William & Sarah Hunnisett of Westham and Eastbourne

William and Sarah Hunnisett
William & Sarah Hunnisett

William Hunnisett, the elder son of Thomas and Mary, was born in Handcomb, Westham on 6 March 1852 and baptised in Westham on 4 April.

Sarah Ann Elphick, a daughter of Caleb and Naomi, was born on 27 February 1858 in Westham where they lived in the Friday Street area.

William and Sarah married in Westham on 1 June 1878 and at the time of the 1881 census they were living in a cottage at Stone Cross with two daughters; Flora May, aged 2, and Lily Grace, aged 3 months, both having been born in the parish of Westham. Also living in the cottage were Amos Burton and his son Charles. William and Charles were both platelayers on the railway.

William and Sarah's children were:

Flora May

Q2 1879

Lily Grace

Q1 1881

William Thomas

Q4 1882

Jonathan Caleb

born 27 Jan 1884

Stone Cross, Westham

Violet Constance

Q2 1889

Percy Harold

bapt 1 Feb 1894

ChristChurch, Eastbourne

Lily Hunnisett
Lily Grace
Jonathan Hunnisett
Jonathan Caleb
Violet Hunnisett
Violet Constance

In 1891 William and his family were living at 2 Myrtle Road, Eastbourne, opposite Sarah's sister Mary and her husband Peter Pelling. When Percy was baptised William's address was given as 10 Myrtle Road.

Ballast Cottage
Ballast Cottage ca.1955

By 1901 William, still a platelayer, was living at 451 Seaside with Sarah and their children, except for Flora who had married and moved out. Also staying with them was William's niece, Florence Pope of Sittingbourne in Kent, 14-year-old daughter of his sister, Esther.

In 1911 William and Sarah were still at 451 Seaside with William and Percy. Jonathan and his family were at the same address but shown as a separate houshold.

On 4 December 1916 there was a chimney fire at William’s house, 451 Seaside, for which he was taken to court. PC Edward Biggs said he had seen large volumes of black smoke coming from the chimney. Sarah wrote a letter of regret but William was fined 2s 6d.

William later became the crossing gate keeper where the 'Gas Works & Ballast Hole' branch line crossed Seaside by the junction with Lottbridge Drove. This was part of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway. He lived in the adjacent crossing keeper's cottage, Ballast Cottage, which was sometimes used as a base by shooting parties on the Crumbles. Their granddaughter Ella lived with them for a while, possibly during the First World War. I remember this cottage from when I was a child, long before Lottbridge Drove was widened and the roundabout built. The Crumbles was just a large area of pebbly marsh before it was built over in the latter part of the 20th century.

William died during the 'flu epidemic on 5 March 1919, the day before his 67th birthday and was buried at Langney Cemetery, Eastbourne.

Sarah then moved in with Jonathan and his wife, along with young William who was mentally retarded and had always lived with his parents. Sarah died on 4 April 1944.

headstone to William and Sarah
Headstone in Langney Cemetery,
Eastbourne - flat in ground

In loving memory of
died March 5th 1919
aged 66 years
Also his wife
died April 4th 1944
aged 86 years

Of their children:

  • Flora married 'King' Ella Wade (born ca.1871 and known as Jack) at Christchurch, Eastbourne, on 26 February 1898. He is said to have run away from Portsmouth, where he was born, and he worked as a shunter for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and later as a porter at Eastbourne station. A shunter looked after manually operated points. They had two sons:

    Arthur Victor

    Q3 1898

    Albert King

    Q1 1899

    In 1901 they were living in Gildredge Mews, Sutton Road, near the railway station. (Violet) Ella remembered that Victor walked with a stick, Albert married Mabel, and that Flo later lived in Wannock Road until she died. Ella Wade died in 1948 and Flora in 1953.

  • Lily was born in either December 1880 or January 1881 and was married to Frederick George Willard (from Salehurst) at Christ Church, Eastbourne on 3 August 1901. They moved to a cottage in Mayfield, but Lily died during the birth of their first child who also died.
  • William was mentally retarded due to childhood meningitis. He and his mother Sarah lived with his brother Jonathan after their father died. After Jonathan's wife died in 1944 he spent some time in All Saint's hospital and then in a nursing home until he died on 19 April 1954.
  • Jonathan married Edith Bishop in Eastbourne in 1908 (see page for Jonathan and Edith).
  • Violet died of consumption (TB) when she was 19.
  • Percy was in the army from 1914 and returned home in 1919 suffering from amnesia. In 1921 he was living with his brother Jonathan’s family and working as a kitchen porter at a property that then stood at 92 Seaside Road (called L/Saffertey?). He married Letitia Mary Goldsmith (born 1906?) in 1926 (Q4) and had two sons:

    George William

    27 Oct 1927

    Raymond Henry

    30 Mar 1929

    The family lived near Eastbourne station but was evacuated to Cirencester in September 1940 and did not return to Eastbourne. Percy was employed by the Ministry of Defence in Cirencester Park for the first two years and then by the Air Ministry at number 23 Central Flying School, South Cerney, where he remained until retirement in 1957. Percy died in Tetbury on 28 January 1966. Lettie married twice more and died in April 1993.