Blundell, William (DNB00)

BLUNDELL, WILLIAM (1620–1698), royalist officer and topographer, son of Nicholas Blundell, by Jane, daughter of Roger Bradshaigh, of Haigh, near Wigan, was born at Crosby Hall, Lancashire, and probably was sent to one of the secret places of education that were maintained by catholics in various parts of the country. At the age of fifteen he married Ann, daughter of Sir Thomas Haggerston, bart., of Haggerston, co. Northumberland. In 1642 he accepted a captain's commission from Sir Thomas Tildesley, authorising him to raise a company of one hundred dragoons for the royal cause. He joined in the march to Lancaster, where he received a serious wound, having his thigh shattered by a musket-shot. From this period till the close of the civil war his life was one of privation and anxiety. By the law of 1646 no papist delinquent could compound for his estate, and consequently all his real property was seized, and remained in the hands of the commissioners for nine or ten years. Ultimately he repurchased it at a cost of 1,340l. In addition to this he found himself saddled with the arrears of the rents reserved to the crown, arising out of frequent grants for recusancy, some of which had never been discharged. These went back as far as the reign of Elizabeth, and he was forced by the government to pay on this score 1,167l. 15s. 6½d. Moreover, the cost of making out this prodigious bill was added to the account, constituting an addition of 34l. 10s. 2d. to the foregoing sum. This remarkable document, a roll of twenty feet in length, is still preserved. After the civil war Blundell retired to Crosby Hall, where he died 24 May 1698.

His works are: 1. ‘A Short Treatise on the Penal Laws;’ this exists in manuscript at Crosby, but a printed copy cannot be found, although the author states that a few copies were printed in London. 2. ‘An Exact Chronographical and Historical Discovery of the hitherto unknown Isle of Man, containing a true and perfect description of this island at large; the history of their antient kings, late lords, and bishops of ye island, the ceremonies of their inaugurations, and installments,’ &c., 2 vols., Douglas, 1876–77, 8vo, edited by William Harrison, and forming vols. xxv. and xxvii. of the publications of the Manx Society. 3. ‘Manuscript Commonplace Books,’ kept on the method described by Drexilius in his ‘Aurifodina;’ a selection of the most interesting of the original notes, anecdotes, and observations, in these volumes has been published, with introductory chapters, by the Rev. Thomas Ellison Gibson, under the title of ‘Crosby Records, a Cavalier's Note Book,’ London, 1880, 4to.

[Memoir by Gibson prefixed to the Cavalier's Note Book; Publications of the Manx Society.]

T. C.