The Devizes Ansties

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

Many thanks to Alfred Anstie who first constructed the ‘Devizes Family Tree’ in 1818, enlarging it in 1830. Also thanks to George Edmond Anstie who advanced on that work and constructed the ‘Register of the Family of Anstie‘ in 1898, and then again in c1945. Also many thanks to Barbara Anstie who has continued to advance the Devizes pedigree in the 21st century.

Overview of the Devizes Ansties

The Devizes Ansties are a sub-branch of the Bromham Ansteys of Wiltshire. The patriarch of the Devizes Ansties is Richard Anstie (b 1667 Bromham), who moved to Devizes in c1690. It would be aesthetically pleasing to be able to say that ‘Anstie’ became the spelling of the Devizes ‘Anstey’ surname when Richard Anstie first moved there, however that is not entirely accurate. For example, in the 1705 ‘Poll Books and Electoral Registers’ for Devizes, he was listed as “Richard Anstey”; indeed, he was buried as “Anstee” in 1727. By and large though, the ‘Anstie’ spelling became settled for this sub-branch after Richard Anstie‘s move to Devizes

Richard Anstie (b 1667 Bromham)

Richard Anstie was born in 1667 in Nether Street, Bromham as ‘Anstye‘ to parents John Anstey (b 1623 Bromham, a “clothier of Nether Street“) and Mary. In c1690 Richard Anstie moved to Devizes from Bromham, buying a grocery business in 1698 from Lucy Hillier at the junction of Market Place and Snuff Street; he was also a clothier and later a snuff manufacturer and seller of pepper, spices and tobacco. Richard Anstie was a fairly wealthy man, appearing as one of the trustees of the Elm Tree property in 1704 and a freeholder in the 1705 Poll Book.

It is from Richard Anstie and his wife Elizabeth Webb (who Richard married in Devizes in 1691, she was the daughter of Devizes clothier Benjamin Webb) that all Devizes Ansties alive today are descendent.

Richard Anstie and Elizabeth Webb had the following children in Devizes:

  • Elizabeth Anstie (b ?, died 1698 Devizes “dau of Richard Ansteed“);
  • John Anstie (b 1698 Devizes – see below);
  • Richard Anstie (b 1698 Devizes to Richarda grocer” and Elizabeth, mistranscribed as ‘Ansteed’, died young?);
  • Richard Anstie (b 1703 Devizes as ‘Anstee’ – see below);
  • Elinor Anstee (b 1704 died 1725, buried in Devizes “dau of Rich Anstee“);
  • Benjamin Webb Anstie (b 1706? did not marry. In 1726 he was described as “Benjamin Webb Anstie Gent” regarding leases of Devizes Almshouse Charity. Probate of his will, where he was described as a “clothier of Devizes” was in 1758 to his brother John Anstie);
  • Joseph Anstee (b ?, died 1716 in Devizes, “son of Rich Anstee“);

Elizabeth Anstie (mother) died in Devizes in 1725; Richard Anstie (father) was buried in Devises in 1727 (as ‘Anstee‘). He wrote a will a year before he died.

John Anstie (b 1698)

John Anstie (b 1698), eldest son of Richard Anstie and Elizabeth Webb, first married Bridget Coleman in Whaddon in 1723; he was described as a “grocer of Devizes“, however Bridget died in 1724. He then married Mary Ward (b 1703), having a son:

  • John Anstie (b 1727, died an infant)

However, Mary Ward died in 1731, buried in Devizes “wife of John“, so John Anstie remarried Mary Sharpe in c1732, the sister of a Bath surgeon. John Anstie and Mary Sharpe had children:

In 1728, “Joseph WELLS, son of Joseph, was apprenticed to John ANSTIE, master grocer of Devizes“. John Anstie was left £10 in the 1726 will of his father Richard Anstie and he carried on the family business, also acting as Sun Fire Insurance Agent in Devizes. In 1751 John Anstie was described as a “shopkeeper, snuffmaker and clothier“. In 1776 he took his sons John Anstie (b 1743 per above) and Benjamin Webb Anstie into the family business – a partnership which lasted until John Anstie (Senior) died in 1779. His widow Mary (Sharpe) Anstie died in 1799 leaving a will dated 1796 mentioning amongst others “my nieces Eleanor Anstie and Ann” (daughters of Richard Anstie (b 1703)).

See below for a 1765 Court Case involving John Anstie (b 1698)’s then five living children.

