Blount, William (DNB00)

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BLOUNT, WILLIAM, fourth Lord Mountjoy (d. 1534), patron of learning and statesman, born at Barton, in Staffordshire, was the son and heir of John, third lord Mountjoy, by Lora, his wife, and grandson of Sir Walter Blount, first Lord Mountjoy [q. v.] He succeeded to the title, while still a child, on his father's death in 1485. Polydore Vergil, who designates him ‘regulus disertus ornatus,’ states that he was created a privy councillor in 1486 (Anglica Historia, 1546, p. 567); but his youthful age, which is attested by a grant (dated 24 Jan. 1488) to Sir James Blount of the custody of all the late lord's lands, and of the wardship and marriage of William, the present lord, seems to conflict with the date (Materials for the History of Henry VII, Rolls Ser. ii. 230). About 1496 Blount was in Paris, studying under Erasmus, and a long intimacy between the two men was then first contracted. ‘Whither would I not follow so humane, so kind, so amiable a young man?’ wrote Erasmus of Blount about this time (Erasmus, Epist. xiv), and in 1498 the scholar was brought by his pupil for the first time to England (Erasmus to Fisher, 5 Dec. 1498; Seebohm, Oxf. Reformers, 94). For some years Erasmus was domiciled in Lord Mountjoy's house, and throughout his sojourn in this country he depended largely on his patron's bounty. Mountjoy is stated to have paid Erasmus a yearly pension of 100 crowns, besides many other presents. Lord Mountjoy, on his return from Paris, is said by Erasmus to have regularly studied history with Prince Henry, afterwards Henry VIII, who was his junior by some years (Erasmus, Dedication of Livy to Charles, fifth Lord Mountjoy). There are other indications that the prince and Mountjoy were intimate with one another from an early date.

But Blount did not confine himself to literary pursuits, although he never ceased to interest himself in them. In 1497 he held a command in the army sent to suppress the revolt in behalf of Perkin Warbeck. In 1499 he was formally granted all the dignities and estates enjoyed by his father. In May 1509 he wrote to Erasmus that the accession of Henry VIII was of good omen for learning in England. Towards the end of the year he was appointed lieutenant of the castle of Hammes, in Picardy, and of the marches of Calais. In 1511 Mountjoy was in England again, and in the following year became chamberlain to Queen Catherine. On 17 May 1513 he was directed to provide transports for the king's army, which was bound for France. In the same year he acted as lieutenant of Tournai, and on 20 Jan. 1513–14 he was appointed bailiff of the city in the place of Sir Edward Poynings. He held this post for three years. Fifteen letters sent by Mountjoy during that time to Henry VIII and Wolsey are preserved among the Cottonian MSS. at the British Museum (Calig. D 6. f. 299; Calig. E 2. f. 29065; V. Calig. E 4. f. 290), and they testify to his energetic rule. He set up and administered law-courts, and made the small and irregular advances sent him from home go as far as possible in strengthening the fortifications. His friend Erasmus paid him a visit at Tournai, and Mountjoy tried in vain to induce Wolsey to give the scholar a prebend in the church there. Later Mountjoy sent Erasmus a manuscript of Suetonius from St. Martin's monastery at Tournai for his edition of that author. In one letter to Wolsey (8 Dec. 1515) Mountjoy wrote that a commissary had come from the pope with indulgences for sale in aid of the rebuilding of St. Peter's, and that he had refused to permit the publication of the brief, but had allowed the commissary to receive alms in a box with two keys, one of which was kept by Mountjoy. He was recalled early in 1517—in accordance with his own wish—and acted as chamberlain to Queen Catherine in the succeeding years. With his wife he attended Henry VIII at the field of the cloth of gold in 1520, and he was present at Henry's meeting with Charles V near Dover in 1522. In 1523 he was despatched to France, at the head of an army of 6,000 men, with Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, but Suffolk's mismanagement of the expedition led to Mountjoy's recall. Soon afterwards he was made master of the mint. In July 1533 Mountjoy, who retained the office of the queen's chamberlain throughout the troubles of the time, was directed to acquaint Queen Catherine at Ampthill with the king's resolve to complete the divorce between them. The interview has been vividly described by Mr. Froude. In October 1533 Mountjoy begged Cromwell to relieve him of the duty of attending as chamberlain upon the divorced queen.

