21441551911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13 — Hunt, Robert

HUNT, ROBERT (1807–1887), English natural philosopher, was born at Devonport on the 6th of September 1807. His father, a naval officer, was drowned while Robert was a youth. He began to study in London for the medical profession, but ill-health caused him to return to the west of England, and in 1840 he became secretary to the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society at Falmouth. Here he was brought into contact with Robert Were Fox, and carried on some physical and chemical investigations with him. He took up photography with great zeal, following Daguerre’s discovery, and introducing new processes. His Manual of Photography (1841, ed. 5, 1857) was the first English treatise on the subject. He also experimented generally on the action of light, and published Researches on Light (1844). In 1845 he accepted the invitation of Sir Henry de la Beche to become keeper of mining records at the Museum of Economic (afterwards “Practical”) Geology, and when the school of mines was established in 1851 he lectured for two years on mechanical science, and afterwards for a short time on experimental physics. His principal work was the collection and editing of the Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom, and this he continued to the date of his retirement (1883), when the mining record office was transferred to the Home Office. He was elected F.R.S. in 1854. In 1884 he published a large volume on British Mining, in which the subject was dealt with very fully from an historical as well as a practical point of view. He also edited the fifth and some later editions of Ure’s Dictionary of Arts, Mines and Manufactures. He died in London on the 17th of October 1887. A mineralogical museum at Redruth has been established in his memory.