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Biography - Major General, Sir Robert Orby Hunter

Biography - Major General, Sir Robert Orby Hunter

Brian Hunter (View posts)
Posted: 1145647922000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 1147604436000
Surnames: Hunter, Orby
ROBERT HUNTER was very much in the Clan tradition of being an officer and a gentleman, serving overseas for much of his life. Born in 1664, he was the son of James Hunter and grandson of Robert Hunter, 20th Laird of Hunterston.

His first military appointment on record was as aide-major in Lord Cardross,s regiment of dragoons in Flanders on 19 April 1689. A year later Robert became captain in Colonel John Hill's regiment of foot and on 28 February 1694 he transferred to the Royal Scots Dragoons with the same rank. Just over a year later on 28 May, he was appointed major of brigade in Flanders and promoted brevet Lieutenant colonel on 1 January 1703.

During the early years of the 18th century, there was a refugee problem in England that is mirrored in many ways by the current difficulties with asylum seekers. The refugees at the time were from the Palatinate of the Rhine and were a source of trouble and concern to the English Government. To relieve the situation, Robert proposed in a letter dated 17 December 1709 to take 3,000 of them for settlement along the banks of the River Hudson in the New York colony. His plan was approved, Robert was appointed Governor of New York, and sailed to America with the refugees early in 1710.

He reported in November of that year that they had established themselves along the Hudson close to great pine forests. Their purpose was to burn pine to produce tar, and Robert stated that for a subsidy of £15,000 per year, the settlements could produce enough tar for the English Navy forever. Orphans were adopted by families who guaranteed to maintain and educate them and each worker had a personal account to ensure that subsistence money received would be repaid in the form of their labour in the pinewoods.

Robert was enthusiastic about the project and predicted that the colonists would increase in numbers because they were very healthy. In 1712 he reported that they were all now living in good houses near the forests and had felled over 100,000 pine trees for tar burning. It was proposed that some of the colonists should be employed in the Navy Yard in New York, with the daily pay rate at 6d for adults and 4p for children.

However, there was a downside to this progress. Robert complained that he had spent virtually all of his personal money and his credit had been stretched to the limit. The Indians in the Hudson Valley were becoming restless and threatening, and his officers were nearing starvation because their pay was so much in arrears. He had constant disputes with the New York Assembly, which repeatedly refused to approve the necessary financial appropriations for the Hudson colonists unless what they claimed was their inherent right to determine the disposal of the money was granted.

Robert seems to have retained his enthusiasm and optimism despite these problems, and always enjoyed eventually surmounting obstacles that had initially seemed impossible. A prescient observation of his was that the attitude of the Assembly and the disagreements
about who was ultimately in charge and making the final decisions would one day lead to the secession of the American colonies. Despite his wrangling with the New York legislators, Robert personally was well liked, and American writers of the day described him as a man of good temper and discernment and one of the best and most able Governors of New York. He had to compromise eventually in 1715 and concede that the Assembly could decide the application of the revenues that they voted.

Robert returned home in 1719 with the rank of brigadier general, rising to major general 10 years later when he was appointed Governor of Jamaica and captain of the independent companies garrisoning the island. He died there on 31 March 1734, one month short of his 65th birthday. Robert had married Elizabeth Orby, daughter of Sir Thomas Orby of Crowland Abbey, Lincolnshire, and widow of Brigadier General the Lord Hay of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, some time after 1706. She apparently predeceased him. His will, probated in November 1734, left considerable property at Chertsey, including the patronage of the church living, to his son, Thomas Orby Hunter, MP for Winchelsea, from whom descended the family of Orby-Hunter. Robert left £5,000 to his daughters, Henrietta and Charlotte.

And, being the tenacious Scottish soldier and gentleman that he was, ever mindful of the bawbees, Robert pointed out in his will that he was owed £21,000 by the Crown, being the sum he personally contributed to the upkeep of the colonists of the Palatinate of New York. This debt had been acknowledged by a Mr Hartley of the Treasury but was never repaid.

Re: Biography - Lady Elizabeth Orby Hunter.

Brian Hunter (View posts)
Posted: 1147288204000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 1147604470000
Surnames: Hunter, Orby, Hay, Bellenden, Sloper

The Hon. Elizabeth Orby was born about 1677, probably at Crowland Abbey in Lincolnshire where her father Sir Thomas Orby, 2nd bart. was Lord of the Manor of Crowland.

Elizabeth was about 19 when she married , Lord John Hay, a Brig.-general under the 1st Duke of Marlborough. He commanded the famous regiment of dragoons, afterwards called the Scots Greys, at the Battle of Ramillies, Belgium, 23rd May 1706.
Lord John Hay , 2nd son of John Hay, the 2th Marquis of Tweedsdale. died 25th Aug 1706 dsp. Elizabeth Orby was his second wife.

Robert Hunter also distinguished himself in Marlborough’s army on his return home, he was appointed Lt. Governor of Virginia in 1707, but his ship was captured en route by the French, and released in 1709,

Lady Elizabeth Hay, the widow of Lord John Hay, 3rd Marquis of Tweedsdale, and Lieut- col , Robert Hunter, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards were married sometime after the death of Lord Hay in 1706. and his return to Britain in 1709.

