George Ward Hunt

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George Ward Hunt
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
29 February 1868 – 1 December 1868
Prime MinisterBenjamin Disraeli
Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli
Succeeded byRobert Lowe
Personal details
Born(1825-07-30)30 July 1825
Buckhurst, Berkshire
Died29 July 1877(1877-07-29) (aged 51)
Bad Homburg, Germany
Political partyConservative
SpouseAlice Eden (d. 1894)
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
Hunt as caricatured by Carlo Pellegrini in Vanity Fair, March 1871

George Ward Hunt (30 July 1825 – 29 July 1877) was a British statesman of the Conservative Party who was Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Lord of the Admiralty in the first and second ministries of Benjamin Disraeli.

Early life[edit]

He was born at Buckhurst in Berkshire, the eldest son of the Rev. George Hunt of Winkfield, and his wife Emma Gardiner, daughter of Samuel Gardiner of Coombe Lodge, Oxfordshire. His father was rector of Barningham and then Boughton. He was educated at Eton College.[1][2][3] He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford in 1844.[4] As an undergraduate, he went on vacation reading parties with Arthur Hugh Clough: in 1845 at Grasmere, in 1846 at Castleton of Braemar and in 1847 at Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness. In Clough's poem The Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich, he is identified with the outsize character Hobbes. Hobbes dances in a kilt, and Hunt painted a self-portrait of himself wearing one.[2][5]

Hunt graduated B.A. in 1848, and M.A. in 1851;[4] on 21 November of that year he was called to the bar at the Inner Temple.[1]

Political career[edit]

Hunt entered the House of Commons in 1857 as Member of Parliament for Northamptonshire North, at the end of the year, having made several unsuccessful attempts previously. He was a Secretary to the Treasury from 1866 to 1868, in the ministry of the 14th Earl of Derby. Regarded as "sensible but dull", according to Derby's biographer Hawkins, he was then appointed to the Exchequer when Disraeli took office.[6]

There is a Westminster tradition that, on leaving Downing Street for the House of Commons on Budget Day, the Chancellor of the Exchequer shows the assembled crowd the ministerial red box containing the Budget speech, by holding it aloft.[7] When Hunt presented his one and only Budget speech, he kept the House of Commons waiting, and it is supposed that he had left the speech behind.[1] When he spoke, the Budget presentation was the shortest recorded.[8]

Hunt was appointed to the Admiralty for Disraeli's second ministry, serving from 1874 until his death from gout in 1877. Although he was considered competent at finance, his turn at the Admiralty was, for a long time, not much admired. That attitude has, however, been revised.[9] Canada's Ward Hunt Island was named for him. It is off Ellesmere Island, and of interest for the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf observed in 1876 by Pelham Aldrich.[10]

Hunt died at Bad Homburg, Germany, in July 1877, on the eve of his 52nd birthday. His wife died in 1894.


Hunt married Alice, daughter of the Right Reverend Robert Eden, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, in 1857. They had five sons and five daughters,[1] including Sir Allen Thomas Hunt, an Admiral in the Royal Navy.

Hunt's residence was Wadenhoe House in Northamptonshire.


  1. ^ a b c d Matthew, H. C. G. "Hunt, George Ward". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14192. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b "Northamptonshire Past & Present 1976" (PDF). p. 349.
  3. ^ "Hunt, George (1810–1820) (CCEd Person ID 78237)". The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540–1835. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b Foster, Joseph (1888–1892). "Hunt, George Ward" . Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715–1886. Oxford: Parker and Co – via Wikisource.
  5. ^ Kenny, Anthony (2005). Arthur Hugh Clough: A Poet's Life. A&C Black. pp. 103 and 114. ISBN 978-0-8264-8269-3.
  6. ^ Hawkins, Angus (2008). The Forgotten Prime Minister: The 14th Earl of Derby: Volume II: Achievement, 1851-1869. OUP Oxford. p. 367. ISBN 978-0-19-920441-0.
  7. ^ "The Budget and Parliament".
  8. ^ Wilding, Norman W.; Laundy, Philip (1968). An Encyclopaedia of Parliament. F. A. Praeger. p. 62.
  9. ^ Eric J. Grove, The Royal Navy since 1815, p. 57-59.
  10. ^ Williams, Richard S.; Ferrigno, Jane G. (2002). Glaciers of North America. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-607-98290-9.


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Northamptonshire North
With: Lord Burghley 1857–1867
Sackville Stopford-Sackville 1867–1877
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Preceded by First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by