Hunnisett Ancestry in Sussex

Until the 20th century my Hunnisett ancestors had generally lived in East Sussex and married into other East Sussex families. Even my father and grandfather lived in Eastbourne but they both married into families from out of Sussex.

The earliest Hunnisetts in Sussex were French iron workers who had come to England at the beginning of the 16th century. This was a time when the French industry was having problems but the English iron industry was in the ascendancy due to the recent introduction of the blast furnace and Henry VIII's desire to re-arm his navy. The blast furnace technology had been developed in Holland and brought to England at the end of the 15th century via France. Ironically, the French immigrants were to help Henry VIII win his battles against the French and Spanish fleets by providing him with the ability to produce much higher quality cannons than before.

However, iron became more economical to produce near the northern coalfields and the iron industry of the Weald declined in the 17th century, by the middle of which my Hunnisett ancestors had moved into farming, the occupation followed in some way by most of my other Sussex ancestors for several centuries as far as I can tell. Only towards the end of the 19th century, when farming was mechanised and became less labour intensive, did my Sussex ancestors take up other occupations and move into the town of Eastbourne.

My grandfather, Jonathan Hunnisett, was the first for many generations to marry someone from outside Sussex when he married my grandmother, Edith Bishop who was from Norfolk. My father also married out of county as my mother's ancestors were the Winchesters and other families mainly from Surrey, many from villages around Reigate. My wife, Val's ancestors were the Newns family and others from Shropshire and Wiltshire, and, on her mother's side, the Parry family and others from North Wales.

Sussex families known to be part of my Hunnisett ancestry include; Elphick, Funnell, Douch, Manser, Colbran, Barnes, and Catt.