BRIGADIER EDGAR CARNEGIE ANSTEY, DSO
1882-1958

Brigadier Anstey lived at 1 Ashdown Road, Epsom (originally called Lidsdale but later re-named Meads). I do not know for how long, owing to the absence of Electoral Registers during the Second World War, but he was on the Epsom Register for 1939 and so was Millicent Campbell - she will make her appearance later.

Lady Millicent Campbell with Brigadier E C Anstey, 1950
Lady Millicent Campbell with Brigadier E C Ainsley Anstey, 1950
Image source: Evening Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
Image copyright National Library of New Zealand

Parentage and family

Edgar's father was Harry Francis Anstey, born in 1847, who was around 40 when he took his family to Australia, where his father had been very successful. In the 1871 census Harry, then aged 23, was an engineering student, living with his parents, sister and a battalion of servants in Harley Street, London. On 24 January 1877 he married Edith Euphemia Carnegie at St John, Notting Hill: Edith was born in Germany, probably because her father, Major John William Carnegie, was a British Army officer: he had died in 1874, having been implicated in an insurance company fraud.

There were four children of the Anstey marriage. Leila Carnegie was baptised in May 1880 at Christ Church, Forest Hill, Edgar Carnegie was born in 1882 in Camborne, Cornwall - where Harry was probably involved in mining, Camborne being celebrated for its School of Mining, founded in 1888 -, Violet Carnegie was born 1886/7 in London and Robert Alexander Carnegie appeared in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia in 1890. In June 1909 Violet married Talbot Stanley Dean-Pitt. Effectively the marriage lasted just a few months and in the following February Violet was applying for restitution of conjugal rights as the necessary rigmarole preceding a divorce. She was saved further proceedings and became a widow when Dean-Pitt apparently died in 1912 (in the 1911 census she was ostensibly living alone at a boarding house in South Eaton Place, Belgravia, working as a dressmaker's model). Mr Dean-Pitt had been domiciled in Argentina and played a lot of polo. An item in the Daily News (Perth, Western Australia) of 5 August 1909 described the charming wedding, which had occurred after a 3-week engagement following a 2-3 day courtship, and informed readers that the bridegroom was obliged to leave England almost immediately to deal with his Argentinian interests, leaving his wife behind. In 1913 Violet 'quietly' married Army officer Geoffrey Delves Broughton and that seems to have held firm until her death in 1938.

Robert was in the Army and then went to South Africa and Rhodesia, eventually dying at his Kenyan farm in 1978. Leila married widower Andrew George Wood, who was about 26 years her senior; in the 1911 census they were living in Shropshire with two young daughters and thirteen servants. Andrew expired in 1916 and Leila in 1924: her untimely death resulted from a high speed (for those days in that environment) vehicular collision in Belgrave Square. Andrew and Leila are buried in the Wood family mausoleum at Brookwood Cemetery.

The Wood mausoleum at Brookwood Cemetery
The Wood mausoleum at Brookwood Cemetery
Photo by Robert Freidus via The Victorian Web

Edith Euphemia Anstey died in 1926 and Harry in 1927, their home having been in Camberley for some years.

Edgar

Edgar was a career army officer. He attended Hazelwood School in Oxted until 1895 and then went to Wellington College, where he won a prize for English Composition, which talent would stand him in good stead following his retirement; he moved on to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in December 1900. In 1903 he was promoted to Lieutenant and in 1907 went to West Africa where he was an Intelligence Officer attached to the 1st Gold Coast Regiment and ADC to the Governor of Accra. (It is worth remembering, at this time when we have been commemorating the centenary of WW1 and thinking of the more obvious battlegrounds and units, that the Gold Coast Regiment of Ghana raised five battalions to fight In the East Africa Campaign and nine battalions for service in WW2.) In 1913 Edgar became a Captain and graduated from the Staff College at Camberley.

He was in France as a Brigade Major and served in the Dardanelles Campaign, for which he was mentioned in despatches. There was a further mention for his service as a General Staff officer back in France, which resulted in his receiving the Croix de Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. The DSO and the Croix de Guerre were awarded to him in 1919 and he was promoted to full Colonel in 1921. In 1928 he was injured (two other men died) when a shell exploded at an artillery training camp near Dundee. Following stints in Germany and India he retired in 1935 with the honorary rank of Brigadier.

