Hunt, Thomas (1627?-1688) (DNB00)

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HUNT, THOMAS (1627?–1688), lawyer, son of Richard Hunt, was born in the Austin Friars in London, and was successively scholar, fellow, and M.A. of Queens' College, Cambridge. He was admitted to Gray's Inn on 12 Nov. 1650, and was in 1659 appointed clerk of assize to the Oxford circuit. He was ejected from that office upon the Restoration in the following year, and from 1660 to 1683 lived chiefly at Banbury, where he not only practised law, but acted as steward on the estates of both the Duke of Buckingham and the Duke of Norfolk. Hunt appeared in the trial of Lord Stafford, November 1680, among the counsel who were retained to argue the necessity of two witnesses to every overt act of high treason on the part of the accused, and in the same year he published a tract in support of the Exclusion Bill, entitled 'Great and weighty Considerations relating to the Duke of York, or Successor of the Crown,' London, 8vo. This he followed up in 1682 with `An Argument for the Bishop's Right in judging in capital causes in Parliament …,' to which was shortly afterwards added a 'Postscript for rectifying some Mistakes in some of the inferior Clergy, mischievous to our Government and Religion.' In the preface to the 'Postscript,' which gave him the title of 'Postscript Hunt,' he suggested that 'the English clergy lick up the vomit of the Popish Priests,' a remark which evoked many indignant rejoinders. Roger L'Estrange attacked him in his 'Observators,' while Edward Pelling [q. v.], in his 'Apostate Protestant,' London, 1685, compared Hunt's views on the succession with those of Robert Parsons [q. v.], concluding that 'old Father Parsons can never die as long as he hath such an hopeful issue so like him in lineaments and spirits.' Hunt's 'Argument' in the first part of the pamphlet had pleased the king, who by way of reward nominated him lord chief baron of Ireland, but the patent was superseded at the instance of the Duke of York, and this disappointment may have caused the 'peevish postscript.'

In 1681 Hunt was called as a witness for the defence at the trial of Edward Fitzharris [q. v.] He denied any previous knowledge of the prisoner. In 1683 he issued 'A Defence of the Charter and Municipal Rights of the City of London, and the Rights of other Municipal Cities and Towns of England,' 1683, 4to. A long digression is devoted to an attack upon Dryden's play 'The Duke of Guise' and the poet replied in an elaborate 'Vindication,' in which he tauntingly spoke of Hunt as 'my lord chief-baron,' and of Hunt, Shadwell, and Settle together as the 'sputtering triumvirate.' L'Estrange answered Hunt's 'Defense' in a pamphlet entitled 'The Lawyer Outlawed,' alluding to the orders issued for Hunt's arrest upon the appearance of his book, and his consequent flight. Hunt escaped to Holland, where he settled in Utrecht, and died in 1688, just before William of Orange sailed for England. Hunt's other works are: 1. 'The Honours of the Lords Spiritual asserted,' 1679, fol. 2. 'Mr. Emerton's Marriage with Mrs. Bridget Hyde considered; wherein is discoursed the Rights and Nature of Marriage,' London, 1682, 4to. 3 (unprinted).'The Character of Popery. By Thomas Hunt, of Grays Inn, esquire,' a closely written folio, 'transcribed by Jn. Dowley, gent. 1695,' in Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 23619.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon.ed. Bliss, ii. 73, iv. 82, 83; Luttrell's Diary, i. 247; Cobbett's State Trials, viii. 363; Remarks upon the most Eminent of our Anti-monarchical Authors and their Writings, London, 1699; Dryden's Works, ed. Scott, vii. 127-59; Foster's Admissions to Gray's Inn, p. 255.]

T. S.