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Hunter was born in Yorktown, Virginia at an unknown date in the early eighteenth century. His parents were William Hunter Sr. (d. 1742), a merchant of Elizabeth City County, and Mary Ann Hunter (d. 1743). Shortly after the deaths of Hunter's parents, his sister Elizabeth married John Holt, a merchant, printer, and the mayor of Williamsburg (1752--1753). Since all of Hunter's sisters were minor children and had no parents, they moved in with Elizabeth and her new husband at his house. Hunter and his sisters lived in the large house of the "Ravenscroft property" (two half-acre lots) owned by Holt from 1745 to 1754 at the corner of Nicholson and Botetourt Streets in Williamsburg. Hunter was then the owner of the property after Holt's death in 1754, until his death in 1761.
Hunter was a journeyman apprentice under Virginia's first "public printer" ("printer to the public") William Parks. He was an adult in 1749 and was the foreman of Parks' print shop. Upon Parks' death in 1750, Hunter took over his position as the official government "public printer" for the colony of Virginia. He was the "public printer" for the House of Burgesses in the colony of Virginia from 1751 to 1761. Hunter's salary was increased from Parks' last salary of £280 per year to a yearly salary of £300 when he became the official "public printer" for Virginia in 1751. His salary was increased to £350 per year in 1759. Hunter's print shop foreman was Joseph Royle.
The print shop where Hunter did his daily work for Parks on Duke of Gloucester Street was only about a block away from where he lived at the "Ravenscroft property" at the time he was an apprentice working for Parks. Hunter did the printing of the Virginia Gazette and took over the newspaper upon Parks' death on April 1, 1750. He remained publisher of the Virginia Gazette from January 3, 1751 until his death in April 1761. Hunter started his own identity of the Gazette with "no. 1" in February 1751. It contained news of the Virginia colony, neighboring colonies, and news from England and parts of Europe. Hunter bought out Parks' print shop in 1753 for £288 for the printing presses and associated equipment.
Hunter was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin. In 1753, he and Franklin were appointed deputy postmaster general as co-directors of the colonies. Franklin was responsible for the northern areas and Hunter was responsible for areas south of Annapolis, Maryland, a position Hunter held until his death.
print shop reconstructed
Printing press set-up
Printing work replicated
Hunter's store next door to print shop
Hunter's main work consisted of printing the laws of Virginia, the publication of the Virginia Gazette newspaper, and maintaining a bookstore. In 1754, Hunter printed George Washington's first official report, The Journal of Major George Washington: An Account of His First Official Mission, Made as Emissary from the Governor of Virginia to the Commandant of the French Forces on the Ohio, October 1753-January 1754.
Printed cover page samples of Hunter's publications:
The Virginia Gazette February 14, 1751
1754 Journal of Major George Washington
Some additional publications credited to Hunter are:
10 editions of The journal of the House of Burgesses from 1752 into 1761.
5 editions of The speech of the Honorable Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; His Majesty's lieutenant-governor, and commander in chief, of the colony and dominion of Virginia; to the General Assembly. from 1755 into 1757.
4 editions of Acts of Assembly passed at a General Assembly, begun and held at the capitol, in the city of Williamsburg from 1732 into 1754.
3 editions of A letter to the Right Reverend Father in God the Lord-B-----p of L------n. Occasioned by a letter of His Lordship's to the L--ds of Trade, on the subject of the act of Assembly passed in the year 1758, intituled, An act to enable the inhabitants of this colony to discharge their publick dues, &c. in money for the ensuing year, from Virginia of 1759.
3 editions of Anno regni Georgii II. Regis Magnae Britanniae, Franciae, & Hiberniae, tricesimo tertio of 1759 into 1760.
3 editions of Anno regni Georgii II, Regis Magnae Britanniae, Franciae, & Hiberniae, tricesimo secundo of 1758 into 1759.
3 editions of Anno regni Georgii II, Regis Magnae Britanniae, Franciae, & Hiberniae, vicesimo nono of 1755 into 1756.
2 editions of The duty of living peaceably with all men recommended, in a sermon (on Romans XII. v. 18.) preached at Williamsburg, November 11th 1759. Before the General Assembly of Virginia. By the Revd William Giberne, Rector of Hanover Parish, King-George County. ; Printed at the request of the worshipful the House of Burgesses of 1759.
2 editions of Anno regni Georgii III. Regis Magnae-Britanniae, Franciae & Hiberniae, secundo of 1761.
1 editions of The speech of the Honourable Francis Fauquier, Esq; His Majesty's lieutenant-governour, and commander in chief, of the colony and dominion of Virginia, to the General Assembly of 1760.