Reverend Robert Hunt

(Vicar of Heathfield 1602)                             

The First Chaplain at Jamestown America.

A watercolor of the Reverend Robert Hunt and other Jamestown settlers at Cape Henry

The Reverend Robert Hunt gives thanks with other English settlers at Cape Henry, Virginia in April 1607.

NPS image

Robert Hunt (c. 1568-1608), clergyman of the Church of England, was Chaplain of the expedition that founded Jamestown, Virginia. The expedition included people from Old Heathfield, East Sussex, England. The Reverend Hunt had become the Vicar of Heathfield, County of Sussex, in 1602, which title he held as Chaplain of the Jamestown Settlement.
He had been Vicar of Reculver, County of Kent, England, 1594-1602. He lit the candle for the Anglican Church in Virginia (United States); he first lifted his voice in public thanksgiving and prayer on April 29, 1607, when the settlers planted a cross at Cape Henry, which they named after the Prince of Wales.

Once settled in the fort, the whole company, except those who were on guard, attended regular prayer and services led by the  Reverend Hunt. Captain John Smith described worship services that took place in the open air until a chapel could be erected. Captain Smith's religious feelings were conventional but deeply felt.

His piety asserted itself in his writings constantly; he saw the hand of God at work in his life, and he believed it had intervened to save the colonies. "He concluded that God, who had thwarted Spanish attempts to settle North America, had reserved that Region for the Protestant English."                               

Captain John Smith described the Reverend Hunt as "our honest, religious and courageous divine." The Reverend Hunt was a peacemaker, often bringing harmony to a quarreling group of men. The Chronicler wrote: "Many were the mischiefs that daily sprung from their ignorant spirits; but the good doctrines and exhortations of our Preacher Minister Hunt reconciled them and caused Captain Smith to be admitted to the Council June 20th.  The next day, June 21, third Sunday after Trinity, under the shadow of an old sail, Robert Hunt celebrated the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
It is impossible to rate too highly the character and work of the aforesaid Robert Hunt, Chaplain of the Colony." Hunt's virtuous character was well-known and respected by his fellow settlers.

It was evidenced by his behavior both before and after the accidental fire in the fort in January, 1608. The fire burned the palisades with their arms, bedding apparel, and many private provisions. "Good master Hunt lost all his library, and all that he had but the clothes on his back, yet none ever did see him repine at his loss...Yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening, every Sunday two sermons and every three months the Holy Communion till our Minister died."

 A granite cross erected in 1935 by the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists, in memory of the  wooden cross erected by the English colonists in 1607.

Listen to the Revd. David talking about Trinity Sunday,
and how it is linked to Revd. Robert Hunt

 

Stain glass window    
     at All Saints

 

The Chalice and Paten
from All Saints,
that is in Jamestown.

 

A 16th-century silver chalice and paten used for communion services by the Reverend Robert Hunt, before he left England in 1606 to become Jamestown’s first vicar, will be exhibited in a section of the Jamestown Settlement galleries that explores the role of the church in 17th-century Virginia and the relationship of church and state. The chalice and paten were loaned by the Vicar and Wardens of All Saints Church, Old Heathfield, East Sussex.