Robert Anstee (DY 6)

See ‘Anstey: A Complete History From the Norman Invasion to World War One‘ for much more on the Dyrham Ansteys. In addition to biographies of various Anstey individuals who make up this sub-branch, the book contains a plethora of Anstey research and statistics, including an analysis of how the Dyrham Ansteys fit into the pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anesti, the 12th century originator of the ‘Anstey’ surname.

DY 6. Robert Anstee: He was baptised in Dyrham on 25 November 1718 to father Robert Anstee (DY 4).

[Note: He was the fourth consecutively named ‘Robert’, however he was evidently not so keen to continue the tradition, because it was not until his sixth son that he finally capitulated and chose the name ‘Robert’ – see below. That son died an infant, so he named his seventh son ‘Robert’ too (DY 11).]

He married Elizabeth Gunning (known as Betty – see below for more on her family), on 29 April 1742 in Dyrham, the register stating “marr Robert Anstee and Betty Gunning otp [of the parish of] Swainswick in the county of Somerset”. They proceeded to have thirteen children, all born and baptised in Dyrham, being:

  • Susannah Anstee (baptised 2 November 1743, likely married John Walker on 1 October 1767 in Westerleigh);
  • Thomas Anstee (baptised 11 December 1745, buried 30 July 1814 in Doynton);
  • Elizabeth Anstee (baptised 16 June 1748, died an infant buried 26 June 1748 Dyrham);
  • John Anstee (baptised 25 February 1749, died an infant);
  • John Anstee (DY 9 – baptised 8 February 1750);
  • Mary Anstee (baptised 17 May 1752);
  • Cornelius Anstee (baptised 18 October 1754 – he married Sarah Williams (possibly sister to Philip (DY 10)’s wife) in March 1778 in Westerleigh. They had three children there, namely Robert and James (twins?) baptised in 1778 (both died as infants), and Hannah, baptised in 1779. Cornelius died in 1790 in Westerleigh – this is the first instance of the name ‘Cornelius’ in the Anstey family, a few descendants of this sub-branch also bore the name);
  • Philip Anstee (DY 10 – baptised 11 June 1757);
  • Elizabeth Anstee (b 1757, died an infant);
  • Robert Anstee (b 1759, died an infant);
  • Elizabeth Anstee (baptised 2 February 1760);
  • Jane Anstee (b 1761, baptised 30 June 1765?, buried 27 February 1768); and
  • Robert Anstee (DY 11 – baptised 21 November 1762).

Despite many of their children not making it to adulthood, plenty did, and the survival of this particular family line is surely now secure thanks to this enormous family packed with sons. Also connected to this family, and surely grandson of Robert and Betty, is Charles Anstey (DY 18) – though as we cannot find his baptism we do not know which of the above children was his father or mother.

Nigel A. Anstey performed a lot of research on Robert and his wife Betty Gunning (they were his ‘great x 4’ grandparents), noting “We know little about Robert, or what he did, only that he was literate (as was Elizabeth) and a life tenant of a house on the Dyrham Park estate. It is the name ‘Gunning’ that is the indicator of elevated class in this family. The family Gunning was based in Tadwick, which is a hamlet about 4km south of Dyrham Park, on the road through Swainswick to Bath; they also had a presence in Somerset, south of Bath (possibly in Wellow). We need to do the Gunning tree to be sure of this, but it is feasible that her brother was squire of the Manor of Tadwick, that he had a son born perhaps 1720 and a grandson born perhaps 1750 (both taking the Manor in their turn), and that the next generation yielded ‘Counsellor’ Gunning, spoken of in respectful terms in the Little Red Book. In Peach’s ‘The Annals of the Parish of Swainswick’ (London 1890) we read, ‘John Gunning of Tadwick was a barrister who practised at Bristol but resided in Bath, where he died in 1843, having succeeded to the Manor of Tadwick in 1822. He was commonly called Counsellor Gunning.’ It is then feasible that the Gunnings were a legal family, with each generation providing legal services to the corresponding generation of the Blathwayts at Dyrham Park. So it is tentative, but Elizabeth may have been the daughter of a squire. We also note that the son of Robert 1718 and Elizabeth Gunning (‘my’ Robert 1762) left an estate valued at £700-800; considerable value had been added in his and his parents’ generation.”

Betty was buried in St Peter’s Church, Dyrham on 13 December 1795, “wife of Robert Anstee”. Robert himself passed soon after, buried in the same church on 7 August or 7 September 1797 (sources differ), the parish register noting simply that he was a “widower”.

Anybody who can add anything to this account, or finds any mistakes on this page, please contact us at

%d bloggers like this: