The Back Harbour, Twillingate Ansteys

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

Overview of the Back Harbour, Twillingate Ansteys

The Back Harbour, Twillingate Ansteys are a sub-division of the Twillingate Ansteys of Newfoundland, Canada, consisting of the Twillingate Anstey families that lived in Back Harbour, Twillingate [see Google map] before or in the 1921 Newfoundland Census.

Back Harbour is in fact quite a simple sub-division, consisting of a single family headed by Stephen Anstey (b 1837), son of James Anstey of the Purcell’s Harbour Twillingate Ansteys. Numerous descendent Ansteys still live in Back Harbour today [example][example] – presumably also connected to this family.

Back Harbour Ansteys in McAlpine’s Newfoundland Directory

Back Harbour Ansteys in 1921 Newfoundland Census

  • Archibald Anstey (b 1897 – head)
    • Annie Anstey (b 1899 – wife
  • Dunley Anstey (b 1896 – head)
    • Kate Anstey (b 1895 – wife)
    • Mable Anstey (b 1919 – daughter)
    • Amy Anstey (b 1921 – daughter)
  • Harry Anstey (b 1886 – head)
    • Lily Anstey (b 1884 – wife)
    • Hilda Anstey (b 1906 – daughter)
    • Marian Anstey (b 1908 – daughter)
    • James A. Anstey (b 1912 – son)
  • James Anstey (b 1862 – head)
    • Rowena Anstey (b 1867 – wife)
    • Alfred Leslie Anstey (b 1892 – son)
    • Nellie Anstey (b 1896 – daughter)
    • Fred Anstey (b 1899 – son)
    • Lloyd Anstey (b 1901 – son)
    • Frank Anstey (b 1904 – son)
    • Ernest Anstey (b 1906 – son)
    • Amelia Anstey (b 1909 – daughter)
    • Althea Anstey (b 1914 – daughter)
  • John Anstey (b 1868 – head)
    • Dorcas Anstey (b 1872 – wife)
    • Flora Anstey (b 1894 – daughter)
    • Darell Anstey (b 1896 – son)
    • Malcolm Anstey (b 1901 – son)
    • Edward Anstey (b 1902 – son)
    • Stanley Anstey (b 1904 – son)
    • Leonard Anstey (b 1919 – son)
  • Norman Anstey (b 1897 – head)
    • Annie B. Anstey (b 1897 – wife)
    • Ena Anstey (b 1919 – daughter)
  • Robert Anstey (b 1866 – head)
    • Kate Anstey (b 1871 – wife)
    • George Anstey (b 1895 – son)
    • Lena Anstey (b 1898 – daughter)
    • Charlie Anstey (b 1900 – son)
    • Violet Anstey (b 1902 – daughter)
    • Arthur Anstey (b 1904 – son)
    • Dora Anstey (b 1908 – daughter)
    • Philip Anstey (b 1910 – son)
  • Walter Anstey (b 1872 – head)
    • Sophia Anstey (b 1874 – wife)
    • Mary Anstey (b 1899 – daughter)
    • Annie Anstey (b 1900 – daughter)
    • Ethel Anstey (b 1904 – daughter)
    • Daisy Anstey (b 1907 – daughter)
    • Allen Anstey (b 1909 – son)
    • Philip Anstey (b 1865 – widower and brother)

Stephen Anstey (b 1837 Twillingate)

Stephen Anstey was born in 1837 in Twillingate to father James Anstey of the Purcell’s Harbour Twillingate Ansteys. He was a fisherman who married Mary Ann Freeman in c1860 and they had children in Back Harbour / Notre Dame Bay:

  • Flora Elizabeth (b 1855, originally born ‘Freeman‘, she married Adam Pond. She died in 1893 in Twillingate “Flora POND d Apr 1 1893 Twillingate consumption 37 years“); 
  • James Anstey (b 1862 Back Harbour – see below); 
  • Philip William Anstey (b 1865, became a tailor. He married Annie Selina Tucker in 1897 in Twillingate and he was probably in Back Harbour in c1911. In the 1921 Newfoundland Census he was a widower living with his brother Walter Anstey. He died soon after on 21 December 1921 of “general parasis“); 
  • Robert Anstey (b 1866 – see below); 
  • John Anstey (b 1868 – see below); 
  • Annie Anstey (b 1871); 
  • Walter Henry Anstey (b 1872 – see below); 
  • Louisa D. Anstey (b 1878 Notre Dame Bay, married George Dawe. In the 1921 Newfoundland Census she was living with her husband and two ‘Anstey’ nieces at Burnt Islands, Burgeo-La Poile, Newfoundland); and 
  • Ellen Melvina Anstey (b 1880). 