Richard Anstie (b 1703 Devizes)

Richard Anstie (b 1703 Devizes), younger son of Richard Anstie and Elizabeth Webb, married Dorcas Lovett in Shoreditch, Middlesex in 1728 and they had children:

  • Joseph Anstie (b c1736?, possibly married Ann Bounts in 1754 in Hillesden? He died in 1765)
  • Eleanor Anstie (b 1734?, died 1806 a spinster, mentioned in the 1796 will of her Aunt Mary (Sharpe) Anstiemy nieces Eleanor Anstie and Ann“);
  • Anthony Webb Anstie (b 1732, baptised in 1732 and then again “as an adult” in 1756 in Devizes. He married firstly Jane Temple, a “widow” in 1761 in St Mary Whitechapel “both of this parish”. He then married Ann Smith, a “widow” in St Sepulchre, Newgate, London in 1764 (witness was his brother Joseph Anstie). We find no children of either of these marriages. Anthony Webb Anstie died in 1804, buried in Devizes on 4 August 1804)
  • Elizabeth Anstie (b c1736?,died before 1896?);
  • Ann Anstie (b 1738, married Nehemiah Edleston in 1770 in St Andrew, Holborn. Mentioned in the 1796 will of her Aunt Mary (Sharpe) Anstiemy nieces Eleanor Anstie and Ann“, she died in 1807);
  • Richard Anstie (b 1739, UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioners “1st Regiment of Foot Guards, resident 5  Jul 1763“. He died in 1774);

In 1728 Richard Anstie was described as a “druggett clothier” in regards to leases of Devizes Almhouse Charity. In a 1740 will of “Elianor DAVIS, Widow of Frome” it states “to Edward HENWOOD, James FINES and Benjamin FULLER and their heirs etc. my messuage or tenement in the Devizes, Wilts, and my land at Rowd, both lately belonging to Richard ANSTIE in trust to permit Dorcas wife of said Richard ANSTIE to receive the rents for life for her separate use“.

Richard Anstie was a juror in the ‘Ruth Pierce’ inquest in Devizes in 1753, and he died in c1763.

All of Richard Anstie‘s living children, as well as those of his brother John Anstie were mentioned in a 1765 legal case “John Hall; John Pearce; Ann Kent; Sara Anstie; John Anstie; Peter Anstie; Benjamin Webb Anstie; and Mary Anstie v. Godfrey Webb; John Anstie; Philip Carteret Webb esq; Philip Carteret Webb jr esq; Gascoigne Frederick Joseph Anstie; Eleanor Anstie; Anthony Webb Anstie; Elizabeth Anstie; Ann Anstie; and Richard Anstie re. will of Benjamin Webb the younger, his death in 1750 and bequests to children of his kinsmen.

John Anstie (b 1743 Devizes)

John Anstie (b 1743 Devizes), son of John Anstie and Mary Sharpe, was originally brought into the family tobacco and snuff business in 1776 together with his brother Benjamin Webb Anstie, but bought himself out in 1784 to specialise in the clothing business. John Anstie married Mary Vesey of Wooton under Edge in c1780. In 1783 he was Chairman of the General Wool Meeting. In c1785 John Anstie built a factory for the production of cassimere, a closely woven fancy fabric, and in 1788 he was said to have three hundred looms in use. Much of this cloth was sold abroad but the French wars severely limited trade, with the result that he went bankrupt in 1793.

A book has been written about his life entitled ‘John Anstie of Devizes 1743-1830 An 18th Century Wiltshire Clothier‘ by Lorna Haycock. John Anstie designed his own coat of arms ‘Vert, a pale between two griffins sergeant or‘, however according to the College of Arms these arms were never formally recognised, and in any case as John Anstie only had a daughter (named Marianne), this ‘self-made’ coat of arms was not passed down any ‘Anstie’ lines.

The ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ on 24 January 1814 reported “To Clothiers and Others: To be Sold by Auction at the Inn in Devizes on 21 February 1814…a well built clothing factory and land adjoining, standing and lying in Back Street Devizes within 200 yards of the Kennet and Avon Canal, last the property of Mr John Anstie“.

John Anstie died in 1830 in Wilson Street, Bristol near his daughter’s boarding school in Brunswick Square; he was buried in St Pauls Churchyard, Portland Square. There can be found an obituary in the ‘Devizes Gazette‘ 18 November 1830 edition, where he was described as “John Anstie Esq, formerly of Devizes, Wiltshire“)

Peter Sharpe Anstie (b 1745 Devizes)

Peter Sharpe Anstie (b 1745 Devizes), son of John Anstie and Mary Sharpe, did not join the family clothier/snuff/tobacco business in Devizes. He married Ann Grace in 1771 in Cornhill St Peter, London. They had children:

