This ancient surname is of pre 7th century English origins. It is usually an occupational surname for one who hunted wildlife for a living. In the Middle Ages the term "hunter" was an official title, and there were different categories from game hunters on foot to the mounted huntsmen, who pursued stags and wild boar. The penalty for hunting without permission in the royal parks, could be death. The word "Hunta" was sometimes used as a personal name. It appears in the placenames "Huntingdon" and "Huntingfield". These translate as "Hunta's Hill" and "the land of the Hunta people". Amongst the interesting surname recordings over the centuries, is that of Leonard Hunt, who was one of the earliest emigrants to the new Virginia colony. He embarked from London, England, on the ship "Mathew" on May 15th 1635. Examples of notable namebearers listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography for Great Britain" include Roger Hunt, the Speaker of the House of Commons in 1433, Sir John Hunt, knighted by King James 1st in 1611, and James Henry Leigh Hunt, who first published the works of Keats and Shelley in 1816. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Humphrey le Hunte. This was dated 1203, in the charter rolls of the county of Sussex, during the reign of King John of England, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216.
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