Hunt Surname Meaning, History & Origin
its Border surname equivalent Hunter, Hunt was originally used to
describe a huntsman. The term was not just for the hunting of
stags and wild boar that was the pastime of kings but also for humbler
pursuits such as bird catching.
Hunt Resources on
- The Leigh Hunts. Ancestors and
descendants of Leigh Hunt.
- Hunt Family History. Hunts in Somerset.
- Geoff’s Genealogy – The Hunt Family. Hunts originally from
- History of the Hunt Family. Hunts of New York.
- Hunt DNA Project. Ralph
The Hunt surname distribution shows a fairly wide spread, from
Lancashire and the Midlands to the south and southwest. Early
- Roger Hunt
from Chalverston in Bedfordshire, who was the speaker
of the House of Commons in 1420.
- the Hunts of Tanworth in Warwickshire, who were first recorded as
members of the Guild of Knowle in 1500. They were associated for
a long time with the Beaumont’s estate. A branch of the family
held the position of Town Clerk of Stratford for 132
- the Hunts from Shropshire, who date from about 1530. Thomas
Hunt was High Sheriff of Shropshire in 1656 and bought the Boreatton
Park estate. A later Hunt of this family, Agnes Hunt, was a
cripple but became an expert nurse and opened the first open-air
- and John Hunt of Compton Pauncefoot in Somerset, who was born
there around 1565. These Hunts were local country gentry.
Edward Hunt was a clergyman in Devon who lived in the second half of
the 17th century. His descendants were also clergymen,
first in Kent, then in Lincolnshire and later in Barbados. Isaac
Hunt was brought up in America, but as a Loyalist had to
country when the Revolutionary War broke out. He returned to
London and his son Leigh Hunt, who grew up there,
became a noted English critic and essayist.
Ireland. Hunt in Ireland can be of English or of Irish
origin. If English it is the name brought by settlers to
Ireland in the 17th century (as with the Hunts of Danesfort in
Cork). If Irish, it can be anglicization of the Gaelic sept
O’Fiachna found in county Roscommon. The Doorty township in
Roscommon contained a sizeable number of these Hunts, many
of whom were
tenant farmers there.
John Hunt, born in London, came to Ireland in 1939 and settled in
Limerick where he became well-known as an antiquarian and art
collector. After his death in 1976, his collection has been
housed at the Hunt Museum in Limerick.
America. Ralph Hunt was
an early colonist of Long Island who arrived there in 1652 when it was
still Dutch territory.
in all of the public affairs of Newtown, Long Island and was foremost
among his neighbors in defying the authority of the Dutch governor
Stuyvesant on Manhattan island. When the English acquired New
Netherlands and drove the Dutch away, Ralph Hunt was one of the first
two magistrates appointed under English rule.”
His son Samuel was a wealthy landowner in Hunterdon county New Jersey
and a later Hunt – known as Miller James Hunt – was one of
the pioneers of
the New Jersey Hopewell community. The Hunt line subsequently
went south to
Rowan county, North Carolina and then to Missouri.
New Jersey. John
Hunt was a prominent Quaker minister from the Moorestown township
in New Jersey. He kept a diary, most of which has been preserved,
from 1770 to 1824. A descendant was Alfred Hunt, the first
president of what was to become the Bethlehem Steel Company.
Theodore Hunt, a New Jersey native, had moved to St. Louis in 1814
after a brief spell as a sea captain. His son Charles was a
prominent member of the pro-Confederate “Knights of the Golden Circle”
in Missouri in the years building up to the Civil War.
Thomas Hunt from Northamptonshire came to
Connecticut in 1639 and later settled in the 1660’s at his Grove farm
Westchester, New York. This farm stayed
with various members of the Hunt family until 1775.
A later Thomas Hunt migrated to Virginia
sometime around 1750. His descendants
moved onto South Carolina, Georgia, and Illinois where H. L. Hunt Sr.
prospered as a farmer. His
son H. L. Hunt Jr, born there in 1889, was the famous Texas oil tycoon. He had fifteen children by three wives. Two of them – Nelson and Lamar – became
famous in their own right.
Canada. In 1832 John Hunt and his
wife Latetia from Ireland were one of the first settlers of
Fitzroy township, Ontario. The Hunts stayed in Fitzroy and, one
hundred years later, celebrated
their centennial there.
