Blunt, John James (DNB00)

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BLUNT, JOHN JAMES (1794–1855), divine, was born in 1794 at Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, and was educated at the grammar school of that town, of which his father, the Rev. John Blunt, was 'the very able master.' Blunt was admitted a pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1812, was elected first Bell scholar in 1813, and in the following year gained the Browne's medal for the Latin ode. He took his B.A. degree as fifteenth wrangler in 1816, and, after having obtained a fellowship in the same year, carried off the first member's prize for a Latin essay in 1818, proceeded M.A. in 1819, and took the degree of B.D. in 1826. Blunt had been appointed one of the Worts travelling bachelors in 1818, and travelled in Italy and Sicily. His attention was especially arrested by the traces of the heathen customs still surviving in the manners of the people; and after a second visit which he paid to Italy in the years 1820-21, he published 'Vestiges of Ancient Manners and Customs discoverable in Modern Italy and Sicily,' 8vo, London, 1823, which was translated into German, but which was not reprinted in England, and is now very rare. Blunt devoted himself for many years to parochial duty at Hodnet, in Shropshire, as curate to Reginald Heber and his successor in the living. He was afterwards curate at Chetwynd. He became a contributor to the 'Quarterly Review,' to which he furnished articles on the 'Life' and 'Journals' of Bishop Heber March 1827, on the 'Works' of Milton June 1827, of Archdeacon Paley October 1828, and of Dr. Parr April 1829, and on the 'Works,' and subsequently the 'Memoirs,' October 1839, of Bishop Butler, These, with others to the number of fourteen in all, were gathered into a volume, and published, after the author's death, with the title of 'Essays contributed to the Quarterly Review,' 8vo, London, 1860. Blunt contributed to Murray's 'Family Library's 'Sketch of the Reformation in England,' 8vo, London, 1832, which was translated into French and German, and which had readied its fifteenth edition in the lifetime of the author, and double that number within two years after his death. Blunt had already published, as the substance of a course of sermons delivered at Cambridge in 1827, 'The Veracity of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles argued from the Undesigned Coincidences to be found in them when compared (1) with each other, and (2) with Josephus,' 8vo, London, 1828, which two years afterwards was supplemented by a treatise, also adanted from previous university sermons, entitled 'The Veracity of the Five Books of Moses argued from the Undesigned Coincidences to be found in them when compared in their several parts,' 8vo, London, 1830. He preached the Hulsean Lectures for 1831 and 1832, in which he applied the same canon of undesigned coincidences to other books of Scripture, and published 'Hulsean Lectures for the Year 1831 : the Veracity of the Historical Books of the Old Testament, from the Conclusion of the Pentateuch to the Op'ening of the Prophets, argued from the Undesigned Coincidences to be found in them when compared in their several parts ; being a Continuation of the Argument for the Veracity of the Five Books of Moses,' 8vo, London, 1832, and 'Hulsean Lectures for the Year 1832. Principles for the Proper Understanding of the Mosaic Writings stated and applied ; together with 4in Incidental Argument for the Truth of the Resurrection of Our Lord,' 8vo, London, 1833. A new edition of this entire series, rearranged, was published as 'Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings both of the Old and New Testament, an Argument of their Veracity,' &c., 8vo, London, 1847 ; sixth edition, 1809. Towards the close of his curate life Blunt published the 'Advantages enjoyed by a Minister of the Church of England, and the Duties they entail upon him : a Sermon preached in the Parish Church of Newport, at the Visitation of the Archdeacon of Salop, June 26, 1833,' 8vo, London, 1833, and in 1834 was presented by his college to the rectory of Great Oakley in Essex. 'He established his parish school, his clubs and societies ; he rebuilt his dilapidated and long tenantless parsonage ; he married a wife; he was useful and contented' (Quarterly Review, July 1858). He was elected Lady Margaret professor of divinity on 9 May 1839, from which time he resided regularly in Cambridge, relinquishing his parochial cure. Blunt commenced his professorial work by a course of lectures in the Lent term of 1840, of which the first was published as an 'Introduction to a Course of Lectures on the Early Fathers,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1840, which was followed by the 'Second Part, of an Introduction,' &c., 8vo, Cambridge, &c., 1843, both being afterwards published together as 'Two Introductory Lectures,' &c., 8vo, Cambridge, &c. 1856, with a 'Memoir' of Blunt prefixed by Professor Selwyn, his successor in the Lady Margaret divinity chair. After five years of exegetical treatment of the primitive fathers Blunt delivered a course of lectures, published after his death as he left them, 'On the Right Use of the Early Fathers : two series of lectures,' &c. 8vo, London, 1857; second edition, corrected, 1858. The first series had been delivered in the October term of 1846, and the second in the October term of 1846. The substance of a later course of lectures, delivered during the Lent term of 1854, was published after his death with the title of 'A History of the Christian Church during the First 'Three Centuries,' 8vo, London, 1856, second edition 1857, which had been foreshadowed by 'A Sketch of the Church of the First Two Centuries after Christ, drawn from the Writings of the Fathers down to Clemens Alexandrinus inclusive, in a Course of Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge in January 1836,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1836. Blunt frequently occupied the university pulpit, and three volumes of his discourses as select preacher have been published : 'Five Sermons,' &c. 8vo, Cambridge, 1847; 'Four Sermons,' &c. 8vo, Cambridge, 1850; 'Five Sermons,' &c. 8vo, Cambridge, 1852, which were subsequently collected into a single volume as 'Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge 1845-51,' 8vo, London, 1873. Of the discourses delivered by Blunt two may be mentioned—' The Hamsden Sermon, "On the Subject of Church Extension over the Colonies and Dependencies of the British Empire," preached before the University of Cambridge Sunday May 23, 1852,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1852, and 'A Sermon in Memory of the late Duke of Wellington, preached before the University of Cambridge on Sunday, Nov. 21, 1852,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1852. He also published 'Plain Sermons preached to a Country Congregation,' 8vo, London, 1857, second series 1859, third series 1861, which, in the two-volume form they finally assumed, had reached a fifth edition in 1868. Other sermons by Blunt have been published. He is also author of 'Acquirements and Principal Obligations and Duties of the Parish Priest. Being a Course of Lectures delivered at the University of Cambridge to the Students in Divinity,' 8vo, London, 1856. At the death of Denison, bishop of Salisbury, in 1854, the see was offered to Blunt. He was too far advanced in life, and refused the other. His health had declined during 1854, but he was able to deliver a course of lectures in the Lent term of 1855 on the study of the early fathers. His last public act was to vote for the university petition against the admission of dissenters to degrees. He died of erysipelas at his house in Cambridge, 18 June 1855. He was twice married: first (14 June 1836) to Elizabeth Roylance, daughter of the late Baddeley Child, of Barlaston, by whom he left two daughters; and secondly, to Harriet, daughter of the late Sneyd Kynnesley, of Loxley Park, who survived him.

[Times. 19 June 1865; Guardian, 20 June 1855; Cambridge Chronicle, 23 June 1866; Gent. Mag. September 1843 and August 1866; Memoir prefixed to Two Introductory Lectures, Cambridge, 1866; Quarterly Review, July 1858; Graduati Cantab. 1873.]

A. H. G.