Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hunter, Joseph
HUNTER, JOSEPH (1783–1861), antiquary, was born at Sheffield on 6 Feb. 1783, being the son of Michael Hunter, who was engaged in the cutlery business. His mother dying while he was very young, he was placed under the guardianship of Joseph Evans, a presbyterian minister, who sent him to a school near Sheffield, where he received the rudiments of a classical education, while he devoted all his spare moments to antiquarian studies and to the collection of church notes, filling many volumes, still in existence, with copies of monumental inscriptions, coats of arms, and the like. He was removed in 1809 to a college at York, where he studied for the presbyterian ministry under the Rev. Charles Wellbeloved. In 1809 he became minister of a presbyterian congregation at Bath, where he resided for twenty-four years. In addition to his pastoral duties, he augmented the collection of materials for the history of his native town, part of which he embodied in his `Hallamshire,' published in 1819. This was followed by two volumes of the `History of the Deanery of Doncaster' in 1828 and 1831. He was one of the original members of the Bath Literary and Scientific Institution, and also a valued member of the `Stourhead Circle,' of which he afterwards printed some account. The latter consisted of a party of gentlemen residing in Somersetshire and Wiltshire, who assembled annually for antiquarian discussion under the hospitable roof of Sir Richard Colt Hoare [q.v.] of Stourhead.
On his appointment as a sub-commissioner of the public records, Hunter removed to London in 1833 and edited various volumes of records. On the reconstruction of the record service in 1838 he was appointed an assistant-keeper of the first class, and to his care were committed the queen's remembrancer's records, with the especial duty of compiling a calendar of them.
Much of his time in middle life was devoted to the illustration of the text of Shakespeare's plays, and he made large collections of notes concerning the lives and works of English verse-writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His discoveries in relation to the first settlements in New England attracted great attention in America. He was a fellow, and for many years a vice-president, of the Society of Antiquaries, and read many papers before the society. He died in Torrington Square, London, on 9 May 1861, and was interred at Ecclesfield, near Sheffield.
He married in 1815 Mary, daughter of Francis Hayward, M.D., of Bath; by her (who died in 1840) he had six chidren, of whom three sons and a daughter survived him.
The sale of his library occupied four days in December 1861, and realised 1,105l.
His principal works are: 1. Four sermons printed between 1811 and 1819, and other writings on religious subjects. 2. 'Who wrote Cavendish's Life of Wolsey? A Dissertation,' London, 1814, 4to [see Cavendish, George]. 3. 'Hallamshire. The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in the County of York. With Historical and Descriptive Notices of the Parishes of Ecclesfield, Hansworth, Treeton, and Whiston, and of the Chapelry of Bradfield,' London, 1819, folio; new and enlarged edition by the Rev. Alfred Gatty, London, 1869, folio. 4. 'Golden Sentences. A Manual that may be used by all who Desire to be Moral and Religious,' Bath, 1826, 12mo, compiled from the works of Bishop Hall, Fuller, Sir Thomas Browne, Whichcote, and Dr. Richard Lucas, of whom brief biographies are given. 5. 'South Yorkshire. The History and Topography of the Deanery of Doncaster,' 2 vols., London, 1828–1831, folio. 6. 'Life of Sir Thomas More, by his great-grandson Cresacre More. With a Biographical Preface, Notes, and other Illustrations,' London, 1828, 8vo. Hunter was able, by his critical faculty, to restore the honours of authorship to the rightful claimant, Cresacre More, to whose elder brother, Thomas, the book had been ascribed by Anthony à Wood and others. 7. 'The Hallamshire Glossary,' London, 1829, 8vo, containing the peculiar words in use in the district of Hallamshire; also Thoresby's 'Catalogue of Words used in the West Riding of Yorkshire' and Watson's 'Uncommon Words used in Halifax.' An enlarged copy, prepared for the press by Hunter in 1851, is in Addit. MS. 24540. 8. 'The Diary of Ralph Thoresby, F.R.S. Now first published from the original MS.,'2 vols., London, 1830, 8vo. A life of Thoresby is prefixed. 9. 'English Monastic Libraries. I. A Catalogue of the Library of the Priory of Bretton in Yorkshire. II. Notices of the Libraries belonging to other Religious Houses,' London, 1831, 4to. 10. 'Magnum Rotulum Scaccarii, vel Magnum Rotulum Pipæ, de anno xxxio Regni Henrici Primi (ut videtur), quem plurimi hactenus laudârunt pro Rotulo vti anni Stephani Regis, nunc primùm edidit J. Hunter,' London, 1833, 8vo, printed under the direction of the commissioners on the public records. 11. 'Rotuli Selecti ad Res Anglicas et Hibernicas spectantes; ex Archivis in Domo Capitulari Westmonasteriensi deprompti. Cura Jos. Hunteri,' London, 1834, 8vo, printed under the direction of the commissioners on the public records. 12. Introduction to the 'Valor Ecclesiasticus,' published in 6 folio volumes, 1810–34. 13. 'The Attorney-General versus Shore. An Historical Defence of the Trustees of Lady Hewley's Foundations, and of the Claims upon them of the Presbyterian Ministry of England,' London, 1834, 8vo [see Hewley, Sarah]. 