Charles Hunt, who had fought in the Crimean War, was a later settler
from England. He arrived in 1863, settled in Rydal Bank Ontario,
married and raised seven children there. The town of Huntsville
Ontario is probably named after George Hunt who arrived with his
family there in 1869.
Australia. Henry Hunt was
an early arrival, having been transported from England to Tasmania in
1829. After obtaining his conditional release he lived on in Tasmania
to the ripe old age of eighty nine, dying there in 1901.
George and Elizabeth Hunt from Northamptonshire arrived in South
Australia with their family in 1853. They settled in the Magill
area of Adelaide. Also coming to South Australia were two
brothers, William and Henry from the East End of London, who arrived in
1861. Thomas was a sheep-grazier in Kalangadoo.
Roger Hunt of Chalverston. RogerHunt’s
origins are uncertain. It is known that
he was a distinguished lawyer during the reigns of Henry IV, V and VI
he ultimately became one of the Barons of the Exchequer. He
was returned to Parliament in 1420 for the county
of Huntingdon and was chosen at that time as Speaker of the House of
position he assumed again in 1433.
interior of the Roxton parish church in Bedfordshire contains an
Roger Hunt, bearing the date of 1439.
He and his family were to
be found at their estate of Chalverston in Bedfordshire.
Their line extended to William Hunt and his
son Roger who inherited the estate in late Elizabethan times. But afterwards this Hunt family seemed to
have died out.
Hunt Town Clerks of Stratford. Beginning in the 1760’s, William Hunt from Tanworth held the
prestigious position of Town Clerk in Stratford-on-Avon, the home of
Shakespeare. The Town
Clerk was a
highly esteemed position in Stratford.
In 1778 Jago the poet described The Town Clerk as “our beloved
Hunt.” He died in 1783 and was
buried in Stratford churchyard. There is
a marble tablet to his memory in the church, bearing the Hunt arms.
Hunt held the position at the time of
the famous Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769 when the famous actor David
the guest of honor. Hunt made the
“Sir, you, who have done the memory of
Shakespeare so much honor, are esteemed the fittest person to be
first steward of his jubilee; which we beg your acceptance of: permit
in obedience to the commands of this corporation, to deliver to you
and this wand, the sacred pledges of our veneration for our immortal
whereby you are invested with your office.”
polite mark of attention, Mr. Garrick
made a suitable reply and fastened the present about his neck, wearing
compliment throughout the jubilee. The
completion of this ceremony was immediately announced by ringing of
firing of the cannon.
in 1783 he was succeeded as Town Clerk by his son Thomas.
In fact the Hunt family held the position for
a hundred and thirty two years and reigned without a break, six members
four generations of the family.
Isaac Hunt the Loyalist. Isaac was
staunch Loyalist and had made a name for himself by defending other
in court and as an author of many pamphlets championing the cause of
British Crown. The inflammatory nature
of these activities, carried out in the face of the revolutionary winds
were blowing at the time, ultimately triggered predictable consequences.
one morning in 1775, he was taken from
his house and, along with a Dr. Kearsley, an equally dedicated Tory,
about the streets of Philadelphia in an open cart, the intention being
eventually to tar and feather both men. At
the last minute the two Loyalists were spared the ordeal of being
feathered when a friend of theirs managed to overturn the tub of hot
had been prepared for the purpose.
being paraded up and down the streets, both men were imprisoned. Isaac bribed a prison guard and escaped, ending
up, via Barbados, in England. It was
almost two years before his wife and children were able to join him.
Miller James Hunt of Northern Hopewell. One of
the pioneers of northern Hopewell, New Jersey at the time of the
period was James Hunt. His name was
written “James Hunt Senior” in some of the old records.
But he was widely known as “Miller
James,” to distinguish him from his neighbor “Deacon James” who
resided less than a mile from him.
was born in 1724, arrived in Hopewell in 1748, and lived to be 78 years
dying at his farm in 1802. He and his wife
Rachel were buried in the Hunt burial plot at the farm of J. Guild Hunt
He was said to be a
popular local business man, kind hearted and benevolent in disposition,
during the time of the Revolution operated the grist mills on Stony
that time the British were making house to house canvasses in the Hunt
Hunt’s family heard
that they were expected to pass along the Hopewell road on a certain
and did not light up the house, hoping that, as it was located quite a
from the public road, it might be passed by undiscovered.
