HUNT, Joseph (?1762-1816), of Lee, Kent.
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Family and Education
bap. ?4 Jan. 1762, 1st s. of Edward Hunt, surveyor of the navy 1778-86, of Portsea, Hants and Blackheath, Kent by his w. (d. 13 July 1804). educ. Winchester 1773-7. m. 9 Apr. 1795, Catherine, da. of Sir John Davie, 7th Bt., of Creedy, Devon, 1s. at least, 1da. suc. fa. 1786.
Clerk to surveyors of navy Aug. 1779-June 1780; private sec. to Sir Samuel Hood* 1781-2, to 2nd Earl of Chatham 1788; receiver of the sixpenny office, Greenwich Hosp. Sept. 1789-Dec. 1790, dir. Greenwich Hosp. 1791-1810; commr. victualling office Dec. 1790-Oct. 1798, transport office Nov. 1798-May 1802; clerk of deliveries, Ordnance May 1802-3, treasurer 1803-Feb. 1806, Apr. 1807-Jan. 1810.
The above identification of the parentage of this Member is provisional. He acted as private secretary to the 2nd Earl of Chatham at the Admiralty, which introduced him to a succession of administrative offices.1 At the victualling board he was the projector of beech casks instead of oak; at the transport office he dealt with prisoners of war. In 1802 he transferred to the Ordnance under Chatham and became treasurer until the advent of the Grenville ministry. He showed an interest in coming into Parliament for Barnstaple in 1804.2 On his reappointment as treasurer he came in for Queenborough on the Ordnance interest. He gave a silent support to administration.
In January 1810 Hunt resigned his office under a cloud. The twelfth report of the commissioners of inquiry covering his office revealed, 27 Feb., that his conduct had been most irregular. He was meanwhile quoted as declaring ‘that not a shilling had ever been taken by him on his own account—from whence it is imagined that Lord Chatham is not free from the matter’. Hunt’s exposure gave some breathing space to his Queenborough colleague, John Charles Villiers*, who was in a similar plight as paymaster of marines. During his first tenure of office, Hunt had given no securities for 18 months and left a deficit of £11,000; during his second tenure he had given no securities at all and left a deficit of £93,296.3 This ‘peculiar indulgence’ of the Ordnance towards him led to six resolutions by Calcraft against the Ordnance board, 12 Apr.: they should have taken sureties for £10,000 from Hunt. In reply Ashley Cooper blamed ‘inferior officers’ [i.e. the secretary Crewe] and promised to bring in a bill to prevent a recurrence of this situation (an ‘embezzlement bill’ was later passed). Though the House accepted Calcraft’s resolutions in principle, they refused by 54 votes to 18 to censure the board.4 In the meantime, efforts to summon Hunt to the House had failed because he was nowhere to be found, and when Calcraft moved his expulsion on 23 May on grounds of embezzling public funds (Perceval preferred the word ‘misapplying’), he read a letter he had received from Hunt, who was in Lisbon. It expressed ‘concern’ and ‘astonishment’ at the situation and denied that the deficit could be so great, or the commissioners’ evidence reliable. Hunt regretted that he had ‘imprudently withdrawn’, which he ‘inadvertently did from the prejudice excited’ against him, and promised to return to answer for himself as soon as his health was restored. Calcraft claimed that from the evidence of a ‘respectable relation’ of his, Hunt enjoyed good health. He was expelled nem con.5
He had purchased and improved a residence at Lee and this was seized and sold by the Ordnance. He apparently died in France, 10 Jan. 1816.6
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Morning Chron. 30 Jan. 1810; Add. 35395, f. 193.
- 2. PRO 30/8/123, f. 84; Geo. III Corresp. iii. 1826; Bristol Jnl. 4 Aug. 1804.
- 3. Gent. Mag. (1810), i. 276; Pol. Reg. 17 Feb. 1810; Add. 48227, f. 175; CJ, lxv. 110, 123, 135, 249, 280.
- 4. Parl. Deb. xvi. 450, 637-48.
- 5. CJ, lxv. 295, 398; Parl. Deb. xvii. 169-70.
- 6. Hart, Lee, 11-12; Gent. Mag. (1816), i. 380; Burke PB (1959) Davie.