The Chatham Ansteys

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

Overview of the Chatham Ansteys

Our analysis of the Chatham Ansteys of Kent includes the neighbouring areas of Strood, Rochester, Medway and Frindsbury. Given that all of these places lie on the River Medway, a major entry route for ships and other vessels into Southern England, many of the ‘Anstey’, Ansty’, ‘Anstee’ and ‘Anstie’s here were seafarers and therefore not particularly connected into a seamless sub-branch per se. However, certain Anstey families did settle here.

We have unsourced reports that the Chatham Ansteys (particularly Charles Anstey who married Mary) were connected to the Twillingate Ansteys, however we are yet to find any evidence of this – indeed we find an abundance of evidence to the contrary. However, anybody who has such evidence please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

The first we see of Ansteys in Chatham is John Anstey (m 1807 Frindsbury) and Charles Anstey (b 1793 Maidstone, m 1819 Frindsbury) – perhaps they were brothers, or perhaps they were completely unconnected to each other?

John Anstey (m 1807 Frindsbury)

John Anstey, (b c1783 in Kent) a fisherman by trade, married Ann Wallis (b 1779) in Frindsbury, Kent in 1807. They had children in Strood:

  • John Thomas Anstey (b 1809, buried in Strood in 1838);
  • William Charles Anstey (b 1811, he married Elizabeth Allbury in 1839 in Rochester and he was a seaman in the Navy. William had joined the Navy in 1828 and in 1831 he was an ‘Ordinary Seaman’ on the ship ‘Ranger’ in Bermuda. They were at Folkestone, Kent in the 1841 Census. William was still a seaman in 1845 – we currently find no children);
  • Charles Anstey (b 1814, married Elizabeth Caroline Illenden (Ellenden) (b 1818) of Gillingham in Medway in 1840 when he was a “bachelor and mariner of Gillingham, son of John Anstey fisherman“. He was a fisherman in Strood in the 1841 Census and a mariner in John Street, Medway in the 1851 Census. They had children in Strood Ann Anstey (b 1841); Lucy Rebecca Anstey (b 1843); Mary Susannah Anstey (b 1846); Louisa Anstey (b 1850); Charlotte Eliza Anstey (b 1853). Charles Anstey died in 1853 (aged 40) in Rochester, living at John Street, St Margaret’s, Rochester. In the 1861 Census Elizabeth Anstey (widow and needlewoman) was living with her family at John Street, Rochester (Medway). In the 1881 Census, Elizabeth Caroline Anstey (widow) and her daughter Lucy Rebecca Anstey were still living in Rochester);
  • Thomas Anstey (b 1817);
  • Henry Anstey (b 1819);
  • Mary Anstey (or Rowe – b 1819);

John‘s wife Ann died in Strood in 1834 and John remarried Susannah (Susan) Loft (b 1813, died 1847) in 1837 in Northfleet, Kent, having children:

  • Matilda Anstey (b 1837 Strood – John was still a fisherman);
  • Margaret Anstey (b 1839 Strood, mother’s maiden name confirmed as ‘Loft’)

In the 1841 Census, John Anstey, a fisherman (b 1785 in Kent), was living in High Street Strood with a ‘Mary Anstey‘ (b 1787 Kent – his sister??), and Susan Anstey (wife?) and children Matilda and Margaret.

John Anstey himself died in Strood in 1847, aged 66 (ie b c1781).

[Note: the only baptism of a ‘John Anstey‘ in Kent c1783 or so that we can find is in Dover in 1785 where “John Ansten” was baptised to William and Catherine Ansten.]

Charles Anstey (b 1793 Maidstone)

Charles Anstey was born in 1793 in Maidstone, Kent (his birth details confirmed in the 1861 Census) to parents John Anstey and Elizabeth. This is the only ‘Anstey’ birth we find in Maidstone at this time, and currently have no clue who John Anstey and Elizabeth are, or where they are from.

