Hunt, Thomas (1696-1774) (DNB00)

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HUNT, THOMAS (1696–1774), orientalist, was born in 1696, and educated at Hart Hall, Oxford, where he graduated M.A. in 1721, B.D. 1743, and D.D. 1744. He was one of the four senior fellows of Hart Hall when it was incorporated as Hertford College. Soon after Sir Isaac Newton's death in 1726, he became tutor in Lord Macclesfield's family. In earlier life Hunt was chiefly occupied with the study of the Old Testament. In 1738 he was appointed Laudian professor of Arabic at Oxford, and in 1747 he became regius professor of Hebrew and canon of the sixth stall in Christ Church Cathedral. Hunt was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1757, and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1740. He died at Oxford on 31 Oct. 1774. There is a tablet to his memory in the north aisle of the nave of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. He was the intimate friend of Dr. Richard Newton, Dr. Kennicott, and Doddridge. For some years he was also closely associated in his oriental studies with Dr. Gregory Sharpe, and with him prepared an edition of Thomas Hyde's 'Dissertations' [see Hyde, Thomas, D.D., 1636–1703], but a quarrel took place between Sharpe and Hunt before publication in 1767, and Sharpe's name alone appears on the title-page. Hunt was a sound oriental scholar; Duperron wrote slightingly of his abilities in 1762, but was answered in 1771 by William (afterwards Sir William) Jones, who stated that he knew Hunt, and claimed that respect should be paid him.

Hunt's chief works are: 1. 'A Fragment of Hippolytus from two Arabic MSS. in the Bodleian,' printed in vol. iv. of Parker's 'Bibliotheca Biblica,' 1728. 2. 'De Antiquitate, elegantia, utilitate, linguæ Arabicæ,' 1739; his inaugural address as Laudian professor. 3. 'A Dissertation on Proverbs, vii. 22 and 23,' 1743. 4. 'De usu dialectorum orientalium,' 1748; a prefatory discourse to his lectures as regius professor of Hebrew.

In 1746 Hunt issued proposals for publishing a Latin translation of the 'History of Egypt' by Abd Al Latif, and, from Dr. Sharpe's prolegomena to Hyde's works, it would seem that the translation was actually completed. It remained unpublished, however, at Hunt's death, and the subscribers were compensated by receiving the posthumous 'Observations on several Passages in the Book of Proverbs,' 1775, edited from Hunt's papers by Bishop Kennicott.

Hunt also compiled a Latin grammar drawn up for the private use of Lord Macclesfield's sons, which was privately printed about 1730; and edited the complete works of his friend, George Hooper [q. v.], bishop of Bath and Wells, in 1757, fol., reprinted in 1855. Hunt had previously published in 1728 Hooper's 'De Benedictione Gen. 49 coniecturæ,' of which he only printed one hundred copies. In 1760 Hunt, together with Costard, published a second edition of Dr. Thomas Hyde's 'Historia veterum Persarum.'

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. viii. 471-2; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Doddridge's Letters, ed. Stedman; Gent. Mag. 1801, pt. i. pp. 101-3.]

E. J. R.