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The presence of Gunnings in Frindsbury, Kent dates back to at least the middle of the 18th century and probably much before that. They were significant holders of lands and properties, including the Larkin Hall estate. The first Gunning to have owned Larkin Hall may have been Robert Gunning, and he may have acquired it directly from Baronet Sir Richard Head in the 1680s.
The genealogy of this Frindsbury family outlined below is derived from the IGI, GRO, Parish Registers, Censuses and other sources, including a well-researched set of ancestral files [e.g. AFN: 99V2-XP] established by the late Linda Ann Revere of Oregon. A more comprehensive study "Genealogy of the Gunning Family 1400-1907" by Charles Hope Gunning and Captain Alfred Warder was deposited at the Society of Genealogists by Leonard Forsyth on September 3rd 1945.
Although the ancestry can be traced further back, this account begins with Robert Gunning who married Elizabeth Masters. Among their children was Peter (1) Gunning, christened at Cobham in Kent on October 5th 1718.
Peter (1) Gunning married at Aylesford on October 23rd 1749 to Frances Tadman, who was born probably in Rainham around 1725. Among their children were George (1) Gunning and Frances Gunning. Frances (senior) died on February 22nd 1767 at Frindsbury and was buried there. Peter (1) died there on March 3rd 1777 and was buried there on March 10th 1777. A copy of the Probate of his Will of 1777 is held in the Medway Archives.
George (1) Gunning was christened at Frindsbury on October 4th 1752. He married at Strood on March 31st 1775 to Ann Buck [IGI: Batch M131322], who was christened at Strood on January 22nd 1758. Among their children were George (2) Gunning, Peter (2) Gunning and William Gunning. Ann died on November 10th 1810 at Frindsbury and was buried there. George (1) died there on January 21st 1821 and, according to the Revere files, his sons erected a monument to him in the church.
George (2) Gunning was born at Frindsbury on December 19th 1783 and was christened there on January 22nd 1784. He is presumed to have been the presenter of a petition to the House of Lords, reported as follows [House of Lords Journal: Vol. 62, March 19th 1830]:
Appointment of Churchwardens, Gunning's Petition respecting.
Upon reading the Petition of George Gunning of Frindsbury, Kent, a Lieutenant on Half Pay of His Majesty's First Regiment of Dragoon Guards; praying, "That their Lordships will be pleased to enquire into the Custom claimed by Clergymen to appoint One Churchwarden of each Parish, it being contrary to the Spirit of the British Constitution to tax the People without the Consent of their Representatives in Parliament; and which Custom is a great Evil, as it gives an undue Influence to the Clergymen in all Vestry Meetings; and that the Repeal of this Custom would give great Satisfaction to all Classes of Society, and greatly assist to amend the Poor Laws:"
It is Ordered, That the said Petition do lie on the Table.
He married at Margate on November 24th 1831 to Sarah Tournay Bargrave, who was born around 1784 at Eastry Court and was the widow of the distinguished naval captain Commodore Sir Thomas Staines, KCB, KFM, KOC of Dent de Lion [The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, Vol. 101, Part II (July-December 1831)]. Sir Thomas, born on February 22nd 1774 and knighted in 1809, had died at Margate on July 13th 1830. Among many distinctions he had been the first British naval officer to discover, at Pitcairn Island on September 17th 1814, the descendants of the mutineers of The Bounty. Sarah died very soon after marrying George (2), on January 25th 1832, and was buried at Margate. The National Maritime Museum contains a stirrup hilted dress sword, first possessed by Sir Thomas, whose knuckle-guard is engraved with his name and whose quillon is engraved "George Gunning Esqre. to Captn. Joseph Nias R.N. 1832". Presumably this sword was among Sarah's possessions disposed of by George (2) after her death. George (2) did not remarry and produced no children. He died on January 2nd 1849 at Brighton [Death Index: Brighton 7 251, 1849 (March)]. According to Revere (op. cit.) he was buried in "Preston", referring to St. Peter's Church in Preston Manor, Brighton. The inscription on his grave there states that he served in India in the 17th Regiment of Infantry, in the Peninsula in the 9th Regiment of Infantry and also in the 1st (Royals) Dragoons; he commanded a troop of the latter regiment at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18th 1815 where he was severely wounded. His family motto was "Verite sans Peur" ('truth without Fear").
