HUNT, Robert (c.1609-80), of Speckington, Yeovilton, Som.
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Family and Education
b. c.1609, 1st s. of John Hunt of Forston, Charminster, Dorset and Compton Pauncefoot, Som. by Catharine, da. of Alexander Popham of Huntworth, North Petherton, Som. educ. Rampisham, Dorset (Mr Howlett) 1619-25; Caius, Camb. adm. 5 Oct. 1625, aged 16; M. Temple, entered 1625, called 1633. m. 24 Sept. 1635, Elizabeth (d. 24 Sept. 1675), da. of John Browne of Frampton, Dorset, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa. 1660.1
J.p. Som. by 1640-3, 1654-9 Mar. 1660-d., 1654-6, commr. for scandalous ministers 1654, security 1655, assessment 1657, 1661-d., militia Mar. 1660, sewers Aug. 1660, dep. lt. 1666-d., commr. for recusants 1675.2
Hunt’s father, from a Dorset yeoman family became a lawyer, entering the service of Francis Bacon and acquiring an estate in Somerset of £1,000 p.a. He bought Speckington, three miles from Ilchester, in 1618, and Compton Pauncefoot during or soon after the Civil War. He was named to the county committee, but retired from public life after the Royalists overran Somerset in 1643. Hunt himself, a barrister, was returned to the Long Parliament for Ilchester, the first of the family to sit. He was disabled in 1644 for residing in the King’s quarters, and the local sequestrator claimed that he had attended the Oxford Parliament; but he was able to prove that he had advanced £100 to the parliamentary cause, and the House cleared him of delinquency. As sheriff during the Interregnum he was responsible for the trial of the Royalists after Penruddock’s rising and the elections to the second Protectorate Parliament, discharging both tasks with such reliability and impartiality that he was elected for the county to Richard Cromwell’s Parliament.3
Hunt was returned for Ilchester at the general election of 1660. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was named to eight committees, of which the most important were to consider a bill confirming the privileges of Parliament, to inquire into the publication of parliamentary proceedings, and to hear a petition from the intruded dons at Oxford. In the second session he was appointed to the committee on the bill to supply defects in the poll-tax. After losing his seat at the general election to Edward Phelips, he petitioned against the other successful candidate, Henry Dunster, but allowed the petition to drop. ‘The most reputed justice in Somerset’, Hunt personally uncovered ‘a hellish knot of witches’ despite official discouragement. He welcomed the peace with Holland in 1674, but criticized the working of the Irish Cattle Act. He probably opposed exclusion, joining forces with Phelips at the first general election of 1679. There was a double return, but they never took their seats, the House declaring in favour of the country candidates. Hunt died on 20 Feb. 1680 and was buried at Compton Pauncefoot.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Phelps, Som. i. 409-10; Som. Wills. iv. 73; v. 108.
- 2. Q. Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxviii), p. xxi; (xxxiv), p. xiii; C181/7/24; Som. RO, DD/Pot. 162.
- 3. Proc. Dorset Nat. Hist. and Arch. Soc. liv. 104-11; Aubrey, Brief Lives, i. 71; VCH Som. iii. 170; D. Underdown, Som. in the Civil War, 118, 124; Keeler, Long Parl. 226; Som. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. Procs. xvi. pt. 2, p. 19; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 758; Som. Assize Orders (Som. Rec. Soc. lxx), 57-58.
- 4. CJ, viii. 358; ix. 570, 581; K. Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, 547; CSP Dom. 1673-5, pp. 183-4, 195; Phelps, i. 410.