  • Maria Anstie (b 1772 London, Saint Mary Woolnoth, died 1778);
  • Samuel Anstie (b 1774 London Saint Mary Woolnoth. On 1 January 1812 appeared a notice in ‘Dissenter (London)‘ “MESSRS. BIGGS & ANSTIE, hereby acquaint their Friends and the Public in general, that on the 1st day of January next, they shall dissolve Partnership, and resign their concern in St. Andrew’s-hill, to Messrs. WHITELEY and COLE“. A month later in 1812 in the ‘Gazette‘ appeared a bankruptcy notice “The Commissioners in a Commission of Bankrupt awarded against James Biggs and Samuel Anstie, late of St Andrews Hill Doctors Commons, London, wholesale ironmongers, dealers, chapmen and co-partners…Samuel appeared never to marry and died in 1814, buried 17 November 1814 in the Bunhill Field’s Burial Ground in London – he was a non-conformist dissenter);
  • John Anstie (b 1775, London Saint Mary Woolnoth);
  • Rev. Peter Anstie (Junior) (b 1778, London, lived in Trowbridge – see below);
  • Benjamin Anstie (b 1779, married Hester Biggs in 1809 in Devizes. They had a child Hester Goulding Anstie (b January 1810, died 1827 buried in Devizes on 28 September 1827 – the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ on 01 October 1827 reporting “On the 20th inst died aged 17, Hester, daughter of the late Mr B. Anstie and granddaughter of the Rev. J. Biggs of Devizes“). Benjamin Anstie died in 1810 in Devizes, buried 2 April 1810 (mother confirmed as “Ann Anstie“). As such, we are very confident that Benjamin Anstie ran a Boarding School in Devizes just before his death – see Further Details #3);
  • Maria Anstie (b 1781, died 1782);
  • Amelia Anstie (b 1782, married her first cousin Benjamin Anstie Esq on 20 November 1810 in Saint Benet Gracechurch and Saint Leonard Eastcheap. Amelia Anstie died in 1821 – see below);
  • Alfred Anstie (b 1784, constructor of the original ‘Devizes Family Tree‘ in 1818 – see below);
  • William Henry Anstie (b 1784, died 1787);
  • Edward Anstie (b 1786, died 1787);
  • William Anstie (b 1787, died an infant);
  • John Anstie (b 1788, died 1789);
  • John Grace Anstie (b 1791, died in 1811 buried in Devizes on 18 May 1811) 

It is likely that Peter Anstie was involved in bankruptcy proceedings in 1815; the ‘Law Chronicle, Commercial and Bankruptcy Register‘ on 28 September 1815 mentions “Peter Anstie of London, merchant and calico printer“. Said bankruptcy could have been as early as 1788 for in 1817 we find “John Levesey, John Hargreave… Peter Anstie and Joseph Smith, both hereforto of the City of London…merchants, calico printers and partners, against whom a commission of bankrupt was awarded and issued bearing date 12 June 1788…

Peter Anstie died in Finsbury Bunhill Fields, London aged 76 in 1821; the ‘Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette‘ 27 September 1821 reported “In London aged 76, Mr Peter Anstie, father of Mr Anstie of Trowbridge

Benjamin Webb Anstie (b 1748 Devizes)

Benjamin Webb Anstie (b 1748 Devizes), son of John Anstie and Mary Sharpe, was, together with his brother John Anstie (b 1743), brought into the family business in Devizes (clothier/snuff/tobacco) owned by his father John Anstie in 1776, receiving a salary of £40. Benjamin then took over the tobacco and snuff manufacturing business completely when a) his father John Anstie died in 1779 and b) his brother John Anstie (b 1743) bought himself out in 1784 to specialise in the clothing business.

Benjamin Webb Anstie married Hannah Overbury in 1780, and together they lived in Devizes, at either No. 29 or 31 Market Place, having eleven children (most baptised at St John the Baptist, Devizes – a non-conformist Church):

