Thomas Honeysett (1795 - 1831) of Herstmonceux (& Australia)

Thomas, a son of William and Esther, was baptised in Herstmonceux on 8 March 1795. Thomas Honisett of Wartling married Mary Bedall (Beadle) in Herstmonceux on 23 February 1816. This was probably Mary, daughter of James and Mary Beadle, who had been baptised there in 1799.

On 18 March 1817 a Thomas Honeysett of Warbleton, aged 21, was committed to Horsham Gaol charged with having shot at Samuel Pettit with a large horse-pistol with the intention of murdering or maiming him and to prevent him appearing as a witness in a subsequent case [about which I have found nothing as yet]. Thomas was indicted at the Horsham Assizes on 24 March and pleaded not guilty. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to be hanged, but was later reprieved and given transportation for life.

Although it is not known for certain that this was the same Thomas Honeysett, it seems very likely especially as it is known for certain that Mary remarried in 1825.

Shipping records in Australia show that Thomas Honeysett arrived there on 22 November 1817 on the ship ‘Larkins’. The Larkins had sailed from Portsmouth on 20 July 1817 with 250 male prisoners on board. It arrived at Sydney 125 days later with 247 prisoners, three having apparently died on the voyage. The master of the Larkins was Henry R Wilkinson or Williamson and the ship’s surgeon was William McDonald. The ship was guarded by detachments of the 46th and 48th Regiments under the command of Captain John Brabyn. Although the convicts arrived in good health, there were complaints by a number of convicts over harsh treatment and that some of their money and property had gone missing.

Information from the General Muster and Land and Stock Muster of New South Wales taken in 1822 confirms that ‘Thomas Honidett’, a convict with a life sentence who arrived on the ‘Larkins’, was a government employee at Newcastle, NSW.

The 1828 NSW census shows that ‘Thomas Honeysalt’ was, at that time, incarcerated in the prison hulk ‘Pheonix’, apparently because of his rebelliousness.

Thomas died in January 1831 and was buried in Sydney.

Meanwhile, back in England, Mary appears to have had at least 3 children:


ca. 1817


ca. 1820


ca. 1822

No baptisms have been found for these children, although there was a naming ceremony at Hailsham Baptist Chapel on 20 May 1817 for a James Honeysett, son of James and Mary of Herstmonceux. It is possible that there was a mistake in the register or in the transcript I saw (or confusion if the father was absent), and that the father's name should have been recorded as Thomas. All three children gave their father's name as Thomas Honeysett when they married and James and Stephen both said he was a blacksmith. Although James was probably Thomas Honeysett's son, Stephen and Martha must have been illegitimate.

Mary Hunneysett, allegedly a spinster, married Thomas Humphreys at Brighton, St Nicholas, on 25 December 1825. Later records show them living in Hailsham where Thomas worked as a blacksmith. Perhaps they had gone to Brighton to marry as no-one there would know of Mary's circumstances.  Hunneysett is not a common variant of Honeysett but it is the spelling later used by Stephen and his descendants.

Settlement papers reveal that Stephen Honeysett was removed from Hailsham to Wartling on 24 July 1833, at which time he would have been about 13. It is not clear why this should have happened as Thomas and Mary appear to have been living in Hellingly at the time. Nevertheless it is likely that both James and Stephen were apprenticed to Thomas Humphrey as they both became blacksmiths.

The birth certificate of Edwin Humphress born at Hailsham on 4 April 1839 reveals that his father was Thomas and his mother was 'Mary Humphress, late Hunnisett, formerly Beadle' proving that Mary was once married to Thomas Honeysett.

In 1841 and 1851 Thomas and Mary Humphrey  were living at Magham Down, Hailsham, with Mary's daughter Martha Hunnisett and assorted Humphrey children born after the marriage.  In 1851 Mary's age was given as 53 and her place of birth as Wartling, again confirming that she could have been born Mary Beadle.

The family have not been found in 1861 but in 1871 Mary may have been an inmate in Fulham Union Workhouse, near to her son James in Lambeth. She may have died in 1873.

Of Mary's children from before her marriage to Thomas Humphrey:

  • James became a blacksmith, married Ann Broad in 1839 and lived in Lambeth, Surrey.
  • Stephen became a blacksmith, married Mary Goldsmith in 1843 and lived in Hellingly.
  • Martha had an illegitimate daughter, Lucy, probably in early 1847. She married James Boniface in 1855 and they lived in Hailsham.