Hunton, Philip (DNB00)

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HUNTON, PHILIP (1604–1682), political writer and divine, born in Hampshire, was the son of Philip Hunton of Andover in Hampshire, who was the son of another Philip Hunton, and perhaps descended from Richard Hunton of East Knoyle in Wiltshire (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iv. 50; Philip Hunton and his Descendants, by Daniel J. V. Huntoon; Hoare, Modern Wiltshire, Westbury, p.22). He was entered at Wadham College, Oxford, either as a batler or servitor, 31 Jan. 1622-3 (Gardiner, Wadham Coll. Reg. p.66). Of this college he afterwards became scholar, and graduated B.A. in 1626 and M.A. 1629 (Wood, Fasti Oxon. i. 426, 451). He was ordained priest, and held the appointment of schoolmaster of Avebury; he was later minister of Devizes, then of Heytesbury,and lastly vicar of Westbury, all in Wiltshire.

Hunton in 1654 was an assistant to the commissioners for Wiltshire for the ejection of 'scandalous, ignorant, and insufficient ministers and schoolmasters.' His zeal procured him a prominent position among the adherents of Cromwell, and in 1657 he was appointed master or provost of Cromwell's Northern University at Durham; the patent as transcribed by Hutchinson (History of Durham, i. 519) erroneously gives his name as Hutton. 200l. a year from the rich living of Sedgefield in the county of Durham was assigned him. When at the Restoration the Durham University totally disappeared, Hunton went back to Westbury, and was ejected from the living in 1662. He is said to have subsequently held conventicles in Westbury. Dying in July 1682 he was buried in the church there. He married a rich widow very late in life.

Hunton's sympathy with a limited monarchy was shown in his only well-known work, 'A Treatise of Monarchie,' published in 1643, which attracted attention at the time. Dr. Henry Ferne [q. v.] answered it in 'A Reply unto severall Treatises pleading for the armes now taken up by subjects in the pretended defence of Religion,' &c., Oxford, 1643. To this Hunton replied again in 1644. Sir Robert Filmer also briefly criticised Hunton's work in 'The Anarchy of a Limited and Mixed Monarchy,' London, 1646, reprinted in 1652. Hunton's 'Treatise of Monarchy,' according to Wood, was reprinted in 1680. The university of Oxford, condemning the position that the sovereignty of England resides in the three estates of the realm, ordered the book to be burnt in 1683. This decree of the university, however, suffered the same fate itself in 1710, being burnt at Westminster by order of the House of Lords.

Hunton's works are:

  1. 'A Treatise of Monarchie, containing two parts: (1) Concerning Monarchy in generall; (2) concerning this particular Monarchy, &c.,' London, 1643.
  2. 'A Vindication of the Treatise of Monarchy, containing an Answer to Dr. Femes Reply; also, a more full Discovery of Three maine Points: (1) The Ordinance of God in Supremacie; (2) The Nature and Kinds of Limitation; (3) The Causes and Meanes of Limitation in Governments,' London, 1644.
  3. 'Jus Regum,' &c., London, 1645. There is no copy of the last in the British Museum, and Wood says that he had never seen it. Calamy does not mention it.

[Authorities cited; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Palmer's Nonconf. Mem. ii. 517.]

W. A. J. A.