John Honeysett (1796 - 1855) of Dudwell Mill & Farm, Burwash

John, the son of Thomas and his first wife Mary Cheal, was born on 3 October and baptised in Burwash on 13 November 1796. His mother died when he was only 5 years old and John is said to have been brought up by his mother’s sister (Mrs Dann). Later on his father remarried.

John married Mary Field (1795-1869) at Lewes All Saints on 10 November 1817 following which they had a succession of children baptised in Burwash:


25 Oct 1818

Caroline Elizabeth

23 Jul 1820


7 May 1822


20 Jun 1824


9 Oct 1825

Mary Anne

3 Aug 1828

buried 26 Mar 1829 aged 8 months


3 Aug 1830


7 May 1832


3 Aug 1834

Mary Jane

20 Oct 1839

From 1820 the baptismal records show that John was a baker and miller; this would have been at Dudwell Mill. The Poor Law rates for the year 1827-1828 included an assessment made on 24 January 1828 for a rate at 7 shillings in the pound (ie 35%), which showed for John Honeysett:

  Assessment Payable    
Mills, House & Land £50  10s  0d £17  13s  6d
part Park Land £4  15s  0d £1  13s  3d
Two Brooks £6    6s  0d £2    4s  0d
ditto, tithe £5  12s  6d £1  19s  4d

On 4 February 1829 John purchased Dudwell Mill and Farm, including a newly-thatched barn and lodge on Upper Park Farm, for £3200, £3000 of which was raised by mortgage.

In 1841 John and Mary were at Dudwell Mill in Burwash with all but their two eldest children, Frances and Caroline. Also with them was John’s half-brother Charles who was a miller’s apprentice. In 1851 they were still at Dudwell Mill with their youngest 3 children. John was the miller and farmer of 55 acres. His son John worked in the mill and Edwin on the farm. Mary’s place of birth was given as Benenden in Kent (about 10 miles away).

On 13 November 1855, while travelling back from Mayfield Fair after dusk, John’s cart overturned, killing him, and he was buried in Burwash, where his headstone still stands, on 19 November, aged 58. A newspaper report [Sussex Express 1855 Nov 17] of the inquest shows that there had been a landslip from a field into the road, partially blocking it. This had happened two or three weeks earlier but nothing had been done to clear it. The farmer from whose field it had slipped, the roadman and the parish surveyor all denied responsibility. Although John had passed that way on his way to the fair in the morning it appears that as he passed the spot again in the evening a wheel of his cart caught in an exposed tree root, the cart overturned on top of him and he died from a broken neck.  John’s half-brother Charles was among those who gave evidence.

Mary was buried in Burwash on 8 April 1869, aged 73.

Photographs of Mary and some of their children are shown in the photo gallery.

Of John and Mary’s children:

  • Frances married William Elphick in Hove on 2 May 1839. By 1881 she was a widow and at the census was visiting Frederick & Elizabeth Cramp at Dows Farm, Burwash. She was described as a retired farmer, aged 62. She died on 5 April 1903 and was buried in Tunbridge Wells. A headstone in Burwash churchyard also commemorates her.
  • Caroline was working as a servant in Theobald Road, Holborn, London in 1841 and 1851. She married John Adams at St Bride, Fleet Street, London, on 26 March 1853. By 1881 she was a widow and at the census was visiting Joseph & Jane Plowman in Millbrook, Hampshire. She died in Southampton in 1887.
  • Eliza married Henry Russell, a tailor, at St Bride, Fleet Street, London, on 15 Oct 1847. In 1881 they were living in the High Street at Edenbridge, Kent. Eliza died in 1910.
  • Sarah was a governess. She was in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, in 1851, Chulmleigh, Devon, in 1861 and Little Torrington, Devon, in 1871. Documents at ESRO link Sarah with Bratton Fleming, Devon; Sherwell Rectory, Barnstaple, Devon; and Southampton. At the 1881 census Sarah was visiting Leonard Calder Wallich, rector of Poringland, Norfolk (about 5 miles SSE of Norwich). In 1891 she was living at 14 Shirley Avenue, Millbrook, near Southampton, and staying with her were her widowed sister, Adelaide Major, and three nieces, daughters of her brother Edwin. She died on 25 March 1898 at which time she was living at 1 Iden Villas, Shirley Avenue, Southampton. She left a will and her estate was valued at £2019 11s 4d. It is clear from her will that she owned a shop and six houses in Burwash and five houses in Holloway.
  • Harriet married William Skeet, a schoolmaster from Egerton, Kent, in Burwash on 14 March 1842. Among the witnesses were her father and sisters Eliza and Sarah. She died in Hastings in 1851.
  • Adelaide married Edward W Major and lived for a time in Jamaica. By 1881 she was widowed and staying with her sister Sarah, in Southampton. In 1911 she was living in Woking, Surrey, and staying with her was her brother, Edwin and his daughter, Edith. Adelaide died in Woking in 1913.
  • John inherited the 55-acre Dudwell farm and mill from his father and also ran a London based coal merchants business. Honeysett & Farhall, coal merchants of Westminster, were cited in bankruptcy proceedings in 1867 against Charles Farhall. The farm, which was further mortgaged in 1869, was managed for some years by his brother, Edwin, but from 1870 by John Fuller. In 1873 John took Fuller to court over mismanagement of his hop-fields but the case was thrown out by the jury and this contributed to John’s subsequent bankruptcy. In 1877 there was another court case which revolved around the mistreatment of a horse on John’s farm, for which he was convicted, and claims and counter claims of perjury. John was regarded as a troublesome character who caused his neighbours considerable annoyance. John Honeysett, farmer & coal merchant, batchelor of Burwash died on 7 April 1878 at Charing Cross Hospital. He was buried in Burwash on 15 April. Administration of his estate, valued at under £200 was granted to his brother Edwin.
  • Edwin married Mary Wood, became a grocer & draper, and they lived in Burwash with their children. He also managed his brother's farm for some years. Edwin died in 1920.
  • Mary Jane is believed to have died in Southampton in 1874.