1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mountjoy, Barons and Viscounts

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MOUNTJOY (or Montjoy), BARONS AND VISCOUNTS. Sir Walter Blount (d. 1474), of Elvaston, Derbyshire, grandson of Sir Walter Blount, who was an adherent of John of Gaunt, succeeded his father, Sir Thomas Blount, as treasurer of Calais in 1460, becoming governor a year later as a reward for service rendered to King Edward IV. at the battle of Towton. Edward conferred on him rich estates forfeited by the earl of Devon; and in 1465 Blount was made lord high treasurer and created Baron Mountjoy. This creation is noteworthy as one of the earliest examples of a baronial title not being of a territorial character; nor the title of a dignity already existing. Blount’s great-grandfather had married Isolda, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas de Mountjoy, and the title was probably chosen to commemorate this alliance.

William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy (c. 1478–1534), was famous as a scholar and patron of learning. He was a pupil of Erasmus, who called him inter nobiles doctissimus. His friends included Colet, More and Grocyn. He held a command in the force sent to suppress Perkin Warbeck’s rebellion in 1497. In 1513 he was appointed governor of Tournai, and his letters to Wolsey and Henry VIII. describing his vigorous government of the town are preserved in the British Museum. He was present with Henry VIII. at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and at the meeting with Charles V. in 1522. He had been master of the mint since 1509, and chamberlain to Catherine of Aragon since 1512. It fell to him in this office to announce to the queen Henry’s intention to divorce her; he also signed the letter to the pope conveying the king’s threat to repudiate the papal supremacy unless the divorce were granted. Mountjoy, who was one of the wealthiest English nobles of his time, died in 1534. His son Charles, 5th Baron Mountjoy (1516–1544), was also a patron of learning.

Charles Blount, earl of Devonshire and 8th Baron Mountjoy (1563–1606), lord-lieutenant of Ireland, grandson of the preceding, was the most notable of the later holders of the title. The favour which his youthful good looks procured for him from Queen Elizabeth excited the jealousy of the earl of Essex, and led to a duel between the two courtiers, who, however, soon became close friends. Between 1586 and 1598 he was much on the continent, serving in the Netherlands and in Brittany. He joined Essex and Sir Walter Raleigh in their expedition to the Azores in 1597, his brother, Sir Christopher Blount (1565–1601), who was afterwards executed for complicity in Essex’s treason, being also of the party. In 1600 Mountjoy went to Ireland as lord deputy in succession to Essex, where he succeeded in suppressing the rebellion of Hugh O’Neill, earl of Tyrone, whom Essex had failed to subdue. In July 1601 Mountjoy made himself master of Lough Foyle, and in the following December he defeated O’Neill’s Spanish auxiliaries at Kinsale, and drove them out of the country. In 1602 the earl of Tyrone made his submission to Mountjoy in Dublin. (see O’Neill); and on the accession of James I. Mountjoy was continued in his office with the more distinguished title of lord-lieutenant. Returning to England, he was one of Sir Walter Raleigh’s judges in 1603; and in the same year he was made master of the ordnance and created earl of Devonshire, extensive estates being also granted to him. He died in London on the 3rd of April 1606. About 1590 Mountjoy took as his mistress Penelope, wife of Lord Rich and sister of the earl of Essex. After the death of her brother in 1601, Lady Rich was divorced from her husband in the ecclesiastical courts. Mountjoy, by whom she had already had several children, was married to the lady in 1605 by his chaplain, William Laud, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. As he left no legitimate children the earl’s titles became extinct at his death.

