Blundell, Peter (DNB00)

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BLUNDELL, PETER (1520–1601), merchant and benefactor, was born at Tiverton in 1520. At first he was but a poor lad, who made his living by running on the errands and watching the horses of the carriers in the kersey-trade who visited that town. But even in this poor calling he managed to save enough money to buy a single kersey, which was carried to London by one of his friends without charge and sold for Blundell s profit. From this small beginning he progressed so rapidly in buying and selling kerseys, as well as in acting for other merchants in the same trade, that he was enabled to establish a manufactory for himself. By this means he gradually accumulated a vast estate, and was able, besides leaving substantial legacies to his nephews, to spend nearly 40,000l. in various benefactions. By his will, dated 9 June 1599, he directed that his body should be buried in the church of St. Michael Paternoster, afterwards known as St. Michael Royal, London. He died a bachelor 18 April 1601, and was buried 4 May. It may be noted that one of his nephews, Robert Chilcot, followed his example, both in trade and in charitable disposition.

Blundell's benefactions were not confined to any particular place or class. He left large sums to the London hospitals and to the city companies, to various institutions at Tiverton and to the city of Exeter, the last benefaction being designed for the encouragement of the city's mechanics. But his chief public work consisted of the establishment and endowment under his will of the school known as Blundell's School, which was erected in 1604 at the east end of the town of Tiverton. Within this building have been educated a large number of the youth of the west of England, including Bishops Bull, Hayter, and Conybeare, Mr. Abraham Hayward, the essayist, and Mr. R. D. Blackmore, the novelist. John Ridd, the hero of Mr. Blackmore's novel of ‘Lorna Doone,’ was educated there, and two views of the school-buildings will be found in the illustrated edition of that work. Particulars of the feoffees, masters, and principal scholars may be obtained from the works of Incledon, Dunsford, and Harding. Minutes of the proceedings of the feoffees from 1665 to 1774 are in the possession of Lieutenant-colonel Carew, of Crowcombe Court, Somerset. When an annual school-feast was set on foot about 1750, a ticket was engraved by Hogarth.

[Incledon's Donations of P. Blundell, 1792 and 1804; Dunsford's Tiverton, 114–18, 180–9, 203, 265, 342–55; Harding's Tiverton, books i., iii., and iv.; Polwhele's Cornwall, v. 74–6; Prince's Worthies; Moore's Devon, ii. 116–19; Fourth Rep. Hist. MS. Comm. p. 374.]

W. P. C.