John Anstis (29 August 1669 – 4 March 1744) was an English officer of arms, antiquarian and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1702 and 1722. He rose to the highest heraldic office in England and became Garter King of Arms in 1718 after years of political manoeuvring.
An officer of arms is a person appointed by a sovereign or state with authority to perform one or more of the following functions:
An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient artifacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. The essence of antiquarianism is a focus on the empirical evidence of the past, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the motto adopted by the 18th-century antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts, not theory."
The House of Commons is the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada and historically was the name of the lower houses of the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Great Britain, Kingdom of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Southern Ireland. Roughly equivalent bodies in other countries which were once part of the British Empire include the United States House of Representatives, the Australian House of Representatives, the New Zealand House of Representatives, and India's Lok Sabha.
Anstis was born at St Neot, Cornwall on 29 August 1669. He was the first son of another John Anstis and his wife Mary, the daughter of George Smith. Anstis matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, on 27 March 1685 and entered the Middle Temple on 31 January 1690. On 23 June 1695 he married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Richard Cudlipp of Tavistock, Devon. They had eight sons and six daughters. Anstis was called to the bar on 19 May 1699.
St Neot is a civil parish and village in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The parish population at the 2011 census was 947. It is between the towns of Bodmin and Liskeard.
Exeter College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England and the fourth oldest college of the University.
The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, commonly known simply as Middle Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers, the others being the Inner Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. It is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.
In March 1701, Anstis received permission from the Earl Marshal, Henry Howard, 7th Duke of Norfolk, to collect materials from the College of Arms library to assist in the defence of the jurisdiction of the Earl Marshal, which was under attack. Anstis was also elected to Parliament for St Germans in 1702.When the Garter King of Arms, Sir Thomas St George, died in March 1703 Anstis was in a position to advise Lady Howard on how to protect her son's rights from the threat of a royal nomination of a new Garter on the one hand and the assumption of the nomination by the deputy earl marshal. Sir Henry St George was nominated to be Garter and succeeded his brother in June 1703.
Earl Marshal is a hereditary royal officeholder and chivalric title under the sovereign of the United Kingdom used in England. He is the eighth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord High Constable and above the Lord High Admiral.
Henry Howard, 7th Duke of Norfolk, KG PC Earl Marshal was an English nobleman, politician, and soldier. He was the son of Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk and Lady Anne Somerset, daughter of Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester and Elizabeth Dormer. He was summoned to the House of Lords in his own right as Baron Mowbray in 1678. His unhappy marriage was a subject of much gossip, and ended in divorce.
The College of Arms, also known as the College of Heralds, is a royal corporation consisting of professional officers of arms, with jurisdiction over England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Commonwealth realms. The heralds are appointed by the British Sovereign and are delegated authority to act on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry, the granting of new coats of arms, genealogical research and the recording of pedigrees. The College is also the official body responsible for matters relating to the flying of flags on land, and it maintains the official registers of flags and other national symbols. Though a part of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom the College is self-financed, unsupported by any public funds.
Anstis did not stand for election to Parliament in 1705.In May 1707 he was nominated Carlisle Herald of Arms Extraordinary and Norfolk Herald, as part of a plan to persuade Garter St George to administer the office jointly, with Anstis doing most of the work. In spite of the nomination, Anstis was never appointed to either post. His main rival to succeed St George was now John Vanbrugh, who had become Clarenceux King of Arms in March 1704 to strengthen his own claims to the office.
Norfolk Herald of Arms Extraordinary is an officer of arms in England. As an officer extraordinary, Norfolk is a royal herald, though not a member of the corporation of the College of Arms in London. Beginning in 1539 this officer was a herald to the dukes of Norfolk, though the first holder, John James, was paid a salary by King Henry VIII. Subsequent Norfolk heralds have been officers extraordinary, though the office has not always been filled but rather revived when required. The badge of office, assigned in 1958, is blazoned as Two Ostrich Feathers saltirewise each charged with a Gold Chain laid along the quill. It derives from the ostrich feather badge granted by King Richard II around 1387 as a mark of special favor to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, Marshal of England. Mowbray was also the first to be styled Earl Marshal.
Sir John Vanbrugh was an English architect and dramatist, perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. He wrote two argumentative and outspoken Restoration comedies, The Relapse (1696) and The Provoked Wife (1697), which have become enduring stage favourites but originally occasioned much controversy. He was knighted in 1714.
Clarenceux King of Arms, historically often spelled Clarencieux, is an officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. Clarenceux is the senior of the two provincial kings of arms and his jurisdiction is that part of England south of the River Trent. The office almost certainly existed in 1420, and there is a fair degree of probability that there was a Claroncell rex heraldus armorum in 1334. There are also some early references to the southern part of England being termed Surroy, but there is not firm evidence that there was ever a king of arms so called. The title of Clarenceux is supposedly derived from either the Honour of the Clare earls of Gloucester, or from the Dukedom of Clarence (1362). With minor variations, the arms of Clarenceux have, from the late fifteenth century, been blazoned as Argent a Cross on a Chief Gules a Lion passant guardant crowned with an open Crown Or.
