Hubbell was born in Avon (now Rochester Hills), Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1853, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1855. He was elected district attorney of the Upper Peninsula in 1857 and 1859. Two years later, he began serving as prosecuting attorney of Houghton County from 1861 to 1867.
In 1872, Hubbell was elected as a Republican to the 43rd and to the four succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1873 to March 3, 1883 becoming the first to represent Michigan's 9th congressional district. Governor John J. Bagley appointed Hubbell as state commissioner to the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition, in which capacity he collected and prepared the state exhibit of minerals. During the 47th Congress he chaired the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior.
After leaving Congress, he served in the state Senate from 1885 to 1887, was a presidential elector for Michigan in the 1892 election, and served as circuit judge of the twelfth judicial circuit from 1894 until his resignation in 1899. He died in Houghton, Michigan and is interred there at Forest Hill Cemetery.
Hubbell is the figure most responsible for getting the state legislature to establish a school of mines for the training of mine engineers in Houghton. Hubbell donated land for the school's first buildings in 1885. The school of mines eventually expanded into Michigan Technological University.
- Willis F. Dunbar and George S. May, Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State (Grand Rapids: Eerdman's, 1995), 359.
- United States Congress. "Jay Abel Hubbell (id: H000894)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- The Political Graveyard
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| United States Representative for the 9th Congressional District of Michigan
1873 – 1883
Byron M. Cutcheon