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About the study
The Anstey One-Name study was started in about 1905 by my great granduncle Thomas John Edmund Anstey (known as Tom, whose picture sits atop this page). He produced copious quantities of high quality 'Anstey' surname research and we are very fortunate that much of it has survived and remains in the family today, providing an excellent foundation on which to build.
In 2014, I (Gary Anstey) took up the challenge of continuing and expanding his work in the internet age, which had already been advanced by other researchers interested in the Anstey surname in the interim. The surname Anstey was registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 2015 and Tom has been posthumously awarded the title of Honorary President of this particular study in recognition of his work.
In 2016 I began to collate my research and merge it with that of Tom's and in March 2017 we together published a book on some of our Anstey findings; all net proceeds of which are being donated to the Guild of One-Name Studies charity. This book is entitled:
'ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry'.
and it is available for purchase on Amazon UK and Amazon USA (see links below):
The book description is as follows:
Surprising as it may sound, all Ansteys** alive today are connected to each other, sharing a common Anstey ancestor who originated the Anstey surname in the 12th century! This is proved beyond doubt by authors G.M. Anstey and T.J. Anstey in the authoritative and comprehensive:
"ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry"
together with its sister publication "ANSTEY: We Are One Family. The Proof!".
This first book lays the groundwork for the authors' proof, documenting the true origin of Anstey as a surname and telling for the first time the complete and fascinating story of the medieval Ansteys from their 12th century origin to the end of the 14th century. The ancestors whose stories are told in this book are shared not only by all Ansteys** alive today, but by anybody who has an Anstey appear anywhere in their family tree.
Designed to appeal to both casual reader and ardent genealogical enthusiast alike, two alternative titles could plausibly be:
"Your 'great x 27' Grandfather Owned a Medieval Castle" (if an Anstey appears anywhere in your family tree) or
"Researching in Medieval Times: Focusing (far too much) on ANSTEY as a Case Study" (if you are interested in what can be learnt about medieval ancestors from the extraordinary array of available medieval documentation).
A two page book review, which can be accessed here, appeared in the July-September 2017 issue of the 'Journal of One-Name Studies' (Volume 12 Issue 11).
The sister book, 'ANSTEY: We Are One Family. The Proof!', is a mammoth undertaking; research is currently well under way and this book should be available for sale in about a year. Once again, all net proceeds will be donated to the Guild of One-Name Studies charity.
COAT OF ARMS APPEAL
In connection with our Anstey research, we make an appeal concerning the coat of arms commonly associated with the Ansteys, namely:
'Or, a cross engrailed between four martlets gules' (a red cross on a gold background with a red martlet in each quarter)
These arms (or different coloured variants) form a central pillar of our proof that all Ansteys share a common 12th century origin. We know that many Anstey families in times gone by had variations of this basic ‘Anstey’ coat of arms adorning their walls and we are confident that hundreds of pre-20th century examples of this coat of arms exist (or existed) across the world. However, finding them is another matter; sometimes it can be devilishly difficult without local knowledge and help!
Therefore anybody who knows anything about any pre-20th century ‘Anstey’ coats of arms, whether hanging on the walls of private residences in times gone by, or adorning monuments, on plaques in churches, on bookplates glued inside books, on seals, referred to in letters or other correspondence, in photos, hidden in lofts or in any of a multitude of other locations (or even better if you currently own one which has been passed down the generations by your Anstey ancestors), Gary would be very interested to hear from you via the Guild of One-Name Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org.
'THE ANSTEYS CAME OVER WITH WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR' APPEAL
We have a second appeal in connection with our 'Anstey' surname research.
We have found that many distinct Anstey sub-branches, both in times past and still in existence today, were told by their ancestors a story along the lines of 'the Ansteys came over with the Normans' or 'the Ansteys came over with William the Conqueror'. We are undertaking an ambitious project to try and map all of these occurrences, in order to make further genealogical deductions.
Therefore if anybody has any documentary evidence of this story being passed down their sub-branch, or indeed if you personally were told this story (or variant) by your elderly relatives, Gary would love to hear from you at email@example.com.
The registered variants of the name Anstey are Ansty, Anstee and Anstie. However early spellings of the name combined with mistranscriptions of original documents mean Anestie, Anesty, Anstye, Ansti, Austy, Austey and Anestia (not an exhaustive list) are all worthy of further investigation. Those researching medieval Ansteys should add 'de Anesty', 'de Anestie', 'de Ansty', 'de Anestia', 'd'Anstey', 'de Anstye', as well as a multitude of other spelling variants!
