The Washfield Ansteys

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

Overview of the Washfield Ansteys

The Washfield Ansteys of Devon are one of the major and most ancient sub-branches of the South West Peninsula Ansteys, being a sub-branch of the Dulverton Ansteys. They have been thoroughly documented by G. M. Anstey (Gary) and T. J. Anstey (Tom), the overseers and chief researchers of this ‘Anstey Story‘, in their third co-authored book:

Anstey: The Devon and Somerset Branch

The first edition of this book was privately printed in July 2018. Further research for the second edition is currently under way, for eventual sale, subject to there being enough demand to cover the costs of publication (anybody interested in being contacted when this second edition is available for purchase, please contact us at

It is intended that much of the contents of this book will be uploaded to this Anstey project website over time for all to enjoy. 

There are numerous sub-branches of Ansteys which descend from the Washfield Ansteys. Those where we have commenced uploading information include:

John Anstey (b 1717 Bickleigh)

John Anstey was baptised in Bickleigh in 1717 to father George Anstey, a Washfield Anstey. He married Sarah and they had a son John Anstey (b ? – see presently). John Anstey (b 1717) was buried in Bickleigh in 1794 “aged 78” and his widow Sarah was buried there in 1802 “aged 80“.

John Anstey (son) married Susan Lipscombe in Silverton in 1814 where the Silverton parish register mentions that he was “of Bickleigh”. They had children in Silverton:

John Anstey was a labourer/farmer, depending on source.

John Anstey (died 1798 Washfield)

In the name of God Amen I John Anstey of Washfield in the county of Devon, yeoman living in a weak state of health but of sound mind memory and understanding…I do make this my last will and testament…I give devise and bequeath unto my son John Anstey one hundred pounds lawful money of Great Britain and also my watch, four silver table spoons, one pair of silver salt and salt spoons. Also I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Anstey one hundred pounds lawful money of Great Britain …and my wearing apparel to be equally divided between them my two sons…but if either of my sons shall die before the age of twenty one years then the said sums shall be given to the survivor of them for his use and benefit at the age of twenty one. Also I do hereby will and devise my good friend John Melhuish of Washfield aforesaid yeoman and John Pearse of Horley Pountry? in the county aforesaid yeoman trust to be aiding and assisting my executors until my children shall attain the age of twenty one years…lastly all the rest of my worldly goods, chattels and effects whatsoever i give devise and bequeath to my wife and children (that is to say my wife Jane Anstey my son John Anstey my son Thomas Anstey my daughter Mary Anstey (spinster) and my daughter Charlotte Anstey…dated 8 April 1798

John Anstey was buried on 16 July 1798 in Washfield and the will was proved on 1 September 1798. From all this we know that John married Jane in c1785 or so and they had children in Washfield:

  • John Anstey (b 1786, baptised in Washfield 25 May 1786 to “John and Jenny“);
  • Mary Anstey (b 19 November 1787, baptised in Washfield 24 July 1788 – described as a “spinster” in 1798?);
  • Thomas Anstey (b 26 August 1789, baptised 25 February 1790 in Washfield – see below);
  • Elizabeth Charlotte Anstey (b 24 June 1796, baptised 23 September 1796 Washfield, buried 19 April 1798 Washfield just days after the above will was written)

Isaac Anstey (b 1767 Washfield)

Isaac Anstey was born in 1767 in Washfield, baptised 8 August 1767, to parents John Anstey and Rebecca Brooks. In 1781 he was an “apprentice mercer” to Francis Brown of Dulverton, then at some point in the late 1780s he moved to Westminster to become a linen draper.