  • Mary Anstie (b 1781, married Thomas Overbury in Devizes in 1809 and received the cloth mill at Paulshot in the 1823 will of her father; she lived in Grogmarsh, Stroud);
  • Sarah Anstie (b 1783, probably described as a “creditor and dealer of Devizes Wiltshire” in 1805 (though see Further Details #4). She married her cousin Peter Anstie of Trowbridge in 1808 in Devizes. She died in 1835 – see below);
  • John Anstie (b 1785, died 1804 in Trowbridge)
  • Benjamin Anstie (b 1787, entered the family snuff and tobacco business – see below);
  • Peter Sharpe Anstie (b 1789, in 1806 Peter Sharpe Anstie was placed in the Fishponds Lunatic Asylum near Bristol by his father (see the ‘Sun (London)‘ 19 November 1852 edition), where he was still ‘residing’ “forty three years later” in 1849 according to a case detailed in the ‘West Kent Guardian‘ newspaper on 28 April 1849 which began “a petition was presented to determine the lunacy of two brothers, Mr Peter Sharpe Anstie and Mr Henry Anstie [sons of Benjamin Webb Anstie]“)
  • Hannah Anstie (b 1791, the ‘Oxford University and City Herald‘ on 14 March 1818 reported “Joseph Grace Smith Esq barrister at law of Bristol to Hannah, youngest daughter of Benjamin Webb Anstie Esq of Devizes“)
  • Ann Anstie (b 1794, died young?)
  • Paul Anstie (b 1796, entered the family snuff and tobacco business – see below)
  • Henry Anstie (b 1797, apprenticed to his first cousin Peter Anstie in 1813 – “Henry ANSTEE of Devizes St Mary, apprenticed to Peter ANSTEE, dyer & chemist of Trowbridge“. In 1821 Henry Anstie was placed in the Fishponds Lunatic Asylum near Bristol by his father (see the ‘Sun (London)‘ 19 November 1852 edition), where he had been ‘residing’ “for the past twenty eight years” in 1849 according to a case detailed in the ‘West Kent Guardian‘ newspaper on 28 April 1849, which began “a petition was presented to determine the lunacy of two brothers, Mr Peter Sharpe Anstie and Mr Henry Anstie [sons of Benjamin Webb Anstie]“)
  • George Washington Anstie (b 1800, became a solicitor and lived at Parkdale House, Devizes. On 26 January 1824 the ‘Hampshire Chronicle‘ reported “Whitehall, Jan. 23.-—The Lord Chancellor has appointed George Washington Anstie, Gent, of Devizes Wilts, to be Master Extraordinary in the High Court of Chancery“. He was a solicitor practicing in Devizes in 1828. He married Harriet Tomkins in Devizes in 1829 (“Oct. 15, George Washington Anstie, Esq., of Devizes, to Harriet, only daughter of Wm. Tomkins, Esq., of Abingdon“), having children Harriet Tomkins Anstie (b 1831 – the ‘Western Daily Press‘ on 12 January 1867 reported “On 3 Dec 1866 at the Lall Bazaar Chapel, Calcutta, by the Rev. J. Sale, of Calcutta, the Rev. James Smith, Baptist Missionary of Delhi, to Harriet Tomkins Anstie, eldest daughter of Geo. W. Anstie, Esq., of Park Dale, Devizes“); Sarah T. Anstie (b 1832); Mary Anstie (b 1837); Anne Anstie (b 1839) and John Anstie (b 1840, became a civil engineer, never married and died in 1900. The ‘Middlesex & Surrey Express‘ on 27 January 1900 reported “Sunbury: We regret to announce the death of Mr John Anstie, which occurred recently at Ealing, from pneumonia following on influenza. The deceased gentleman, who had attained the age of sixty, was the engineer of the Sunbury drainage scheme“. Executors of his will were his first cousins once removed Edward Louis Anstie and George Edmond Anstie). George Washington Anstie died in 1882. ‘Modern English Biography‘ by Frederic Boase has the following entry “b._ 1800; admitted attorney 1822; practiced at Devizes; worked energetically for parliamentary reform, negro emancipation, corn law repeal and the temperance movement. d. Park dale, Devizes 17 July 1882“);
  • James Overbury Anstie (b 1805, the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ on 12 December 1825 reported that “Jas Overberry Anstie of Devizes Wiltshire” had a bay mare stolen from him. Per the ‘Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette‘ 9 February 1826 edition two closes of meadow land and a piece of meadow ground “are now in the occupation of Mr. James O. Anstie, lying the west side Marsh lane, in the parish of Potterne, near the arid Bristol Turnpike Road“. He married Elizabeth Waylen in 1827 in Devizes (the ‘Hampshire Chronicle’ reporting on 16 April 1827 “Married, on Tuesday, by the Rev. C. Lucas, Jas. Overbury Anstie, Esq. of Devizes, to Elizabeth, second daughter of Robert Waylen, Esq“), having a son Alfred Anstie (b 1828 Etchilhampton, Wiltshire, died 1894 London). In 1828 he was described as a “surveyor and estate agent of Devizes” with an office in the Market Place, Devizes. He also ran a brewery in Devizes which he had to sell in 1839, the ‘Wiltshire Independent‘ 7 March 1839 edition reporting that “James Anstie [was] prevented by ill health from attention to business“. James Overbury Anstie died a month later – the ‘Patriot‘ on 11 April 1839 reporting “Died: April 9, after a lingering illness, Mr. James Overbury Anstie, of Devizes, aged 36“)

Hannah Anstie (mother) died in 1808; the ‘Oxford University and City Herald‘ on 30 April 1808 reporting “Death: Mrs. Anstey, wife of B. Anstey, Esq. of Devizes“. Benjamin Webb Anstie took two of his sons into the family snuff and tobacco business: Benjamin Anstie (b 1787) and Paul Anstie (b 1796). Note: In the ‘Register of the Family of Anstie‘ by George Edmond Anstie (a great grandson of Benjamin Webb Anstie), Benjamin Webb Anstie was also described as a clothier (see below).

Benjamin Webb Anstie died in 1824, having been a widower for 16 years – the ‘Hampshire Chronicle‘ on 6 September 1824 reporting “On Tuesday last died, after a long and severe illness, Benjamin Webb Anstie, Esq of Devizes“.

He was buried in the New Baptist Chapel Graveyard, Sheep Street, Devizes on 8 September 1824. In his will, dated 19 May 1823, he left the cloth mill at Poulshot to his daughter, Mrs Mary Overbury of Grogmarsh, Stroud. According to a History of Parkdale House in Devizes, this mill was used for cloth after snuff manufacture, which implies that he did maintain an interest in cloth production. Jane Norton Anstie, in a letter to her son, says about Paul Anstie (her father-in-law) that “things were much less prosperous than they had been in the days of his Father (Benjamin Webb Anstie), who though he inherited the family love of horses had nevertheless left a large fortune“.

Supporting this, according to the ‘West Kent Guardian‘ 28 April 1849, “Benjamin Webb Anstie, tobacco and snuff manufacturer of Devizes, devised by his will property to the amount in value of upwards £100,000 to trustees [at least £10mlln in today’s money] for the benefit of his nine children“. His eldest son Benjamin Anstie was an executor, also dealing with the inheritance for the two sons in Fishponds Lunatic Asylum (Peter Sharpe Anstie and Henry Anstie – see above).