Anstey is by far the most common spelling today (about 70%), followed by Anstee (about 25%), with Anstie and Ansty making up the balance.
The surnames 'Annesley', 'Ansley', 'Asty', 'Astry', 'Anesye', 'Anestan', 'Auste' and 'Aust' are not related to 'Anstey', neither is 'Anstice' (or 'Anstiss'/'Anstis') which has a separate and unconnected derivation.
Almost all 'Surname Origin' reference books state that the surname 'Anstey' originated in the 16th century from numerous of the nine Anstey villages in England mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. However, as we prove in Chapter One of our book
'ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry',
this is completely incorrect!
In fact the surname Anstey (and variants Ansty, Anstee and Anstie) only came into being on one occasion, that being in the mid-12th century when a gentleman became Lord of the Manor of Anstey in Hertfordshire and took the village name as his family title. All Ansteys** living today are descendent from this one family, which means therefore that all Ansteys** worldwide are related and can trace their surname origin to Anstey, Hertfordshire in England.
** See our definition of 'all Ansteys' in our first book on page 42.
History of the name
Richard de Anstey (c1127 - 1194/95) son of Hubert the Chamberlain and Agnes de Sackville, best known as the claimant in the famous Anstey Case of the mid-1100s about which Richard wrote a detailed account much treasured by historians.
John Ansty esquire (1378 - c1457) of Stow-cum-Quy, Cambridgeshire was MP for Cambridgeshire in 1445. His son, also John Ansty esquire (c1400-1460), was MP for Cambridgeshire in 1450 and 1455 and his grandson, also John Ansty esquire (1428-1477), was MP for Cambridgeshire in 1461 and 1467.
Christopher Anstey (1724 - 1805) Poet and author of the 'New Bath Guide' which took the literary world by storm in 1766. Has a memorial tablet in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey.
Thomas Chisholm Anstey (1816 - 1873) English lawyer and Parliamentarian in the 19th Century. He penned numerous works including a 'Guide to the Laws of England affecting Roman Catholics'.
Francis Edmund Anstie (1833 - 1874) English doctor and medical author. He was the first editor of the medical journal 'The Practitioner' and was notable for proposing 'Anstie's Limit', an amount of alcohol that could be consumed daily without ill effects.
Rev Martin Anstey M.A B.D (1860-1921) Author of ‘The Romance of Bible Chronology. An Exposition of the meaning and a Demonstration of the Truth of every Chronological statement contained in the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament’ and Anstey genealogist.
Ann Jane Anstey (nee Williams 1876 - 1949) Labour Candidate in the 1931 UK General Election for the seat of Lambeth, Norwood, Justice of the Peace and a long serving Labour Councillor for the Borough of Lambeth.
George James Anstey (1882 - 1958) Labour Candidate in the 1924 UK General Election for the seat of Lambeth, Norwood and a long serving Labour Councillor for the Borough of Lambeth.
In 1600, according to both computer models and a detailed analysis of early parish registers, the population of Ansteys worldwide was about 600 (practically speaking all of them located in England).
By the time of the 1881 UK Census there were just over 1,000 Ansteys (and variant spellings) in the UK, making it approximately the 4,000th most common surname. Currently there are just over 2,000 people in the UK with the surname Anstey (and variant spellings) which is still about the 4,000th most common surname, so the recent growth of the surname Anstey has been in line with the growth in the general population in the UK.
Worldwide growth has been more spectacular, with over 7,000 Ansteys (and variant spellings) worldwide today, predominantly in Commonwealth countries. However, Anstey is still only approximately the 78,000th most common surname in the world!
Distribution of the name
In 1600, nearly half of the worldwide population of Ansteys lived in Sussex, with much smaller sub-branches dispersed throughout many southern counties of England (per map on page 35 of 'ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry').
By the time of the 1881 UK Census the distribution of Ansteys was heavily concentrated in the South West of England, particularly Devon and South Gloucestershire; there was also a heavy presence in London and its surrounding counties (per map on page 36 of 'ANSTEY: Our True Surname Origin and Shared Medieval Ancestry').
By 2015 there has been evident dispersion around the UK though the basic pattern of 1881 remains. Worldwide in 2015, England still contains the largest concentration of Ansteys (but only just), closely followed by Canada, with the USA, Australia and South Africa all containing solidly growing Anstey populations.
Anstey enthusiasts are welcome to contact Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org