On 21 September 1895 the ‘Twillingate Sun‘ reported that “At 10 o clock this morning Mr Andrew Roberts and Mr Stephen Anstey escorted Mr Bond [The Honourable Robert Bond] to the Court House where they nominated him as a candidate for the suffrages of the people of Twillingate District” – so he was clearly a man of some standing (assuming this is the same ‘Stephen Anstey’). Stephen Anstey died on 23 May 1903 in Back Harbour, Twillingate of “heart disease, aged 66” – he was a “planter?“.

James Anstey (b 1862 Back Harbour)

James Anstey was born in Back Harbour in 1862 to parents Stephen Anstey and Mary Ann Freeman. He married Rowena Laura Rossiter [Rossita] (b c1867) and they had children in Back Harbour:

  • Harry Winfield Anstey (b 1886, married Lilly Elizabeth Bulgin in 1905 in Twillingate (Note next to entry states “Harry was the s/o James Anstey & Rowena Laura Rossiter: b Aug 11 1886 Twill – d Jan 12 1970. Lily Elizabeth was the d/o Archibald Bulgin & Susan Burt: b Sep 14 1884 Farmers Arm – died Jan 30 1969.“). In the 1921 Newfoundland Census they were living in Back Harbour with their children Hilda Anstey (b 1906); Marion Anstey (b 1908); and James Archibald Anstey (b 1912));
  • Cecil Rossiter Anstey (b 1891 – see below);
  • Alfred Leslie Anstey (b 1892 – an Anstey Hero);
  • Nellie Anstey (b 1896);
  • Fred Anstey (b 1899);
  • Lloyd Anstey (b 1901);
  • Frank Anstey (b 1904);
  • Ernest Edgar Anstey (b 1906);
  • Amelia E. R. Anstey (b 1909); and
  • Althea Anstey (b 1914)

James Anstey was ‘master’ of the ‘Rosalie’ vessel in 1891 – see his brother Robert Anstey for the story. The family were living in Back Harbour in c1911 and still there in the 1921 Newfoundland Census. The ‘Twillingate Sun‘ on 14 February 1920 reported that “The committee, appointed by the citizens to enquire into the need of reported cases of destitution in Twillingate, and relieve those who are absolutely destitute…[had]…James ANSTEY, Back Harbour, Chairman“. In the 1921 Census the family lived at Back Harbour where James Anstey was a fisherman in a cod fishery. He died on 1 August 1926 in Back Harbour of “cancer of the stomach, aged 64” (see also Further Details #1)

Robert Anstey (b 1866 Back Harbour)

Robert Anstey was born in Back Harbour in 1866 to parents Stephen Anstey and Mary Ann Freeman. He married Catherine Young, known as Kate, and they had children:

  • George Anstey (b 1895, living in Back Harbour in c1911);
  • Archibald Stanley Anstey (b 1897, known as ‘Arch‘, living in Back Harbour in c1911. He married Annie Churchill in 1919 in Twillingate. According to his grandson “my grandfathers name was Archibald Stanley Anstey and he was from Twillingate. His wife was Anne Churchill. They moved to New York in the 1920s with their daughter Edith (b 1921). A short time later, my father, Robert, was born (in 1924), and then Lois making three children. Arch had a brother Arthur and a brother Charlie. He was a fisherman in Newfoundland but became a union carpenter in the United States.” In the 1940 Census the family were living in Brooklyn, King’s New York where Arch was still a carpenter);
  • Lena Newman Anstey (b 1899, living in Back Harbour in c1911);
  • Charlie Anstey (b 1900, living in Back Harbour in c1911);
  • Violet Anstey (b 1902, living in Back Harbour in c1911);
  • Arthur Anstey (b 1904, living in Back Harbour in c1911);
  • Dora Anstey (b 1908, living in Back Harbour in c1911); and
  • Philip Edgar Anstey (b 1910, living in Back Harbour in c1911)

The ‘Twillingate Sun‘ on 12 September 1891 reported “Gun Accident: One of the crew of the ‘Rosalie’, James Anstey, master, which arrived at Back Harbour Monday evening last with 610qtls, met with a serious accident two or three days before getting back. Robert Anstey, brother of the master of the craft, was firing at a curlew in the vicinity of Domini on the previous Friday when the gun burst, split open his left hand fair in the centre. It appeared as if part of the stock flew back striking his hand and causing the severe wound inflicted. Fortunately there was a favourable breeze of wind and the craft was not long coming home after the accident occurred. As soon as possible on arriving Dr Stafford was in attendance and under his skilful management it is thought at present that the patient will not lose any part of his hand, which will be a marvellous escape under the circumstances“.