The British were shrewd enough, however, to
always employ a Tory guide who was familiar with every highway and
byway of the
territory they intended to traverse. All
families who were suspected of being in sympathy with Washington’s band of
patriots were visited, no matter how secluded their places of residence.
the evening was far advanced, Mr.
Hunt’s family heard the soldiers outside and they were ordered to open
or it would be broken down. Knowing full
well that this threat would be put in execution, Mr. Hunt opened the
admitted his unbidden and very unwelcome visitors.
Mr. Hunt was then informed that he was their
prisoner and that he must accompany them to Pennington where Cornwallis
administer the oath of allegiance to the English King.
When the party started off for Pennington
with their father, the daughters followed, crying and screaming at the
their voices. The officer in charge
cursed and threatened but all to no purpose.
The grief and excitement had made them hysterical.
His threats only aggravated their overwrought
nerves until they were on the verge of collapsing.
Finding that his threats were of no avail and
thinking doubtless that their screams ringing out on the night air would be
heard for a long distance and arouse the whole neighborhood, the
released Mr. Hunt, telling him that he was ‘too old to be good for
he could go home and take care of his babies.”
Hunts in Roscommon. Hunts occupied 84 acres of the Mahon estate in the town of Doorty (or Dooherty) in
county Roscommon. This acreage had been leased
to “James Hunt and Company” since 1808. The
Hunts were tenant farmers, in what was
known as a “rundale” collective, to the Mahons who were the estate
On November 2 1847, Major Denis Mahon was
assassinated. Evidence suggested that
the Molly Maguires were responsible for the attack. Patrick
Hunt happened to be walking home that
day and witnessed the crime. Unfortunately,
the honesty and legal cooperation of this young boy put all the Hunts
of retaliation by the Molly Maguires.
Thus it wasn’t just a potato famine which gave them reason to
hasty departure from Ireland around 1848.
John and Latetia Hunt of Fitzroy Township, Ontario. John and Latetia Hunt from county Leitrim in Ireland were among the first
settlers of Fitzroy
township, Ontario. They were both advanced in years when they started
the great adventure of emigrating to a new country that was then almost
wilderness. But the prospect of owning
their own land proved a draw and they left their home in Mohill parish
their eleven children, ranging in age from twenty-eight to two years,
Arriving at Montreal after a six
weeks’ voyage on a sailing ship with seas so rough that some of their
was lost overboard, the Hunt entourage traveled via the St. Lawrence
rivers to Fitzroy harbor where they faced a trek of seven miles through
forest to the site of their new home.
the way from Fitzroy harbor to the clearing which was to become their
young John, aged eighteen, lingered behind finding it difficult to keep
the others. His illness proved to be
“ship’s fever” and, despite the anxious care of his mother, he slipped
weeks later on July 4, 1832. It was
necessary to find a last resting place, one that was “high and dry.” His mother found a triangular knoll with a
ravine on two sides close to the family home. He
was buried beneath an elm tree. In that
way the family cemetery was
The early years were
hard. But as time went by the Hunt
family increased and flourished. By
1932, one hundred years later, the family tree prepared by the family
historian, Major Harold Hunt, extended over sixteen feet of blueprint. A celebration of that centennial was held on
August 29, 1932, with 144 Hunt descendants being present.
Visitors from Ireland brought greetings from
the Hunts that had remained in Mohill.
- Leigh Hunt was an early 19th century English critic and
essayist, a contemporary of Keats and Shelley.
- William Holman Hunt was an
English Victorian painter, one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
- H.L. Hunt was an American oil
tycoon and the forebear of a formidable Hunt family of the 20th century – including, most prominently, Nelson Bunker Hunt, the oil developer and speculator, and Lamar Hunt, the co-founder of the American Football League.
- Howard Hunt was the crime writer and CIA intelligence officer who became embroiled in the
- James Hunt was the British racing car driver who won the Formula One world championship in 1976.
Select Hunt Numbers Today
- 66,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 49,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 40,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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