BLUNDELL, Sir Francis, 1st Bt. (1579-1625), of London and King's Co. Ire.
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Family and Education
b. 4 Sept. 1579,1 2nd s. of John Blundell, yeoman, of Great Linford, Bucks. and Catherine, da. and coh. of Roger Budoxshyde.2 educ. Broadgates Hall, Oxf. 1596, BA (Christ Church) 1600, MA 1603; G. Inn 1618.3 m. Joyce, da. of William Serjeant of Waldridge, Dinton, Bucks., 5s.;4 1s. illegit.5 kntd. 30 Jan. 1618;6 cr. bt. 13 Oct. 1620. d. 26 Apr. 1625.7
MP [I] 1613-15.13
Member, Africa Co. 1618, E.I. Co. by 1623.16
Despite his humble origins, Blundell received an expensive education. A kinsman of the Anglo-Irish administrator, Sir Richard Cooke†, he was given a post in the Exchequer at Dublin, and sat for Lifford in the Irish Parliament of 1613.17 Sent over to England to report on the malpractices of Sir Thomas Ridgeway*, he entered the service of secretary of state Sir Ralph Winwood. After his master’s death in 1617 he succeeded (Sir) Humphrey May*, with Buckingham’s approval, as intermediary between the king and the government of Ireland.18 His duties included handling the sale of Irish honours for Buckingham,19 and he was able to negotiate various benefits for himself, including an Irish baronetcy in 1620, and grants of lands in King’s County.20 Meanwhile in London he became one of the patentees for licensing pedlars, and although his share of the profits was small he was able to invest in the Africa and East India Companies.21 His appointment as steward to the former estate of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey probably enabled him to acquire the Suffolk manor of Somerton about this time. After buying the reversion to the vice-treasurership of Ireland for £2,750 he arranged to sell the remembrancership to Sir Henry Holcroft*, and continued as a Buckingham client when he transferred to Dublin in 1622.22
It was presumably as an expert on Irish affairs that Blundell’s presence was desired in the Parliament of 1621, but an attempt by William Knollys†, Viscount Wallingford, to force him upon the freemen of Oxford failed. Despite having been returned by the mayor, he was unseated in favour of Thomas Wentworth I* without taking any part in the proceedings.23 The Commons subsequently turned its attention to the abuses arising from grants of monopoly, and during the ensuing investigation Blundell was summoned before the committee for grievances and obliged to surrender his patent for licensing pedlars.24 Although he was not named among the expert witnesses called by Sir Francis Seymour* to attend the parliamentary committee on the state of Ireland, Blundell was certainly consulted on the subject by the Privy Council in July 1621.25 However, as a member of the official commission to investigate Irish affairs in the following year, his main activity seems to have been damage-limitation in terms of protecting Buckingham’s interests, and his own profits, from scrutiny.26 Before leaving to take up his office of vice-treasurer in 1622, Blundell made over Somerton to trustees, including his brother Sir George and his friends Sir Francis Annesley* and Edward Wymarke*.27 Blundell was re-appointed during pleasure by Charles I, but died two weeks later on 26 Apr. 1625, and was buried at Christ Church, Dublin.28 In his will he left £200 to an illegitimate son ‘begotten before my marriage, which offence God pardon’.29 He still held some land in Bedfordshire, but the careers of the next two generations of the family were confined to Ireland. The second and third baronets sat only in the Dublin Parliament. Blundell’s great-grandson was returned for Haslemere as a Whig in 1715.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. Cat. Ashmolean Mss, 119.
- 2. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 160-1; REQ 2/391/184.
- 3. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
- 4. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 160-1.
- 5. PROB 11/147, f. 269.
- 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 167.
- 7. CB, i. 224-5.
- 8. Patentee Officers in Ire. ed. J.L.J. Hughes (Irish mss comm.), 13.
- 9. CSP Ire. 1615-25, pp. 50-1.
- 10. C66/2132.
- 11. C231/4, f. 39; C66/2135; V. Treadwell Buckingham and Ire. 191.
- 12. C66/2231, 2260; HMC 4th Rep. 277, 302, 373.
- 13. R. Bagwell, Ire. under the Stuarts, 134.
- 14. C66/2104; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 559.
- 15. C181/2, f. 331v; C193/13/1.
- 16. Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 99; CSP Col. E.I. 1622-4, p. 226.
- 17. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 269; CSP Ire. 1608-10, p. 373; 1611-14, p. 513.
- 18. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 37, 120.
- 19. R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 116; Treadwell, 65-70, 114, passim.
- 20. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 316; CB, i. 225; Treadwell, 144-5.
- 21. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 248.
- 22. CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 272; 1625-32, p. 30.
- 23. CJ, i. 515a; Nicholas Procs. 1621, i. 28-9, 101, 146.
- 24. CD 1621, ii. 250; iii. 101; iv. 108, 147; v. 35, 290, 311; vi. 266, 271; vii. 418, 506, 562; Stuart Royal Procs. ed. J.F. Larkin, i. 393-5, 514; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 347.
- 25. CJ, i. 593a, 595a; APC, 1621-3, p. 25.
- 26. Treadwell, 191, 198, 201-2.
- 27. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 52; W.A. Copinger, Suff. Manors, i. 203.
- 28. CPR Ire. Chas. I, 2.
- 29. PROB 11/147, f. 269.