Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hunt, Jeremiah

HUNT, JEREMIAH, D.D. (1678–1744), independent minister, only son of Thomas Hunt, a London merchant, was born in London on 11 June 1678. His father died in 1680, and his mother secured for him a liberal education. He studied first under Thomas Rowe [q.v.], then at the Edinburgh University, and lastly at Leyden (1699-1701), where Nathaniel Lardner [q.v.] was a fellow student. He owed much to John Milling (d. 16 June 1705), minister of the English presbyterian church at Leyden, and learned Hebrew of a rabbi from Lithuania. In Holland he was licensed to preach, and was one of three who officiated in turns to the English presbyterian congregation at Amsterdam. He always preached without notes, and his memory was so good that he could recall the language of an unwritten sermon fourteen years after its delivery. On his return to England he was for three years (1704-7) assistant to John Green, an ejected divine, who had formed an independent church at Tunstead, Norfolk. Here, according to Harmer, he was ordained.

Coming up to London in 1707, Hunt accepted a call to succeed Richard Wavel, an ejected divine (d. 9 Dec. 1705), as pastor of the independent church at Pinners' Hall, Old Broad Street. Here he renewed his acquaintance with Lardner, whose testimony to the breadth and depth of his learning is very emphatic. They were members of a ministers' club which met on Thursdays at Chew's coffee-house in Bow Lane. Hunt was accounted 'a rational preacher;' his matter was practical, his method expository, his style easy. His admirers admitted that 'he only pleases the discerning few' (Character of the Dissenting Ministers; see Protestant Dissenters' Mag. 1798, p. 314). How far he diverged from the traditional Calvinism of dissent is not clear. Isaac Watts says that some 'suspected him of Socinianising,' but unjustly. In 1719 he voted with the nonsubscribers at Salters' Hall [see Bradbury, Thomas], but took no part in the controversy. John Shute Barrington, first viscount Barrington [q. v.], the leader of the nonsubscribers, joined his church. At Barrington's seat, Tofts in Essex, he was in the habit of meeting Anthony Collins [q. v.] On 31 May 1729 he was made D.D. by Edinburgh University. In 1730, though an independent, he was elected a trustee of Dr. Williams's foundations. He took part in 1734-5 in a course of dissenting lectures against popery, his subject being penances and pilgrimages. He was also one of the disputants in certain 'conferences' held with Roman catholics, on 7 and 13 Feb. 1735, at the Bell Tavern, Nicholas Lane.

He died on 5 Sept. 1744. He married a distant relative of Lardner, who preached his funeral sermon at Pinners' Hall.

Lardner gives a list of eleven separate sermons by Hunt, published between 1716 and 1736; eight of them are funeral sermons. He published also:

  1. 'Mutual Love recommended upon Christian Principles,' &c., 1728, 8vo.
  2. 'An Essay towards explaining the History and Revelations of Scripture … Part I.,' &c., 1734, 8vo (deals with Genesis; no other part published; appended is a 'Dissertation on the Fall of Man').

Posthumous was:

  1. 'Sermons,' &c., 1748, 8vo, 4 vols. (ed. by George Benson, D.D. [q. v.], from imperfect notes).

[Funeral Sermon by Lardner,1744; Protestant Dissenters' Mag. 1795, p. 1 sq. (Sketch by I. T., i.e. Joshua Toulmin), 1799, p. 432; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808, i. 98, 124, ii. 262 sq.; Kippis's Life of Lardner, 1815, p. v; Neal's Hist. of the Puritans, 1822, i. p. xxvi; Townsend's Life of Barrington, 1828, p. xix; Armstrong's App. to Martineau's Ordination Service, 1829, p. 97; London Directory of 1677, 1858; Cat. of Edinburgh Graduates, 1858, p. 240; James's Hist. Litigation Engl. Presb. Churches, 1867, pp. 700, 721, 821; Browne's Hist. Congr. Norf. and Suff., 1877, pp. 304 sq.; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, p. 131.]

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