James Hunnisett (1787 - 1872) of Westham

James, the second son of James and Mary, was born on 2 September 1787 and baptised in Westham on 16 September.

He married Ann Ward in Westham on 27 April 1807 and they had a daughter, Mary, who was baptised on 2 October 1808. Unfortunately, Mary died and was buried on 20 July 1809 and then, a year later, Ann died and was buried on 10 June 1810 aged 27.

On 8 June 1813 he married Elizabeth Streeter (1793 - 1864), also from Westham, and they had one son baptised in Westham:


5 Dec 1813

View of Hunnisett Cottages
Mill Hill Cottages - formerly known as Hunnisett Cottages
James probably occupied the one at the far end

He was then an agricultural labourer living in Milton Street. In 1851 he was described as a gardener and lived in Hunnisett cottage, Handcomb (now Hankham). In 1861 and 1871 he was described as a retired farmer and lived in Mill Hill. These hamlets are all within a couple of miles of each other in the parish of Westham.

According to his will, James owned his house and adjoining land known as 'Little Bittes' on which he had built three dwellings. This would seem to refer to the block of four houses at Mill Hill known at the time as Hunnisett Cottage and which, at the time of writing, still exists. His only son James died in 1859 leaving a widow but no children so he had no direct descendants to leave the property to. Consequently in his last will made in 1864, he directed that the properties were to be sold after his death, one half of the proceeds to be divided between his surviving nephews and nieces, after a bequest of £100 to his brother Richard, and the other half to be divided between his late wife's nephews and nieces. By the time James died in 1872, his brother Richard had already died.

Elizabeth died, aged 71, and was buried on 18 May 1864. James lived to be 85, died on 30 December 1872 and was buried on 4 January 1873. Their headstones were still in Westham churchyard in the 1990s, although barely readable, but have since been removed. Thomas Hunnisett of Langney, the son of James' youngest brother Richard, was the executor of James' will and the estate was valued at 'less than £1500'. The nephews and nieces on the Hunnisett side of the family probably received about £20 each.

Extracts from James' will are shown below:

This is the last Will and Testament of me James Hunnisett of West Ham in the County of Sussex Yeoman I give devise and bequeath All that messuage or Tenement (in my own occupation) with the Field piece or parcel of Land thereunto next adjoining containing by estimation half an acre more or less with the appurtenances thereunto belonging commonly called or known by the name of Little Bittes situate lying and being in Hankham in the Parish of West Ham aforesaid And also all those three Messuages or Tenements which I built upon part of the said Field piece or parcel of Land with their appurtenances and now or late in the respective occupations of Joseph Dunk Joseph Buckwell and Daniel Pilbeam unto William Pitcher of Horsebridge in the Parish of Hellingly in the said County of Sussex Carpenter and Thomas Hunnisett of Langney in the Parish of West Ham aforesaid Labourer their heirs executors and administrators Upon trust to sell and absolutely dispose of the same either together or in parcels and either by public auction or private contract ......

...... And out of the monies to arise from such sale ...... to divide the clear residue thereof into two equal parts And out of one half part or moiety thereof to pay unto my Brother Richard Hunnisett of Langney in the Parish of West Ham aforesaid Labourer the sum of One hundred pounds And the residue ...... to be divided equally between my Nephews and Nieces (who may be living at the time of my decease) the children of my late Brothers William Hunnisett and Henry Hunnisett and of my said Brother Richard Hunnisett and of my late sister Ann the wife of Jesse Humphrey of Eastbourne in the said County of Sussex Gardener deceased share and share alike And as to the remaining half ...... to equally divide the same between the Nephews and Nieces of my late wife Elizabeth (who may be living at the time of my decease) the children of my Wife's late Brother John Streeter and of her late sisters Sophia Tupper and Sarah Cruttenden share and share alike ......

.. ... And I appoint the said William Pitcher and Thomas Hunnisett Executors of this my last Will and Testament ...... this seventeenth day of December One thousand eight hundred and sixty four.

James Hunnisett

...... in the presence of
...... Benjamin Tatham of Eastbourne
Stephen Hassell   2 Alma Place Eastbourne

  • James, the only child of James and Elizabeth, was baptised in Westham on 5 December 1913. He married Alfreda Bodle (1811-1887) from Hailsham in Lewes on 2 November 1842 and they lived in Westham where James was described in 1851 as a Grocer & Draper. They had no children and James was buried in Westham on 11 June 1859.