Hunter, John (1745-1837) (DNB00)

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HUNTER, JOHN, LL.D. (1745–1837), classical scholar, was born in the autumn of 1745 at Closeburn, Dumfriesshire, his father, it is said, being a farmer there. Although left an orphan in boyhood, he received a good elementary education before entering Edinburgh University, where he was a distinguished student, although supporting himself largely by private teaching. His scholarship attracted the attention of Lord Monboddo, who employed him as his private secretary for several years after he left college. In 1775 he was elected professor of humanity in St. Andrews University, holding the post till 1835, when he was appointed principal of the united colleges of St. Salvator's and St. Leonard's. He died of cholera, 18 Jan. 1837. Hunter was twice married: first to Elizabeth Miln, by whom he had a family of seventeen children; and, secondly, to Margaret Hadow, daughter of Professor Hadow of St. Andrews. All his family save one reached manhood. His eldest son, James Hunter, became professor of logic at St. Andrews, while Thomas Gillespie (1777-1844) [q. v.], who succeeded him in the chair of humanity, was his son-in-law. A portrait of Hunter, by Sir J. Watson Gordon, is in the great hall of the United College, St. Andrews, and a chalk sketch, representing him as a younger man, is in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

In 1788 Hunter contributed to the 'Edinburgh Philological Transactions' an article on 'The Nature, Import, and Effect of certain Conjunctions.' In 1796 he published at St. Andrews a complete edition of Sallust, and in 1797 an edition of Horace, which he reissued in 1813 in two volumes. In 1809 he published Cæsar's 'De Bello Gallico et Civili Commentarii' (2 vols.), and in 1810 he sent out in similar form his `Virgil,' first edited in 1797. He edited in 1820 Ruddiman's `Latin Rudiments,' adding a scholarly and logical disquisition on the `Moods and Tenses of the Greek and Latin Verb.' This text-book has reached a twenty-second edition. Hunter's Livy—`Historiarum Libri quinque Priores'—which is still acknowledged to be valuable by competent authorities, appeared in 1822. The article 'Grammar' in the seventh edition of the ' Encyclopædia Britannica,' though not written by Hunter, was in large measure constructed from his teaching.

Hunter helped in municipal work at St. Andrews, and to him was largely due the introduction of the Pipeland water supply, which is still serviceable. He was an accomplished horticulturist, and a potato called after him the `Hunter kidney' was long a favourite in Scotland.

[Information from Miss Leslie, Edinburgh, Hunter's great-granddaughter, and from Dr. Birrell and Mr. J. Maitland Anderson, St. Andrews; Scotsman of 25 Jan. 1837; Anderson's Scottish Nation; Irving's Eminent Scotsmen.]

T. B.