BLOUNT, Sir George (1512/13-81), of Kinlet, Salop and Knightley, Staffs.
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Family and Education
b. 1512/13, 1st s. of (Sir) John Blount of Kinlet by Catherine, da. and coh. of Sir Hugh Peshall of Knightley; bro. of Henry and William. m. 30 Mar. 1533, Constance, da. of Sir John Talbot of Albrighton, Salop, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. fa. 27 Feb. 1531, mother 1 Feb. 1541. Kntd. 13 May 1544.1
Steward, lordships of Bewdley, Worcs. and Cleobury Mortimer, Salop 1531-d.; gent. pens. 1540; parker, Bewdley by 1547; j.p. Salop 1547-58, q.1564-d., Worcs. 1547-58, q. by 1564, rem. 1575, rest. 1577, Staffs. 1562, q. 1564, rem. 1574, rest. 1577, commr. chantries, Salop, Staffs. 1548, Salop 1553, relief Salop, Worcs. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities Salop 1553, musters Worcs. 1570; sheriff, Staffs. 1552-3, 1572-3, Salop 1563-4.2
The prestige of the Blount family had been enhanced by George Blount’s father, a member of the royal household from Henry VIII’s accession, and by his sister, Elizabeth, who bore the King his son the Duke of Richmond. Sir John Blount’s marriage had brought with it lands in Staffordshire, and both father and son were to be sheriffs of that county as well as Shropshire.3
On his father’s death in 1531 George Blount was immediately appointed to the stewardship of Bewdley and Cleobury Mortimer which his father and grandfather had held, and if he had been a year or two older he might have replaced his father as a Shropshire County member in the Commons. Although we do not know who was by-elected, it cannot have been Blount, for in that case the situation which arose in the spring of 1536 could not have occurred. At that election the King asked for the return of the previous Members; if Blount had been one of them his re-election would have been a foregone conclusion, yet not only was he not elected, but his mother had campaigned (albeit unsuccessfully) for him, which she need not have done for a sitting Member. That there was a seat to be competed for at all in 1536 is to be explained only by the supposition that whoever had replaced John Blount in the previous Parliament had himself died, or been incapacitated, towards its close, for Blount’s fellow-Member in 1529 Sir Thomas Cornwall had survived the Parliament and was almost certainly re-elected in deference to the King’s wish. The younger Blount’s prospect of filling the vacancy may have appeared good: in 1535 his sister married John Talbot of Albrighton, whom Cromwell appears to have had in mind earlier as the replacement, and in the same year the Duke of Richmond paid a visit to Shrewsbury. Blount’s mother was indeed to claim, in her account of the election to Cromwell, that the ‘worshipful’ of the shire were in favour of him and that it was only the sheriff’s decision to hold the election at Shrewsbury, where there was plague, which enabled the townsmen to stage a riot on behalf of his rival Trentham (probably Richard Trentham) who carried the day.4
Whether Blount tried again for the county in 1539 we do not know, but if so he was again passed over, although he could have sat for Wenlock whose Members are unknown. He may have been successful in 1542, when the names of the Shropshire knights are lost, but during the second session in 1543 he obtained a proviso in the Act of Union with Wales (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.26) safeguarding his two stewardships; in 1545 and again in 1547 he took the first place. By then he had grown both in age and stature. A gentleman pensioner since 1540, he had been knighted at Leith by the Earl of Hertford in 1544 when captaining a ship in the admiral’s fleet against Scotland. The admiral was John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, whom Blount was to serve in later campaigns, notably in the summer of 1549 when, after being summoned to join Dudley, now Earl of Warwick, on the Scottish border with 200 footmen, he was diverted to the expedition against the Norfolk rebels, of which he was made muster master. At the funeral of Henry VIII he carried the banner of St. Edmund. His religious attitude in later life suggests that he cannot have welcomed the doctrinal changes of the following reign, but his career in local administration involved him in their consequences: to his membership of the benches of Shropshire and Worcestershire he added service on the commissions for chantries and church goods. Like his patron he may have favoured any changes which enriched the laity. That he continued to stand well with Dudley is suggested by his receipt in July 1550 of lands in Shropshire forfeited by Thomas, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, his possible appointment to the council in the marches during Dudley’s presidency, and most clearly by his shrievalty of Staffordshire in the last year of the reign. Whether in this last capacity Blount was excluded from the Parliament of March 1553 is by no means certain. He was still sheriff six months later when Mary called her first Parliament, to which he was returned for Bridgnorth, a borough outside the jurisdiction of his shrievalty but within his sphere of influence: if he had sat in the previous Parliament, it was not for Bridgnorth or any other Shropshire borough, for the names of all their Members are known, but he could have done so for one of the many boroughs where this is not the case. What does seem to be clear is that on both occasions he used his position as sheriff to influence the choice of the knights for Staffordshire and thereby annoyed Henry, Lord Stafford, who had expected to see his son Henry Stafford returned.5
What part, if any, Blount played in the succession crisis of 1553 is not known: as sheriff it would have been his duty to proclaim the new Queen, but he may not have been there to do so. That he retained a personal attachment to the family of his fallen patron is shown by his appointment, with (Sir) Henry Sidney, as a trustee of the Duchess of Northumberland’s will. It may also have been a connexion with former friends in the Dudley entourage who had fled abroad which led him to join in the opposition to a government bill in 1555, but this gesture apart Blount appears to have done nothing either within or outside Parliament suggestive of discontent with the new regime. A Member of all but one of Mary’s Parliaments, he neither ‘stood for the true religion’ in the first of them nor ‘seceded’ from the third. His only recorded summons before the Privy Council was for some irregularity in his stewardship of Wyre forest, near Bewdley.