Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 16, 2017.
Webpage updated: February 23, 2017

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Edward Solomon Anstey was born in the hamlet of Knacker's Knowle, where his father, James Anstey, was a licensed victualler, and was baptized at the Parish Church of Saint Budeaux on August 12th 1827.

Although in 1841, at the age of 15, he was living with the family of Mr William Payne Billing, a merchant and at that time the Mayor of Devonport, by the following census he was residing at 122 Navy Row, with his father, James Anstey, who was now a widower.  Edward was a Messenger in the Royal Dockyard.  In 1849 he had been thanked by the Local Board of Health his "kind and unremitting attention to many of the sufferers" during the cholera epidemic that raged through Devonport that year.  "This was the only acknowledgement that the Board could offer, but the hope was expressed that his meritorious conduct would meet with due reward form the public", the press said in his Obituary.

In 1870 he put his name forward as an Independent candidate for a seat on the Council representing Saint John's Ward and he was elected by a large majority.  By this time he was an insurance agent and his wife, formerly Miss Emma Towl, whom he had married at Saint Andrew's Church, Plymouth, on  March 21st 1861, had given him three daughters and one son, the latter being christened Edward Solomon Anstey like his father but who sadly passed away just one year later in 1871.

For many years afterwards Mr Anstey was re-elected without opposition and this gave him the opportunity to force improvements to his Ward.  During the 1870s his efforts got the removal of the old archway at the top of Devonport Hill, the demolition of the Crown Hotel, the old Devonport Theatre Royal, the former Stoke Damerel Parish Workhouse in Duke Street, the "Island" at the junction of Catherine Street and Fore Street, and the purchase of the Barley Sheaf Public House for the betterment of Market Street.  With no distractions from the radio, television, or the cinema, to divert his attentions, he was elected Overseer in 1871 and a churchwarden of the Anglican Church of Saint John the Baptist in 1872.  He helped the trustees of the latter clear a heavy debt outstanding on the building of the Church and was himself elected a trustee and subsequently a patronage trustee.  In 1874 he received from the Board of Commissioners a vote of thanks for the practical hints he had given them for improving the system of collecting the rates.  Mr Anstey was also responsible for getting the earlier delivery of the North Mail and for replacing the improperly used Imperial Arms by a new Borough coat-of-arms.  He became a Justice of the Peace and an Alderman of the Borough.

Mr Edward Solomon Anstey died at his home, "Whitfield" Buckland Monachorum, on Wednesday March 22nd 1905 and his funeral was held at the Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse Cemetery.  He was survived by his widow, who died in 1909, and his three unmarried daughters.




















Compiled with the assistance of the
Devon Family History Society.