The entire family were living in Back Harbour in c1911 and in the 1921 Newfoundland Census Robert Anstey was still living with his family in Back Harbour.

(Francis) John Anstey (b 1868 Back Harbour)

John Anstey, aka Francis John Anstey, was born in Back Harbour on 3 March 1868 to parents Stephen Anstey and Mary Ann Freeman. He married Dorcas Jane Earl in c1890 and they had children:

  • Florence Ernestine Anstey (b 1893, known as Flora, living with family in the 1921 Newfoundland Census);
  • William Daryl Anstey (b 1896, known as Daryl, , living with family in the 1921 Newfoundland Census – married Mabel James and died in Twillingate in 1957);
  • Arthur Dunley Anstey (b 27 November 1896, known as Dunley, married Kate Stuckley [Stuckless] in Twillingate in 1918 and in the 1921 Newfoundland Census he was living with her and their then two daughters Mabel Delphine Anstey (b 1919, married Mr Dickson and died in 2002 “DICKSON, MABEL Passed peacefully away at her residence in Gander with loving family by her side, Mrs. Mabel Anstey Dickson, formerly of Twillingate, in her 83rd year. Left with fond and loving memories are brother John Anstey (Julia) of Twillingate, sisters, Amy (Ernest Peyton), Flora (Frank Broderick), Lucy (Hiram Keeping), Rose (Aiden Walsh), all of Gander, Majorie (Wilfred Haynes) of Goose Bay and Daphne (John Chafe) of Twillingate; as well as a large circle of other relatives and friends. Funeral service was held on January 8th at the Anglican Church, Gander. Interment at All Saints Anglican Cemetery“); and Amy Louise Anstey (b 1921) in Back Harbour. In 1928 he sailed to New York with his parents where he stated that he was a carpenter – see below. Arthur Dunley Anstey died in 1967, buried at Gander Civilian Cemetery Old Gander, Central Census Division, Newfoundland)
  • Malcolm G. Anstey (b 1901, living with family in the 1921 Newfoundland Census);
  • Edward Raymond Anstey (b 1903, living with family in the 1921 Newfoundland Census);
  • Allen Stanley Anstey (b 1904, known as Stanley, living with family in the 1921 Newfoundland Census. In 1928 he was a carpenter when he sailed to New York with his parents – see below); and
  • Leonard Allenby Anstey (b 1919)

In c1911 the whole family were living in Back Harbour. On 4 January 1919 in the ‘Twillingate Sun‘ appears “Dr. GRENFELL, who came here at the invitation of Magistrate ROBERTS, arrived on Dec. 26th. from Exploits. Mr. John ANSTEY of Back Hr. went up for him, very pluckily, in a little three-handed punt, with 3 h.p. motor.” On 3 January 1920 in the ‘Twillingate Sun‘ appears “Picked Up. Off Back Harbour, a punt. Owner can obtain same by proving property and paying expenses on application to John ANSTEY, Back Hr.“.

In the 1921 Newfoundland Census John Anstey was a fisherman at a cod fishery in Back Harbour. In 1928 John Anstey, as ‘Francis John Anstey‘, a “carpenter aged 60 from Twillingate“, and his wife Dorcas J. Anstey sailed from St John’s, Newfoundland to New York aboard the ship ‘SS Silvia‘ together with a couple of their sons, as well as a Leonard A. Earle, a student from Back Harbour (see also Further Details #1)

Walter Henry Anstey (b 1872 Back Harbour)

Walter Henry Anstey was born in Back Harbour on in 1872 to parents Stephen Anstey and Mary Ann Freeman. He was a fisherman who married Sophia Jenkins in 1895 in Twillingate and they had children:

  • Norman John Anstey (b 1897, married Annie B. Legge in 1919 in Twillingate. In the 1921 Newfoundland Census he was living in Back Harbour with his wife and daughter Ena Anstey (b 1919));
  • Mary M. Anstey (b 1898, single and living with her aunt Louisa D. Dawe at Burnt Islands, Burgeo-La Poile, Newfoundland in the 1921 Newfoundland Census. Living with her parents in 1945 in Back Harbour);
  • Annie Anstey (b 1900);
  • Ethel Anstey (b 1904, single and living with her aunt Louisa D. Dawe at Burnt Islands, Burgeo-La Poile, Newfoundland in the 1921 Newfoundland Census.);
  • Daisy Anstey (b 1907); and
  • Allen Anstey (b 1909, living with his parents in Back Harbour in 1935)

In c1911 the whole family were living in Back Harbour. In the 1921 Newfoundland Census Walter Anstey and some of his family were living in Back Harbour, together with Walter‘s brother Philip. They were still in Back Harbour in 1935 and 1945.

