Reverend Robert Hunt, of Jamestown

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Reverend Robert Hunt

Also Known As: "Of Heathfield", "Sussex", "England"
Birthplace: England (United Kingdom)
Death: circa May 1608 (31-48)
Jamestown, James City, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Jamestown, James City, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Hunt, I and Unknown
Husband of Elizabeth Hunt
Father of Capt. William Hunt, of Charles City; Ann Harris; Thomas Hunt and Elizabeth Hunt
Brother of Captain Thomas Hunt; Angelica Cobbs and Stephen Hunt

Occupation: Reverend, Jamestown Founder, Anglican Vicar
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Reverend Robert Hunt, of Jamestown (not completely flattering) says: Rev. Robert Hunt's parents are unknown.

Degree from Trinity Hall, Cambridge, c. 1592; LL.B. degree 1606 (Athenae Cantabrigienses, vol. 2, p. 493).

Traditionally Oxford and Cambridge did not see common law as worthy of study, and included coursework in law only in the context of canon and civil law and for the purpose of the study of philosophy or history only.

Angelica Hunt had at least one brother, Stephen Hunt of Chislete,County Kent. It is reported she had at least two others; the Reverend Robert Hunt who migrated to America on the original voyage to Jamestown, in 1607; and Thomas Hunt (who apparently was *not* the one who arrived in Jamestown on the second supply ship in September 1608 - he died before Jan 1 1608). ["Master Hunt", no first name given, has also been interpreted as the Reverend's young son, and may possibly be the same person as Lieut. Thomas Hunt .]

From the records of the Jamestowne Society:

The Reverend Richard Hakluyt, prebendary of Westminster, was selected by the Virginia Company as its first rector with the approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Reverend Hakluyt with the approval of the Archbishop selected as the first Vicar, the Reverend Robert Hunt,A.M., who came to Jamestowne as the pastor of the colonists. Robert Hunt had been Vicar of the parish of Reculver in Kent from 1594 to1602. In 1602 he was appointed Vicar of All Saints Church at Old Heathfield, East Sussex.

Robert Hunt, beloved and admired of all, sailed as chaplain of the fleet. The three ships fell down the Thames to the Downs (less than 12miles from Old Heathfield) and anchored there due to contrary winds.Then, they suffered great storms during the six weeks they were insight of England, and many of the company would have given up the voyage but for the "true devoted example" of Parson Hunt who was made so "weake and sicke" by the rough weather that "few expected him to recover," yet "all this could never force from him so much as a seeming desire to leave the business."

On May 14 the colonists disembarked on a peninsula that became Jamestowne. Chaplain Hunt dedicated the spot to the glory of God, and they "began thereon ... in the name of God to raise a fortresse."

The London Company had a provision that each new settlement should become a parish with its own rector. Robert Hunt was the first rector at Jamestowne.

Captain John Smith wrote of the men at worship in the open air until a chapel could be erected. He describes the scene of a celebration of the Holy Communion, with the Holy Table standing under an old sail lashed from tree to tree, with a bar of wood fastened between two trees as a pulpit, and men kneeling on the ground before their first altar. Services were held daily, according to the rules of the Book of Common Prayer. The law of the Church required the Holy Communion to be celebrated at least three times during the year; on Christmas, Easter,and Whitsunday.

The Virginia Company kept constantly in the forefront their plan to Christianize the Indians. Their plan as they began to put into effect included the establishment of parishes and the selection of fit clergymen to go overseas; to establish a University with a college therein for Indians; and to take Indian youths into English families to fit and prepare them for their college.

The Reverend Hunt was living on March 9, 1608 when the colonists returned from a trip to see Powhatan to find that a fire had destroyed nearly everything. Smith writes that "Good Master Hunt, our preacher, lost his library and all he had but the clothes on his backe: yet none never heard him repine at his losse."

The Reverend Hunt must have died soon after the above incident as the will of the Reverend Hunt was probated in England on July 14, 1608. In this will he lists his wife, Elizabeth, and a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Thomas. His brother, Steven Hunt of Reculver, was to be overseer, if his wife were unable to serve. This Thomas Hunt may have come to Virginia, as a Thomas Hunt received 50ac in Accomack in1636 for his personal adventure. Thomas Hunt may have been living as late as 1657 in Accomack County, Virginia.

Also in support of the position that the Rev. Robert Hunt was in fact the brother of Angelica Hunt Cobbs is that fact that on 06 June 1599, one Robert Hunt "clergyman", gave testimony as to the facts surrounding the writing of the Last Will & Testament of Thomas Cobbs,Angelica Hunt's father in law.

The Reverend Robert Hunt: The First Chaplain at Jamestown


The Reverend Robert Hunt gives thanks with other English settlers at Cape Henry, Virginia in April 1607. Robert Hunt (c. 1568-1608), clergyman of the Church of England, was Chaplain of the expedition that founded Jamestown, Virginia. The expedition included people from Old Heathfield, East Sussex, England. The Reverend Hunt had become the Vicar of Heathfield, County of Sussex, in 1602, which title he held as Chaplain of the Jamestown Settlement. He had been Vicar of Reculver, County of Kent, England, 1594-1602. He lit the candle for the Anglican Church in Virginia (United States); he first lifted his voice in public thanksgiving and prayer on April 29, 1607, when the settlers planted a cross at Cape Henry, which they named after the Prince of Wales.

