Blount, Walter (d.1403) (DNB00)

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BLOUNT, Sir WALTER (d. 1403), soldier and supporter of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, was almost certainly the son of Sir John Blount of Sodington, by his second wife, Eleanor Beauchamp, widow of Sir John Meriet. In 1367 he accompanied the Black Prince and John of Gaunt in their expedition to Spain to restore Don Pedro the Cruel to the throne of Leon and Castile. After the return of the expedition, which was successfully terminated by the battle of Navarette (1367), Blount married Donna Sancha de Ayála, the daughter of Don Diego Gomez, who held high office in Toledo, by his wife (of very high family), Donna Inez de Ayála. Donna Sancha appears to have first come to England in attendance on Constantia, the elder daughter of King Pedro, whom John of Gaunt married in 1372. In 1374 John Blount, Sir Walter's half-brother, who had succeeded his mother, Isolda Mountjoy, in the Mountjoy property, made over to Walter the Mountjoy estates in Derbyshire, and to them Walter added by purchase, in 1381, the great estates of the Bakepuiz family in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Hertfordshire. Permission was granted Blount in 1377 to proceed with Duke John of Gaunt to Castile in order to assert the duke's right by virtue of his marriage to the throne of Leon and Castile; but the expedition did not start till 1386, when Blount probably accompanied it. On 17 April 1393 he, with Henry Bowet [q. v.] and another, was appointed to negotiate a permanent peace with the king of Castile. In 1398 Duke John granted to Blount and his wife, with the king's approval, an annuity of 100 marks in consideration of their labours in his service. Blount was an executor of John of Gaunt, who died early in 1399, and received a small legacy. He represented Derbyshire in Henry IV's first parliament, which met on 6 Oct. 1399. At the battle of Shrewsbury (23 July 1403) he was the king's standard-bearer, and was killed by Archibald, fourth earl of Douglas, one of the bravest followers of Henry Percy (Hotspur). Blount was dressed in armour resembling that worn by Henry IV, and was mistaken by Douglas for the king (Walsingham, Hist. Anglicana, ed. Riley, ii. 258; Annales Henrici Quarti, 367, 369). Shakespeare gives Blount, whom he calls Sir Walter Blunt, a prominent place in the first part of his ‘Henry IV,’ and represents both Hotspur and Henry IV as eulogising his military prowess and manly character. He was buried in the church St. Mary ‘of Newark,’ Leicester. His widow Donna Sancha lived till 1418. In 1406 she founded the hospital of St. Leonards, situate between Alkmonton and Hungry-Bentley, Derbyshire.

Sir Walter had two sons: 1. Sir John, who was at one time governor of Calais; was in 1482 besieged in a castle of Aquitaine by a great French army, which he defeated with a small force (Walsingham, Ypodigma Neustriæ, Rolls Ser., p. 437); was created knight of the Garter in 1413; and was present at the siege of Rouen in 1418: 2. Sir Thomas, who was treasurer of Calais during Henry VI's wars in France (Stevenson's Letters, &c., illustrating the wars in France temp. Henry VI, Rolls Ser., ii. passim), and founded a chantry at Newark in 1422 (at the expense of the Duke of Exeter) in memory of his father and mother. Sir John died without male issue. Sir Thomas was the father (by Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Gresley of Gresley, Derbyshire) of Sir Walter Blount, first Baron Mountjoy [q. v.]

[Sir Alexander Croke's Genealogical History of the Croke Family, surnamed Le Blount, ii. 170–97; Burke's Extinct Peerage; Courtenay's Shakespeare's Historical Plays; Hall's Chronicle, ed. Grafton, fol. 22; Rymer's Fœdera, vii. 183, 743.]

S. L. L.