In December 1710 Anstis used a change in administration to try again at securing the Gartership. On 20 January 1711 he was re-elected to Parliament in a by-election as MP for St Mawes and was then elected as MP for Launceston at the 1713 general election.He changed his strategy with St George. He continued to secure offices related to public records for himself and he remained loyal to the Tory ministry in Parliament. With his influential political friends, Anstis was eventually able to obtain the promise of an appointment to the office of Garter King of Arms, on 2 April 1714.
St Mawes was a rotten borough in Cornwall, England. It returned two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of England from 1562 to 1707, to the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800, and to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom until it was abolished by the Great Reform Act in 1832.
Launceston, also known at some periods as Dunheved, was a parliamentary constituency in Cornwall which returned two Members of Parliament to the British House of Commons from 1295 until 1832, and one member from 1832 until 1918. It was a parliamentary borough until 1885, and a county constituency thereafter.
The 1713 British general election produced further gains for the governing Tory party. Since 1710 Robert Harley had led a government appointed after the downfall of the Whig Junto, attempting to pursue a moderate and non-controversial policy, but had increasingly struggled to deal with the extreme Tory backbenchers who were frustrated by the lack of support for anti-dissenter legislation. The government remained popular with the electorate, however, having helped to end the War of the Spanish Succession and agreeing on the Treaty of Utrecht. The Tories consequently made further gains against the Whigs, making Harley's job even more difficult. Contests were held in 94 constituencies in England and Wales, some 35 per cent of the total, reflecting a decline in partisan tension and the Whigs' belief that they were unlikely to win anyway.
Anstis was returned again as MP for Launceston in the 1715 general election and held the seat until the 1722.By the time that Sir Henry St George died in August 1715, the political situation had shifted away from Anstis's political connections: Vanbrugh was nominated to the office and took measures to secure the passage of his grant. In addition, on 30 September 1715 Anstis was arrested on suspicion of involvement in plotting a Jacobite uprising in Cornwall.
The 1715 British general election returned members to serve in the House of Commons of the 5th Parliament of Great Britain to be held, after the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707. In October 1714, soon after George I had arrived in London after ascending to the throne, he dismissed the Tory cabinet and replaced it with one almost entirely composed of Whigs, as they were responsible for securing his succession. The election of 1715 saw the Whigs win an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, and afterwards virtually all Tories in central or local government were purged, leading to a period of Whig ascendancy lasting almost fifty years during which Tories were almost entirely excluded from office.
The 1722 British general election elected members to serve in the House of Commons of the 6th Parliament of Great Britain. This was the fifth such election since the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707. Thanks to the Septennial Act of 1715, which swept away the maximum three-year life of a parliament created by the Meeting of Parliament Act 1694, it followed some seven years after the previous election, that of 1715.
A protracted legal battle ensued as Anstis and Vanbrugh both claimed the title of Garter. Anstis eventually emerged victorious in May 1718. In 1724 he obtained an order for publishing, as editor and assisted by Elias Ashmole, the Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, From its Cover in Black Velvet Usually Called the "Black Book", which was printed at his own expense. This was a transcript of the Latin "Black Book of the Garter", the earliest surviving register of that order, written in about 1535, now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.In the preface to his work he wrote:
While we, with sensible regret, complain of the loss of these old annals whereby we are deprived of a great treasure, it hath been judged expedient to preserve the remains which have happily escaped this shipwreck. And therefore the eldest register remaining in the archives is now exhibited to publick view, less by the currency of time or any unforeseen accident it might be subject to the same unhappy fate. The original manuscript is a very large pompous volume in folio written in an handsome strong character on vellom, having the initial letters of each paragraph, together with the names of the companions and of the knights nominated in scrutinies, beautifully embellished with gold, placed on squares of gold and azure alternately...It hath been shewn in the introduction when and by whom this register was compiled and from what materials it was collected.
In the following year he interested Robert Walpole in a plan for a new order of chivalry based on a revival of the medieval Order of the Bath. This led to his Observations Introductory to an Historical Essay on the Knighthood of the Bath in 1725 and to Anstis's drawing up the statutes for the new order.
Anstis duly presided over the coronation of George II in 1727. In 1728 he embarked on extensive research to prove that his family was related to Archbishop Henry Chichele, the founder of All Souls College, Oxford. This research could have entitled his son, John Anstis, to a fellowship at the college; which was blocked by Archbishop William Wake, Anstis did have his son made Blanc Coursier Herald in 1727. In 1737 he secured the succession of his office of Garter to John the younger.
