The Johannesburg Ansteys

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

Many thanks to Julia for her help constructing this pedigree.

Overview of the Johannesburg Ansteys

The Johannesburg Ansteys of South Africa are a sub-branch of the Tiverton Ansteys of Devon, headed by Norman Anstey (b 1870). Norman‘s brother William Anstey also lived in Johannesburg for many years, though he had no sons.

Norman Anstey (b 1870 Tiverton)

Norman Anstey was born in 1870 in Tiverton to parents John Walters Anstey and Susan Elizabeth Manley. He was brought up at Juryhays Farm in Tiverton before emigrating to South Africa at some point between 1889 and 1895.

In around 1895 or so, Norman founded the ‘Norman Anstey & Co Department Store’ in Johannesburg, South Africa, a store which was “famous for its gorgeous and elegant window-dressing seen from the pavement through large plate-glass shop-fronts and in the freestanding cylindrical glass showcase at the main entrance ”. The current Ansteys Building in central Johannesburg (at 59 Joubert Street) is named after Norman (the first Ansteys Building went up at 88 Eloff Street Johannesburg in 1907).

Norman married Minnie Downes in 1895 in Johannesburg, South Africa; they had children:

  • Winifred Pearl Anstey (b 1896 Transvaal, married John A. Hardman in 1918 in London and then later William C. Macintosh in 1934 in Westminster. She died in Transvaal in 1955, buried at Stellawood Cemetery and Crematorium, Durban);
  • Hugh Manley Anstey (b 1901 Natal, attended Cambridge University. He married Vivienne Inez Otto in 1926 in Johannesburg, however she died so he remarried Jean Paris Stewart in 1955 in Johannesburg (he was a “widower” and a “director of companies“, she was a “divorcee“, and they were both living at “Anstey’s Buildings, Joubert Street, Johannesburg“). Hugh and Vivienne had at least one son Benjamin Manley Anstey (b 1929 Johannesburg, baptised at Rosebank, St Martin’s-in-the-Veld, Johannesburg; attended Michaelhouse School in South Africa). Hugh Manley Anstey took over ‘Norman Anstey & Co Department Store‘ after his father died; he also commissioned the third Ansteys Building in Johannesburg in 1937, in which he later lived. Hugh Manley Anstey was still alive in 1957); and
  • Ernest Norman Anstey (b 1903, he was a “director of companies“, spending quite a lot of time in America. Ernest married Nora Ann Strobell in 1926 in Cape Town, however she died in c1930 so Ernest remarried to Gertrude Caroline Ines in 1932 in Johannesburg. They had a daughter Christine Dawn Anstey (b 1934). Ernest died in 1939 at St George’s Nursing Home in Bulawayo, Rhodesia “whilst on holiday from Johannesburg” – his wife died a couple of days later).

In 1899, Norman Anstey and his family were forced to temporarily relocate to Durban from Johannesburg due to the Second Boer War. The Tiverton Gazette reported on 16 January 1900 that “Writing from Durban, Natal to friends in Tiverton, Mr Norman Anstey, son of a farmer occupier of Jurishayes Farm, and until recently proprietor of a large business in Johannesburg, expresses in language that is unmistakeable his opinions in regard to the present conflict in South Africa. From experience extending over several years, he considers the Boers have become impossible since they persuaded themselves that they could beat the British. Stubborn to a degree ‘force is the only master they recognise and they need a strong dose of that’. Mr Anstey, like hundreds of others, is spending an enforced holiday as a refugee from the Transvaal. He mentions that many British subjects from the gold mining city have been commandeered by the Boers and are now compulsorily fighting against their own country

By 1903 Norman was a member of the ‘Devonian Society of Johannesburg‘; he was Mayor of Johannesburg from 1913 to 1915, and he was awarded the OBE in 1918.

Minnie Anstey died in 1917 in the Lady Dudley Nursing Home, Johannesburg so Norman remarried Annie Maria Poutney in Lewisham, England in 1919. Norman Anstey died in 1920 in Weston Lodge, Winifred Road, Parktown, Johannesburg. His death was reported in the ‘Western Times‘ on 13 February 1920 “The death has taken place at Johannesburg of Mr Norman Anstey O.B.E. son of the late Alderman J. W. Anstey of Jurishayes, Tiverton at the age of fifty years. He was a member of the Johannesburg Town Council for many years and for two years acted as Mayor. He was awarded the O.B.E for valuable services rendered in recruiting during the great war

Further Details on the Johannesburg Ansteys

#1. Lionel John Anstey, who died in Johannesburg in 1963, is not of this sub-branch – he is a Chew Magna Anstey.

We are actively on the lookout for Johannesburg Anstey experts alive today who are willing to add their findings and knowledge to this project. We are particularly interested in research regarding Johannesburg 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 quite a bit of information and documentation about the Johannesburg 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 ‘Johannesburg’ 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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