Select Hunter Miscellany

Here are some Hunter stories and accounts over the years:

The First Hunters of Scotland

The first Hunters arrived in Ayrshire in the opening years of the 12th century.  Experts in hunting and field craft with generations of experience in the forests of their land of origin, these Norman lords were invited to Scotland by King David I who had himself been brought up in the Norman court.

In papers relating to the King's Inquisition in 1116, there is mention of a Wilhelmo Venator *William the Hunter, the first laird) who was appointed as Royal Huntsman while his wife had the honor of serving Queen Matilda as a lady in waiting.

William put his expertise to good use in the wild forests and fens, then rich with wildlife, which surrounded the site of the timber fortress that was to become Hunter's Toun or Hunterston.  As recognition of his family's skills, the title of Royal Huntsman was made a hereditary appointment.

John Hunter the Surgeon

John was an excellent anatomist.  His knowledge and skill as a surgeon was based on sound anatomical background.  Among his numerous contributions to medical science are:

  • the study of human teeth
  • an extensive study of inflammation
  • fine work on gun-shot wounds
  • work carried out on venereal diseases
  • an understanding of the nature of digestion and verifying that fats are absorbed into the lacteals
  • the first complete study of the development of a child
  • proof that the maternal and foetal blood supplies are separate
  • and unravelling one of the major anatomical mysteries of the time, the role of the lymphatic system.
After years of hard work he set up his own anatomy school in London in 1764 and started in private surgical practice.  His recognition rose in 1767 when he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society.  In 1768 he was appointed as surgeon to St. George's Hospital.  Later he became a member of the Company of Surgeons.  In 1776 he was appointed surgeon to King George III and in 1789 he was made Surgeon General. 

John Hunter was born in East Kilbride in Scotland and there is a museum there, the Hunter House Museum, dedicated to the work undertaken by him and his brother William.

Christopher Hunter of Medomsly

The Hunters had been at Medomsly in Durham since 1584 and Christopher Hunter was born there in 1675.  He practiced as a doctor in Stockton and then, possessed of a good fortune, devoted himself to literary endeavors.  He died at Shotley, just across the border in Northumberland, in 1757 and his tombstone is to be found there.

"Here lie the remains of
Christopher Hunter MD
a learned and judicious Antiquary and Physician.
He was the only child of Thomas Hunter,
of Medomsly, Gent. by Margaret his second wife.
He married Elizabeth, one of the daughters
and co-heiresses of John Elrington of Aspershields esq.
by whom he had two sons and a daughter.
He died the 13th of July, An. Dom. 1757,
in the 83rd year of his age."

Henry Lannoy Hunter

From the marriage of John Hunter of St. Olave parish in Southwark with Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Timothy Lannoy of Hammersmith, came their eldest son Henry Lannoy Hunter.  He was a merchant in the Levant, spending much time of his time abroad in Aleppo.   There is a painting by Andrea Soldi, dated around 1735, of him in Oriental dress, resting from hunting with a manservant holding his game.

The following were the notes relating to this painting when it was auctioned in 2004.

"Hunting was the particular pastime of the English merchants in which fellow Europeans, Turkish officials and the Beduin ‘King of the Arabs’ were invited to participate.  After the hunt lavish picnics would be eaten in tents.  Here Hunter sits in full Turkish dress (it is unlikely that all elements of it would have been worn when hunting), surrounded by his trophies of the day held aloft by his Christian possibly Armenian servant."

A little after this time Henry Lannoy Hunter purchased the Beech Hill estate in Berkshire, presumably from the profits of his business.

Hunters in America

Hunters arrrived in America in approximate equal part from England, Scotland, and Ireland.  The table below shows the computed numbers.


Captain John Hunter of the First Fleet

In 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip of the First Fleet, accompanied by his second captain John Hunter, followed in the footsteps of Captain Cook and sailed into Botany Bay.  Later they sailed north and entered Port Jackson.  As Hunter wrote in his diary:

"There was nothing at Botany Bay to recommend it as a place in which to form an infant colony."

That was on January 22.  Just four days later a new country was born when the British flag was raised in Farm Cove on what Australians now celebrate as Australia's Day, January 26.  What is not given much coverage in Australian history is the fact that the ten ships of the First Fleet entered Port Jackson under the command of Captain Hunter, Arthur Philip having returned one day earlier on Supply.

Within two days of the setting up of the colony Hunter had begun a detailed survey of the harbor.

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