Rev. Peter Anstie of Trowbridge (b 1778 London)

Peter Anstie was born in 1778 in Dr. Williams Library, London to parents Peter Sharpe Anstie and Ann Grace. The ‘Kentish Gazette‘ 19 May 1801 edition noted “Peter Anstie of Nightingales, near Chorley Lancashire, muslin manufacturer” was granted a certificate to trade.

He was renting a clothing factory and dye house in Hungerford Farley in Winkfield, Trowbridge by 1805. Also in 1805 per the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ 11 March 1805 edition “All of the following will be sold by Auction: All the net household furniture, linen, plates, china, 150 yards of kerseymere, dye drugs with various other effects of Peter Anstie at Winkfield, including bedsteads with mahogany pillars, cotton and other furniture, fine feather beds, mattresses, bedding, neat mahogany chairs…

We can only suppose that he was paying off debtors with these sales because in the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ 11 November 1805 edition “P. Anstie’s Estate: A first dividend of three shillings in the pound may be received under the estate of Peter Anstie late of Farley in the county of Somerset, dyer and factor…”

Peter Anstie married his first cousin Sarah Anstie in 1808 in Devizes, by which time he was “a dyer of Trowbridge” and referred to as “Peter Anstie Junior“. They had children in Trowbridge:

  • Anna Overbury Anstie (b 1809);
  • Mary Grace Anstie (b 1811);
  • Sarah Hillier Anstie (b 1814);
  • Amelia Golding Anstie (b 1815, died an infant buried in Devizes on 11 December 1815); and
  • Thomas Browne Anstie (b 1818, became a surgeon in Devizes. He married Emily Cunnington in Devizes in 1850 and they appeared to have no children. In 1856 according to the ‘Medical Times and Gazette‘ “Thomas Anstie Esq of Devizes [was representative of the [Devizes Union]“. Thomas Died Jan. 3rd, 1897. Buried at the New Baptist Chapel, Devizes. Practised at Devizes as surgeon for over fifty years. Senior deacon of the New Baptist Chapel. J. P., 1892. A pronounced Liberal in politics, in which he took an active part. Obit, notice, Devizes Gazette, Jan. 7th, 1897.” On his Devizes gravestone was written “husb of Emily son of Peter & Sarah“).

In 1810 “Peter ANSTIE of Trowbridge was balloted to serve in Wilts Militia for 3 years. Was substituted by John HISCOCKS of Bradford.” In 1813 Peter Anstie took on his first cousin Henry Anstie as an apprentice “Henry ANSTEE of Devizes St Mary, apprenticed to Peter ANSTEE, dyer & chemist of Trowbridge“. In the 1821 Census we find “P. Anstie – 2 male, 8 female. Living in Trowbridge area“.

By 1827, he had become the ‘Reverend Peter Anstie of Trowbridge‘ – the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ on 6 August 1827 reporting “The Rev. Peter Anstie, Trowbridge, was on Wednesday ordained to the Pastoral Office over the congregational church assembling at Bethesda Chapel, Trowbridge

In 1835 his wife Sarah Anstie died – the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ reporting on 20 July 1835 that “Died, July 12, at Exeter, in her 53rd year, Sarah, the wife of the Rev. Peter Anstie, and daughter of the late B. W. Anstie, Esq., of Devizes“. Peter Anstie was also a Baptist Minister in Brixham, Devon; he was in St Thomas, Devon in the 1841 Census and he died in 1848, “Death: Peter Anstie Esq: on 11 October at the residence of his son Mr T. B. Anstie Esq Surgeon in Devizes, Wiltshire“.

Peter Anstie was buried in Devizes “village preacher Wilts Somerset and Devon“. According to the Westbury Family History Society, Peter Anstie was “a successful Trowbridge businessman who was a dyer by trade, as well as being a member of the influential Anstie family of Devizes, who became the first pastor of West End Baptist Church in Westbury and the founding deacon and second pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church in Trowbridge, before serving as Minister of churches in Chard, Exeter and Brixham“.

Alfred Anstie (b 1784)

Alfred Anstie (b 1784 Preston, Lancashire), son of Peter Sharpe Anstie and Ann Grace, married Elizabeth Esther Smith in 1810 in Bristol; the ‘Sun (London)‘ on 28 February 1810 reporting “Marriage: At Bristol Mr Alfred Anstie of Gracechurch Street, [London Merchant] to Miss Elizabeth Esther Smith, third daughter of Joseph Smith Esq, barrister at law“. They had children:

Alfred Anstie had gone into business with Daniel Fowler by c1810; they described themselves as merchants and co-partners of ‘Fowler and Anstie‘ London Merchants based at 51 Gracechurch Street in London. This partnership went bankrupt at the end of 1812 – the ‘Derby Mercury‘ on 3 December 1812 reporting “Bankrupts Required to Surrender… Daniel Fowler and Alfred Anstie Gracechurch Street Merchants Dec 1, 8 Jan 9 at Guildhall

The bankruptcy was referenced in a widely known legal case (Reference : ‘Ex Parte MARTIN – in the matter of FOWLER, Lincoln’s Inn Hall August 1814‘). Alfred was still being referred to as a bankrupt in 1821.

In 1823, according to the ‘Morning Advertiser‘ 15 April 1823 edition “Mr B. W. Anstie Devizes and Mr Alfred Anstie, 53 Mark Lane, London” were contacts for the sale or lease of a factory in Devizes.

