Abraham Hunt

1741 – 1821

Trenton merchant of English ancestry

I was born in 1741 and early in life became aware of military affairs and the problems of supplying armies. In 1762, I joined with Moore Furman to establish the merchant firm of Furman and Hunt in Trenton. I married Theodosia Pearson in 1764. Between the end of the French and Indian War and the outbreak of the American Revolution I was a frontier block house inspector and supply agent and was barrack master in Trenton. I was active in civic affairs, including helping to manage construction of a stone bridge over the Assunpink Creek at Trenton and improving navigation on the Delaware River.

I was very active in supporting the protests against the acts of Parliament in the early 1770s and then supplying the rebel militia with military equipment and ammunition. I was also active in suppressing the Loyalists. Even though I had no military experience, my community leadership led to my being named lieutenant colonel of the First Hunterdon militia regiment.

When the British occupied Trenton in December 1776 I stayed in my home rather than retreat across the river with my militiamen. Some historians have accused me of being a Loyalist and others with being more concerned with self-interest than with the Patriot cause. Even though I was well treated by the Hessian officers, and entertained Colonel Rall on Christmas night just before the battle of Trenton, I continued to contribute to the cause of independence and was a respected citizen of Trenton until my death in 1821.

Learn More About Abraham Hunt…

I was born to Wilson and Susannah (Price) Hunt on their farm in Hopewell Township on February 16, 1741. Early in life I became aware of military affairs and the problems of supplying armies. During the French and Indian War in 1755, when I was fourteen years old, I was away from home and became privy to a letter, which I hastily forwarded to my father, containing early reports of the Braddock disaster in western Pennsylvania. In 1762, now twenty-one years old, I joined in partnership with Moore Furman to establish the merchant firm of Furman and Hunt in Trenton. We prospered and dominated the Trenton-Philadelphia river trade. In 1763, I was named back-up to the inspector of military block houses on the frontier and also a back-up to supply the troops at the block houses with provisions. At the same time, my father was supplying the 666 men of the New Jersey regiment raised in 1761. On February 21, 1764 I married Theodosia Pearson in Hopewell. The following year I became one of the barrack commissioners overseeing the 1758 stone barracks at Trenton and in 1770 I served as barrack master. Now in my late twenties, my managerial skills and civic interests contributed to an appointment as a manager from Trenton, to work with managers from Nottingham, to construct a stone bridge over the Assunpink Creek. Two sets of managers were needed because the Assunpink was the boundary between Hunterdon and Burlington Counties. The same year, I served as a commissioner for improving navigation on the Delaware River. As the disagreement between Britain and her colonies grew in intensity in the early 1770s I was a leader in the protests. In 1774 I was one of the men chosen to elect delegates to the Continental Congress and on July 21 that year I helped collect funds for the relief of Bostonians experiencing British army occupation. I was also one of three men appointed as the New Jersey Committee of Correspondence. In December 1775, about eight months after the fighting at Lexington and Concord, I was a member of the New Jersey Committee of Safety and signed a document about suspected Loyalists. My partnership with Moore Furman continued well into the American Revolution and both of us played important roles in supplying the American army. In March 1776, Trenton gunsmith Ebenezer Cowell was contracted by the Continental Congress to manufacture parts for flintlock muskets and he was directed to deliver them to me each week. I coordinated the assembling of the muskets from parts supplied by several craftsmen. In June, I was active on the Committee of Safety deciding whether suspected Loyalists would be allowed to remain in their homes or be forced to leave the area. I had also been appointed a commissioner to secure ammunition and other military supplies for the militia. In July 1776, due toa shortage of lead for ammunition, I was appointed a commissioner to obtain lead weights from places such as house windows and clocks, or lead weights used in stores. By this time I was also the lieutenant colonel, second in command, of the newly organized First Hunterdon County Militia Regiment. This was probably due to my involvement with the barracks and my civic service, because I had no real military experience. At the time we all hoped thatthe militia would not have very much to do other than support the protests against the British government. Although I was such an active Patriot, when the British army occupied Trenton in December 1776 I stayed in my home rather than retreat with the army across the Delaware River to Bucks County in Pennsylvania. While my militiamen suffered in camp at Yardley for several weeks, I was comfortable at home. Why I was not treated as a rebel by Hessian commander Colonel Rall, but was actually treated very well, has been a subject of speculation, especially by my enemies. Some people have accused me of siding with the Loyalists or simply looking out for myself rather than the cause. However, I was never officially accused of any wrongdoing and I continued to be a highly respected citizen after the Hessians left. Others think I was serving the Patriot cause as a spy, or in some other capacity, when I stayed in Trenton. When Washington’s army crossed at McConkey’s Ferry and marched through the stormy Christmas night to attack Trenton, I was entertaining, possibly distracting, Colonel Rall. I resigned as lieutenant colonel of the First Hunterdon regiment in 1777, allowing a man with more military experience and skill to succeed me, but continued to help supply the army throughout the war. Theodosia died on March4, 1784 in Trenton and I later married the very patriotic Mary Dagworthy. I continued to be active in Trenton civic affairs until my death on October 17, 1821.

Bush, Bernard. Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey. New Jersey Archives, Third Series. Trenton: New Jersey State Library, Volume IV: 1760-1769, 1982; Volume V: 1770-1775, 1986.

Davis, Michael A. The Trial of Abraham Hunt: An American Christmas Story. Denver: Ghost Road Press, 2006

Hall, John. History of the Presbyterian Church in Trenton, New Jersey From the First Settlement of the Town. New York: Anson D.F. Randolph, 1859.

Kidder, Larry. A People Harassed and Exhausted: The Story of a New Jersey Militia Regiment in the American Revolution. Larry Kidder, 2013.

Minutes of the Provincial Congress and the Council of Safety of the State of New Jersey. Trenton: Naar, Day & Naar, 1879

Raum, John O. History of the City of Trenton, New Jersey. Trenton: 1871.

Stryker, William S. The Battles of Trenton and Princeton. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1898.

The Trenton Historical Society. A History of Trenton: 1679-1929. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1929.

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