14. 'Fines, sive Pedes Finium; sive Finales Concordiae in Curia Domini Regis, 7 Richard I-16 John, 1195–1214,'2 vols., London, 1835–44, 8vo, edited under the direction of the Record Commissioners. 15. 'Three Catalogues describing the Contents of the Red Book of the Exchequer, of the Dodsworth Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, and of the Manuscripts in the Library of Lincoln's Inn,' London, 1838, 8vo. 16. 'Disquisition on the Scene, Origin, Date, &c., of Shakespeare's "Tempest," 'London, 1839, 8vo, only one hundred copies printed for private distribution. Hunter's opinion is that the ' Tempest ' was one of the earliest productions of Shakespeare instead of being one of the latest, and that Prospero's island was Lampedusa, not far from the coast of Tunis. 17. 'Ecclesiastical Documents: viz. I. A Brief History of the Bishoprick of Somerset from its Foundation to 1174. II. Charters from the Library of Dr. Cox Macro,' edited for the Camden Society, London, 1840, 4to. 18. 'A True Account of the Alienation and Recovery of the Estates of the Offleys of Norton in 1754; with Remarks on the Version of the Story by [Robert Plumer Ward] the author of "Tremaine" and "De Vere,"' London, 1841, 12mo. 19. `The Diary of Dr. Thomas Cartwright, Bishop of Chester,' edited for the Camden Society, London, 1843,4to. 20. `New Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare. Supplementary to all the editions,' 2 vols., London, 1845, 8vo. 21. 'Gens Sylvestrina; Memorials of some of my Good and Religious Ancestors, or Eleven Generations of a Puritan Family,' 1846, 8vo, privately printed. 22. 'Collections concerning the Early History of the Founders of New Plymouth, the First Colonists of New England,' London, 1849, 8vo. 23. 'Agincourt. A Contribution towards an Authentic List of the Commanders of the English Host in King Henry V's Expedition to France in the third year of his reign,' London, 1850, 12mo. 24. 'Milton. A Sheaf of Gleanings after his Biographers and Annotators. I. Genealogical Investigation. II. Notes on some of his Poems,' London, 1850, 12mo. 25. 'The History and Topography of Ketteringham in Norfolk,' Norwich, 1851, 4to. 26. `Antiquarian Notices of Lupset, the Heath, Sharlston, and Ackton,' 1851, 8vo. 27. 'The great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, Robin Hood; his Period, real Character, &c., Investigated, and perhaps Ascertained,' London, 1852, 12mo. 28. 'The Connexion of Bath with the Literature and Science of England. A Paper read before the Literary and Philosophical Society of the Bath Institution on Nov. 26, 1826. With an Account of the Formation of the Institution,' Bath, 1853, 8vo. 29. 'Collections concerning the Church and Congregation of Protestant Separatists formed at Scrooby in North Nottinghamshire in the time of James I: the Founders of New Plymouth, the Parent Colony of New England, London, 1854, 8vo. 30. 'Pope: his Descent and Family Connexions. Facts and Conjectures,' London, 1857, 12mo. 31. The Rev. Mackenzie Walcott published 'Notes on Mediæval English Words, founded on Hunter's MS. "Nominale," Brit. Mus.' [1867?]. 32. Valuable papers in the 'Archæologia,' enumerated in the 'Brief Memoir' of Hunter.
His manuscript collections were purchased by the trustees of the British Museum in 1862, and are now among the Additional MSS. (24436-630, 24864-85, 25459-81, 25676, 25677, 31021). They consist of genealogical, topographical, philological, and literary collections in Hunter's own handwriting. The more important volumes are: 1. 'Diaries and Correspondence' (24441 f. 2, 24879, 24880, 24864-78, 25676, 25677). 2. 'Virorum notabilium memoranda. Collections for the Lives of Eminent Englishmen' (24482, 24483). 3. 'Britannia Puritanica, or Outlines of the History of the Congregations of Presbyterians and Independents' (24484). 4. 'Biography of Nonconformists' (24485). 5. 'Chorus Vatum Anglicanorum: Collections concerning the Poets and Verse-writers of the English Nation,' 6 vols., with an index to each (24487-24492). The writers treated of, with very few exceptions, 'lived from the beginning of letters, as it is considered in England, to the close of the seventeenth century,' and include 'all persons who have verse in print, no matter however small, or however worthless.' 6. 'Collections concerning Shakespeare and his Works' (24494-500). 7. 'Adversaria: Miscellaneous Notes and Extracts relating to English Genealogy, History, Literature, &c.,' 8 vols. (24605-12). 8. 'Yorkshire Biography' (24443). 9. 'Pedigrees of Cheshire Families' (24444). 10. `Genealogical Collections relating chiefly to Yorkshire Families' (24453). 11. 'Yorkshire Collections ' (24469-73). 12. 'Topographical Collections for Derbyshire' (24477).[A Brief Memoir [by Sylvester Hunter] of the late Joseph Hunter (privately printed), Lond. 1861,8vo; Gent. Mag. ccx. 701, ccxii. 346; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1145; Nichols's Cat. of the Library at Stourhead; Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 2nd ser. ii. 106; Hudson's Life of John Holland; Sheffield Local Register, pp. 147, 160; Nichols's Account of the Works of the Camden Society, pp. 6, 18; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 286, 288,2nd ser. xii. 220, 3rd ser. iv. 432.]