We have unsourced reports that Isaac Anstey may have married Elizabeth Jarman, but he surely married Martha Ralfe [Rolfe] on 6 October 1789 at Diocese of Winchester, Surrey, when he described himself as “Isaac Anstey, bachelor, of the parish of St James, Westminster in the County of Middlesex, Linen Draper” – he was clearly well educated and literate, signing his own name. Both were aged “twenty one years and upwards“. They made their oaths in St Mary Lambeth, and had children in Westminster:

  • Isaac Anstey Junior (b 11 November 1790, baptised 9 December 1790 St James, Westminster. He married Mary Croft (b c1796 Brightling) in 1818 in St Anne, Westminster and they had children Mary Ann Anstey (b 1820, “of 6 Cross Street Regent Street, spinster, deceased who died 30 November 1858 at Copthorn Bank, Worth, Sussex were granted to Isaac Anstey of Copthorn Bank, aforesaid Gentleman the father of the said deceased“);​​ Frederick Anstey (b 1826 – see below); Isaac Anstey (b 1828, baptised 1 June 1828 in Lambeth “late of 53 Wardour Street Soho in the County of Middlesex Hatter bachelor deceased who died 26 Feb 1865 at 3 Parade Harleyford Road Kennington to Frederick Anstey of 9 Upper Portland Place, Wandsworth Road in the said County of Surrey hat and cap maker the brother of the deceased“); and Alfred George Anstey (b 1831). It is likely this Isaac Anstey appeared as a juror at the Old Bailey in both February 1839 and March 1847. In the 1841 Census the family were living at Bridge Road, St Mary Lambeth where “Isaac Junior Anstey” was a “hatter“. Isaac Anstey died on 19 May 1860, “aged 69“, buried at Copthorne, Worth, Sussex. Probate was to his son Frederick Ansteyletters of administration of the personal estate and effects of Isaac Anstey late of Copthorne Bank Worth in the County of Sussex Gentleman deceased Frederick Anstey of 18 Clayton Street Kennington Green in the County of Surrey Hat and Cap Maker one of the children of the said deceased“. Isaac‘s widow Mary Anstey was a “fund holder” living with her son Frederick Anstey in the 1881 Census – ditto the 1891 Census); and
  • Mary Anstey (b 1793)

Isaac Anstey appears in the Westminster Rate Books in 1789 (at Portugal Street, St James, Picadilly); 1791 (at George Alley East, St James, Piccadilly); and 1792/93 (at Air Street East). The next appearance is not until 1817 (at Stutton Ground West St Margarets, Westminster), which is likely his son Isaac Anstey Junior. This, combined with the fact that we find only two children, the last of whom was born in 1793, suggests Isaac Anstey (father) may have died in 1793 or soon after, though we seek confirmation of that.

Thomas Anstey (b 1789? Washfield)

Thomas Anstey was either a) born on 26 August 1789, baptised in Washfield on 25 February 1790, to parents John Anstey and Jane or b) born 20 May 1797 in Washfield to parents John Anstey and Ann Ferris. Per the ‘Exeter Flying Post‘ on 21 September 1820 “Game Keepers Not Being Assessed Servants: ANSTEY Thomas appointed by John Worth for the manor of Washfield and all other his lands“. The ‘Game Certificate’ of “Anstey Thomas, Washfield” was again renewed in 1824.

According to the ‘North Devon Journal‘ 16 February 1827 edition “A melancholy and fatal accident happened in the vicinity of Tiverton on Monday evening last. Mr Thomas Anstey of Washfield (steward to J. Worth Esq of Worth), Mr Hutchings of Chetiscombe Barton, and Mr Bidgood of Bolham were returning home after valuing some timber when they came to the village of Halberton. Messrs Anstey and Bidgood, riding superior horses, left Mr Hutchings at a considerable distance behind; he however rode after them as quick as possible and on reaching Mr Bidgood and near the village saw a hat lying on the road and soon afterwards discovered the body of Mr Anstey, apparently dead, which, as quick as possible, was transferred to the nearest inn; life however was extinct. Mr Bidgood Bidgood then set out for Tiverton to fetch a surgeon in the vain hope of recovering him. After he had been gone some time, Mr Hutchings determined to ride to Tiverton also; he accordingly mounted Mr Anstey‘s horse and at a distance of about a mile from the town was horror struck at discovering the body of Mr Bidgood lying in the road, quite insensible, having been also thrown from his horse. He was conveyed to a cottage in the neighbourhood and though much hurt, is expected to recover.

The ‘Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser‘ on 21 February 1827 added “Mr Anstey was a young man, respected and esteemed by all who knew him – he has left a wife and child to lament his untimely end“.