Mountjoy signed the articles drawn up against Wolsey in 1530, and the declaration of parliament addressed to Clement VII in 1533, stating that, if the pope refused the divorce between the king and Catherine, the former would renounce the papal supremacy. Mountjoy died 8 Nov. 1534, and was buried near his father in Grey Friars' church in the city of London (Stow's Survey, ed. Strype, bk. iii. p. 133). His will is dated 13 Oct. 1534. He was a knight of the Garter, and on 26 Jan. 1534–5 King James V of Scotland succeeded to his place in the order.

Erasmus lamented his patron's death in the dedication to his ‘Ecclesiastes,’ addressed to the Bishop of Augsburg (1535), and in the dedication of the 1536 edition of his ‘Adagia,’ addressed to Charles, fifth Lord Mountjoy. Three letters in very readable Latin from Mountjoy to Erasmus, and thirteen from Erasmus to Mountjoy, appear in the collections of Erasmus's letters. The first edition of Erasmus's ‘Adagia,’ published in 1508, is addressed to Mountjoy, and Erasmus states that he wrote that work and ‘De scribendis epistolis’ at Mountjoy's suggestion. About 1523 Mountjoy requested Erasmus to draw up a dialogue on the subject of the religious differences of the day, with a view to aiding in their settlement. Leland was another friend of Mountjoy, and wrote verse in his praise (Collectanea, v. 122). Among the many scholars whom Mountjoy also befriended were Richard Whytforde, Battus, the friend of Erasmus, and Richard Sampson, afterwards bishop of Chichester. Mountjoy was likewise intimate with Sir Thomas More, Grocyn, and Colet, and Ascham many years afterwards referred to his house as domicilium Musarum. Fuller, in dedicating the second book of his ‘Church History’ (1655) to Lord Dorchester, refers to Mountjoy as ‘a great patron to Erasmus, and well skilled in chymistry and mathematics,’ and one of the chief revivers of learning in England (Fuller, Hist., ed. Brewer, i. 126).

Mountjoy was thrice married: 1, (probably before 1500) to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Say; 2, (before 1517) to Alice, daughter of Sir Henry Kebel, lord mayor of London in 1510–11, and widow of William Browne, lord mayor of London in 1507–8; (she died in 1521, and was buried in the Grey Friars' church, London); and 3, to Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Grey, marquis of Dorset, and widow of Robert Willoughby, Baron Broke; she died before 1524. Erasmus, writing to his friend Botzen in 1524, tells us that when Lord Mountjoy was studying with him at Paris he wrote for his pupil's amusement two declamations, the one in praise and the other in contempt of matrimony, and that Mountjoy passionately declared for the former. Erasmus adds that at the time of writing (1524) Mountjoy had become a widower for the third time, and was likely to take a fourth wife. By his first wife he had two daughters, Gertrude and Mary. Gertrude married Henry Courtenay, marquis of Exeter, and was herself attainted when her husband was executed in 1539; she was afterwards pardoned, and dying in 1558, a monument was erected to her memory in Wimborne Minster. Mary, the second daughter, married Henry Bourchier, earl of Essex. By his second wife, Mountjoy had a son Charles [q. v.], and a daughter Catherine, who married (1) John Champernown, and (2) Sir Maurice Berkeley of Bruton. By his third wife he had a son John, who died without issue, and two daughters, Dorothy and Mary.

[Sir Alexander Croke's Genealogical Account of the Croke Family, surnamed Le Blount, ii. 204–222; Erasmi Epistolæ, ed. Le Clerc; Dugdale's Baronage, 520–1; Rymer's Fœdera; Froude's History, i. 470; Brewer's Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, 1509–35; Nichols's Leicestershire, iii. 7, iv. 524; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. i. 50, 529; Seebohm's Oxford Reformers, passim.]

S. L. L.