Once settled in the fort, the whole company, except those who were on guard, attended regular prayer and services led by the Reverend Hunt. Captain John Smith described worship services that took place in the open air until a chapel could be erected. Captain Smith's religious feelings were conventional but deeply felt. His piety asserted itself in his writings constantly; he saw the hand of God at work in his life, and he believed it had intervened to save the colonies. "He concluded that God, who had thwarted Spanish attempts to settle North America, had reserved that Region for the Protestant English."

Captain John Smith described the Reverend Hunt as "our honest, religious and courageous divine." The Reverend Hunt was a peacemaker, often bringing harmony to a quarreling group of men. The Chronicler wrote: "Many were the mischiefs that daily sprung from their ignorant spirits; but the good doctrines and exhortations of our Preacher Minister Hunt reconciled them and caused Captain Smith to be admitted to the Council June 20th. The next day, June 21, third Sunday after Trinity, under the shadow of an old sail, Robert Hunt celebrated the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. It is impossible to rate too highly the character and work of the aforesaid Robert Hunt, Chaplain of the Colony." Hunt's virtuous character was well-known and respected by his fellow settlers. It was evidenced by his behavior both before and after the accidental fire in the fort in January, 1608. The fire burned the palisades with their arms, bedding apparel, and many private provisions. "Good master Hunt lost all his library, and all that he had but the clothes on his back, yet none ever did see him repine at his loss...Yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening, every Sunday two sermons and every three months the Holy Communion till our Minister died."

Historians believe that Robert Hunt died in the spring of 1608. His will, probated in July 1608, is the only documented evidence of his death. Scholars suggest that certain conditions imposed upon his bequest to his wife may indicate an unhappy state of affairs in the home, which could have fueled the Reverend Hunt's desire to go to Virginia. However, it seems more likely that his desire to set a good Christian example, rather than his personal problems, motivated him to travel to the new world.

This faithful and courageous priest had nothing to say of himself, leaving no writings and no portrait. All authorities, including Governor Edward Maria Wingfield, First President of the Council at Jamestown, and Captain John Smith, who agreed in nothing else, agreed in praise of this worthy man. They wrote: "Our factions were oft qualified, and our wants and greater extremities so comforted that they seemed easie in comparison of what we endured after his memorable death...."

Bridenbaugh, Carl. Jamestown 1544-1699. New York: Oxford Press, 1980.

Bryden, George M. Religious Life of Virginia In The Seventeenth Century The Faith Of Our Fathers. Williamsburg, Virginia: Virginia 350th Anniversary Celebration Corp., 1957.

Chorlev, E. Clowes. "The Planting Of The Church In Virginia," William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol. X, No. 3, July 1930.

Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago, Illinois.

Goodwin, Edward Lewis, Rev. The Colonial Church in Virginia. Milwaukee and London: 1927.

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. "Brasse Without But Golde Within, The Writings of Captain John Smith," Virginia Calvacade. Winter, 1989.

Smith, Charles W.E. Robert Hunt Vicar Of Jamestown. New York: The National Council, 1957.

Smith, John. "Advertisements For The Unexperienced, Or The Pathway To Erect A Plantation," Smith's Works, Vol. II. New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.

Wingfield, Edward Maria. "A Discourse Of Virginia," Smith's Works, 1608-1631 Birmingham: J. Wilson & Son, 1884.

~~ Our Ancestral Heritage ~~

Rev. Robert Hunt was the Anglican Chaplain of England of the expedition which founded Jamestown, Virginia on April 29, 1607, in what became the United States of America in the state of Virginia. Rev. Hunt dedicated the new land to Jesus Christ and to preaching the Gospel in the new land and throughout the world. Before sailing to America, he resided in Sussex, England where he was Vicar of the parish church of Heathfield.

Rev. Robert Hunt sailed with his fellow colonist aboard the ship Susan Constant.

Jamestown Church, James City, Virginia

The Island (which in its great period was a peninsula) is rich in religious shrines, for, in addition to the tower and ruins of two churches --one of which in the seventeenth century almost became the first of our American cathedrals because of a king's gratitude for the Old Dominion's loyalty--there are: the Robert Hunt Shrine; the Memorial Cross dedicated to those buried (possibly 1609-10) on the "Third Ridge"; countless other graves; various religious objects discovered near the church and now exhibited in the Visitor Center; and the wattle-and-daub church in the reconstructed James Fort at the Festival park on the mainland.

Husband of Elizabeth (Edwards) Hunt ~ married March 09, 1597, Bredin, Canterbury, England

Rev. Robert and Elizabeth (Edwards) Hunt had 3 children and they were:

1. Thomas Hunt (b. ca. 1594 - d. 1666) 2. William Hunt (b. 1599 - d. 1676), m. 1st., Sarah Ann Harris and 2nd., Judith Burton (m. 2nd. Richard Burton, Sr.) 3. Elizabeth Hunt (b. ca. 1602 - d. unk.)


Rev. Robert Hunt's parents are unknown. His brothers and sister were ...

  • 1. Rev. Stephen Hunt (m. unknown) 2. Angelica Hunt, #102765930 (m. Ambrose Cobbs, #102766196) 3. Thomas Hunt

Rev. Stephen Hunt's daughter Elizabeth Hunt (m. Henry Rose)

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Reverend Robert Hunt, of Jamestown's Timeline

England (United Kingdom)
Reculver, Kent, England, or, Heathfield, Sussex, England
England (United Kingdom)
England, United Kingdom
Reculver, Kent, England, United Kingdom
May 1608
Age 40
Jamestown, James City, Virginia, United States
Jamestown Original Burial Ground, Jamestown, James City, Virginia, United States