Charles Anstey married Mary Gavine in Frindsbury, Kent in 1819 (witnesses were Richard Gates and Elizabeth Fowell). They had children in Chatham (and later Sheerness where they moved in c 1834):

  • Charles William Anstey (b 1821);
  • Sarah Mary Anstey (b 1824 – Charles was indicated as a ‘gunman’ in this baptism, married Thomas Bartlett in Sheppey in 1846, her father Charles was indicated as a “Naval Officer“);
  • Martha Anstey (b 1826, married Samuel Winter in Medway in 1846);
  • William Anstey (b 1827, a shopboy in Minster, Sheppey in the 1841 Census and a shipwright in Minster, Sheppey in the 1851 Census living as “stepson” of Elizabeth Anstey (Charles Anstey‘s second wife – see below). William married Eleanor Knight in 1856 in Sheppey and they had children Eleanor Mary Anstey (b 1858 Sheerness); William Anstey (b 1859, died an infant); William John Anstey (b 1860 Sheerness – joined the Royal Navy, was a R. N. Engineer in Chatham Dockyard in 1895 – see ‘London Evening Standard‘ 11 November 1895 edition. He was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Third Class, or Companion, of the Civil Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (C.B.) on 1 January, 1917. In 1926, having previously lived in Glasgow, Scotland, he was in Vermont, in transit to Canada on the ship ‘Letitia‘. He was Engineer Rear Admiral William J. Anstey – boss of aircraft inspection – in 1934 and he died in 1936); Aquila Elizabeth Anstey (b 1862 Sheerness); Alice Anstey (b 1863 Sheerness), Sarah Anstey (b 1864 Sheerness); Elizabeth Anstey (b 1867 Portsmouth); John Charles Knight Anstey (b 1869 Portsmouth, became a Reverend, living in Kingston, Surrey in 1926); Amelia Anstey (b 1870 Govan, Lanarkshire, Scotland); Edith Anstey (b 1872 Landport, Hampshire); and Charles T. Anstey (b 1874 Landport Hampshire). In the 1861 Census William Anstey was an Inspector of Shipwrights at 84 Chappel Street, Minster (same address as his father Charles – see below). William Anstey was at one point described as “William Anstey, of HM Dockyard, Portsmouth“. His stepmother Elizabeth died in 1870 whilst living with William and his family – see below);
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1830, died 1831);
  • James Anstey (b 1832 Chatham – see below);
  • Elizabeth Anstey (b 1835 Sheerness, married William Gregory and moved to London)

Note : In all of the above baptisms Charles Anstey  was described as a ‘mariner’ or ‘seaman’.

Mary Anstey (b 1798), presumably Charles‘ wife, died in Minster in Sheppey in 1835 so Charles Anstey remarried Elizabeth (b 1806 Gillingham), though we cannot find that marriage entry.

Charles Anstey‘s second wife Elizabeth Anstey” aged 35 (a “mariner’s wife“) was living in Minster, Sheppey, Kent in the 1841 Census, looking after Sarah (b 1824), Martha (b 1826); and James (b 1832). In the 1851 Census in Minster, Sheppey Elizabeth Anstey (age 45, born in Gillingham, “wife of Charles Anstey 2nd Master R. N.“) was living with her “stepsonWilliam (b 1828 Chatham).

Charles Anstey had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy. In 1840 he was “Acting Second Master of the Ocean [Ship] in charge of the Thames tender” (‘Globe‘ newspaper 31 October 1840). In December 1847, Charles Anstey was “Acting Second Master to the Ganges [ship?]“. In 1848, Charles Anstey was 2nd Master of HMS Wellington, which at the time was docked in Sheerness under Captain David Price. In 1852, according to the ‘Morning Chronicle‘ 1 November 1852 edition “Her Majesty’s cutter Thames, Mr Charles Anstey, Second Master commanding, was despatched yesterday“.

In January 1854, according to the ‘Sun (London)‘, Charles Anstey was reappointed to the ‘Monarch’ ship in Sheerness as Second Master (Acting). Later in 1854, Charles Anstey was Acting Master of the ‘Fearless’ paddlewheel steam vessel. In the 1861 Census, Charles Anstey (“Acting Second Master R. N. born Maidstone 1793“) and his second wife Elizabeth were living at 84 Chappel Street, Minster, Sheppey. Also living in the same house was Charles’ son William Anstey (b 1828) with his family.

We hear no more from Charles Anstey in the Royal Navy after this. He died in 1868 in Medway, where his age was given as 74 (ie b 1794). His widow died soon after – per the ‘Western Times‘ 17 May 1870 “DEATHS: Anstey May 3 at Gavan Scotland, the residence of her son in law, William Anstey, Elizabeth, relict of Charles Anstey Master R. N.