In 1829, a partnership between “Alfred Anstie, Geo Taylor and Henry Appleton, Coopers Row [London] Sail cloth factors” was dissolved. In 1834, “Henry Appleton, Alfred Anstie lace manufacturers” partnership was dissolved. Then in 1843 “DEATH: Feb 20 Elizabeth Esther, wife of Mr Alfred Anstie and daughter of the late J. Smith Esq, barrister, Bristol, in her 53rd year” per the ‘Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette‘ 23 February 1843 edition

In both the 1851 & 1861 Censuses, Alfred Anstie was a widower, an insurance broker by profession, living in Islington with his son Joseph Smith Anstie and his family. Alfred Anstie died in Islington in 1864, the ‘Sun (London)‘ newspaper reporting on 19 April 1864 that “DEATH: Anstie on the 17th inst Lorn Terrace, Mildmay Park, Mr Alfred Anstie aged 81“.

Alfred Anstie first constructed the ‘Devizes Family Tree’ in 1818, enlarging the tree in 1830. The original pedigree was until recently held in the Devizes Museum Archives; it was expanded upon by George Edmond Anstie in 1898 as the ‘Register of the Family of Anstie‘ and then again in c1945.

Benjamin Anstie (b 1787 Devizes)

Benjamin Anstie Esq (b 1787 Devizes), son of Benjamin Webb Anstie and Hannah Overbury, sometimes known as Benjamin Anstie Esq Junior, entered the family snuff and tobacco business. He married his first cousin Amelia Anstie on 20 November 1810 in Saint Benet Gracechurch and Saint Leonard Eastcheap and they had children in Devizes:

  • Anne Grace Anstie (b 1814);
  • Edward Benjamin Anstie (b 1816, a tobacco manufacturer – see below);
  • John Anstie (b 1818, possibly became a solicitor and dealt with his brother’s 1895 will?);
  • Amelia Ruth Anstie (b 1820)

The ‘Bury and Norwich Post‘ 12 March 1817 edition reported “Tuesday morning a fire broke out in the snuff and tobacco manufactory of Mr B. Anstie at Devizes, which threatened the most destructive consequences, but by the exertions of the inhabitants the fire was got under control and the damage did not exceed 300l, which is insured

The ‘Bristol Mirror‘ 05 May 1821 edition reported “Deaths: Mrs Anstie, wife of B. Anstie Esq junior of Devizes” – the ‘Morning Herald (London)‘ 07 May 1821 added “On Tuesday, after a painful illness, borne with true piety Mrs. Anstie, wife of B. Anstie, Esq. jun. of Devizes, leaving a disconsolate husband, with four small children

Benjamin Anstie was an executor to his father’s 1823 will. It is likely that he was the “Benjamin Anstey Esq Director of Beacon Fire Insurance Company of Chatham Place Blackfriars” in 1824.

Benjamin remarried in 1829, the ‘Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette‘ on 5 March 1829 reporting “MARRIED, Yesterday, at St. Paul’s church, Bristol, by the Rev. I. Bullock, Benjamin Anstie, esq. of Devizes, to Anna Maria, daughter of Joseph Smith, esq. barrister law, Bristol.” 

He died in 1843 in Devizes; the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ newspaper on 21 January 1843 noting “Died 15 Jan Benjamin Anstie Esq of Devizes whose memory will long be cherished by a numerous circle of friends to whom he was deservedly endeared“. The ‘Wiltshire Independent‘ 19 January 1843 also noted that he was living at Market Place, Devizes and that he was a “magistrate of this borough“.

Paul Anstie (b 1796 Devizes)

Paul Anstie (b 1796 Devizes), son of Benjamin Webb Anstie and Hannah Overbury, entered the family snuff and tobacco business. He married Jane Kingdon in 1822 in Frome Somerset – the ‘Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette’ on 7 November 1822 reporting “Yesterday was married at Frome by the Rev. John Bayley, Paul, son of Benjamin Anstie Esq of Devizes, to Jane, eldest daughter of George Kingdon Esq of Frome

They had children in Devizes (most baptised at the non-conformist Church in Devizes):

