HUNT, William - I52798

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William HUNT

Hunt Coat of Arms
A Saxon word Hunter, a word used in connection with the animal to mean the pursuit of all game. The family took its name from their prowess in the hunting field. Early in the reign of James I was born William Hunt, 5th Great Grandfather of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. He was christened 27 Jan. 1605 into the Church of England at Halifax, Yorkshire, England, the youngest son of Robert and Jane Fysher HUNT.

At this time there were three main religious groups in England: The Church of England, the Catholics, and the Puritans. The Puritans, so called because they wished to purify the church, were middle class people of education and importance. During the reigns of James I and son, Charles I, they greatly increased in number and influence. Their public preachings were directed against the dissoluteness, levity, and luxury of the times. They particularly wanted a more serious observance of the Sabbath. They were equally against the Divine Right of Kings which both James and Charles proclaimed as the law under which they ruled making them absolute monarchs with no limitations from Parliament. The Puritans made themselves remarkably unpopular with such views.

Economic disaster came upon the middle class because of the economic squeeze and deflation which the despotic policies of Charles I forced on them. This coupled with the harsh laws against non conformists, forced the puritans to see that the time might come when England would no longer be a safe place for them to live. It was resolved to start a Puritan colony in America where land could be given away in unlimited quantities governed only by ones capacity to make it productive. The Massachusetts Bay Company was organized, a grant of land and a charter were obtained from the King, and in 1629 the first settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was made at Salem, Massachusetts. Many of those who came invested or bought into the company.

During these years William grew up and in 1630 at the age of 25 he married >Elizabeth BEST. Two sons, Samuel and Nehemiah, were born to them. No records have been found of this marriage or of the christening of the sons, perhaps, because by this time William and Elizabeth were Puritans. They were breaking the law when all of their christenings, marriage, and burial dates were not made and recorded in the State Church of England. "Fines and pillory, mutilation and torture, were remorselessly resorted to, to compel conformity to the ceremonies of the established Church." Consequently, when they were done in any other church there were no records kept, or if they were, they were kept secretly where they could be easily and quickly destroyed if necessary.

As the anticipation of pursuing their religious ideals free from the crown intensified, a reverend, Peter Bulkley, a life long and intimate friend of William and Elizabeth became a heavy investor in the enterprise. He was a large landowner and was willing to sacrifice his comfort and security for his religious convictions. The promotion of the settlement was successful as the Peter Bulkely Company sailed for America in two ships on May 12, 1635. The Hunt family were members of his parish and set sail with him for a three month journey. A journey in which the necessities of life were rationed such as their main stable diet, corn mush and water.

William and Elizabeth had another son, William, but records are unclear as to whether the child was born just before sailing time or during the sail to the Americas. This child did not live to maturity, but died at the new settlement. The Bulkely Company landed in Boston where they stayed a month in order to obtain a grant from the government to start the new settlement which afterwards they would purchase from the Indians in order to acquire full title. The General Court at Boston granted them the incorporation of land at Musketaquid for a settlement. They procured a team and broke trail through the wilderness into the forest away from the seashore. The trail was incredibly rough, timber was thick and shredded their clothing and even tearing skin. The nights were cold and there was no place to retreat in as much as the trip was made during the fall and winter. They were not able to have shoes so their feet were usually wrapped in skin. Once they reached their destination they made crude mud dugouts in the banks along the river to finish out the winter. They copied Indian wigwams that had a total of 8 square feet of living area. They had a sandy roof that protected them from light rain. When there was heavy rain then the sand would turn to mud and run down their living room. An open fire took up three of their square footage. Their subsistence was very meager usually consisting of corn made into mush or bread. During the spring they made their homes. This community was later named what is now known as "Concord, Massachusetts." William chose Ponkawtasset Hill to be the site of their home and homestead. The home built here still stands today with only four rooms.

He left his homestead, where on 2 June 1641, he met several men to take his oath of fidelity. William met with John Baker, who was to become the Prophet's fourth great grandfather, John Palmer, who was to also to become a fourth great grandparent. This oath would allow them to be Freeman or being allowed to vote making it possible for them to elect their officials and make the colony's laws. Thereafter he "petitioned the Governor and Assembly concerning matters of finance," and throughout the years we find him taking his place in the building of the commonwealth and shaping its destinies.

The Hunts, like their neighbors, found that their fields that were on the plains, were not fertile and the crops they planted there did not do well. When they cleared the beautiful green grass and other growth from the meadows, they found that they were too wet for crops. In 1644, after nine long years of suffering so many privations and laboring so hard that they were actually shortening their lives, some became so disheartened that they gave up trying and longer to survive in this forbidding place. Some of them went back to England, others moved to older settlements and others tried the greener grass of the newer settlements. William, however, had made a beginning here and he and his family had suffered too much to abandon what they had built up. He had made a Covenant to help establish a church here and he and his family did not take any kind of a promise lightly. God had been very mindful of them and they trusted in Him and their future completely. At this time William bought the cleared lands of some of those who left.

Later, in 1659, the Reverend Bulkely died and many felt they could not survive without the counsel, support of this leader. These became dark days for many of the fainthearted and they became so discouraged that they sold their possessions for very little and left. Once again, William had the opportunity of buying, dirt cheap, the lands, houses and improvements of these people. In keeping these properties productive he was doing a great public service and helping to make this venture successful. In this way he became a large land holder, a steadying force in the community and he gave courage and strength to all of his associates.