Peter (2) Gunning was born on February 2nd 1787 and was christened at Frindsbury on March 18th 1787. He married at St. Nicholas Rochester on September 24th 1814 to Katherine Baker [IGI: Batch M135093], who was born at Boley Hill in Rochester around 1789. They produced at least seven children, Katherine Gunning, Mary (1) Gunning, Peter (3) Gunning, George (3) Gunning, Mary (2) Gunning, William Henry Gunning and Frederick Gunning. The 1851 Census finds the family living in the High Street, St. Nicholas Rochester, describing Peter (2) as a retired farmer. It gives his birthplace, possibly in error, as Gravesend. He died on July 12th 1852 at Frindsbury [Death Index: Medway 2a 173, 1852 (Sept)] and was buried there on July 17th. The 1861 Census finds his widow Katherine living on her dividends with her children Katherine, Mary (2) and Frederick at 14, Alexander Square in Brompton near South Kensington. She died at Brompton on May 30th 1861 and was buried at Frindsbury on June 6th 1861. Her daughter Katherine never married and died aged 83 in Chelsea in 1898 [Death Index: Chelsea 1a 256, 1898 (Dec)].
William Gunning was born at Frindsbury on June 21st 1796 and was christened there on August 27th 1796. He became the Reverend William Gunning LL.B. He married Sarah Anne Hutchins, who was born in Kensington or Earl's Court around 1805. Their children appear to have been just Henry William, Frances Ann and Lucy Matilda , the latter born at Stowey, Somerset in 1841 [Birth Index: Clutton 11 92, 1841 (Dec)]. The 1841 Census finds William, described as a clergyman, with Sarah Ann and their daughter Frances Ann living at Stowey Vicarage. The 1851 Census finds the family living in Stowey at a property named "Stowey Mead". William was then Vicar of Buckland Newton, situated in Dorset about 35 miles south of Stowey. Within a few years he had become Archdeacon of Bath. His Will, drawn up on May 7th 1857, made various provisions in trust for his wife, his daughters Frances Ann and Lucy Matilda and his nephew George (3) Gunning. Primarily, these granted to Sarah Anne the rents and income from Larkin Hall until her death or remarriage, after which they were to pass in equal parts to the two daughters. In the event that the daughters died without issue the assets would pass in turn (if he were then still alive) to George (3). These arrangements reflected the fact that William had no living son to whom to bequeath his estate. His only son Henry William had died in an accident at Cambridge University on November 17th 1849 [Death Index: Cambridge 14 19, 1849 (Dec) - indexed as "William Gunning"], the death being reported the following year in [The Gentleman's Magazine: Vol. 33, 1850 (January-June)]:
CAMBRIDGE. - Nov. 17. Accidentally drowned in the river Cam,
by the upsetting of a boat, aged 20, Henry William Gunning, of
Christ's college, only son of the Rev. William Gunning, of Stowey, Somerset.
William Gunning died on October 11th 1860 and his Will was proved on March 23rd 1861. At that time his two daughters were living in Dresden, Saxony.
The 1861 Census finds Sarah Anne - described as a land proprietor - and Lucy Matilda living at 6, Waterloo Place in All Saints, Southampton.
Frances Ann died on May 28th 1861 in Dresden, unmarried and intestate.
The 1871 Census finds Sarah Anne - described as a land owner - and Lucy Matilda living at 2, Oriel Terrace in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Sarah Anne died aged "70" and intestate on December 28th 1874 [Death Index: Winchester 2c 70, 1874 (Dec)]. Lucy Matilda thus became the principal owner, in trust, of Larkin Hall.
On November 20th 1890 Lucy Matilda married William Cotesworth [Marriage Index: Winchester 2c 241, 1890 (Dec)]. He was born in Bishopsgate, London around 1827. The 1891 Census finds them living, with a large retinue of staff, at Abbotsworthy House in Kings Worthy, near Winchester. William was living on his own means. He may have died aged "77" in 1905 [Death Index: Portsmouth 2b 335, 1905 (March)]. Lucy Matilda died in Hampshire aged "74" in 1915 [Death Index: Fareham 2b 1092, 1915 (March)].
George (3) Gunning was christened at St. Nicholas Rochester on November 26th 1821 [IGI: Batch C135093]. He became a banker, remained unmarried and produced no children. The 1851 Census finds him at Child's Bank at 1, Fleet Street working as a banker's clerk. The bank is thought to be the oldest one in London, established in 1671. The 1871 Census finds him there as a clerk and manager. The 1881 Census finds him still there, now an assistant to the partners. The 1891 Census finds him still occupied as a banker but now residing with his unmarried sister Katherine at 11, St. Leonard's Terrace in Chelsea. He died aged 77 in 1899 at Brighton [Death Index: Brighton 2b 184, 1899 (Sept)].