There was a Mrs Anstey, whose maiden name was Laura Samsonoff; she married Edgar on 22 December 1922 at All Saints, Knightsbridge. Her father was Feodor(ov) Michailovitch(?) Samsonoff, deceased, landowner and army officer. She was born somewhere around 1896, per ships' passenger lists. A marriage notice in The Times for 23 December 1922 said that Laura's father was of the province of Witebsk, Russia (now Vitebsk in Belarus). They are the only clues we have regarding her background. Edgar and Laura had a daughter called Barbara Elizabeth, but she sadly died in India in 1932, aged three. It seems that Laura died in 1946 but I can find no verification or further information on that.

And so to 1, Ashdown Road in 1939, which will get us nowhere as a bare fact. Here is the entry in the Electoral Register.

Electoral Register
Epsom Electoral Register

Millicent Campbell's adult daughter was also there, but I shall not name her two now deceased children, since they have descendants who are no part of this tale.

Who was Millicent?

It was easy to discover who and where Millicent Cambell was at many points from about 1915 onwards, but her origins before she became that person were unknown - or deliberately concealed. Millicent appeared from nowhere on a ship's passenger list (June 1931) as the wife of Sir Duncan John Alfred Campbell, 5th Baronet of Barcaldine in Argyll. They had sailed in from Marseille, and almost certainly India before that, on the SS Britannia of the Anchor Line. There were two daughters with them and they all sounded very grand, with their address given as Barcaldine Castle. However, we are not talking on the Balmoral scale here and until 1911 the castle was semi-derelict*, which is presumably why the 4th Baronet, Sir Alexander William Dennistoun Campbell, remained in Bognor Regis after inheriting the title.

Barcaldine Castle
Barcaldine Castle
Mike and Kirsty Grundy [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On the aforementioned passenger list Sir Duncan was 75 and Lady Millicent just 36 - note this age since it suggests she was born somewhere around the 1894/5 mark. The 4th Baronet was unmarried, so on his death the title had passed to Duncan, his slightly younger brother. Duncan was not 'in office' for long, as he died in 1932 at Bognor Regis. In fact, he had been married to someone other than Millicent all along. He was born in India in 1854 and spent most of his life in the Army, Indian Civil Service and various public offices abroad. Newspaper reports of his accession to the title ignored Millicent and their two daughters. In July 1890 Duncan had married doctor's daughter Mary Snell Gibbon. There was one female child, born in England in 1893 (died unmarried 1987). Mary appeared in the London Electoral Registers without Duncan on many occasions, so she cannot have been with him, especially as his daughters by Millicent were born in about 1916 and 1921, presumably in India. Mary was still styled as Lady Mary Snell Campbell and described as Duncan's widow when she died in 1952.

So, who was Millicent originally? Her forenames were often given as Millicent Anfield and there seem to be only two people in the UK who ever had these particular forenames: one of them has a cast-iron alibi for all of the events described, which just leaves Millicent Anfield Bristow ('MAB'), a highly elusive person, who was born in 1889 in Lambeth district, daughter of French polisher Henry George Bristow and Alice Maria Bristow (nee Anfield). Obviously, that does not make her 36 years old in 1931, but Millicent Campbell will tamper with her age liberally as time goes on. Millicent herself gave us two clues as to who she might have been once, both of which suggest that someone was distributing red herrings. An entry in 'Who Was Who' tells us that her mother was the Comtesse de Prologue; there was no mention of a father. I can find no such person and the title does sound contrived. And then we have a marriage certificate saying that her father was Martin Hawke, deceased, of independent means. I can find two possible Martin Hawkes whom she might have wished to claim as a father, one being an aristocratic famous cricketer and the other being a naturalised American merchant, living in Niagara, with a second abode in Hale, Cheshire. Both of them were dead when the name of Martin Hawke popped up, so she was in no danger of being contradicted. I think she was MAB and here is the circumstantial evidence.

  • In the 1911 census, MAB was at 48 Upper Gloucester Place, off Baker Street, describing herself as a dancer. Then we have another form for Number 48, filled in by one Alice Maria Bristow, widow (Mr Bristow had apparently died early in 1901). Number 48 seems to have been a modest lodging house, divided into several units, and I daresay that the occupants were in straitened circumstances. Alice Maria's maiden name was Anfield and she was born in Paris in about 1869, the daughter of Charles and Mary Ann Amelia Anfield. Mary Ann Amelia Anfield was usually known as Amelia, which happened to be a forename of one of Millicent Campbell's daughters. Charles Anfield was a Yorkshireman, but worked as a coachman in Paris for some years and then returned to England with his family
  • MAB said she was 21 in the 1911 census, which she was, and beside her age she had written Sept. 10th, presumably her birthday. If I now tell you that the Millicent we are looking for, who died in 1975, had a date of birth of September 10th 1894 in the GRO Index, does that suggest that MAB and Millicent Anfield Campbell may well be the same woman, given that our elusive Millicent tampers with her age? Additionally, Duncan John Alfred Campbell was in London for the 1911 census, staying in lodgings in Gipsy Hill.

