The Whitby, Ontario Ansteys

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

Overview of the Whitby, Ontario Ansteys

The Whitby, Ontario Ansteys of Canada are a sub-branch of the Exminster Ansteys, consisting of four siblings, Eliza Anstey (b 1827 Exminster), William Anstey (b 1834 Chudleigh), Elizabeth Anstey (b 1838), and James Henry Anstey (b 1841).

As such, the Whitby, Ontario Ansteys are an ‘Anstey evolved from Anstis‘ sub-branch, originally part of the ‘Anstis’ family, and thus do not connect to the wider Anstey pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anstey.

Many of this sub-branch (especially the females) emigrated further to Buffalo, Erie, New York, America.

Eliza Anstey (b 1827 Exminster)

Eliza Anstey was born in Exminster in 1827 to parents James Anstice and Thomasin Ponsford. She married William Kentsbeer in c1845 and in the 1851 Census they were living in Chudleigh with their family. William Kentsbeer died in 1853 so Eliza Kentsbeer remarried John Cornish in 1857 in Exeter (her father was confirmed as James Anstey on the marriage certificate). In c1869 one of Eliza‘s children (Mary Ann Kentsbeer who married William Bowden) emigrated to Brantford, Brant, Ontario, Canada and we suspect Eliza emigrated with them because in the 1871 Canada Census Eliza Cornish was living in Brant North, Ontario, Canada.

Eliza died in 1878 in Parry Sound, Ontario.

William Anstey (b 1834 Chudleigh)

William Anstey was born in 1834 in Chudleigh to parents James Anstice and Thomasin Ponsford. He married Susan Kentesbeer in 1854 in Newton Abbot (surely related to William Kentsbeer above) and they emigrated to Whitby, Ontario, Canada in c1858. They had children:

  • Selina Jane Anstey (b 1855 Newton Abbot, staying with her uncle James Anstey in Whitby, Ontario in the 1871 Census. She married Hiram Colburn Canfield in c1881 in Lincoln, Ontario and was buried in 1932 in Ridge Lawn Cemetery Cheektowaga, Erie County, New York);
  • James H. Anstey (b 1860, was in West Whitby, Ontario in the 1861 Census)

In the 1861 Canada Census William Anstey and family were living in B Township of West Whitby, Ontario. William Anstey was a labourer, aged 27 with religion Church of England.

Elizabeth Anstey (b 1838 Chudleigh)

Elizabeth Anstey was born in 1838 in Chudleigh to parents James Anstice and Thomasin Ponsford. She married William Stoneman in 1862 in Newton Abbot and they emigrated to Canada in c1870, residing at Medora Township, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada in the 1871 Census. The family was still at Muskoka & Parry Sound, Ontario in the 1901 Census.

James Henry Anstey (b 1841 Chudleigh)

James Henry Anstey was born in 1841 in Chudleigh to parents James Anstice and Thomasin Ponsford; he was actually baptised as ‘Anstiss‘. He probably emigrated to Whitby, Ontario, Canada in c1858 with his elder brother William Anstey, because in 1863 in Ontario he married Mary Ann Doyle (b c1841 Ireland). They had children:

  • Susan Anstey (b 1863 Ontario, living with her mother in Whitby in 1891. She married Herbert M. Young in 1893 in Ontario – she was “of Whitby township” – bizarrely she gave her parents as “William Anstey and Mary“, so it is just possible that she was daughter of William, not James. She died in 1937 in Buffalo, Erie, New York, America)
  • Mary J. Anstey (b 1864 Ontario – probably this is the same person as Jennie below)
  • Jennie Anstey (b c1867, married William H. Foley in Whitby, Ontario in 1896 – her parents were witnesses. She died in 1944 in Buffalo, Erie, New York, America);
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1869 Ontario, living with her mother in Whitby in 1891); and
  • John (Jack) Anstey (b 1872 Ontario, living with his mother in Whitby in 1891);

In the 1871 Census the family were living at Whitby West, Ontario – James Anstey was a labourer and all were religion “Church of Rome” (presumably he converted because his wife was Irish). Also living with them in 1871 was James Anstey‘s niece Selina Jane Anstey (see above). James Henry Anstey died in 1876, buried at Elizabeth Street Pioneer Cemetery at St Wilfred’s Roman Catholic Church in Ajax, Durham Region, Ontario. His gravestone reads “Father In Memory of James Anstey who died Dec 24 1876 aged 36 years“.

In the 1881 Census, Mary Anstey (widow) was still in Whitby West with her children Susan (aged 18), Mary (aged 17), Elizabeth (aged 11) and John (age 9). They were still there in the 1891 Census.

John (Jack) Anstey (b 1872)

John (Jack) Anstey was born in Whitby, Ontario, Canada in 1872 to parents James Henry Anstey and Mary Ann Doyle. He grew up in Whitby, marrying Mary Jane Anderson in 1906 in Toronto, York, Ontario and having children in Whitby:

  • James Anstey (b 13 May 1906, crossed into Lewiston, Niagara, New York, United States in 1941);
  • John (Jack) William Anstey Jnr (b 29 April 1911, alive in 1921); and
  • Mary Ann Anstey (b 1913, alive in 1921)

John (Jack) Anstey was Roman Catholic (though some censuses say Presbyterian). In the 1911 Canadian Census the family were living at Pickering Township, District 104 South Ontario where John was working as a labourer on a farm. They were still in Pickering Township in 1921 where John was still a farm labourer.

John Anstey died in 1957, buried at Union Cemetery, Oshawa, Durham, Ontario, Canada; his wife Mary Jane pre-deceased him in 1948, buried in the same cemetery. The inscription on their shared gravestone reads “ANSTEY: In Loving memory FATHER John Anstey 1872-1957 MOTHER Mary Jane Anderson 1871-1948

Further Details on the Whitby, Ontario Ansteys

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