In April 1710, Robert sailed on, the ‘Lowestoffe’ and arrived at New York, 14th June 1710, he was appointed Governor of New York and New Jersey the same day, He served as Governor from 1710 to 1719.

Robert and Elizabeth Orby Hunter had four children between 1707 and 1714, No birth/baptism records can be found. The birth order of the children is not known:

Thomas Orby Hunter, he married Jacomina Caroline Bellenden in 1769.
Henriette Orby Hunter, she married William Sloper.
Katherine Orby Hunter,
Charlotte Orby Hunter , who may have died as a child.

Lady Elizabeth Orby Hunter, widow of Sir Robert Hunter, died in London. The date of death is not recorded.

Re: Biography - The extraordinary Will of Lady Elizabeth Orby Hunter

Posted: 1147288610000
Classification: Will
Edited: 1147604563000

Her will was proven in London in June 1813.

“I give and bequeath to my beloved parrot, the faithful companion of twenty-five years, an annuity for its life, of 200 guineas a year, to be paid half yearly, as long as this beloved parrot lives, to whoever may have the care of it and proves its identity; and if the person who shall have the care of it should substitute any other parrot in its place either during its life or after its death, it is my positive will and desire that the person or persons doing so shall be refused by my heirs or executors the sum or sums they may have received from the time they did so; and I empower my heirs and executors to recover said sum from whoever would be base enough to do so.

And I do give and bequeath foresaid parrot, with its annuity of 200 guineas a year, to Mrs. Mary Dyer, widow, now dwelling in Park Street, Westminster; and I give to Mrs. Mary Dyer the power to will and bequeath my parrot and its annuity to whomever she pleases, provided that person is neither a servant or a man—it must be bequeathed to some respectable female.

And I also will and desire that twenty guineas may be paid to Mrs. Dyer directly on my death, to be expended on a very high, long, and large cage for the aforesaid parrot; it is also my will and desire that my parrot shall not be removed out of England.

Whoever attempts to dispute this my last will and testament, or by any means neglects or tries to avoid paying my parrot’s annuity, shall forfeit whatever I may have left them; and if anyone attempt to bring in any bills or charges against me, they shall forfeit whatever legacy I may have left them, for so doing, as I owe nothing to anyone, — many owe me gratitude and money, but none have paid me either.”

Re: Biography - Sir Thomas Orby Hunter, (c 1707 -1769) MP for Winchelsea

Posted: 1147534980000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 1147604618000
Surnames: Hunter
Sir Thomas Orby Hunter was the only son of Sir Robert Orby Hunter and his wife Lady Elizabeth Orby Hunter. He may have been born at, the ancestral family home, Crowland Abbey. The exact date for his birth cannot be found., but it is calculated to be between 1707 and 1714.

Thomas Orby Hunter was the Member of Parliament for Winchelsea and served as a Lord of the Admiralty . It is claimed that the Hunter River, Prince Edward Island, Canada, was named in 1765 after him,

In addition to Croyland Abbey . the family had property at Chertsey, and at Waverley Abbey, in Surrey,

He was member of the Spalding Society, He was elected to serve in Parliament on the 10th Oct 1734,
In 1746 he was appointed deputy paymaster for the English and Dutch troops stationed at Rotterdam.

In March 1734, he succeeded his father Robert, who left him considerable property at Chertsey, Surrey, provided that he did not marry a certain Miss Kelly,

Thomas married 3 times. 1stly, on 5th June 1734, by special licence, at St. Thomas a Becket, Havant, Portsmouth, to a widow,Mrs. Mary Heming, Lady Mary Hunter died before 1749

They had five children , no record has been found for their baptisms .
The birth order is not known for the children

MARY HENRIETTA ORBY HUNTER. – 1814) She married Rt Hon James Fortesque ( 1725 - 1782) of Ravensdale Park. They had three children.
CHARLOTTE ORBY HUNTER, d. Probably died young..
CATHERINE ELIZABETH ORBY HUNTER, b. Abt. 1740. (AKA as Kitty Hunter)
GEORGINA ORBY HUNTER, b. 2nd D/o Thomas Orby Hunter; d. 10 May 1875; m. SIR GEORGE WOMBWELL BART GEORGE WOMBWELL; d. 1855.

After his first wifes death, Thomas married again on 1st April 1749 at, Inkpen, Berkshire to Jacomina Caroline Bellenden. d/o Colonel William Bellenden. and Jacomina Farmer, her mother was a daughter of the Duke of Roxburgh.

Jacomina was born at Broughton Midlothian circa 1730, and died after giving birth to her 4th child. She was buried at Chertsey, 2nd June 1756

They had four children between 1749 and 1756

Thomas Orby Hunter born 1749
Charles Orby Hunter circa 1750/51
James Orby Hunter 1755, bur at Chertsey, 27th May 1756, age c.1 year.
George Orby Hunter bur at Chertsey, 2nd June 1756, died with his mother at birth

Lastly Thomas married Marion Cunningham and had two further children:-

Charlotte Lettitia Orby Hunter, born 1757, died 1770, age 13
John Orby Hunter, born June 1769, died Dec 1769, age 6 months

Sir Thomas Orby Hunter, of Crowland died in 1769

His will was executed on 23 December 1769

Re: Biography - The Irrepressable, “Kitty Hunter” (1740-1795).