From the above we are pretty confident that this Thomas Anstey married Elizabeth Coles on 19 May 1826 in Washfield “Marriage of Thomas Anstey of Washfield in Devon, yeoman, bachelor and Elizabeth Coles of Washfield, spinster, minor age twenty years, 3rd May 1826 – James Coles of Luppitt in Devon, father of Elizabeth Coles, gave his consent to the marriage“. The daughter referred to above was Eliza Anstey (baptised 20 September 1826 in Washfield), at which time Thomas Anstey was described as “yeoman of Church Pitt, Washfield

Thomas Anstey was buried at Washfield on 17 February 1827 “age 37 of Church Pit Washfield” – it is this “age 37” that is causing us problems because other signs point to him being born in 1797.

John Anstey (b 1794 Washfield)

John Anstey was born on 26 October 1794 in Washfield, baptised 22 January 1795 to parents John Anstey and Ann Ferris. He married Susan (surely Susannah Tidboald, born in Witheridge in 1798 to Thomas Tidbould and Grace) in c1822 and they lived at Lower Pitt Farm Halberton (near Tiverton), having children:

  • John Anstey (b 1824 – see below);
  • Mary Ann Anstey (b 1826, baptised 29 October 1826, married H. Were [Wills?] yeoman of Tiverton on 6 November 1847. The ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette‘ on 13 November 1847 reported “Nov 6 at Washfield, near Tiverton, by the Rev. W. P. Pitman, Mr. Henry Were, of Beauchamp Farm, to Mary Ann, eldest daughter of Mr. John Anstey, Pitt Farm, Washfield.“);
  • Thomas Anstey (b 1828, baptised 10 August 1828 at St Peter’s Tiverton. In 1867 Thomas was a “farmer living at West Pitt Halberton, nephew to Mr Tidboald” involved in an important “Game case” about shooting rights over Beer Farm (see ‘West Somerset Free Press‘ 09 November 1867). He married Anna Marie Coles in Watford in 1870 having a son Alfred Anstey (b 1874 – of Foot Anstey fame). Thomas was described as a “shareholder” in Tiverton in the 1871 Census. Thomas Anstey died in 1908 where he was described as the ‘Commanding Officer of the Tiverton Company of Volunteers’ and “had served for some years as churchwarden of the borough and of St Peter’s Church” per the ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette’ 17 January 1908 edition);
  • Julia Anstey (b 1830, baptised 6 August 1830);
  • Jane [Joanne] Anstey (b 1832, baptised 12 December 1832. The ‘Exeter Flying Post‘ on 10 August 1864 reported “Marriage: 4 Aug at St. David’s, Exeter, by the Rev. J. T. Toye, Mr. W. T. Rew, of Tiverton, to Jane, youngest daughter of John Anstey, Esq., of Halberton“);
  • William Anstey (b 1835, baptised 2 July 1835);
  • Edwin Anstey (b 27 August 1839 baptised 22 September 1839 – he married Sarah Rich in Chippenham on 1 June 1869 (he was already a grocer living in Camberwell at this time). They had children in Camberwell John Edwin Anstey (b 1872 – an Anstey Hero); Charles Rich Anstey (b 1875 – an Anstey Hero); and Florence Maud Anstey (b 1880, unmarried and living with her mother at 37 Hambalt Road Clapham in the 1911 Census). The ‘South London Press‘ on 19 November 1870 reported “Surrey Sessions: Short Weights and Measures: Edwin Anstey, grocer and cheesemonger, Grovelane, Camberwell: Weighing machine, caused by water in the scale left after weighing butter…Mr Webb elicited that they had never found anything wrong at Mr Anstey’s shop before. There were four other small hand scales in the shop at the time and they were all correct… Mr Chipperfield addressed the bench on behalf of the defendant [Mr Anstey] and urged that the amount of deficiency was extremely slight and the result of accident. The bench observed there was no implication of dishonesty on the part of Mr Anstey, merely carelessness…“. In the 1871 Census Edwin was a grocer living with his family at Grove Lane Hebron Terrace, St Giles Camberwell – ditto the 1881 Census. Edwin Anstey died in 1888 in Camberwell and in the 1891 Census his widow Sarah was a ‘retired grocer’ living with her children at Graces Road, Camberwell. In the 1911 Census Sarah Anstey (widow) and her daughter Florence were living at 37 Hambalt Road Clapham);
  • Abraham Tidboald [Tidball?] Anstey (b 1840, baptised 16 October 1840. He was a pupil at The Wilderness, Barrington Street, Tiverton in the 1851 Census. Abraham died in 1862 – the ‘Morning Post‘ on 13 February 1862 reported “London, aged twenty-one, Abraham Tidboald Anstey, a student in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and fifth son of John Anstey, Esq., of Halberton, near Tiverton“. He was “nephew of Mr T. Tidboald, Chelmsford“); and
  • Isaac Anstey (b 1842 (some sources say 10 July 1844), baptised 26 August 1842 – living with his family in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. Isaac must have emigrated to Canada at some point after this, returning to reside in Silverton when he married Sarah Chamberlain on 27 May 1880 in Silverton – the ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette‘ on 4 June 1880 reported “MARRIAGE: ANSTEY -CHAMBERLAIN May 29? at Silverton, Mr Anstey of Canada to Miss Sarah Chamberlain of Rewe“. They then emigrated to America in c1884. In 1890 they were living in Harris County, Precinct no. 2, Texas and on 16 October 1897 Isaac died, buried at Hunt Japonica Cemetery Hunt, Kerr County, Texas – we find no children of the marriage. His widow Sarah was living in Kerr, Texas in 1900 and in Justice Precinct 4 Kerr Texas in the 1910 American Census. She died later in 1910, on 10 June, buried in the same cemetery as her husband)

