William & Winifred Hunnisett of Westham

William Hunnisett, the first child born to James and Mary after their marriage, was born on 31st May 1785 and baptised in Westham on 19th June.

On 2nd September 1807, when he was 24, he enlisted in the 35th Regiment of Foot where he served for about seven and a half years during the Napoleonic Wars. His service record describes him as 5 feet 4 inches tall and having a fair complexion, round face, grey eyes, and sandy hair. During his service he was promoted to Sergeant and served some of his time in the Ionian Islands, to the West of Greece. From 1807 the islands were controlled by the French, but by 1810 all except Corfu were taken by the British. The French held out in Corfu until 1814. At the beginning of 1815 William was shipped home from Corfu on the transport ship ‘Mercury’ at the end of his service.

Winifred Manser, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth, was baptised in Westham on 25 October 1798.

William and Winifred were married in Westham on 6 March 1821 and they had nine children baptised there:


4 Aug 1822


29 Aug 1824


18 Jun 1826


25 May 1828


9 Mar 1831


25 Jun 1833


7 Feb 1836


14 Oct 1838


6 Nov 1842

William was an agricultural labourer and lived in Blackness, a hamlet in the parish of Westham. The 1841 census shows them at Black Nest with all their children except Thomas who was working as a farm servant at Peelings. Their daughter Esther was buried on 8 October 1843 aged 17.

The 1851 census shows William and Winifred still in Blackness with their three youngest children; Joseph, Samuel and Caroline. Also with them were two grandchildren; John, shown as their son but actually Elizabeth's illegitimate son, and Esther, shown as their niece but really the daughter of Thomas and his wife, Mary.

William died aged 66 and was buried in Westham on 12 September 1851. In 1861 Winifred was working as a servant for Ephraim Baker in Glynde, close to where her daughter, Elizabeth, was living. Winifred lived to be 71, died during the night of 27/28 December 1869 and was buried in Westham on 2 January 1870. The Sussex Express for 4 January 1870 carried a report of the inquest into Winifred's death, held at the Red Lion, Westham, at which it appeared that her son [un-named, but probably Thomas], with whom she was staying, had found her to be dead when he arose in the morning.

Of William and Winifred's children:

  • Thomas married Mary Funnell and they lived with their children in Westham (see page for Thomas & Mary).
  • Elizabeth had an illegitimate son John, born at the Union House, Eastbourne, on 18 April 1847. In 1851 she was working as a servant at 8 Cornfield in Eastbourne, and John was being brought up by his grandparents in Westham. On 24 June 1860 Elizabeth married John Turner in Glynde where they were living in 1861 with their daughter Winifred and Elizabeth's son John. Elizabeth's known children were:

    John Hunnisett

    18 Apr 1847


    Winifred Turner

    late 1860


    Caroline Rhoda Turner

    late 1862


    In 1871 John and Elizabeth were living at Southease near Newhaven but by 1881 they had moved to a cottage in Adams Yard just off Roberstbridge High Street. Elizabeth appears to have died before the 1891 census.

    • John married Harriett Hook from Robertsbridge and lived in Salehurst with their children.
  • Esther died in 1843, aged 17.
  • Mary was a servant in Lewes in 1851. She married a carpenter, William Goldsmith, in 1854 and they lived in Lewes with their children:


    Q3 1855


    Frederick William

    Q1 1857



    Q4 1858



    Q1 1861



    Q2 1863



    Q4 1865


    Mary died in 1877 aged 48.

  • Frances was working as a cook at a school for young ladies in Walcot, near Bath in Somerset in 1851.  By 1861 she had returned to Sussex and was a servant to Charlotte Baxter in Lewes.  There she married Edward Knowles, a carpenter, in 1865 and they moved to Newington, London, where their son was born:

    Sidney Herbert

    Q4 1869


    At the 1871 census they were living at 47 Ash Street, Newington, but Frances died later that year, aged 39.

