William H. Hunt

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William H. Hunt
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Russian Empire
In office
August 23, 1882 – February 27, 1884
PresidentChester A. Arthur
Preceded byJohn W. Foster
Succeeded byAlphonso Taft
29th United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 7, 1881 – April 16, 1882
PresidentJames A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Preceded byNathan Goff Jr.
Succeeded byWilliam E. Chandler
Judge of the Court of Claims
In office
May 15, 1878 – March 11, 1881
Appointed byRutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byEbenezer Peck
Succeeded byGlenni William Scofield
Attorney General of Louisiana
In office
GovernorWilliam Pitt Kellogg
Preceded byAlexander Pope Field
Succeeded byHiram R. Steele
Personal details
William Henry Hunt

(1823-06-12)June 12, 1823
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedFebruary 27, 1884(1884-02-27) (aged 60)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Resting placeOak Hill Cemetery
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma materYale University
Yale Law School

William Henry Hunt (June 12, 1823 – February 27, 1884) was the 29th United States Secretary of the Navy, Minister to the Russian Empire and a judge of the Court of Claims.

Early life[edit]

Hunt was born on June 12, 1823, in Charleston, South Carolina,[1] He was the youngest of five sons born to Louisa (née Gaillard) Hunt (1786–1850), sister of U.S. Senator John Gaillard, and Thomas Hunt (1780–1830), who had been born in Nassau, Bahamas where his grandfather Robert Hunt held the position of Governor-General of the Bahamas for many years. His father was a member of the Louisiana State Legislature, a prominent lawyer, and a successful planter.[2] Among his siblings was Theodore Gaillard Hunt, a U.S. Representative from Louisiana, Randell Hunt, a Louisiana State Senator, Dr. Thomas Hunt Jr., a founder of the Medical College of Louisiana and president of the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University).

He attended Yale University and Yale Law School, then read law with Theodore Hunt and Randell Hunt in New Orleans, Louisiana.[1]


He entered private practice in New Orleans from 1844 to 1878.[1] He served as a colonel in the Confederate States Army in 1862.[1] He was an acting professor of civil law for the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University) in 1866.[1] He was Attorney General of Louisiana from 1876 to 1877.[1]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Hunt was nominated by President Rutherford B. Hayes on April 18, 1878, to a seat on the Court of Claims (later the United States Court of Claims) vacated by Judge Ebenezer Peck.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 15, 1878, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on March 11, 1881, due to his resignation.[1][3]

Secretary of the Navy[edit]

Hunt served as United States Secretary of the Navy from 1881 to 1882, in the cabinets of President James A. Garfield and President Chester A. Arthur.[1]

Minister to Russia[edit]

Hunt served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Russian Empire for the United States Department of State from 1882 to 1884.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Hunt was married to Elizabeth Ridgely Hunt (d. 1864), daughter of Commandant Charles Goodwin Ridgely and the former Cornelia Louisiana Livingston (a granddaughter of Walter Livingston and Chancellor Robert R. Livingston). Together, Elizabeth and William were the parents of seven children, six sons and one daughter, including:[4]

After the death of his first wife in 1864, he remarried to Sarah Harrison Barker (1819–1908), a daughter of New York merchant John T. Adams, in 1866.[2]

Grave of Hunt at Oak Hill Cemetery

He died on February 27, 1884, in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire.[2] His body was returned to the United States and after a funeral at St. John's Church in Washington, D.C. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington.[14][15]

Legacy and honors[edit]

Two ships in the United States Navy have been named USS Hunt for Hunt.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Hunt, William Henry - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  2. ^ a b c "DEATH OF MINISTER HUNT.; HIS CAREER IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LIFE --A MESSAGE FROM THE CZAR". The New York Times. February 28, 1884. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  3. ^ The United States Court of Claims : a history / pt. 1. The judges, 1855-1976 / by Marion T. Bennett / pt. 2. Origin, development, jurisdiction, 1855-1978 / W. Cowen, P. Nichols, M.T. Bennett. Washington, D.C.: Committee on the Bicentennial of Independence and the Constitution of the Judicial Conference of the United States. 1976.
  4. ^ Du Pont, Samuel Francis (1969). Hayes, John Daniel (ed.). Samuel Francis Du Pont: The repulse: 1863-1865. Samuel Francis Du Pont: A Selection from His Civil War Letters. Vol. 3. Eleutherian Mills Historical Library. p. 48.
  5. ^ "Died". The New York Times. February 25, 1916. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  6. ^ "MR. AND MRS.THOMAS HUNT". The New York Times. 15 April 1888. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  7. ^ Jewett, Frederic Clarke (1908). History and Genealogy of the Jewetts of America; a Record of Edward Jewett, of Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, and of his two emigrant sons, Deacon Maximilian and Joseph Jewett, settlers of Rowley, Massachusetts, in 1639; also of Abraham and John Jewett, early settlers of Rowley, and of the Jewetts who have settled in the United States Since the Year 1800. New York: The Grafton Press. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  8. ^ "JUDGE WILLIAM HUNT, PUERTO RICO EX-HEAD". The New York Times. February 5, 1949. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  9. ^ "REAR ADMIRAL HUNT; In Service for 42 Years -- Saw Action in Spanish War". The New York Times. January 19, 1943. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  10. ^ "In Honor of Livingston Hunt". The New York Times. June 23, 1892. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  11. ^ TIMES, Special to THE NEW YORK (February 26, 1953). "LIVINGSTON HUNT JR,". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  12. ^ "DR. WM. KELLY NEWTON DEAD. Former Health Officer of This City and Prominent Paterson Physician". The New York Times. December 21, 1909. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  13. ^ "GAILLARD HUNT IS DEAD.; Prepared History of the World War for State Department". The New York Times. March 21, 1924. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  14. ^ "THE LATE MINISTER HUNT'S BURIAL". The New York Times. April 7, 1884. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  15. ^ "Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown, D.C. (Van Ness) - Lot 163 East" (PDF). oakhillcemeterydc.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-03-02. Retrieved 2022-08-15.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of Louisiana
Succeeded by
Preceded by Judge of the Court of Claims
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by 29th United States Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Russian Empire
Succeeded by