Hon. William Henry Hunt, Jr.

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Hon. William Henry Hunt, Jr.

Birthplace: New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
Death: February 04, 1949 (91)
Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Lt. Col. CSA William Henry Hunt and Elizabeth Augusta Hunt
Husband of Gertrude Hunt
Father of Elizabeth Ridgely Thompson; William Henry Hunt, Jr.; Helen Upshur Conrad and Gertrude Livingston Hunt
Brother of Ridgely Hunt; Randall Hunt; Thomas Hunt; Rear Admiral Livingston Hunt; Cornelia Ridgely Newton and 1 other

Managed by: Kevin Lawrence Hanit
Last Updated:

About Hon. William Henry Hunt, Jr.


illiam Henry Hunt (November 5, 1857 – February 4, 1949) was a state and federal judge and a territorial governor of Puerto Rico.

Early law practice

Hunt was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1857. He did not go to a law school, but instead read law in 1880 and immediately began a private practice at Fort Benton in the Montana Territory. In a year, he was supplementing his private practice with a position as collector of customs for both the Idaho and Montana Territories. He added yet another item to his professional plate as he was a member of the Montana Constitutional Convention of 1884. In 1885, he gave up his position a collector of customs to become attorney general of the Montana Territory. In 1887, he gave up both his private practice and his position as territorial attorney general.

When Montana became a state in 1889, Hunt briefly served as a member of the state legislature before becoming a judge of the First Montana State Judicial District later that year. In 1894, he was promoted to Justice of the Montana Supreme Court.

Secretary and Governor of Puerto Rico

In 1900, Hunt was appointed by President William McKinley to be the Secretary of Puerto Rico. A year later, he was promoted to the Governorship of Puerto Rico, succeeding Charles Herbert Allen. Hunt served as Governor of Puerto Rico for three years, from September 15, 1901 to July 4, 1904. During his governorship, Hunt signed numerous Executive Orders, including those that made Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day legal holidays in Puerto Rico.

Federal judicial appointments

Hunt returned to his role as a judge when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to the bench of the United States District Court for the District of Montana on April 14, 1904; Hunt was confirmed five days later. On March 30, 1910, Hunt became an associate judge of the United States Court of Customs Appeals. Then, on December 12, 1910, Hunt was nominated by President William Howard Taft to the newly created United States Commerce Court. He was confirmed on January 31, 1911. The Commerce Court was abolished a little less than three years later, on December 13, 1913. Nonetheless, as a judge of the Commerce Court, Hunt was also an at-large judge of the United States courts of appeals and remained in that position once the Commerce Court was abolished. The Chief Justice of the United States, Edward Douglass White, assigned Hunt to the Ninth Circuit.

On January 31, 1928, Hunt, still assigned to the Ninth Circuit, assumed senior status. Ten months later, Hunt retired from federal service on November 30, 1928. Hunt went back to private practice, this time in San Francisco, California. He retired from his private practice in 1942. Hunt died in 1949.



William H. Hunt was born in 1857 in New Orleans. He was the son of William Hunt, Secretary of the Navy and minister to Russia in the administration of President Garfield and Elizabeth Goodwin (1825-1864). He graduated from Yale University in 1878 and began his practice of law in Montana. In 1881 he was collector of customs from Montana and Idaho. In 1882, he married Gertrude Upshur of Brooklyn, New York. From 1885 to 1887 he was Attorney General of Montana. In 1889 he was a member of the Montana Legislature. From 1889 to 1894 he was judge of the First Judicial District of Montana. From 1894 to 1900 he was a justice of the Montana Supreme Court. In 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed his Governor of Puerto Rico, a position he held until 1904 when he was appointed United States District Judge for the district of Montana. He became an associate judge of the United States Court of Customs Appeals. In December 1910, he became judge of the Ninth United States Circuit Court of Appeals in California. He died at the age of 91 years on Friday, February 3, 1949 in Charlottesville, Virginia after a short illness. He had lived in Charlottesville since he retired in 1941. He was survived by three daughters, Mrs. Edward (Elizabeth) Tayloe, of Shadwell, Virginia; Mrs. Hunt (Gertrude) Knox of the District of Columbia and Mrs. Barnaby (Helen) Conrad of Santa Barbara, California and one son, William, H. Hunt Jr. of California. Services were held at St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville. Interment was in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, District of Columbia. Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sunday, February 6, 1949.

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Hon. William Henry Hunt, Jr.'s Timeline

November 5, 1857
New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
July 22, 1883
Age 25
Missouri, United States
April 12, 1886
Age 28
February 28, 1889
Age 31
Helena, Lewis and Clark County, Montana, United States
November 19, 1898
Age 41
February 4, 1949
Age 91
Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia, United States
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States