  • Benjamin was working as a servant to Mr Breton at Peelings Farm in 1851. He married Louisa Clapson in Westham on 6 February 1858 and they had the following children:

    William Benjamin

    6 Jun 1858


    Thomas Henry

    25 Mar 1860



    15 Dec 1861



    6 Apr 1863



    3 Sep 1865



    5 Apr 1868



    born 24 Mar 1871



    14 Dec 1873



    Q4 1875



    Q1 1878


    Arthur Ernest

    born 20 Dec 1880

    bap Ripe 27 Feb 1881


    Q1 1886


    In 1861 Benjamin was an agricultural labourer living at Red Dyke and in 1871 he was a groom living in Clay Hill Barn cottages. The family moved from Westham to Ripe in about 1872 where Charles was baptised on 14 December 1873. In 1881 they were in Ripe and Benjamin was again described as a groom.

    Louisa died on 10 February 1886, shortly after Bert was born, and in 1891 Benjamin, by then described as an agricultural labourer, was still in Ripe with his sons Benjamin, Charles, Frederick, Harry and Arthur. In 1901 Benjamin was living in West Firle with his daughter Louisa.

    Benjamin died on 22 September 1905, aged 72. A headstone to Benjamin and Louisa was erected in Ripe churchyard by their children.

    headstone for Benjamin and Louisa

    In loving memory of
    died February 10 1886
    aged 44
    Also of BENJAMIN
    husband of the above
    died September 22 1905
    aged 72
    they are gone from our sight,
    but not from memory, nor from love,
    but gone to our father's home above

    Erected by their children

    Ben's sons
    Ben's and Louisa's children - probably taken in 1905
  • Joseph married Sophia Reed in Westham on 17 July 1858 and they had one son:

    Joseph James

    14 Nov 1859

    bapt. 19 Feb 1860, Westham

    However, Sophia died in 1861 and was buried on 15 January aged 23. At the time of the census Joseph was staying at Red Dyke, Westham, with the Funnell family, and young Joseph was with his grandfather, Jeremiah Reed, in Herstmonceux.

    Joseph then fathered a child by Sophia's sister, Frances Reed:

    Joseph George (Reed)

    1 May 1862

    bapt. 1 Jun, Bodle Street Green

    Joseph and Frances planned to marry and banns were called in Bodle Street in June 1862, but marriage to one's deceased wife's sister was, in those days, illegal and the local vicar refused to perform the ceremony. Consequently they went to Lewes and were married in the registry office on 31 May 1863. However, their deception was discovered and Joseph was sentenced to 2 months hard labour as punishment. Joseph and Frances continued to live as man and wife and had four more children:

    Alfred Henry

    31 July 1865

    bapt. 8 Oct , Bodle Street Green

    William Thomas

    31 Dec 1867


    Alfred John

    28 Sep 1871

    bapt. 3 Dec, Crowhurst

    Ansley Rosaleid

    10 July 1875


    Their son Alfred died in 1867 around the time the family moved to Sidley Green, Bexhill, where they then lived until Joseph died in 1895, aged 58.

  • Samuel, married Eliza Buckfield in Herstmonceux on 9 March 1867 and they had the following children:


    14 Nov 1869

    Bexhill - born 25 July

    Mary Ann

    Q1 1872



    prob. 25 May 1874



    30 Sep 1877

    born 29 July, Pope's Farm

    Alice Jane

    19 August 1882


    In 1871 the family were at Hall Cross Cottage in Hooe and in 1881 they were living at Whitesmith. By 1891 they had moved to Upper Wyckham, Steyning, where they were living with Walter, Benjamin & Alice. Mary Ann was a servant at the Grammar School in Church Street.

    Samuel died in Steyning on 5 July 1891, aged 52, and Eliza on 12 October 1919.

  • Caroline married a blacksmith, Frederick Fairall, in Bodle Street Green on 20 June 1860 and their children were:

    Caroline Winifred

    bapt. 1 Sep 1861

    Bodle Street Green


    born 1862


    bapt. 28 Feb 1864

    Bodle Street Green


    bapt. 25 Dec 1865

    Bodle Street Green


    bapt. 11 Aug 1867

    Bodle Street Green


    born ca. 1871

    Bodle Street Green


    bapt. 24 Nov 1874

    Bodle Street Green


    bapt. 10 Dec 1876

    died March 1878


    bapt. 27 Apr 1879

    Bodle Street Green


    bapt. 26 Jun 1881



    ca. 1883


    ca. 1885

    In 1871 the family were living in Robertsbridge and in 1881 they were at Whitesmith Green, Chiddingly. By 1891 they were back in Robertsbridge living in Station Road and in 1901 their address was given as 18 Station Road.

    Caroline died in 1906, aged 66.