Hunt, George Ward (DNB00)

HUNT, GEORGE WARD (1825–1877), politician, eldest son of the Rev. George Hunt of Winkfield, Berkshire, and Wadenhoe, Northamptonshire, by Emma, youngest daughter of Samuel Gardiner of Coombe Lodge, Oxfordshire, was born at Buckhurst, Berkshire, on 30 July 1825, and educated at Eton from 1841 to 1844. He matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 31 May 1844, was a student from 1846 to 1857, graduated B.A. in 1848, and M.A. in 1851, and was created D.C.L. on 21 June 1870. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple on 21 Nov. 1851, and went the Oxford circuit. On 23 May 1873 he was made a bencher of his inn. Preferring politics to legal studies, he unsuccessfully contested Northampton in 1852 and in 1857 as a conservative, and at last entered parliament on 16 Dec. 1857 as one of the members for the northern division of Northamptonshire, which he represented for twenty years continuously. He acted as financial secretary to the treasury under Lord Derby from July 1866 to February 1868, and when Mr. Disraeli became premier, 29 Feb., he succeeded to the office of chancellor of the exchequer, but he retired with his party in December. He was elected chairman of quarter sessions for Northamptonshire in April 1866, chairman of the Northampton chamber of agriculture 18 Jan. 1873, and was sworn a privy councillor 29 Feb. 1868. On the return of the conservatives to power he was appointed first lord of the admiralty, 21 Feb. 1874. He had some knowledge of naval administration, but was better versed in subjects relating to county management and agriculture. In 1866 he introduced a bill dealing with the cattle plague, and in 1875 helped to conduct the Agricultural Holdings Bill through the House of Commons. In the session of 1877, although very ill, he was in his place to take part in the discussion on the navy votes, and one of the most spirited speeches that he made was in answer to Mr. Charles Seely and other critics on 6 March. At Whitsuntide, under medical advice, he went to Homburg, where he died of gout on 29 July 1877, and was buried privately in the English cemetery there on the following morning. As chancellor of the exchequer he showed financial aptitude, but his administration of the admiralty was signalised by a melancholy series of disasters. It is probable that the misfortunes connected with his department hastened his death. He married, 5 Dec. 1857, Alice, third daughter of Robert Eden [q.v.], bishop of Moray and Ross, by whom he had a family.

[Cornelius Brown's Life of Earl of Beaconsfield, 1882, ii. 93; Times, 30 July 1877, p. 9, cols. 1 and 6, 31 July p. 3, 1 Aug. p. 9; Law Times, 4 Aug. 1877, p. 254; Illustrated London News, 21 March 1868, p. 280, with portrait, 18 April 1874, pp. 365-6, with portrait, 4 Aug. 1877, p. 119, and 11 Aug. p. 140, with portrait; Graphic, 4 Aug. 1877, pp. 99*, 113, with portrait.]

G. C. B.