Cecil Rossiter Anstey (b 1891 Back Harbour)

Cecil Rossiter Anstey was born in Back Harbour on 8 November 1891 to parents James Anstey and Rowena Laura Rossiter. He grew up in Back Harbour, where he was living in c1911, then on 17 August 1918 at St John’s, just before the end of World War One, he signed up for service with the 1st ‘Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps‘ (Regimental Number: 6020) which was a “non-combatant military unit that formed in April 1917 to supply Britain with the lumber it needed for the war effort.

On his Attestation Form, Cecil noted that he was a sailor aged 28; his religion was Church of England; and that his father was “James Anstey of Twillingate“.

According to his Statement of Services, Cecil was admitted to hospital “Isolation Gallery VDS” on 23 October 1918 and “discharged from barracks venereal hospital forfeiture of 50 cents per day ceases from that date” on 30 November 1918 after spending 39 days in hospital. He was discharged on 9 December 1918 at St John’s, and demobilised at St John’s on 6 January 1919, intending to return to Twillingate and “work at fishing“. We have no evidence that Cecil actually left Newfoundland at any point during his service.

The ‘Twillingate Sun‘ on 4 January 1919 reported “Ex Soldiers Join the Home’s Crew S.S. “Home” arrived here from Exploits on Monday night, to secure a crew. Three ex-soldiers, Ptes. Cecil ANSTEY, Jack PHILLIPS and Joseph DALLEY joined her. They were to have joined the ship by ‘Prospero’, but owing to the latter’s delay, the ‘Home’ came here for them.

Cecil married Mary Ann Young in 1920 in Twillingate (though we cannot locate him in the 1921 Newfoundland Census) and they had children

  • Harold Gough Anstey (b 1921);
  • Ralph Windsor Anstey (b 1926);
  • Edna Gloria Jean Anstey (b 1928);
  • Carl Hoover Anstey (b 1929);
  • Margaret Joyce Anstey (b 1930, died an infant);
  • Audrey Roweena Anstey (b 1931); and
  • Josephine Young Anstey (b 1936, died an infant);

In November 1929 Cecil was one of seven crew of the schooner ‘Saucy Arethusa‘ which was inward bound to Halifax from Harbour Grace when it grounded near Sambro and the crew escaped in boats and were picked up by the tug boat ‘Ocean Osprey‘. In the 1935 Census Cecil and his family were living at Back Harbour where he was a sailor “coastwise trade schooner“.

Cecil Anstey died on 6 January 1981 in Twillingate.

Further Details on the Back Harbour, Twillingate Ansteys

#1. In the ‘Twillingate Sun‘ on 3 April 1920 appears a letter to the Editor “Dear Sir: – Will you kindly give publication to the following list of contributors in aid of poor and infirm fund from Back Harbour. & North Side Wards. Yours truly, C.L. HODGE, Secretary. Back Hr. (Collected by James ANSTEY) James JEANS $10; S.G. MOORS $5; Arthur BLACKLER $2; J.A.S. PEYTON $2; Edward RIDEOUT $1.50; Mark LUTHER $1.25; Mrs. W. T. BAIRD; Elias SPENCE; Theo LUTHER, A.A. PEARCE, Arch ANSTEY; James ANSTEY; John RIDOUT jr; George JANES; Fredk WHITE; Robert ANSTEY; John ANSTEY; A. Friend; Dunley ANSTEY; Walter ANSTEY; W.M. PEYTON; James BLACKLER Sr. $1 each. Benjamin FREEMAN; Lewis CLARKE; John CLARKE; Geo MURRAY; Josiah SPENCER; Robert SIMMS; Henry SIMMS; Mark RIDOUT Sr. 50 cents each.”

#2. The ‘Western Star‘ on 25 August 1926 reported “A HUGE SHARK: Messrs Anstey at Back Harbor took a huge shark on Monday morning out of their trap, measuring 24 feet in length. They afterwards took out five barrels of liver after managing to get the fish on the beach. According to information we can gather this is a harmless whale shark, and a young one, as the old ones go up to 55 feet in length. These sharks are of the Indian Ocean and when coming in North Atlantic waters evidently lose energy and die

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