Lieutenant Walter Benson Hunkin RN

Walter Benson Hunkin was born in 1862, the son of Matthew Hunkin of Mevagissey, in Cornwall.

Matthew was a Master Mariner and the son of John Hunkin, another mariner of Mevagissey. He was born in Mevagissey on 2 December 1815 and married Louisa Libby, daughter of Robert Libby, Blacksmith of Mevagissey, on 27 December 1853. There followed four children: John Edwin (b1854), Matthew Henry (b1856), Mary Louisa (b1859) and Walter Benson (b1862).

In 1871, when Walter was 8, the Hunkin family was living in Tregony Hill, Mevagissey.

8 October 1878: Walter joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class, entering HMS Impregnable, then moored in the Hamoaze

Christmas 1878: he received a £5 ‘good conduct’ award

8 October 1879: advanced to Boy 1st Class, receiving a further £2 10s good conduct award at Christmas

April 1880: aboard the training brig Pilot

15 June 1880: joined HMS Valiant, a Hector Class armoured frigate, then First Reserve guard ship for Southern Ireland.

18 November 1880: advanced to Ordinary Seaman and formally transferred to the Coastguard Service then an operational branch of the Royal Navy, signing on for ten years.

February 1881: transferred to the HMCr Fly, sailing cutter

2 August 1882: Ordinary Seaman attached to HMS Royal Adelaide

20 October 1882: Able Seaman, attached to HMS Royal Adelaide

20 November 1882: Able Seaman attached to HMS Valiant

1 September 1884: Leading Seaman attached to HMS Valiant

23 August 1885: Leading Seaman attached to HMS Shannon on the Irish station, aboard HMCr Victoria, sailing cutter

1 April 1886: Quartermaster attached to HMS Shannon

19 December 1887: Acting Chief Petty Officer attached to HMS Shannon

14 Jan 1888: Acting Chief Quartermaster, attached to HMS Ajax aboard HMCr Squirrel on the Clyde station

1 July 1889: Chief Quartermaster, attached to HMS Ajax

29 January 1891: Chief Petty Officer, attached to HMS Northumberland aboard HMCr Mary on Portland station

1891: Passed for Senior Mate, HMCr Mary, Coastguard sailing cutter

8 March 1891: Chief Petty Officer, attached to HMS Alexandra

23 June 1891: Chief Quartermaster (District Officer), HMCr Hind, Coastguard sailing cutter, on the Irish station

6 February 1893: joined HMCr Rose, Coastguard sailing cutter, on the North Sea Fisheries Protection, as Second Mate

10 March 1894: married Bessie Vellanoweth, of Perranzabuloe aged 22, at Kingston Methodist Church Hull

Third quarter 1894: death of his father, Matthew Hunkin, aged 78

22 February 1895: Senior Mate HM Steamer Seamew on North Sea Fisheries Protection

15 July 1897: assumed command of HMCr Flora, Coastguard sailing cutter, on the Irish station, as Second Mate

12 November 1897: death of his mother Louisa Hunkin, aged 74

6 November 1899: Chief Officer, Coastguard aboard HMCr Flora

Winter 1899: harbour duties for 3 months aboard HMCr Fly, 1st class cutter

August 1900: aboard HMCr Victoria, 1st class cutter, tender to Hull coast Guard ship on North Sea Fisheries Protection duties, Hull

1901 census: Walter Benson and Elizabeth Hunkin with three children (Edith, Gladys and Stanley), and a sister Fanny Villenoweth, were living at 129 Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes

1 June 1902: appointed to command of HM Steam Vessel Fanny. Joined Falmouth in summer 1902 to be tender to HMS Malampus, Kingstown, for Coastguard work on the Irish station

June 1907: Divisional Officer of Coastguard in County Clare, Ireland

2 July 1908: Divisional Chief Officer at Kilkee, Ireland

1911 census: Walter Benson and Elizabeth Hunkin with four children (Edith, Gladys and Stanley, Doris), were living at Albert Place, West End, Kilkee, Ireland

30 September 1916: left Ireland and was attached to HMS President which was the London accounting base for Coastguard ships and the Reserves from 1916 until 1926. He served in her until …

2 June 1919: retired at the age of 57 when he was given the honorary rank of Lieutenant RN Retd. His RN seniority was recorded as: Chief Officer 18 November 1899, Lieutenant 1 June 1919

Moved to St Ives and by October 1929 were living at Fern Glen, The Stennack. Aged 67, he was one of six candidates standing for four vacancies on the Town Council but he does not appear to have been elected.

1939 England and Wales Register: Walter B and Elizabeth Hunkin lived with daughters Edith and Gladys were living at Fern Glen House, 27 The Stennack, St Ives

2 November 1953: died with probate granted to daughter Gladys Hunkin.