Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hunter, Henry

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HUNTER, HENRY (1741–1802), divine, born at Culross, Perthshire, on 25 Aug. 1741, was the fifth child of David and Agnes Hunter. In 1754 he was sent to the university of Edinburgh, and became tutor first to Alexander Boswell, afterwards lord Balmuto, and subsequently, in 1758, in the family of the Earl of Dundonald at Culross Abbey. On 2 May 1764 he received license to preach from the presbytery of Dunfermline, and was ordained minister of South Leith on 9 Jan. 1766. In 1769 he preached in London, and declined a call from the Scots congregation in Swallow Street, Piccadilly; but in 1771 he accepted an invitation from the congregation at London Wall, and about the same time was created D.D. by the university of Edinburgh. He visited Lavater at Zurich in August 1787, to secure Lavater's assent to the publication of an English version by himself of the ‘Essays on Physiognomy.’ He officiated as chaplain to the Scots Corporation in London, and was, on 5 Aug. 1790, elected secretary to the corresponding board of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. His closing years were clouded by the loss of four of his children. He died at Bristol on 27 Oct. 1802, and was buried on 6 Nov. in Bunhill Fields. In May 1766 he married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Charters, minister of Inverkeithing, and by her, who died on 25 July 1803, he left two sons and one daughter (Gent. Mag. vol. lxxii. pt. ii. p. 1072).

Hunter wrote:

  1. ‘Sacred Biography,’ a course of lectures on the lives of Bible characters (vol. i. 1783, vol. vi. and last 1792); 5th edition, 1802 (5 vols. 8vo); 8th edition, 1820.
  2. ‘Sermons. … To which are subjoined Memoirs, Anecdotes, and Illustrations,’ 1795, 2 vols.
  3. ‘Sermons and other Miscellaneous Pieces,’ London, 1804 (2 vols. 8vo), posthumous, with memoir and portrait engraved by Thomas Holloway [q. v.], after a portrait by Stevenson.

Hunter's translations include:

  1. ‘Lavater's Essays on Physiognomy,’ London, 1789-98, 5 vols. 4to, illustrated with more than eight hundred engravings, executed by or under the inspection of Thomas Holloway. The cost price of each copy was 30l.
  2. Euler's ‘Letters to a German Princess on different subjects in Physics and Philosophy,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1795, with original notes and a glossary of foreign and scientific terms; new edition, 1846, with notes by Sir David Brewster.
  3. Bernardin de St. Pierre's ‘Studies of Nature’ and ‘Botanical Harmony,’ 5 vols. 8vo, London, 1796-7.
  4. Sonnini de Manoncourt's ‘Travels to Upper and Lower Egypt,’ 3 vols. 8vo, London, 1799 (severely criticised by one Monk in ‘Hilaria Hunteriana,’ 4to, 1800).
  5. The sixth volume of Saurin's ‘Sermons,’ 1800-6, 7 vols. 8vo.
  6. Castéra's ‘History of Catharine II,’ 8vo, London, 1800.

In 1796 Hunter began the publication in parts of a careless ‘History of London and its Environs,’ which he did not live to complete. The publisher, John Stockdale, with the assistance of other hacks, issued the discreditable compilation as a complete work in two quarto volumes in 1811. At the request of his congregation Hunter completed and published John Fell's ‘Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity,’ 8vo, London, 1798 (another edition, 1799).

[Life prefixed to Sermons, &c., 1804; Monthly Magazine, xiv. 456; Chambers's Eminent Scotsmen, ii. 319-20; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 516-17.]

G. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.163
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
286 ii 2 f.e. Hunter, Henry: for Alexander Boswell read Claude rvine Boswell