  • Paul Anstie (b 1824, an Anstey Hero and Canada Anstey Pioneer, patriarch of the London, Ontario Ansties);
  • Jane Kingdon Anstie (b 1826);
  • Hannah Anstie (b 1828, unmarried in 1861);
  • William Henry Anstie (b 1830, married Jane Norton Smith in Stroud in 1867, having a son William Henry Anstie (1872-1925, married Winifred Ann Alexander in Totnes in 1909. He was a Senior Master of Modern Languages at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1913 – this line has ‘Anstie’ descendants alive today). William Henry Anstie (father) died in 1872); and
  • Francis Edmond Anstie (b 1833, an English doctor and medical author. He was the first editor of the medical journal ‘The Practitioner’ and was notable for proposing ‘Anstie’s Limit‘, an amount of alcohol that could be consumed daily without ill effects (In the 1860s and 1870s he challenged medical orthodoxies on alcohol, insisting that a scientific case could be made despite the objections of teetotallers, especially in America). Francis Edmond Anstie married Blanche Miller Wass in 1862 in Crich, Derbyshire, and they had children William Charles Anstie (1863-1890, never married); Mary Blanche Anstie (b 1865, married David James Mason in 1889 in Westminster and she died in 1951 in Forfar); and Margaret Annabel Anstie (b 1870). Francis Edmond Anstie died in 1874. He has an entry in ‘Modern English Biography‘ by Frederic Boase which states “youngest child of Paul Anstie of Devizes, manufacturer). b. Devizes 11 Dec. 1833; M.R.C.S. and L.S.A. 1856, M.B. London 1857, M.D. 1859; M.R.C.P. 1859, F.R.C.P 1865; assistant phys. Westminster hospital 1860–73, phys. 1873 to death; edited the Practitioner 1868 to death, wrote a great deal of it; originated with Ernest Hart inquiry into workhouse system, which resulted in Gathorne Hardy’s Metropolitan poor act 1867; author of Stimulants and narcotics 1864; Notes on epidemics 1866; Neuralgia and the diseases which resemble it 1871. d. 16 Wimpole st. Cavendish square, 12 Sep. 1874“).

In the 1851 & 1861 Censuses, Paul Anstie was a “tobacco and snuff manufacturer” at Market Place Devizes, living with various members of his family. In 1872, presumably just after the death of his son William Henry Anstie, ‘Lloyds List‘ reported “PARTNERSHIPS DISSOLVED. Paul Anstie, Edward Benjamin Anstie and William Henry Anstie, manufacturers of tobacco and snuff, Devizes, as regards Paul Anstie

Paul Anstie died a year later in 1873 in Devizes, buried in Devizes with gravestone inscription “b1796 husb of Jane“. The ‘Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle‘ on 04 August 1873 reported “July 30 in Devizes, Paul Anstie Esq in his 78th year. Mr Anstie was one of the oldest inhabitants of Devizes and was highly respected as a consistent, worthy man. He will be greatly missed by many friends“.

The executor of Paul Anstie‘s 1873 will was his son Francis Edmond Anstie.

Edward Benjamin Anstie (b 1816 Devizes)

Edward Benjamin Anstie (b 1816), son of Benjamin Anstie and Ann Anstie, was a tobacco manufacturer. He married Suzanne Henriette Vaucher in Geneva, Switzerland in 1864 and they had the following children in Devizes:

  • Suzanne Amelia Anstie (b 1866, married Alfred Hershall Harris in 1894 and was living with her brother Henry in Devizes in 1901);
  • Edward Louis Anstie (b 1867, joined the family tobacco business and was a major beneficiary of his father’s 1895 will. In 1896 he married Mildred Lush in Devizes, they had a son Robert Denis Anstie (b 1916 Edington, Wiltshire). In 1945 Edward was executor to his brother Henry‘s will – he was described as a “retired tobacco manufacturer“. Mildred died in Westbury in 1952 and Edward Louis Anstie died there in 1957. Probate was to his son Robert Denis Anstietobacco manufacturer” – see George Edmond Anstie for more);
  • Ann Coraly Anstie (b 1868);
  • Mary Henrietta Anstie (b 1870);
  • Henry John Anstie (b 1871, in 1901 he was an unmarried “gold and silver miner” living at 31, Market Place, Devizes with his sister Suzanne. In January 1908 he emigrated to America, sailing from Liverpool to Ellis Island New York on the ship ‘Celtic’. By the 1930 Census he was still single, lodging in Colorado Springs, El Paso, Colorado and living off his own investments. Henry John Anstie died on 27 April 1945 at the Mercy Hospital, living in Denver Colorado – probate was to his brother Edward);
  • George Edmond Anstie (b 1874, an Anstey Hero and creator of the ‘Register of the Family of Anstie‘);
  • Anne Blanche Anstie (b 1879)

Edward Benjamin Anstie died in 1896. The ‘Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser‘ on  26 September 1896 reported “WILL of Mr Edward Benjamin Anstie – Estate duty has been paid on £31,884 [about £3mlln in today’s money] as the value of the personal estate of Mr Edward Benjamin Anstie of Devizes, tobacco manufacturer, who died on May 11th last, and whose will, which bears the date July 17 1895, the executors are Mr John Anstie of Westminster Chambers, Victoria Street, London, Mr William Henry Crowder of 55 Lincolns Inn Fields, solicitor, and the testators sons and partners Edward Louis and George Edmond Anstie of Market Place, Devizes, tobacco manufacturers. The testator bequeaths to John Anstie and Mr Crowder £100 each, and to his wife Mrs Suzanne Henriette Anstie £100 and his plate, pictures, furniture and household effects: to his son Edward Louis his horses, carriages and farm implements, and to his daughter Suzanne Amelia Harris £500. Mrs Anstie is to have the use and enjoyment during her life of the testators lands and hereditaments at Coate in Wiltshire and Newton Abbot in Devonshire, and he leaves all other of his freehold, copyhold and leashold estates to his two sons Edward Louis and George Edmund. Subject to these provisions, Mr Anstie‘s residuary estate is left in trust in equal shares for all of his children.