Brian Hunter (View posts)
Posted: 1147818045000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Hunter, Clarke

The Orby Hunter dynasty graced, English upper-class society in 18th century .
Catherine Elizabeth Orby Hunter, or “Kitty Hunter” as she was popularly known, was born, during the reign of George, the second. She was the most unforgettable member of that family.

As a young woman “Kitty” was idolized, by London’s fashionable society. She enchanting them with her vitality and captivating beauty. Her likeness was captured by some of Britain’s most talented artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds Later she scandalized that same society with her daring, amoral behaviour. As a young woman, she became the mistress of two leading Earls, of the realm .and bore a child to each.. But memories were short and society forgave her indiscretions, when at the age of thirty, she married a distinguished army officer with whom she had two more children.

.“Kitty” had an impressive pedigree. Her father was Sir Thomas Orby Hunter, Bart. Member of Parliament for Winchelsea and a Commissioner of the Admiralty, Her mother, Mary Hemming, the firsat wife of Thomas Orby hunter, died when kitty was nine years old.. Her paternal grandfather, General Sir Robert Hunter, was the first Governor of the Palintate of New York, then later Governor of Jamaca. Sir Robert Hunter was the grandson of Robert Hunter, 20th Laird of Hunterston. Kitty’s paternal grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Orby, was the daughter of Sir Thomas Orby . Lord of the manor of Crowland . Lady Elizabeth’s first husband Brigadier General, Lord Hay of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, who died in 1706.

Early in 1760, when Kitty was twenty-two, she had a passionate affair with a married man, Henry Herbert, 10th Earl of Pembroke and 7th Earl of Montgomery. (1734 –1794) He was the Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Dragoons Guards. Henry had returned from Germany Jan 1762, immediately met and fell for Kitty, they eloped to the Low Countries (him disguising himself as a sailor), but he was recalled by the Army. Kitty returned to England, already pregnant, and gave birth 1762, By March 1763, a remorseful Henry Herbert returned to the family home, for a concilliatary reunion with his wife, Lady Elizabeth Spencer, daughter of the third Duke of Malborough.

The child was baptised Augustus Retnuh Reebkomp. ( Retnuh = Hunter spelled backwards) and Reebkomp an anagram of Pembroke

Latter that year, Kitty became the mistress of a naval officer. Augustus John Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol, a friend of Captain Cook. He became Colonel of the Plymouth Division of Marines in 1762. Kitty’s second child Augustas Henry Hervey, known as "Little Augustus, was born in 1764. Augustus John Hervey, returned to his wife and died without surviving, legitimate issue.

.In 1770 “Kitty” married, Alured Clarke , Colonel of the 7th Foot, later he became Field Marshall, Sir Alured Clarke, K.G.C.B. (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath),.

‘Kitty’ Lady Catherine Elizabeth Alured Clarke died, a widow, in London in 1795

Re: Biography - Major General, Sir Robert Orby Hunter

Posted: 1170652996000
Classification: Query
Surnames: hunter & schuyler
Hi Brian,

I am also doing research on the Hunter family, I started about year ago and have been doing it off and on. If you have any information about General Hunters children and other relatives that would be very helpful.
Thank you,


Re: Biography - Major General, Sir Robert Orby Hunter

Posted: 1170672605000
Classification: Query
Surnames: HUNTER
Hello Anne:

I was delighted to hear of your interest in the Orby Hunter ancestral line.
As far as I am aware Robert and Elizabeth had four children. but I cannot be sure of the order in which they were born so treat the dates as a guide only. Some of the children were probabloy born in Jamaica. or possably at Waverley Abbey in Surrey

1. Katherine Hunter borfn circa 1709. Maried Willian Sloper 1737.
2. Henrietta Hunter, born circa 1710 died 1757.
3. Charlotte Hunter born circa 1711.
4. Thomas Orby Hunter born circa 1714. died b20 Oct 1769.

I would be very interested to learn if you have any additional information.


Re: Biography - The Irrepressable, “Kitty Hunter” (1740-1795).

Posted: 1272575931000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Hunter - Crawfurd
It is a family legend that my ancestor Gibbs Payne Crawfurd,M.P., 1732 - 1793, was financial advisor to Elizabeth Catherine (Kitty) Hunter, 1740 - 1795. I am unable to provide any evidence that this is the case. Can anybody throw some light on this, please?


Re: Biography - Major General, Sir Robert Orby Hunter

Posted: 1469890044000
Classification: Query
You may know of it already but there is a biography of Robert Hunter by Mary Lou Lustig, published by Syracuse University Press in 1983, and called "Robert Hunter 1666-1734, New York's Augustan Statesman". It isn't error-free but it is very full and informative. Incidentally I don't think the Will of Lady Elizabeth OH can have been by Robert's widow if it was proved in 1813, as Robert's wife died a century earlier.
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