VOL. IV - CHAPTER 5

James Veness and Selina Honeysett 

Our line continues through James (Venus), son of Joseph and Fanny who was baptised on 20 June 1813 at Herstmonceux Parish Church (chapter 4).

The next trace of James is found when James Veness, butcher, aged 24, a butcher, son of Joseph Veness, labourer married Selina Honeysett, aged 19, labourer, daughter of Thos Honeysett, gardener, at Ashburnham Parish Church on 1 January 1840. The marriage certificate indicates that both parties were resident in Ashburnham (Reg Gen March Qtr 1840 Battle 7 263).

James' age on the marriage certificate was clearly incorrect, he was in fact 27 or thereabouts. He may just have forgotten his correct age or he may have purposely reduced his age to bring it nearer to Selina's.

Selina was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Honeysett. Her line has been traced back to 1702 and can be found at Appendix C.

James signed the marriage register whereas Selina, and her father Thomas who witnessed the marriage, were only able to make their marks. The other witness was Lucy Baker.

Sometime after their marriage, James and Selina moved to Hooe. Kelly's Directory describes Hooe as

"A parish, 6 miles south-west from Battle, 10 west from Hastings, and 11 east-north-east from Eastbourne, in the Eastern division of the county, Ninfield hundred, rape and county court district of Hastings, union of Hailsham, rural deanery of Dallington, archdeaconry of Lewes, and diocese of Chichester. The church, said to have been dedicated to St. Oswald, is an ancient stone edifice, with a low and massive embattled tower with 5 bells, a nave and chancel, and a small chapel on the north side, used as a vestry. The living is a vicarage, annual value £317, with residence, in the gift of Alfred Jones, Esq., and held by the Rev. Naasson Maning, B.A., of Trinity College, Dublin. "The manor of Hooe being given to the abbey of Bee in Normandy, by Henry Earl of Ewe, between A.D. 1096 and 1139, here was (according to the general usage in such cases) shortly after erected an alien priory of Benedictine monks to that foreign house, though sometimes reckoned as parcel of its principal cell in England, Okeburn." Here is a parochial school for boys and girls, supported by voluntary subscriptions, A fair for cattle and pedlery is held here on May 1st. Sir Peregrine P. F. Acland, Bart., is lord of the manor; and Lord Ashburnham and Thomas Brassey, Esq., are the largest landowners. The parish comprises 2,448 acres, and the population in 1861 was 496".

The population had reduced from 1851 when it was 574.

Hooe's nearness to the sea, and its remoteness, meant it was good for smuggling, and the landlord of the Red Lion Pub, James Blackman, was a member of the Groombridge Gang (1733 - 1749).  He was probably also attached to the Hawkhurst Gang.  

The Groombridge gang rose to prominence in the 1730s and by 1737 were terrorising the area, and so the military were sent to Groombridge to restore order. In the same year an informer 'Goring' provided insight into the gang's activities and pointed the finger at a smuggling company from Hooe which used the Red Lion Inn as its headquarters. The lime trees that still stand outside signify that it was a safe haven for smugglers. 

The Hawkhurst gang was also formed in the mid-1730s and within five years was dominating smuggling in Kent. The Hooe Company operated from the village, with their leader again James Blackman. By the late 1840s, it was incredibly powerful and boasted that it could assemble 500 men in the space of a couple of hours. In the absence of any effective policing, this group became a law unto itself, taking without payment whatever they wished from the local farmers and merchants, and answering tolerance and patience with aggression and insult.

There were three peaks of smuggling activity. Firstly in the 1740s, with the War of the Austrian Succession overseas, when it was likely that up to a quarter of overseas trade was being smuggled at this time. With the return of peace in 1748, some lowering in duty, and the succession of trials which broke up Kent and Sussex gangs, there was a pause in the conflict for some years. Secondly in 1780, with the Seven Years War and the War of Independence in America, duties once again climbed to unreasonable levels.  It was reduced when William Pitt cut the duty on tea from 129% to 12.5% in 1784 (and increased Window Tax to make up the deficit). A third peak began with the return of some 250,000 soldiers and seamen after the victory at Waterloo, many who had trouble finding work which lead to riots during the 1830s. What ultimately reduced organised smuggling was a more efficient preventive service along with a change to free trade policies after 1840.

