Richard & Elizabeth Honysett, Farmer of Herstmonceux

Richard Honysett, the son of Richard and Ann, was baptised in Herstmonceux on 12th April 1723. His father died when he was only 10 and a year later he inherited a house in Westham from his Aunt Mary. What became of this house is not clear as Richard seems to have lived in Herstmonceux all his life. Perhaps the house was sold despite being willed to him ‘and to his heirs forever’. His mother died in 1744 and he took on the leases of ‘Walland’ and part of ‘The Tongs & Haynes’, two plots of land originally leased to his father.

Elizabeth Edwards, daughter of Henry and Catherine, was baptised in Chalvington, on 8th October 1725.

Richard married Elizabeth Edwards in Herstmonceux on 11th June 1745 where they had seven children baptised:


20 Apr 1746


6 Mar 1747/8


29 Jul 1750


3 Nov 1753


2 May 1757


13 Jun 1759


16 Sep 1761

From 1760 Richard was the tenant of ‘Mables’ which he leased from his father-in-law Henry Edwards who had purchased it for £230 in 1723. Henry’s property, known as ‘Mables Bartons’ and ‘Ponts Bartons’, consisted of a house, a barn, an orchard and other land and possibly became Richard’s family home. In 1780 he purchased it from Catherine Edwards, Henry’s widow, along with marsh called Blackwells at White Dyke in Hailsham and Pevensey. When Richard died the property at White Dyke passed to his son Henry who later sold it shortly before his own death. ‘Mables’ was eventually sold by Richard’s heirs in 1790 for £360.

Richard was buried in Herstmonceux on 28th September 1781 and Elizabeth on 14th January 1802. Neither appears to have left a will.

Of their children:

  • Henry married Elizabeth Erray, from Ninfield, in Herstmonceux on 24th April 1770. Henry was a yeoman farmer and lived in Hailsham where he owned ‘Coggers’ and also land in Wartling. He sold some of his land in 1790. They had a number of children baptised, the first two in Herstmonceux, the rest in Hailsham:


    9 Oct 1770


    28 Nov 1771


    3 May 1773

    buried 15 Jun 1781


    4 Jun 1775


    6 Nov 1776


    20 Apr 1778


    16 Mar 1780

    buried 6 May 1780


    18 May 1781

    buried 14 Jul 1781

    Henry was buried in Hailsham on 12th May 1791 and he left 5 guineas per year to his wife and the remainder to be shared between his five surviving children when the youngest, Charles, reached the age of 21 (1799).

    • Elizabeth married Francis Box, a widower from Speldhurst, Kent, in Hailsham on 18th October 1791.

    • Richard became a cooper, married Mary Martin and lived in Frant.

    • Henry moved to Chatham in Kent where he worked as a wheelwright and married Ann Winder in Tenterden.

    • Charles followed his brother Henry to Chatham where he married Sarah Dyke and also worked as a wheelwright.

  • Richard may have married Mary and had a son Thomas in 1769, but neither appears to have survived. He also appears to have had two illegitimate children, Ann and Richard, by Charity Calloway.


    7 May 1775



    28 Dec 1776


    Richard was a ‘looker’ in the Wartling and Herstmonceux area. A marsh looker was someone who looked after sheep and cattle, not necessarily his own, on the marshes to the south of these villages, and was often provided with a cottage and a small amount of land. Checking the cattle is still known in the area as ‘lookering’. Whilst it doesn’t sound very glamorous Richard apparently made a very good living.

    In 1782 Richard purchased ‘Yew Tree Cottage’ a 17th century house and garden at Goldings Cross which still existed in 1980. In the same year he became the tenant of 2 acres of land called ‘Iron Croft’ which was more or less adjacent to the cottage.

    Richard married Anne Sharood in Herstmonceux on 26th March 1788 and they had two daughters, Ann and Sarah baptised there:


    6 Oct 1788



    16 Nov 1796


    In 1794 he also purchased 11 rods of land in Stunts Green, which until then had been ‘wayside waste’. He then built a house on it, ‘Garland Cottage’ which still exists, and perhaps moved into it himself and let his other cottage. In 1799 he purchased ‘Iron Croft’, the land he had been tenant of for 17 years, and all these properties remained his until he died.

    His other investment was in 1799 when he and his brother William purchased ‘Ivy Nook’ a house with 3 acres, all of which they immediately mortgaged back to the vendor, Thomas Studwell. Richard and William ceased to be the owners of this property in 1809 when their interest was sold to Jesse Smith and John Pursglove.

    Ann, ‘wife of Richard’, was buried in Herstmonceux on 22nd February 1806. Richard, ‘of Marsh Side’, was buried in Herstmonceux on 23rd February 1827 ‘aged 81’ and left everything to his two daughters, Ann Hoad and Sarah Rich.

    • Richard and his wife Anne lived in Ripe and Laughton.

    • Ann married Thomas Hoad by licence in Herstmonceux on 16th September 1806.

    • Sarah married George Rich in Herstmonceux on 2nd May 1815. One of the witnesses was William Honisett (probably her uncle, Richard’s younger brother).

  • James married Mary Miller in 1784 and lived in Westham.

  • William became a grocer and seems to have married rather late in life. On 21st April 1799 in Herstmonceux, he married Mary Bicknell, a widow, but did not have any legitimate children. There was earlier an illegitimate daughter Mary, who later became Mary Samway. Her mother was Hannah Tanner, later Hannah Hodge. The Herstmonceux baptism entry reads ‘Mary, illegitimate daughter of Hannah Tanner by William Hunnisett was baptized October 26th 1783’.

    In 1806 William bought ‘Pernes’, a cottage in Flowers Green, where he must have lived until he died six years later. His widow, Mary, may have continued to live there for some time but by 1839 the cottage was owned by Joseph Samway and an Ann Honeysett was the tenant. Could this have been William's sister?

    In 1799 William and his brother Richard purchased ‘Ivy Nook’ a house with 3 acres, all of which they immediately mortgaged back to the vendor, Thomas Studwell. Richard and William ceased to be the owners of this property in 1809 when their interest was sold to Jesse Smith and John Pursglove.

    William was buried in Herstmonceux on 8th April 1812 aged 58.  He left everything to his wife Mary, but upon her death or remarriage it was to pass to Mary Samway and subsequently to her children. His will was proved in Lewes on 10th October 1812 and it was ‘sworn also that the Goods Chattels and credits of the said deceased do not amount in value unto One Thousand Pounds’. As Mary did not remarry and, in fact lived for a further 28 years, it is not clear how much eventually passed to Mary Samway. In fact his wife Mary made her own will in 1836 in which she made many bequests to her sister, various nieces and a nephew, so perhaps the terms of William’s will were conveniently forgotten!

    William’s widow Mary died of consumption aged 77 on 31st March 1841 and was buried in Herstmonceux on 5th April.

  • Sarah may have married William Hoad of Westham in Herstmonceux on 10th May 1791.