Back to Millicent reality

Whoever she was, in 1932, after Duncan's death, Millicent was adrift with her two daughters (financial circumstances unknown but probably not wonderful), so what did she do? In 1933, then purportedly aged 49 - so, date of birth now c. 1884, but the person who wrote the passenger list might have been guessing - she sailed away in 2nd Class to Genoa with her two daughters, apparently intending to reside in Italy. Her UK address at the time was Kelmunoch House, Pevensey Bay, and the family was accompanied by a governess named Mrs Ethel Massari, who had been with the Campbell family when they arrived on the Britannia in 1931. They returned in 1935, minus Mrs Massari, and Millicent was now only 40 years of age, so we seem to be back to a birth date around 1894.

I don't know where she was between 1935 and 1939 but perhaps I should mention now that she had a close Campbell friend (daughter of one of Duncan's cousins), whose history had been rather unfortunate and who reappears later. Erica Rose Campbell was born in 1900, the posthumous daughter of Captain Eric Reginald Duncan Campbell and Rose Scott, who were married on 14 November 1899. Eric was Inspector of the Lagos Constabulary and latterly the Prison Governor at Asaba, Nigeria, but died very suddenly in July1900, he being the heir to the baronetcy at the time - it was his death that ultimately diverted the title to Sir Alexander etc and then Duncan. Rose was the sister of Robert Falcon Scott ('Scott of the Antarctic'). Rose and Erica then went to live with Rose's widowed mother, Hannah, who died in 1924, aged 83, followed by Rose herself in 1930. By the time of her death Hannah was living in a Grace and Favour residence at Hampton Court Palace, the money in the family having dwindled to very little decades before.

Edgar and Millicent together

Edgar, Millicent and her elder daughter were at 1 Ashdown Road in 1939 and possibly for some time thereafter.

1 Ashdown Road, Epsom (2016)
1 Ashdown Road, Epsom (2016), number 1 is the one on the left.
Image courtesy of Peter Reed © 2016

After retiring from the Army, Edgar had taken up a writing career: before the War he wrote two mystery novels, being 'A Vanishing Yacht. A Story of Adventure' (1936) and 'The Mystery of The Blue Inns' (1937). He had also been passive air defence officer for London district and undertook special employment at Southern Command. In 1940 he joined the historical section of the Cabinet Offices (per obituary in The Times of 7 November 1958). During the War his literary output switched to what one might call text books, but he also became military correspondent of the Sunday Times and Daily Sketch (1942-44) and the Daily Despatch and Sunday Chronicle (1944-45). Curiously, for a man with such a history, he didn't rate much of an obituary in The Times, let alone a photograph.

1945 found the Anstey household (including Erica Campbell but minus Millicent's elder daughter, who was now married) in a flat at Wetherby Gardens, South Kensington and the following year they settled at 11 Thurloe Square, Kensington, where they remained. Millicent's younger daughter also married and moved away but Erica stayed with her and Edgar, probably until the now fairly mature couple finally tied the knot on 15 February 1951 at Kensington Register Office. 'Erica Rose Campbell of Barcaldine' was a witness and Millicent was 53 years old, having made a further adjustment to her year of birth. (This is the marriage certificate on which Martin Hawke, deceased, of independent means, was named as her father.)

Tying up the ends

Edgar died on 6 November 1958 and Millicent (now known publicly as Lady Millicent Anfield Anstey) remained at Thurloe Square, sometimes with a Gwendoline Campbell, whose identity is a bridge too far in this saga, i.e. I don't know who she was. Erica died in 1963, not leaving much in the way of money, and Millicent was her executor. Millicent expired on 23 January 1975, with a recorded age of 80, then residing at Hundred Acres, Sutton, which may have been a hospital at that time.

There is an orderly précis of Edgar Anstey's life on the Hazelwood School War Records website.


Linda Jackson, August 2016

* not that I am advertising, but it now looks like a lovely B&B in a stunning location if you happen to be up near Oban!