In the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses the family were at Lower Pitt Farm (a farm of 170 acres employing 5 labourers). In 1864 “John Anstey, [was] the proprietor, at West Pitt Farm, Halberton”.

Susan Anstey (wife) died on 29 October 1870 “aged 72“. A month later the ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette Daily Telegrams‘ 13 October 1870 edition reported “Tiverton: Accident – On Tuesday evening last Mr John Anstey of Pitt Farm, Halberton met with a rather serious accident. It appears he was walking home after attending Tiverton market and when near Holwell he fell and fractured his arm…”

John Anstey died in 1872 – the ‘West Somerset Free Press‘ on 31 August 1872 reported “Deaths: August 22nd, at Silverton, Mr. John Anstey, late West Pitt, Halberton, aged 77 years.

John Anstey (b 1824 Washfield)

John Anstey was born on 18 April 1824 in Halberton, baptised in Washfield, to parents John Anstey and Susan (not to be confused with either John Anstey (b 1824 Tiverton) or John Anstey (b 1821 Halberton)). He married Ann Payne (b 1825 Sampford Peverell) on 30 March 1846 in Sampford Peverell (he described himself as a “yeoman of Halberton” – father confirmed as ‘John Anstey‘). They went to Cullompton and farmed at East Culme, Batt Hills, Cullompton, having children there:

  • Ann Anstey (b 1848, baptised in Halberton 16 February 1848);
  • Jane Anstey (b 1850);
  • John Anstey (b 1853);
  • Emma Anstey (b 1856, died an infant buried in Cullompton on 19 August 1856); and
  • Sarah Anstey (b 1857)

In the 1851 and 1861 censuses the family were living at East Culme Farm (John‘s birth confirmed as Halberton) where John was a “Farmer Of 40 Acres Employing 1 Labourer

The ‘Tiverton Gazette‘ on 16 September 1862 reported “East Culme Estate Cullompton: To farmers, brick and tile manufacturers and others. to be let by tender for a term of 14 years from Ladyday 1863 all of this desirable estate…dwelling house, farm buildings, and about 40 acres of excellent Arable, Meadow, Pasture, and Orchard Land, now in the occupation of Mr. John Anstey, whose term expires at Ladyday next.“)

Frederick Anstey (b 1826 Lambeth)

Frederick Anstey was born in 1826 in Lambeth to parents Isaac Anstey Junior and Mary Croft. He married Mary Calderhead (b 1823) in 1845 in St John the Evangelist, Lambeth and they had children in Lambeth:

