up a metallurgical laboratory in Perth, then in October 1887 he led an exploration party on a prospecting expedition to Bindoon and then Yilgarn, where on about 20 October 1887 they discovered gold in the Yilgarn Ranges at Ennuin, thirty miles northwest of the current town of Southern Cross (around two hundred and fifty miles inland from Perth).

The earliest mention we find of Harry’s involvement in the gold discovery at Yilgarn (which was very widely reported in the Australian newspapers) was 12 November 1887 where the ‘Western Australian‘ newspaper reported:

“The Latest Gold Discovery: The Locality of the Supposed Field. We are indebted to the Acting Commissioner of the Crown Lands for the map showing the approximately the location of the auriferous [gold containing rocks] country recently discovered by Mr Anstey’s expedition to the north east of Newcastle. The country may be described as lying between the 118th and 119th meridians of longitude and 20th and 31st parallels of latitude…the native name for this country is the Yilgarn Hills…about 25 miles to the west of Mt Jackson. The Government have temporarily reserved a prospecting area for Messrs Leake and Anstey“.

By 30 November 1887, the same newspaper was reporting that “Mr Anstey, the leader of the prospecting party who a few weeks ago discovered gold at the Yilgarn Hills in the Eastern Districts returned again to Perth yesterday. It will be remembered that Mr Anstey immediately upon making the discovery rode into Perth and announced it

The area became known as Anstey’s Reef – “a hill of ironstone and quartz, one mile long, 30ft. wide and 50ft. high“.

The ‘Colonies and India‘ 06 January 1888 reported “WESTERN AUSTRALIA. Colreavy’s prospecting party have not been successful in discovering gold in paying quantities. It will be remembered that some time ago they were sent out by the Western Australian Government to the Yitggairn Hills district, east of Newcastle. They report that they saw no indications of gold beyond the reef discovered by Anstey’s party. Colreavy and his men prospected for 20 miles north and south of Anstey’s reef, but did not get a single specimen. They report that Anstey is still working at the reef two feet deep and getting a little gold. Colreavy thinks from what he saw there is no gold field in the district. He brought down to Perth Anstey’s specimens of both gold and silver ore. Colreavy considers that silver will be found in the district in large quantities, and that Anstey’s find gives sufficient encouragement for further prospecting.”

[Note: The Yilgarn Gold Rush died out when news arrived of the rich discovery of gold to the east at Coolgardie in September 1892; at the same time the Australian Government awarded Harry £500 for the discovery of the Yilgarn goldfields. Harry’s efforts certainly contributed indirectly to the subsequent rich gold discoveries at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, that established the Eastern Goldfields.]

After returning to Perth, Harry was appointed Government Assayer in 1889. By 1890 he was living in Jarrahdale in the Cockburn Sound area of Perth. From August 1893 until July 1894, Harry was a nominated member of the Western Australian Legislative Council. On 16 July 1894, he contested the Legislative Council seat of South West Province but was unsuccessful. In subsequent years he speculated in real estate in Claremont and Bassendean, but in 1898 financial difficulties prompted him to sell his properties and move to Cardup, where he became an orchardist. In 1899, Harry and his family decided to permanently return to England.

In 1901, Harry was a “retired Civil Engineer” living in Cadogan Square, Chelsea, England. He was still living in Cadogan Square, London in 1908 when he communicated with chief Anstey researcher Thomas John Anstey (Tom) – the letter he sent to Tom can be seen on Tom’s Correspondence page. In the 1911 Census, Harry was in Fleet, Hampshire visiting his brother William Frederick Anstey. By 1914 Harry had moved to Camberley, Surrey then, after his wife died in 1926, he retired to Falmouth. Harry finally died on 6 July 1927 in a private nursing home in London.

Harry’s mark in Perth remains to this day as there are numerous roads in Bassendean in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia named after Harry and his family, namely Anstey Road, Carnegie Road and Rugby Street. There is also an Anstey Street in Central Perth, which was also named after Harry. The ‘Perth City Records Geographical Names Committee‘ recorded that “Anstey Street was identified in a letter dated 1935 by Thos Peet (the Real Estate Agent) as having been named after H ANSTEY, of the Collie Coal Fields. Henry Francis (Harry) Anstey is identified in the Dictionary of Western Australia, as having discovered gold in Yilgarn in 1887, and was a prominent prospector in the 1890s, which lead to the development of the Eastern Goldfields. Anstey Street forms part of a subdivision by William Henry Strickland, a prominent Perth hotelier and businessman, who in 1891 purchased ten South Perth lots to develop a large estate. Most of this land was subdivided in 1906, creating two streets: Strickland and Anstey.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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