Robert Hunter was born in Edinburgh and was “the grandson of the laird of Hunterston.” Eventually a county would come to bear his name. After spending some time in a “socially dazzling captivity” by the French, he was appointed governor of New York and New Jersey.
Hunter ran right into a mess of proprietorship when he arrived. The sale of shares in West and East Jersey had devolved to the point where there were competing groups of proprietors. One group led by Daniel Coxe, son of former Governor Coxe, and another by Lewis Morris. In line with some British politics and patronage, Hunter was able to remove the Coxe faction from the upper chamber of the legislature. Coxe was able to mount a comeback in the Assembly a few years later and was named speaker. In fact, he was named speaker several times since Hunter would consistently dissolve the Assembly until “the Quaker or country party had 50 percent of the seats.”
Eventually, Coxe was defeated and fled the state. Hunter attempted a few reforms that required the crown’s approval but was denied. His term ended in 1719 but was appointed governor of Jamaica in 1727 where he died several years later.
This is the eleventh in a series of brief summaries from The Governors of New Jersey. These posts are not meant to be comprehensive and I urge you to pick up a copy of the book if you have any interest in New Jersey history