Blount, Richard (DNB00)

BLOUNT, RICHARD (1565–1638), jesuit, of the Leicestershire branch of the Blount family, was younger brother of Sir Thomas Pope Blount, of Osbaston, Leicestershire, and Tittenhanger, Hertfordshire, and grandson of Walter, son of John Blount, of Blunt's Hall, Staffordshire. Born in Leicestershire in 1565, he matriculated at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1583 his aunt Lady Paulet nominated him fellow of Trinity, but he only held the fellowship three weeks, leaving the university on becoming a catholic. On 22 July 1583 he reached the English college of Douay (then temporarily removed to Rheims), and next year entered the English college at Rome, where he was ordained priest in 1589. On 2 Sept. 1590 he left the college for Spain, in company with Father Robert Parsons, who in 1591 devised a plan for sending Blount and other priests into England. He applied to the Spanish admiral to equip them as if they were sailors who had formed part of the expedition against Spain under the Earl of Essex, and, having been taken prisoners, were now duly released, with permission to return to England. In this disguise they were on their arrival taken before Lord Howard of Effingham, afterwards Earl of Nottingham, the English lord high admiral, and as they had made themselves so accurately acquainted with the details of the expedition as to be able to answer all the questions put to them, they were without trouble or delay permitted to land. The stratagem came to Lord Burghley's ears when it was too late, and the searches and inquiries ordered by the privy council were without result (Morris, Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, i. 190).

Blount found a home and a centre for his missionary work at Scotney Castle, the seat of the Darells of Sussex, and the narrative of his wonderful escape, in 1598, from the hands of the pursuivants who had beset and occupied that mansion has been recorded by Mr. William Darell. He entered the Society of Jesus in England in 1596, and was professed of the four vows 5 May 1608. In 1617 he was appointed superior of the English missions of the society, whose members so increased in number under his government, that from a handful of nineteen—four of whom were in captivity—in 1598, they had risen to nearly two hundred in 1619, including forty professed fathers, 109 being scattered up and down in England. Father-general Mutius Vitelleschi therefore determined to raise England to a vice-province of the society in the same year (1619), and appointed Blount the vice-provincial; and by letters patent dated 21 Jan. 1622–3, England was raised to a full province of the society, Father Blount being declared the first provincial (Foley, Records, vii. 65).

Blount laboured in the English mission for nearly fifty years, and his escapes during the heat of the persecution were marvellous. After his escape from Scotney he passed to the house of a lady of rank, which was his home for the remainder of his life. The perils to which he was exposed made Blount so cautious that though when he died he had been more than forty years a jesuit, and twenty-one years superior in England, and though he wrote and received numberless letters, yet the place where he lived was so well kept secret that we are in ignorance of it even now. We know only that it was in London. It is said that Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury, was acquainted with his dwelling-place, and that the primate would make no use of his knowledge from a kindly remembrance of the time they had spent together at Oxford, and out of respect for the lady in whose house Blount resided. For fifteen years Blount kept himself out of sight of the domestics, and on the rare occasions when business took him from home he left the house and re-entered it by night. He died in London on 13 May 1638, and was buried in Queen Henrietta Maria's private chapel in Somerset House, which was then served by the Capuchin friars.

[More's Hist. Missionis Anglicanæ Soc. Jesu, 481; Tanner's Societas Jesu Apostolorum Imitatrix, 686; Oliver's Collections S. J. 55; Foley's Records, iii. 481, vii. 64; Panzani's Memoirs, 220–223; Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, i. 157, 187–215, 320; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 110.]

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