William Hunnisett (1785 - 1851) labourer of Westham

William, the first child born to James and Mary after their marriage, was born on 31 May 1785 and baptised on 19 June in Westham. 

On 2nd September 1807, when he was 24, he enlisted in the 35th Regiment of Foot where he served for about seven and a half years during the Napoleonic Wars. His service record describes him as 5 feet 4 inches tall and having a fair complexion, round face, grey eyes, and sandy hair. During his service he was promoted to Sergeant and served some of his time in the Ionian Islands, to the West of Greece. From 1807 the islands were controlled by the French, but by 1810 all except Corfu were taken by the British. The French held out in Corfu until 1814. At the beginning of 1815 William was shipped home from Corfu on the transport ship ‘Mercury’ at the end of his service.

He married Winifred Manser (1798-1869) also from Westham on 6 March 1821 and they had nine children baptised there:


4 Aug 1822


29 Aug 1824


18 Jun 1826


25 May 1828


9 Mar 1831


25 Jun 1833


7 Feb 1836


14 Oct 1838


6 Nov 1842

William was an agricultural labourer and lived in Blackness, a hamlet in the parish of Westham. The 1851 census shows William and Winifred and their three youngest children; Joseph, Samuel and Caroline. Also with them were two grandchildren; John, shown as their son but actually Elizabeth's illegitimate son, and Esther, shown as their niece but really the daughter of Thomas and his wife, Mary.

Their daughter Esther was buried on 8 October 1843 aged 17. William died aged 66 and was buried on 12 September 1851. Winifred lived to be 71, died in 1869 and was buried on 2 January 1870. All were buried in Westham. The Sussex Express for 4 January 1870 carried a report of the inquest into Winifred's death from which it appears that her son (un-named but almost certainly Thomas) had found her to be dead when he arose in the morning.

Of William and Winifred's children:

  • Thomas married Mary Funnell and they lived with their children in Westham. This is my line of descent.
  • Elizabeth had an illegitimate son John, born at the Union House, Eastbourne, on 18 April 1847. By 1851 she was working as a servant at 8 Cornfield in Eastbourne, and John was being brought up by his grandparents in Westham. In 1860 she married John Turner in Glynde and they had a daughter Winifred. They later lived in Salehurst where Elizabeth died in 1885.
    • John married Harriett Hook from Robertsbridge and they lived in Salehurst with their children.
  • Benjamin lived in Westham with his wife Louisa and their children until about 1872 when they moved to Ripe.
  • Joseph married Sophia Reed in 1858 and they had a son, Joseph James, in 1859. Sophia died in 1861 so Joseph married again (to Frances, Sophia's sister) and had five more children. Joseph and Frances lived in Bexhill.
  • Samuel married Eliza Buckfield, had five children and lived in Hooe, Whitesmith and Steyning.
  • Caroline married a blacksmith, Frederick Fairall, and they lived mostly in Salehurst.