Anstis died on 4 March 1744 at Mortlake, Surrey. He was buried at Duloe in Cornwall on 23 March according to his wishes. Anstis was an indefatigable antiquarian whose correspondence with fellow scholars such as Thomas Hearne and Humfrey Wanley testifies to his wide interests. He left a mass of unpublished papers, including over 8000 pages of notes on English history, Jurisprudence, Chronology, Heraldry, Ecclesiastical and Military Affairs. Many of his papers were sold in 1768 and in 1774 and are now held in the British Library, the Bodleian Library, and All Souls, Oxford.
Sir Albert William Woods was an English officer of arms, who served as Garter Principal King of Arms from 1869 to 1904. The Woods family has a strong tradition of service at the College of Arms. Albert Woods was the son of Sir William Woods, Garter King of Arms from 1838 until his death in 1842. Likewise, the grandson of Albert Woods was Sir Gerald Woods Wollaston, who also rose to the rank of Garter King of Arms and served there from 1930 until 1944.
The Garter Principal King of Arms is the senior King of Arms, and the senior Officer of Arms of the College of Arms, the heraldic authority with jurisdiction over England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The position has existed since 1415.
Sir Anthony Richard Wagner was a long-serving Officer of Arms at the College of Arms in London. He served as Garter Principal King of Arms before retiring to the post of Clarenceux King of Arms. He was one of the most prolific authors on the subjects of heraldry and genealogy of the 20th century.
Sir George Rothe Bellew,, styled The Honourable after 1935, was a long-serving herald at the College of Arms in London. Educated at the University of Oxford, he was appointed Portcullis Pursuivant in 1922. Having been Somerset Herald for 24 years, he was promoted to the office of Garter Principal King of Arms in 1950, the highest heraldic office in England and Wales. He served in that capacity until his resignation in 1961. As Garter, Bellew oversaw the funeral of George VI, proclaimed the late King's daughter, Elizabeth II, as Queen and took a leading role in the organisation of her Coronation in 1953. After his retirement, Bellew was Secretary of the Order of the Garter and Knight Principal of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor. He lived for many years at Dower House in Old Windsor, Berkshire, but later moved to Farnham and died in 1993, aged 93.
Sir William Dethick was a long-serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. He was the son of Sir Gilbert Dethick and followed his father as Garter Principal King of Arms. Though he was adjudged a qualified armorist and antiquarian, Dethick's biography is notable for numerous instances of conflict with his colleagues and others.
William Bruges was an English officer of arms. He is best remembered as the first person appointed to the post of Garter King of Arms, which is currently the highest heraldic office in England.
John Writhe was a long-serving English officer of arms. He was probably the son of William Writhe, who represented the borough of Cricklade in the Parliament of 1450–51, and is most remembered for being the first Garter King of Arms to preside over the College of Arms. Writhe is also notable for the contention that it was he who developed the system of heraldic cadency employed by English officers of arms to the present day.
Sir Thomas Wriothesley was a long serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. He was the son of Garter King of Arms, John Writhe, and he succeeded his father in this office.
Charles Wriothesley was a long-serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. He was the last member of a dynasty of heralds that started with his grandfather—Garter Principal King of Arms John Writhe.
John Anstis was an officer of arms at the College of Arms in London.
Sir Christopher Barker was an officer of arms at the College of Arms in London.
Ralph Bigland was an English officer of arms, antiquarian and cheesemaker. He was born at Stepney, Middlesex, and was the only son of Richard Bigland and his wife, Mary. His father was a native of Westmorland, descended from the Bigland family of Biglands. He should not be confused with his nephew Sir Ralph Bigland.
Stephen Martin Leake was a numismatist and long-serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in London.
Sir George Nayler, KH FRS was a long-serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in London.
John Mynne was an English officer of arms. He was the son of Henry Mynne of Gloucestershire, and son-in-law of John Writhe, the Garter King of Arms from 1478 to 1504.
Sir Edward Bysshe FRS (1615?–1679) was an English barrister, politician and officer of arms. He sat in the House of Commons variously between 1640 and 1679 and was Garter King of Arms during the Commonwealth period.
Henry St George, the younger (1625–1715), was an English Officer of arms. He was a younger son of the herald Henry St George.
Sir Thomas St George was an English officer of arms who rose to the rank of Garter Principal King of Arms (1686–1703).
The Bruges Garter Book is a 15th-century illuminated manuscript containing portraits of the founder knights of the Order of the Garter. It was made to the order of William Bruges, Garter King of Arms, and constitutes the first armorial covering members of the Order. It has been held since 1883 by the British Library in London under catalogue reference Stowe 594, indicating its former existence within the Library of the Dukes of Buckingham at Stowe House.
|Parliament of England|
| Member of Parliament for St Germans |
With: Henry Fleming
|Parliament of Great Britain|
| Member of Parliament for St Mawes |
With: Richard Onslow
| Member of Parliament for Launceston |
With: Edward Herle 1713–1721
Alexander Pendarves 1721–1722