BLOUNT, Michael (by 1529-1609), of Mapledurham, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. by 1529, 1st s. of Sir Richard Blount of Mapledurham by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Richard Lyster; bro. of Richard Blount II. m. Mary, da. and event. coh. of Roger Moore of Bicester, 5s. inc. Sir Charles and Richard Blount III 6da. suc. fa. 12 Aug. 1564. Kntd. Jan. 1591.1
J.p. Bucks from 1569, sheriff 1577-8; j.p.q. Oxon. from 1583, sheriff 1587-8, 1598-9; lt. of the Tower June 1590-Nov. 1595.2
Blount’s father was lieutenant of the Tower at the time of the 1563 election, one of his prisoners being the Earl of Hertford, through whose influence Blount himself was presumably returned for Marlborough. As it turned out, it was his support for Hertford’s claim to the throne that lost him his own office as lieutenant of the Tower over 30 years later.
From his mother Blount acquired property and connexions in Southampton, of which town he was made a burgess in 1600. His wife, on the death of her only brother, inherited half the lands formerly belonging to Bicester priory. Blount’s purchase of the other half from her sister involved him in disputes with various members of her family and brought him a sharp reprimand from the Privy Council for his treatment of her brother’s widow. For nearly 30 years Blount lived the life of a country gentleman, probably at Bicester, Oxfordshire, while the fine mansion house at Mapledurham, which still stands, was being built. He occasionally received letters from the Privy Council asking him to deal with minor local affairs, but was rarely in London until his appointment in the summer of 1590 to succeed Sir Owen Hopton as lieutenant of the Tower. Here he became involved in a dispute with the gentleman porter of the Tower, and next, at the end of 1595, he ‘grew very familiar’ with a Catholic prisoner, Edmund Nevill (styled Lord Latimer), with whom he had several conversations about the succession, allegedly suggesting that at Elizabeth’s death he would hold the Tower on behalf of the Earl of Hertford’s claim to the throne. Nevill now ratted on Blount, citing a certain Captain Wenman and Peter Wentworth as witnesses, and Blount was dismissed and imprisoned in the Tower, until at least 12 Jan. 1596. Blount’s real position is obscure. Some of his family were later recusant, more were certainly Catholic sympathisers. One of Blount’s prisoners was Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, and Blount is remembered as showing ‘very hard measure’ to him. But he is also remembered as asking Howard to forgive him for that harsh treatment a few weeks before his dismissal. Another Catholic prisoner, Robert Southwell, who was brought to the Tower on 18 July 1592, was well treated by Blount who, according to Garnet, would speak of him as ‘that saint’. In fact Southwell and Blount were, or were to be, distantly related by marriage.3
In view of his disgrace Blount was in a weak position to claim the Mountjoy barony when it became vacant on the death of Charles Blount on 3 Apr. 1606, and the heralds found ‘such contrarieties and difficulties to prove the truth of it’ that they asked to be excused from ‘further dealing therein’. He died intestate at Mapledurham 11 Nov. 1609, and was buried in the chapel of St. Peter in the Tower near his father and his wife. Administration was granted to his son Sir Richard, who was described as a non-communicant in 1612.
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: Patricia Hyde
- 1. C142/142/105; J. Bayley, History Tower of London (1821), 124; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 56.
- 2. A. Collins, Sidney State Pprs. i. 372; APC, xix. 308; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 137, 160; HMC Hatfield, iv. 49.
- 3. HMC 11th Rep. III, 22; C2 Eliz./B27/24, B19/30; APC, ix. 323; x. 191; xiii. 252; xvi. 214; xx. 12; xxi. 375; xxiv. 61, 429; Collins, Sidney Pprs. i. 372; Strype, Annals, iv. 238-41; Lansd. 114, ff. 3-4; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 137, 160; Lives of Philip Howard ... and ... his wife (1857), p. 117; C. Devlin, Life of Robt. Southwell, 254.