James Anstey (b 1832 Chatham)

James Anstey was born in 1832 in Chatham to parents Charles Anstey and Mary. He was living with his stepmother Elizabeth Anstey in Minster, Sheppey in the 1841 Census and he was a shopman (servant) in Minster in the 1851 Census. James Anstey married Esther Elizabeth Billings in Sheerness in 1852 and they had children in Sheerness:

  • Maria Elizabeth Anstey (b 1852);
  • William Charles Anstey (b 1854, a patient in the Kent County Lunatic Asylum in Chartham in 1881. Died in 1907 in Bridge, Kent);
  • Mary Anstey (b 1855, married James Ashcroft in 1879 in Edge Hill, Lancashire. She said her father James Anstey was a “gentleman” which was a slight exaggeration – however the marriage must be correct because she was living with her sons and her father back in Sheppey in the 1891 Census);
  • James Anstey (b 1857, a tinman’s whitesmith in Sheppey in the 1881 Census. He married Sarah Ellen Hounsell in Sheerness in 1883, by which time he was an ironmonger. They had children in Sheerness Alice Nellie Anstey (b 1885); Edward William James Anstey (b 1887, living in Aston Manor in 1922); Stanley Anstey (b 1889, living in Aston Manor in 1922); Sidney Henry Anstey (b 1891 -an Anstey Hero). James Anstey (father) died in 1895 in Sheppey, and most of the family moved to Aston Manor in Warwickshire at some point post-1911);
  • Frederick Anstey (b 1860, a brazier and tinman in Sheppey in the 1881 Census. He married Rhoda Sellen in Sheerness in 1892, by which time he was a whitesmith. They had children in Sheerness Frederick George Sellen Anstey (b 1892 – an Anstey Hero); Dorothy Rhoda M. Anstey (b 1893, died 1899); Vincent Henry C. Anstey (b 1894, died 1899); Dorothy Rhoda Sellen Anstey (b 1901, known as Rhoda, married Charles K. Wilmer in 1938 in Sheerness and was living with her brother Frederick George Sellen Anstey in the 1939 Register in Sheerness). In 1916 the family were living at 29 Alma Street, Sheerness);
  • Robert Edward Anstey (b 1861, known as Edward, died 1880 in Sheerness);
  • Alice Anstey (b 1863, married Henry Vincent Peter in 1887 in Sheerness);
  • Henry Charles Anstey (b 1872 – an Anstey Hero)

By the 1861 Census the family were living in High Street Minster, James Anstey was a newsagent. Then in 1862 according to the ‘Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald‘ 11 October 1862 edition, “ATTEMPT TO BLOW UP A FAMILY IN BED: A stationer named James Anstey residing at Sheerness has been committed to trial for attempting to destroy his wife and family by gunpowder. The time chosen for the diabolical act was when the wife and family – the latter consisting of five young children – were in bed. Fortunately the explosion caused no personal injuries, though the house was considerably damaged. The prisoner and his wife had lived very unhappily together and he had frequently uttered threats against her“.

James Anstey was found not guilty of “feloniously damaging a house by the explosion of gunpowder” in Maidstone in November 1862 and went back to live with his family in Sheerness. According to the ‘Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser‘ 02 December 1862 edition “The Grand Jury threw out the bill against James Anstey, charged with having maliciously, by the explosion of a quantity of gunpowder, damaged a dwelling house with intent to murder his wife Elizabeth Anstey at Minster in Sheppey on 27 Sept

In the 1871 Census the family (minus James temporarily) were living at 81 Chappel Street (next door but two to where James parents lived in the 1861 Census (see above). Elizabeth Anstey (mother) was a charwoman. By the 1881 Census the family were in Alma Street, Minster – James Anstey was a brazier (a ‘fireman’ in 1883).

Esther Elizabeth Anstey (mother) died in Sheerness in 1890. James Anstey (widower) was a hammerman in a dockyard in Sheerness in the 1891 Census. James Anstey died in Sheppey in 1923, “aged 91“.

Further Details on the Chatham Ansteys

#1. Samuel Anstey married Elizabeth Rixion in Barming, Kent in 1806. Samuel likely died in 1815 in Chatham aged 38 (ie born in 1777), though the transcription is “Samuel Ansted“, hence this gentleman is probably not an ‘Anstey’ (there are quite a few ‘Anstead’ in the parish registers around this time).

#2. George Anstey (b 1800) died in 1827 aged 27 in Chatham, Kent.

#2. George James Anstey was baptised in Chatham in 1828 to parents George Anstey (a Private in the 61st Regiment of Foot) and Ann. George (b 1828) was a seaman in 1845.

We are actively on the lookout for Chatham Anstey experts alive today who are willing to add their findings and knowledge to this project. We are particularly interested in research regarding Chatham 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 research@theansteystory.com.

We have already uploaded bits of information and documentation about the Chatham 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 ‘Chatham’ 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 research@theansteystory.com and we will correct it.

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