On February 27, 1661, after 31 years of marriage, Elizabeth died. In Oct. or Nov. 1664 William married a lady who had been twice widowed, Mercy Hurd Brigham RICE. She has too become a wealthy land owner. William moved to her home in nearby Marlboro, Massachusetts. After 3 years of marriage with Mercy he died in Oct. 1669 leaving a large estate to his three sons. His wife Mercy and daughter Elizabeth received goods, but daughter Hannah was not mentioned in the will.


  1. Nehemiah, born 1631, died 6 March 1718; married Mary Toll.
  2. Samuel, born in 1633, married Elizabeth REDDING.
  3. William, died young at Concord.
  4. Elizabeth, married 1 April 1664, John, son of Ellis and Grace Barron of Grafton. She died 18 August 1704.
  5. Hannah, born 12 February 1641.
  6. Isaac, born 1647, died 12 December 1680, married 1667 Mary Stone, and resided at Concord, as did his brother Nehemiah.

Samuel HUNT

II. Samuel HUNT, was an aggressive man. He was aggressive in his business activities, his civic responsibilities, and his convictions. As a young child of four he had crossed the ocean with his Puritan parents and his older brother, Nehemiah. He had trudged the weary difficult miles from Boston to Musketaquid of Concord and with them had survived that first terrible winter. Here Samuel learned to pray. His parents unwavering faith taught him that God is an actual reality and was with them always. If God gave them what they had requested they praised Him with grateful hearts. If he seemed to withhold a blessing from them, they thanked Him sincerely for they were sure He was trying them, "Lest we should grow secure and neglect the Lord through abundance of prosperity!"

Upon their first arrival the HUNTS were introduced to Indian canoes. They became the settlers only means of transportation until roads and bridges could be built. Samuel could handle one at a very early age and used the canoe as his play toy. Samuel became a "Freeman" at the young age of 23 on 3 May 1654. Just two months later his Uncle Robert BEST left all his estate to the children of William and Elizabeth HUNT. Indicating his confidence in Samuel he was appointed at his executor. Samuel sold his inheritance to invest in his "hearts desire", the river where he spent many of his youthful day canoeing. In 1655, he was in Ipswich arranging for land, other property, grants and privileges in Great Cove. His love of the river taught him of the need for shipping and wharfing facilities. He knew where there was a great cove on the river where wharves could be built and a fishing industry established. Here was his dream come true. Where William was a great land holder and a sturdy unit in founding communities, Samuel was a developer of industries. The Great Cove was later renamed and still named today as Hunt Coves. Samuel's land and most of his industries were located just east of the cove. Joseph and Agnes REDDING had land and a homesite here. Their only child, Elizabeth, grew up in this area. Samuel liked the qualities he saw in Elizabeth and sometime in 1656 they married.

Samuel's CHILDREN:

  1. On 17 Nov. 1657, in Ipswich Samuel, Jr. was born much to the delight of all grandparents and parents in as much as he was the first grandchild.
  2. William, was born on 23 April 1660 and six days later he died.
  3. . Elizabeth was born 29 May 1661. She was given this name in honor of her grandmother who died a few months earlier. Elizabeth married Francis PALMER. See the PALMER sketch for continuation of this line.
  4. . As was customary of the day, the next male child was given the name of the lost son; therefore in 1663, William was born.
  5. . Joseph was born 20 October 1665, named after Elizabeth's father.
  6. . Peter was born 8 August 1668 and died 8 March 1669.
  7. . Peter named after the above loss was born 14 May 1670, however he did not live very long either. He died somewhere between three and eleven.

Samuel was involved in his community and included civic responsibilities upon his business duties. He was reputed to be a volatile man. He had many jury duties, Surveyor of Highways, builder of highways, roads, and bridges. He also had occasional court appointed positions as property appraiser for estate settlements. Samuel served as a militiaman until he had a disagreement with his sergeant. Charges were brought up and Samuel with others were disenfranchised. {Lost their Freeman status} Samuel appealed but lost and he was not reinstated until 14 years later when his son received his. Samuel was in court several times with his neighbor John Lee apparently over the handling of cattle and sheep in which they came to blows. Both were taken to court and feeling each was right neither would admit their wrong. All parties were fined a monthly bond. There were many other instances of court appearances due to disorderly behavior.

In 1675, King Phillip, crafty, sagacious, former friend of the colonists and chief of 30 tribes, joined by many other New England tribes began his last ditch stand against the encroaching Englishmen. At this point the militia training every year paid off. Despite their training 600 colonists lost their lives and 13 towns were completely destroyed. The Confederacy of New England had already taken steps to raise a defensive force of 1000 men. A great strain was put on the town of Ipswich to meet the heavy demands of the war. The men had to be "fitted with arms, ammunition and cloaths..." A warning was given to the parents, that if their sons were not ready to go they must go in their place to make up the 289 men which was Ipswich's proportion. So Samuel and his son Samuel marched away with Major Appleton on the eighth of December 1675. Many of the battles with the Englishmen, father and son fought sided by side in hand to hand combat. Eventually both received the rank of "Ensign".

Both survived the War and lived to an old age. Samuel was hearty and robust in his old age. Elizabeth died after 51 years on 15 Feb. 1707. Samuel feared no man regardless of his position. He stood for what he considered to be right against any foe of odds and regardless of any circumstances of consequences.

Elizabeth HUNT

III. Elizabeth HUNT born at Ipswich 29 May 1661, married 3 December 1682 to Francis PALMER of Rowley, Massachusetts. See PALMER sketch for continuation of this family.

  SOURCE:  The Ancestry & Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale by Audentia Smith Anderson (1926)