It was around this time that James and Selina's first son Thomas Veness was born on 14 July 1840 at Hooe. (Reg Gen Sept Qtr. 1840 7 299 Hailsham). The informant was James who is described as a butcher. The birth certificate, and later brother James's birth certificate both describe Selina as "Selina Veness nee Hunnisett" indicating that even as relatively late as the 1840's the spelling of surnames was still subject to variation.

The 1841 census shows the family living at Hooe Common.  

  • James Veness, aged 25, butcher, born Sussex
  • Selina Veness, aged 20, born Sussex
  • Thomas Veness, aged 10 months, born Sussex.

The next entry relates to the Red Lion and Joseph Cuthbert is the 30 year old publican and Blacksmith

James and Selina's second son James Veness was born on 12 April 1842 at Hooe (Reg Gen June Qtr 1842 7 341 Hailsham) and on this instance it was Selina who made her mark as informant.

A third son George Herbert Veness was born in approximately 1846.

The 1851 census return shows James and family living at "Late Wrights", Hooe. The previous entry is "Late Blackmans". The next entry is "Old Workhouse".  The family were listed as follows:

  • James Veness, head, aged 37, butcher, born Wartling
  • Selina Veness, wife, aged 31 born Ashburnham
  • Thomas Veness, son, aged 10, scholar at home, born Hooe
  • James Veness, son, aged 8, scholar at home, born Hooe
  • Herbert Veness, aged 5, scholar at home, born Hooe

James age here ties in with him being the son of Joseph Venus and Fanny Hook and whilst I cannot properly account for the differences recorded elsewhere I am confident that 'our' James is Joseph & Fanny's son.

On 4 July 1854, the burial of George Herbert Veness of Hooe took place at Hooe Parish Church.

Five years later Selina died at the age of 38 and was buried on 15 December 1859 at Hooe Parish Church (Reg Gen Dec Qtr 1859 Hailsham 2b 41).

The 1861 census return shows James and family living at Hooe Village. The entry reads

  • James Veness, head, widower, aged 44, butcher, born Wartling
  • Thomas Veness, son, aged 20, a smith, born Hooe
  • Mary Weekes, servant, unmarried, aged 42, housekeeper, born Maiden, Kent
  • Henry Weekes, visitor, aged 8, born Eastbourne, Sussex

In 1861, their son James was boarding at 33 West Street, Hastings with Thomas Pleydell, shoemaker and his family. James, 18 was a butcher. There were two other boarders at the address, Charles Vinall, 22, also a butcher and Tilden Henham, 23 year old collar maker.

Land Tax Assessments for the parish of Hooe show James renting a variety of properties in the village from John Noakes (1844/45), Rev. John Routh (1846/7), Sir Acland (with G King 1854-1859) (East Sussex County Record Office P382/5/2). Later entries have been assumed to relate to his son James (Chapter 11).

James Veness married Mary Weeks on 26 September 1861 at Bishopstone, Sussex (Reg Gen Sept Qtr 1861 Lewis 2b 181). James, aged 46 was a widower, aged 46, a butcher, the son of Joseph Veness, labourer. Mary was a 47 year old spinster, the daughter of Thomas Weeks, labourer. Both indicate that they were living in Bishopstone, Sussex. Bishopstone is considerably to the west of Hooe, close to Seaford and it is a surprise to find the couple marrying there, particularly as censuses indicate that Mary was born in either Kent or the Herstmonceux area of Sussex. The witnesses were Joseph Skinner Storry and Hannah Storry.

The London Gazette dated 1 August 1862 records that James Veness of Hooe in the County of Sussex had been adjudged bankrupt on 26 June 1862 and on 25 August 1862 was due to appear at The Town Hall, Hastings to make an application for his discharge. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/22649/page/3869/data.pdf. 

