HUNT, John (by 1514-86), of the Middle Temple, London and Lyndon, Rutland.
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Family and Education
b. by 1514, s. of Robert Hunt of Stoke Albany, Northants. by Baringold, da. of Sir Everard Digby of Stoke Dry, Rutland. educ. Cardinal, Oxf., adm. 1528 BCL 1532; M. Temple. m. by 1545, Amy, da. of Sir Thomas Cave of Stanford, Northants., 4s. 4da.1
J.p. Rutland 1543, 1554-60, q. 1561-4; steward, bp. of Peterborough’s manors of Peterborough, Northants. 1548-70 and Gunthorpe, Rutland 1562-70; commr. relief, Rutland 1550.2
John Hunt inherited a substantial patrimony but his career was to owe more to his mother, who was a Digby. It was she and her relatives who, after her husband died during her son’s infancy, found the boy a stipend from the rectory of Edmonton, Middlesex, for his maintenance at Oxford, where his cousin Kenelm Digby may have preceded him, and if it was he who in 1528 asked Cromwell for a petty canonry at Wolsey’s new foundation he probably did so under Digby sponsorship. In 1531 William Tresham of Christ Church wrote to Cromwell on his behalf, and Hunt followed with a letter of his own. The burden of both was that, having spent his time so far chiefly in the study of the civil law, Hunt wished to go on to study English law, which he seemed to think he could do at Oxford. In July of the same year he wrote to Cromwell from Pembroke College, where he was acting as tutor to Gregory Cromwell, in support of one of his Digby kinsmen who was seeking a prebend. In the following April he took his degree in civil law and he may then have transferred his attention to the common law. Kenelm Digby had probably already entered the Middle Temple and Hunt is likely to have followed, although evidence of his admission is lacking. The next reference to his academic progress comes in February 1541, when he received a dispensation from proceeding to the master’s degree at Oxford.3
From then on Hunt appears to have adopted the life of a country gentleman, albeit one of legal attainment. In 1543 he was put on the Rutland bench and it was probably about the same time that he married into the influential Cave family. From 1545 he was in receipt of an annuity of 40 marks from the dean and chapter of Peterborough and shortly afterwards he became steward of many of the bishop’s lands. His own estates underwent steady increase, purchases in Barrow, Rutland, and Quorndon, Leicestershire, in 1550 being followed by that of Lyndon, which he made his main seat, in 1552 and of the manors of Barrow and Newton Burdett, Leicestershire, and lands in Halloughton, Nottinghamshire, and Prestwold, Leicestershire.4
It was under Mary that Hunt, a lifelong Catholic, took most part in affairs and had his only experience of the Commons. Of the two Rutland seats one was monopolized at this time by Kenelm Digby and the other shared almost as exclusively by Anthony Colly and James Harington. It was Digby’s third shrievalty in 1553-4 which let in the only other two men returned during the reign, with Hunt’s chance coming in the spring of 1554. Nothing is known of his part in the House, but the government was doubtless assured of his support: two months earlier he had heard the indictment of the Leicester contingent of Wyatt’s rebellion, and his regular service on commissions throughout the reign was to be rewarded by an annuity. While attending Parliament, and at other times, he occupied the chamber in the Temple which he shared with his brother-in-law and fellow-Member Francis Farnham, who left him the three volumes of Fitzherbert’s La Grande Abridgement and the table for them. After Farnham’s death Hunt shared the chamber with one of the Digbys: he retained it until at least 1568 and took into it two of his sons and a cousin. He never read at the inn, preferring to pay a fine of £40.5
After Bishop Scambler of Peterborough had declared Hunt a ‘great hinderer’ of religion in 1564, he was removed from the bench. By his will of 28 Dec. 1585 he divided his lands between three of his sons, the Rutland properties passing to his heir Remigius; Barrow and Halloughton to Francis; Deene, Northamptonshire, to Thomas, and the manors of Newton Burdett and Sale, Staffordshire, to John. Hunt died on 27 Mar. 1586 and the will was proved four days later.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. M. Thorpe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from education. Vis. Rutland (Harl. Soc. iii), 15; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, p. 305.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvii, xx; CPR, 1553, p. 351; 1553-4, p. 23; 1563-6, pp. 25-26; Peterborough cath. lib. Mountstevings reg. f. 1, Dean Courthorpe’s reg. f. 55.
- 3. Emden, 305; LP Hen. VIII, iv, v, xii, xiv.
- 4. Quorndon Recs. ed. Farnham, 209, 247; Peterborough cath. lib. Mountstevings reg. f. 2; CPR, 1550-3, p. 274; VCH Rutland, ii. 75, 277.
- 5. CPR, 1553-4, pp. 381, 499; M.T. Recs. i. passim; Quorndon Recs. 200.
- 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 37; PCC 14 Windsor; C142/219/88.