HUNTER, William (?1769-1815), of 34 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - 29 Mar. 1803

Family and Education

b. ?1769,1 s. of Robert Hunter, merchant, of 7 Kings Arms Yard, Coleman Street, and Great St. Helens, London and Kew, Surr. by Elizabeth, (m. 1762), da. of John Lowis, merchant, of London. educ. ?I. Temple 1791-2, 1796-7. m. 30 Nov. 1801, Frances Mary, da. of Christopher Thompson Maling of West Herrington Hall, co. Dur., 1da. suc. fa. 1812.

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Hunter, an elusive figure, described as a London merchant, was returned for Ilchester in 1802. He was a last-minute substitute on a joint interest with the West India merchant Thomas Plummer, whose eldest son was a friend of his, in defiance of the new patron Sir William Manners*: both were unseated on grounds of bribery and treating in the following April. There is no evidence of any parliamentary activity, nor did he seek re-election.

The clue to the above identification was provided by the announcement in the Gentleman’s Magazine that ‘the wife of William Hunter MP’ gave birth to a daughter ‘in Cavendish Square’, 27 Sept. 1802.2 The only Hunter listed as resident there at the time was Robert Hunter (1731-1812) originally of Kilmarnock, an eminent merchant and Pitt’s adviser on commercial affairs and commissioner for the Exchequer loan to the West Indies, who certainly had a son called William.3 This William Hunter, who subscribed £2,000 to the loyalty loan for 1797, died 31 May 1815, leaving an orphan daughter, Fanny.4 He was most probably the William Hunter, barrister of the Inner Temple, who wrote travel books and political pamphlets in defence of Pitt’s foreign policy between 1796 and 1812.5 Francis Horner* wrongly reported, 14 Nov. 1807, that a seat at Westbury had ‘gone to a Mr Hunter, related by marriage to Lord Mulgrave and Bob Ward, and who has figured in the Edinburgh Review under favour for some travels. I do not recollect where’.6 This would refer to Hunter’s travels in France in 1792, reviewed by Brougham in April 1804 as a good example of the ‘sedative’ art of writing.7

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. If he was the William Hunter in I. Temple Recs. (1750-1800), 617.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1802), ii. 830.
  • 3. Ibid. (1812), ii. 405; PCC 381 Oxford.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. (1815), i. 571; PCC 446 Pakenham. Hunter’s wife died in 1805 (Gent. Mag. ii. 971).
  • 5. Travels through France, Turkey and Hungary to Vienna in 1792 and several tours in Hungary 1799-1800 was dedicated to his sister Eliza and the above identified certainly had a sister Eliza (m. to John Drury).
  • 6. Horner mss 3, f. 209. William Hunter’s wife was a sister of Lady Mulgrave and Mrs Robert Ward.
  • 7. Edinburgh Review, iv. 212.