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Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire

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Subject: Elizabeth I of England, 1563, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, John Ford (dramatist), Red Bull Theatre, The Virgin Queen (TV serial), Ballinhassig, Penelope Rich, Lady Rich, Lord Deputy of Ireland, Earl of Newport
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Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire

Charles Blount (pronounced blunt), 8th Baron Mountjoy and 1st Earl of Devonshire (1563 – 3 April 1606) was an English nobleman and soldier who served as Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth I, then as Lord Lieutenant under King James I.

Early life

The second son of James Blount, 6th Baron Mountjoy, Charles became the most notable of the later holders of the barony, inheriting the title in 1594 on the death of his unmarried elder brother William. The favour which his youthful good looks procured for him from Queen Elizabeth I of England aroused the jealousy of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and led to a duel between the two courtiers, who later became close friends. Between 1586 and 1598 Charles spent a lot of time 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, along with his distant cousin, Sir Christopher Blount. (Sir Christopher had married Essex's mother, Lettice Knollys, the Dowager Countess of Leicester, and he was afterwards executed for complicity in Essex's treason.)[1]

Ireland

In 1600 Mountjoy went to Ireland as Lord Deputy in succession to Essex and, with the able assistance of Sir George Carew, brought the Nine Years War to an end with ruthless scorched-earth tactics in the stronghold of the rebel Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone in Ulster. In July 1601 he had successfully ordered an amphibious landing at Lough Foyle, near Derry, which penetrated the north of the province and undermined the rebels. In the following December he defeated O'Neill's Spanish allies at Kinsale, and drove them out of the country. On 30 March 1603, six days after the death of Elizabeth and the accession of James I, O'Neill made peace with Mountjoy, signing the Treaty of Mellifont.Mountjoy continued in office with the more distinguished title of Lord-Lieutenant (1603–1604). He declared an amnesty for the rebels and granted them honourable terms, which caused some severe criticism from England.[1][2]

Later life

On his return to England, Lord Mountjoy served as one of Sir Walter Raleigh's judges in 1603; and in the same year James I made him master of the ordnance and created him Earl of Devonshire, also granting him extensive estates.

Mountjoy took as his mistress Penelope Devereux, wife of Lord Rich and sister of Essex. After the execution of her brother in 1601, Lady Rich's husband divorced her in the ecclesiastical courts. Mountjoy, by whom she had already had several children, married her on 26 December 1605 at Wanstead House in London, in a ceremony conducted by his chaplain, William Laud, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.[1] This proceeding, carried out in defiance of canon law, was followed by the disgrace of both parties, who were banished from court by King James. The couple continued to live together as husband and wife with their children until his death a few months later. Blount died on 3 April 1606[1] and Penelope on 7 July 1607.

Penelope Rich's illegitimate children acknowledged by Charles Blount were:

  • Mountjoy Blount (1597–1663), later 1st Earl of Newport
  • Elizabeth Blount
  • John Blount

Legacy

Mountjoy left no legitimate children, and so the hereditary titles became extinct at his death.

Notes

References

  • Berleth, Richard: The Twilight Lords, 1978; reissued 1994, Barnes & Noble Books, ISBN 1-56619-598-5
Political offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Winchester
Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire
jointly with The Marquess of Winchester 1595–1598
The Lord Hunsdon 1597–1603
The Earl of Southampton 1604–1606

1595–1606
Succeeded by
The Earl of Southampton
Military offices
Vacant
Title last held by
The Earl of Essex
Master-General of the Ordnance
1603–1606
Vacant
Title next held by
The Lord Carew
Political offices
Preceded by
Lords Justices
Lord Deputy of Ireland
1600–1603
Succeeded by
Sir George Cary
 (Lord Deputy) 
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
1603–1604
Peerage of England
New title Earl of Devonshire
1603–1606
Extinct
Preceded by
William Blount
Baron Mountjoy
1594–1606
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