The London Gazette of 29 August 1862 confirms that the order of discharge was granted and will be drawn up and delivered to the bankrupt 30 days after the date of the hearing unless an appeal is received in the interim. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/22657/page/4290/data.pdf

By 1871, James and Mary were living at 6 Dorset Place, St Michael, Hastings. The entry reads:

  • James Veness, head, aged 57, grocer, born Wartling 
  • Mary Veness, wife, aged 56, born Herstmonceux
  • Harry Weaks, son, aged 19, smith, born Eastbourne
  • Joseph C Hayward, boarder, aged 40, carpenter, born Sussex

In 1881 James and Mary were still living at 6 Dorset Place, St Michael, Hastings. The entry reads

  • James Veness, head, aged 66, general shop, born Wartling
  • Mary Veness, wife, aged 65, born Wartling
  • Henry Kirkby, lodger, aged 47, cab driver, born Hastings
  • Allen Kirkby (female), lodger, aged 44, born Hastings
  • Haney Kirkby, lodger, aged 15, errand boy, born Hastings
  • Thos. Oakhurst, lodger, aged 60, bricklayer

James Veness died on 21 April 1884 at 6 Dorset Place, St Michaels, Hastings. He was aged 72 years old. The death certificate describes him as 'formerly a butcher'. The cause of death is given as 'natural decay'. The informant was Edmond Hunt, who was normally resident at 6 Dorset Place. It is not clear why he came to register the death (Reg Gen June Qtr 1884 Hastings 2b 19).

In his will dated 28 November 1872 James describes himself as a grocer of 6 Dorset Place, Hastings.

He nominates his sons Thomas and James as his executors

He bequeaths "all and every that freehold house or tenement with the appurtenances thereto belonging situate and being No 6 Dorset Place" jointly to Thomas and William to be sold and the proceeds divided between them.

If either wishes to retain the property then it is to be valued by a "competent surveyor" and half the value to be paid by one son to the other.

He bequeaths all his "household furniture, books, linen, wearing apparel also my stock of grocery and sundries in my shop at No 6 Dorset Place" "also all and every sum or sums of money which may be found in my house or about my person at the time of my decease to be equally divided between Mary Veness, my wife and the aforesaid Thomas and James Veness, my sons".

Probate was granted on 5 August 1884 and the estate valued at less than £7.0s.0d.

The will seems to give Thomas and James the right to sell the house and divide the proceeds regardless of whether Mary is still alive!.

However whilst Mary survived James, she did not live long but died on 26 December 1884 aged 67 years old at 6 Dorset Place, St Michael, Hastings. She is described as the widow of James Veness, grocer and the cause of death is given as "natural decay". The informant was H Weeks who was present at death, but whose normal address was East Hill House, Hastings (Reg Gen Dec Qtr 1884 Hastings 2b 30). I assume this was son Harry. 

Our line continues through James and Selina's second and youngest surviving son James and is detailed in Chapter 11

The following is known about his elder brother Thomas.

Thomas Veness and Ellen Love nee Wild

Thomas Veness was born on 14 July 1840 at Hooe.

In 1861 Thomas, a 20 year old smith was living with his father at Hooe Village.

I can find no trace of Thomas in the 1871 census.

Thomas married Ellen Love in Brighton on 10 November 1872. Ellen was 38 years old, and already a widow living at 16 Baker Street, Brighton. Her father was John Wild, deceased, a former shoemaker. Thomas was only 32, a blacksmith living at 16 Baker Street, Brighton. The witnesses were Cornelius Cook and Emma Wild (Reg Gen Dec Qtr 1872 Brighton 2b 379)

Thomas is also described as a blacksmith of Brighton in his fathers will dated 28 November 1872

Their daughter Ellen Veness was born on 15 January 1874 at 29 Baker Street, Brighton. Her father Thomas was a journeyman blacksmith. Her mother Ellen Veness late Love formerly Wild registered the birth. (Reg Gen March Qtr 1874 Brighton 2b 234).