Further Information on the Devizes Ansties

#1. A good brief summary of Anstie’s Tobacco business can be found in the ‘Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society‘ Journal #25 (2017) where they write “Anstie’s. One of the oldest established snuff mills in the country, however, was the business of Anstie’s in Devizes. The founder, Richard Anstie, who was a Devizes townsman in 1696. Although no trustworthy date can be assigned to the actual production of snuff at Devizes, it is known that use was made of the two windmills, set up on the ruins of the castle to power two mills, one being an edge runner set of stones. The mills were originally built to express rape seed oil. Later the windmills passed into the possession of William Ludlow of Hillworth House, who used them for snuff-grinding in the 1780s. Perhaps the most momentous years in the history of the Anstie business were the 1830s. The changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution made the brothers Paul and Benjamin Anstie realise it was useless spending further money on the renovation of wind and water-mills, which were rapidly becoming obsolete. A 10 hp Boulton & Watt steam-engine was purchased for £700 and installed by Haden’s of Trowbridge. The premises were enlarged and equipped with new plant, much of it designed by Paul Anstie, who is said to have devised the first successful tobacco-cutting machine. The raw product tobacco leaves were imported through Bristol and transported in barrels to be stored in a bonded warehouse. On arrival at Anstie’s the staves were removed so the tobacco was taken out in a lump, the leaves were separated and steamed. In the early 19th century Paul Anstie introduced a tobacco and snuff drying plant and a machine which uniformly moistened the leaf. This damp mixture was cured when salt was added and it was left to ferment for 3-4 weeks. The temperature was controlled and the mixture turned. The mixture was then placed in the Mullers, large elm-wood bowls set in heavy, flat tables. Each had a steel and stone pestle attached to overhead gear. Flavouring and perfuming was carried out in secret. Flavourings included orris, bergamot, oil of rhodium, essence of violet and rose water. Anstie’s acquired John Rutter’s tobacco and snuff business in Mitcham in 1925 and then, in 1944, Louis and George Edmond Anstie wished to retire. Having no successor to carry on the business they approached the Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd., who agreed to purchase the business in 1944. The buildings were sold to a printer and so ended the family’s control of the business which had lasted for six generations” [note this is slightly incorrect as Edward Louis Anstie had a son Robert Denis Anstie (b 1916) who was described as a “tobacco manufacturer” in his father’s 1957 probate – see above]

#2. John Anstey/Anstee who farmed in Devizes in the late 1800s and early 1900s and died there in 1911 is of the Doynton Ansteys

#3. A “Miss Anstie of Devizes” ran a Ladies Boarding School in Devizes in 1807 which charged twenty guineas per annum and one guinea entrance fee. Subjects taught included French, Dancing, Music, Geography, Needlework and Drawing – we are yet to establish precisely the identity of this “Miss Anstie“. In 1809 it was “Mr B. Anstie” who opened the Boarding School suggesting that perhaps Miss Anstie was his daughter (she possibly died in May 1808 “niece of Mrs Miall, wife of the Rev. D. Miall, of Portsea“)?? On the other hand perhaps there were two separate boarding schools, one for females run by Miss Anstie and one for males run by Mr B. Anstie because in the ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ 04 June 1810 edition “Devizes: The Late Mr Anstie‘s Boarding School is continued by Mr R. Biggs in conjunction with Mrs Anstie (his sister). It is confidently hoped that the support of Mr Anstie‘s friends will not be withdrawn as they may depend on the same attention as formerly paid to the education and domestic comfort of the young gentlemen at this seminary“. Given that ‘Mr Anstie‘ had clearly recently died per this announcement, it was very likely Benjamin Anstie, son of Peter Sharpe Anstie (especially given the ‘Biggs‘ connection).

#4. The ‘Salisbury and Winchester Journal‘ 07 October 1805 reported “To be sold by order of the Assignees of Mrs Sarah Anstie, a bankrupt…Lot Number 1 All those convenient premises called the Nag’s Head Public House [in Devizes]…” She was also reported as being a bankrupt in the ‘London Gazette‘ which described her as “Sarah Anstie, late of Devizes, dealer and chapwoman“. We are yet to establish precisely the identity of this “Mrs Sarah Anstie“, though she could well be the wife of Peter Anstie.

#5. From 1815 to at least 1818 there was a firm of solicitors called ‘Messrs Anstie and Wright‘ at 10 King’s Bench Walks, Temple, London.

#6. In 1825 per the ‘Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette‘ 22 December 1825 edition, Benjamin Anstie, Paul Anstie, Mr G. W. Anstie and Mr J. O. Anstie were all major subscribers to ‘Devizes Improvement Works’ – all were sons of Benjamin Webb Anstie, showing how dominant the family was still in Devizes at this time.

#7. In the ‘Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette‘ on 23 February 1826 appears “To the Worshipful Mayor of the borough of Devizes – We the undersigned request that you convene a meeting to consider the propriety of petitioning Parliament…on the subject of Colonial slavery, and to adopt such measures…to gradually extinguish slavery in all of the British Colonies at the earliest, safe and practicable period…signed Benjamin Anstie, Paul Anstie, Mr James O. Anstie, and Mr George W. Anstie

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