In the 1851 Census they were living at Gibralter Row, Saint George the Martyr where Frederick was a “hatter“. From 1854 to at least 1858 Frederick Anstey appears in the Westminster Rate Books at Spencers Terrace. In 1860 when his father Isaac Anstey Junior died Frederick was at “18 Clayton Street Kennington Green in the County of Surrey Hat and Cap Maker“. Mary Anstey (wife) must have died pre-1860 because on 29 December 1860 at Kennington “Frederick Anstey son of Isaac Anstey” married Emily Drury (b 1840). They had children together in Lambeth:

  • Emily Mary Anstey (b 1861);
  • Alfred Anstey (b 1864, an “Assistant to hunting & shorting cap maker” in 1891 at Wandsworth Road, Lambeth with his family);
  • William Henry Anstey (b 1866, died in Lambeth in 1874)
  • Clara Anstey (b 1868);
  • Arthur Frederick Anstey (b 1871, married Edith Gale in 1904 in Lambeth having children Florence Edith Mary Anstey (b 1906 Lambeth) and Margery Anstey (b 1911 Wimbledon). In the 1911 Census they were living at 12 Sydney Road Merton, Surrey with Edith’s father William GaleArthur was a railway porter); and
  • Florence Hester Anstey (b 1876)

By the 1861 Census Frederick was “a cap maker” living with his new wife Emily and his children at 9 Upper Portland Place, Lambeth. In 1865 when his brother Isaac died, Frederick Anstey was “of 9 Upper Portland Place, Wandsworth Road in the said County of Surrey hat and cap maker“.

By the 1871 Census the family were living at Wandsworth Road, Lambeth where Frederick was a “cap maker” – also living with them was his widowed mother Mary Anstey, a “fund holder“. Emily Anstey (wife) died in 1878 in Lambeth, “aged 38” so by the 1881 Census Frederick Anstey, a “hunting & shooting cap maker“, and his family were living at 144, Wandsworth Road, Lambeth – ditto 1891.

Frederick Anstey died in 1901 in Lambeth, “aged 75

Isaac Anstey (b 1851 Lambeth)

Isaac Anstey was born in Lambeth in 1851 to parents Frederick Anstey and Mary Calderhead. He was unmarried and living with his father and stepmother in 1871 at Wandsworth Road, Lambeth. He married Ellen Castle in 1875 in Wandsworth and they had children in Wandsworth/Battersea:

In the 1881 Census Isaac was a bricklayers labourer at 6, William Street, Clapham, Wandsworth. By 1891 he was a “Builders hand jobbing” living at Heath Road, Clapham, Wandsworth. By 1901 Isaac Anstey was a widower and stone mason boarding with the ‘Eve‘ family (probably related to Emma Eve above) at 8, Mandrell Road, Lambeth with his children Henry, Herbert and Gertrude – we cannot locate him in the 1911 Census. Isaac Anstey died in Camberwell in 1937 “aged 85

Further Details on the Washfield Ansteys

#1. It is probably William Anstey the Younger (documented in ‘ANSTEY: The Devon and Somerset Branch‘) who was in the First Regiment of the Devon Militia under the bizarrely named Lieutenant Colonel Bastard. According to his Chelsea Pensioner Discharge Document “William Anstey” was born in 1744 in Washfield near Tiverton and was discharged at Exeter on 24 April 1802 “after faithfully serving as a Sergeant for 22 years but [discharged] in consequence of the Secretary of State directing younger men to be retained as non-commissioned officers“.

#2. The ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette‘ 07 January 1837 edition notes “Death Dec 29 at Washfield in this county Mr John Anstey aged 92 years; a man of the strictest honour and integrity, sincerely beloved and his death regretted by family and friends” – this is John Anstey of the Washfield ‘Pilmore’ sub-branch (see Anstey: The Devon and Somerset Branch page 278)

#3. An ‘Isaac Anstey‘ was a Steward working on the Convict Ship ‘Minerva’ in 1800, which was transporting convicts from Ireland to Australia. The ship had been chartered by the East India Company, so he probably worked for them. Whether he connects to this sub-branch we do not know.

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