His eldest natural son by Lady Rich, Mountjoy Blount (c. 1597–1666), inherited a large property by his father’s will, and was a favourite with James I. The family title was revived in his favour in 1618, when he was created Baron Mountjoy, of Mountjoy Fort, Co. Tyrone, in the peerage of Ireland; and Baron Mountjoy of Thurveston, Derbyshire, in the peerage of England. In 1628 he was further created earl of Newport in the Isle of Wight. In the same year he was appointed to command, with the rank of rear-admiral, the expedition for the relief of Rochelle; in 1634 he was made master of the ordnance. He took the popular side at the beginning of the trouble between Charles I. and the parliament, and was an eager opponent of Strafford. When the Civil War broke out, however, Newport served in the royalist army, and took part in the second battle of Newbury in 1644. In January 1646 he was taken prisoner and confined in London on parole. He died at Oxford on the 12th of February 1666, leaving two surviving sons, who in turn succeeded to the earldom of Newport and barony of Mountjoy. Both titles became extinct on the death of Henry, the younger of these sons, in 1681.,

In 1683 Sir William Stewart (1653–1692), who owned large property in the counties of Donegal and Tyrone, and whose grandfather was created a baronet in 1623, was raised to the peerage of Ireland as Baron Stewart of Ramelton, Co. Donegal, and Viscount Mountjoy. Having served abroad, Mountjoy returned to Ireland in 1687, where he became brigadier-general. At the revolution he remained loyal to James II.; but being a Protestant he was distrusted by Tyrconnel, the viceroy, and was removed with his troops from Londonderry to Dublin. When the gates of Londonderry were closed against James’s representative, Tyrconnel sent Mountjoy and Robert Lundy with a force to the north. After negotiations which resulted in Lundy being admitted as governor to the city, Mountjoy was sent with Sir Stephen Rice to Paris to report on the state of affairs to James II. On their arrival, Rice acting on secret instructions, denounced Mountjoy as a traitor, and the latter was thrown into the Bastille, where he remained till 1692. He then went over to William III., and was killed at Steinkirk on the 3rd of August 1692.

William, 3rd Viscount Mountjoy (1709–1769), was in 1745 created earl of Blesington, his mother having been sister and sole heiress of Charles, 2nd and last Viscount Blesington. On his death without issue in 1769 all his titles became extinct. Anne Stewart, daughter and heiress of Alexander Stewart, second son of the above-mentioned William, 1st Viscount Mountjoy, married Luke Gardiner, vice-treasurer of Ireland; and her grandson, Luke Gardiner (1745–1798), who inherited a large portion of the Mountjoy family estates, was created Baron Mountjoy of Mountjoy, Co. Tyrone (1789), and Viscount Mountjoy (1795), both in the peerage of Ireland; but on the death without male issue in 1829 of his son Charles John, who in 1816 was created earl of Blesington, all these titles again became extinct.

Thomas Windsor, or Hickman-Windsor (c. 1670–1738), second son of Thomas, Lord Windsor de Stanwell, 1st earl of Plymouth, was in 1699 created Viscount Windsor of Blackcastle, in the peerage of Ireland. In 1712 he was created a peer of Great Britain with the title of Baron Mountjoy of the Isle of Wight, being descended in the female line from Sir Andrew Windsor (c. 1475–1543), 1st Baron Windsor de Stanwell, who married Elizabeth Blount, sister and co-heir of Edward, 2nd Baron Mountjoy of the first creation, who died an infant in 1475. On the death of Thomas’s son Herbert in 1758 the title of Mountjoy again became extinct; but it was revived in favour of John Stuart, earl of Bute, who married Charlotte Jane Hickman-Windsor, Herbert’s daughter and sole heiress, and who in 1796 was created Viscount Mountjoy of the Isle of Wight, earl of Windsor, and marquess of the county of Bute, all of which titles are held by his descendant, the present marquess of Bute.

See Sir Alexander Croke, The Genealogical History of the Croke family, originally named Le Blount (2 vols., Oxford, 1823). For the Irish lord deputy, see also W. B. Devereux, Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex (2 vols., London, 1853); Fynes Moryson, Itinerary (London, 1617). Also, G. E. C., The Complete Peerage (London, 1889).