William Anstee (HR 4)

See ‘Anstey: A Complete History From the Norman Invasion to World War One‘ for much more on the Houghton Regis Anstees. 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 Houghton Regis Anstees fit into the pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anesti, the 12th century originator of the ‘Anstey’ surname.

HR 4. Willliam Anstee: He was born in 1756 in Leigh, Essex to parents Joseph Anstee Junior (HR 2) and Mary. He married Mary Sandon on 17 April 1778; he was a “linen draper of Ampthill“ also a “draper and laceman“, she was of Dunstable. They moved to Luton and had daughters: 

  • Mary Anstee (b 1779, married Thomas Healey in St Albans in 1828, was living with her mother and husband in the 1841 Census – also see below notes); 
  • Elizabeth Anstee (b 1785, died 1788), 
  • Sophia Anstee (b 1786, died 1793); 
  • Charlotte Anstee (b 1788, died 1789); and 
  • Elizabeth Anstee (b c1796 married Thomas Henly in 1816 and moved to Prittlewell – also see below notes).

In 1783 “William Anstee of Luton, draper” was “owner of the Buck and Bell Inn in Fenny Stratford”. In 1784 the ‘Poll for Knights of the Shire for the County of Bucks’ includes “William Anstee of Luton with house and land in Edlesborough“. In 1785, “William Anstee, Draper” was on the Jury List for Luton. In the late 1780s and early 1790s he provided the bond for the marriages of at least two of his sisters (see HR 2). There was also a “William Anstee of Luton gentleman” listed as providing two marriage bonds around this time; one of the bonds was for Stanbridge Ginger, who was the younger brother of Edward Ginger, husband of his younger sister Elizabeth Anstee (see HR 2) – so he was clearly doing well and getting wealthier.

By 1799 he had moved from Luton to Dunstable, still a draper. He died in Dunstable in 1803, by this time a “straw hat factor [manufacturer]” (and likely still a draper) who “stood indebted at the time of his decease” according to newspaper reports. One of his administrators was his brother John Anstee (HR 5).

Further Notes by Amy Teel: William Anstee (b1756)’s daughter Mary Anstee (b 1779) married Thomas Healey (no issue). Elizabeth Anstee (b c1796) married Thomas Henly (b 1797), a straw plait dealer and straw hat maker, in 1816. They had a daughter Elizabeth (b 1820) in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, and then moved to Prittlewell, Essex where Elizabeth presumably had Anstee relatives. Thomas Henly was listed as a straw hat maker in an 1823 directory for Prittlewell. There they had children Maria (b 1823) and Mary Ann (b 1825), but at some point they moved back west and had children Sarah (b 1829, not sure of location) Eliza (b 1832 Barnet, Herts.), Emma (b 1836 London Colney, Herts.), and twins Mary and Martha (b 1839 St Albans, Herts.) Thomas Henly owned straw hat factories in London (Goodge St) and in St Albans by the 1830s. The straw plaiting and hat making industry Straw plaiting (braiding) was an important industry in the region around Luton; the plait was used to make straw hats. It was common for drapers like William Anstee to also deal in straw plaits and make straw hats. Notes: Identity of Charlotte (1788-1789): her parents are not named, but the only other Anstee parents in these Non-Conformist records were John and Mary, who weren’t married until 1792. Identity of c1796 Elizabeth: I have not found any birth record for her (same issue with little Charlotte who was likely also his daughter). I’ve pieced together the connection from various bits of evidence. 1) Her father is William Anstee (from a marriage record). 2) She is consistent in censuses that her birth place was Luton, Bedfordshire, where William Anstee was settled at the time. 3) Elizabeth and husband Thomas Henly move to Prittlewell, Essex for awhile and have several of their children there. This originally puzzled me, but can now be explained by Elizabeth being related to the Prittlewell Anstees from whom 1756 William was descended. 4) Elizabeth’s husband being a straw plait dealer/hat maker seems like a connection to plait dealer/hat maker William Anstee. 5) I have a DNA relationship with two people descended from two different brothers of 1756 William Anstee. It’s a distant DNA match, as it should be for people who are about 7th cousins to me. Why I’ve ruled out other Elizabeth Anstees as my ancestor: The 1800 Elizabeth Anstee, d. of 1766 John Anstee, is too young (my Elizabeth is consistent about birth year being between 1795-1797) and also married to William Foll (not to my ancestor Thomas Henly). There is an Elizabeth Anstee b. May 1796 in Stoke Hammond, d. of Elizabeth Anstee (no father listed in this record). She’s exactly the right age, but Stoke Hammond is pretty far from Luton (18 miles away, and not in the same county) and close to Newton Longview (2 miles away) so it seems more likely that she’s related to Anstees that stayed in Newton Longview, and only distantly related to the Prittlewell Anstees. There is yet another Elizabeth Anstee b. 31 Jul 1796 in Heybridge, St Andrew, Essex, and her father is William Anstee. I was momentarily excited about her as a prospect, thinking she could be a Prittlewell Anstee, but Heybridge is about 20 miles from Prittlewell. And that would still push a common ancestor with my DNA matches back at least one generation from 1729 Joseph Jr. That might still be possible for a DNA match, but it’s more iffy. And of course, it’s very far from the birthplace of Luton that my Elizabeth Anstee claimed

Anybody who can add anything to this account, or finds any mistakes on this page, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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