Ellen died in 1879 aged 45 (Reg Gen Dec Qtr 1879 Brighton 2b 156)

In 1881 Thomas, a 41 year old widower is living at 11 Marshall's Row, Brighton with his daughter Ellen, aged 7. Thomas's occupation is a "shoeing smith".

I can find no trace of Thomas in the 1891 census.

Thomas Veness died on 13 September 1899 at 118 Bonchurch Road, Brighton aged 59 years old, The cause of death is given as "abscess of brain ? Months and convulsions 22 hours". Thomas is still described as a journeyman blacksmith. The informant was Ellen Ede, Thomas's daughter who gives her address as 118 Bonchurch Road, Brighton (Reg Gen Dec Qtr 1899 Brighton 2b 154).

  • Ellen Ede nee Veness

Thomas's daughter Ellen had married Edward Raven Ede in 1895 (Reg Gen March 1895 2b 299). 

Edward Raven Ede had been baptised on 14 December 1873 at Broadwater, Sussex, the son of Edward Ede, butcher and Caroline Raven who married on 12 June 1871 at St Peters, Eaton Square, London.

In 1901, Edward R Ede, a 29 year old brass finisher and his 27 year old wife Ellen were living at 118 Bonchurch Road, Brighton.

Edward and Ellen had three children:

  • Edward Willie Raven Ede. Born 2 November 1895 in Brighton (Reg Gen Dec Qtr 1895 Brighton 2b 24)
  • Gwendoline Ada Ede. Born 19 July 1897 in Brighton (Reg Gen Sept Qtr 1897 Brighton 2b 237).
  • Caroline Cecilia H M Ede. Born 1 February 1903 in Brighton (Reg Gen March Qtr Brighton 2b 220).

In 1911 they were living in 27, Cecil Road, Lancing, Sussex where 39 year old Edward was an electrical fitter. All three children are shown as "at school".

In 1939 Edward and Ellen were living at 10 Addison Square, Worthing where Edward was a retired railway foreman. Their daughters Gwendoline A Ede, a "book sellers  newsagents clerk" and Caroline H M Ede, a "newsagent and stationary assistant" were both single and living with their parents. Also at the address was John E Ede, born 3 July 1920, a "newsagent and stationary assistant". It is not clear whether he was Edward and Ellen's son or possibly grandson. 

Edward R Ede died in 1956 (Reg Gen March 1956 Worthing 5h 954)

Ellen Ede died in 1962 (Reg Gen March 1962 Worthing 5h 1070)

Edward Willie Raven Ede enlisted as a private in the RAOC first serving in France on 8 December 1915. He married Laura West in 1918 (Reg Gen Sept Qtr 1918 Newhaven (1901-1935) 2b 523). Edward was initiated into In Deo Fidimus Lodge of the Freemasons on 2 November 1921. His profession is a schoolmaster. In 1939 Edward and Laura were living at 65 Queens Park, Brighton where Edward was a headmaster of a public elementary school. Laura died in 1980 in Brighton (Reg Gen Sept 1980 Brighton 18 0102). Edward Willie Raven of 65 Queens Park Rise, Brighton died on 21 January 1981.  Probate was granted on 26 March 1981. His estate was valued at £40,278. 

Gwendoline Ada Ede appears never to have married and died in 1975 in Worthing (Reg Gen Dec 1975 Worthing 18 2398). 

In the week ending 24 May 1917 Caroline Celia H M Ede was employed as a lady booking clerk at Lancing Station earning 5s per week. In 1939 she was a "newsagent and stationary assistant" living with her parents. It appears Caroline never married andied in 1974 in Worthing (Reg Gen March 1974 Worthing 5h 2582). 

John Edward Ede died in 1999 (Reg Gen Jan 1999 Worthing 47B 7863 88). I have not tried to establish his parentage.  

Click here to go to "Chapter 6 - George Veness and Mary Weller/Emily Cornford"

To find out more about the Honeysett family click here to go to "Appendix C - Honeysett or Hunnisett" 

To find out more about James and Selina's son click here to go to "Chapter 11 - James Veness and Margaret Cornford"

Click here to go back to "Chapter 4 - Joseph Veness and Fanny Hook"