BLOUNT, Thomas I (d.1441), of Temple Street, Bristol.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Bristol Mich. 1393-4; sheriff 8 Oct. 1399-1 Oct. 1401; mayor Mich. 1407-8, 1416-17.3
Constable of the Bristol Staple 28 Sept. 1402-26 Sept. 1407, by May 1438.4
Commr. of inquiry, Bristol May 1400 (treason and insurrection) Aug. 1400 (maladministration of St. Lawrence’s hospital) June 1406 (concealed royal income) July 1421 (property of the college of Calendars); to raise loans June 1406; take musters June 1430; assess a grant Apr. 1431.
Collector of tunnage and poundage, Bristol 24 Mar. 1401-15 Apr. 1402.
A Bristol merchant of some standing, Blount took an active interest in local affairs for over 40 years. Possibly the son of a former bailiff, Thomas Blount’s own appointment to that office in 1393 marked only the beginning of his career in the town, at a time when his commercial interests were also taking shape. By then a regular witness to local deeds, he was first nominated for the shrievalty of Bristol on 26 Sept.1397, but was not appointed until two years later. It was while in office in May 1400 that Blount was commissioned to investigate the recent insurrections in Bristol following the deposition of Richard II, and along with the then mayor, Thomas Knap*, he subsequently accounted for chattels, valued at over £600, confiscated from adherents of the late King. Blount was twice elected mayor of Bristol. As such, he presided over meetings of the common council held at the Guildhall in January 1408, when new ordinances for the crafts of skinners and cordwainers were confirmed. In 1409-10 he served as one of the 42 elected to the town council by the commonalty, and he is also known to have functioned as a councillor, at least at intervals, in the years from 1419 to 1438. His attendance at parliamentary elections held at the Guildhall was very regular, and it is interesting to record that, in 1407, he was responsible as mayor for drawing up the first return by indenture made in accordance with the statute of 1406, and also that he attested similar indentures at every one of the 18 elections recorded between then and his death.5 Blount’s active involvement in Bristol affairs led to his frequent appointment on royal commissions concerning the town.
Throughout this period Blount was engaged in the cloth trade, and certainly some of the cloth he exported was of his own manufacture. In 1395-6 he was assessed by the local alnager for tax on 41 cloths woven in Bristol, and ten years later for 19. He traded primarily with Bayonne, but occasionally with Spain, exporting at least 52 cloths in 1393-4, 42 in the following year (but with an additional 125 in partnership with other Bristol merchants), and as many as 202 in 1398-9, 110 in 1399-1400 and 155 in the autumn of 1408. His imports included iron and woad; and clauses in his will indicate that he also dealt in lead. At some time Blount was involved in the corn trade, since in association with another Bristol merchant he petitioned for royal licence to ship 45 quarters of grain to Gascony. It was as a result of a commercial undertaking with John Burton II*, Richard Trenode*, John Leycestre* and Robert Russell II* that, in the late 1430s, Blount was sued in Chancery for alleged refusal to honour a bond, and it was again probably as an outcome of Blount’s trading ventures that William Justeyne, a Taunton man, incurred debts of 20 marks, obtaining pardon for his subsequent outlawry for failing to answer the merchant in court.6
A successful businessman, Blount was frequently chosen to be either executor or supervisor of the wills of Bristol men. As early as 1389 he had been named executor by John Swell, followed in 1392 by William Waleys, a draper, and in 1396 by Peter atte Barugh. Later, in 1413, John Sely, sometime mayor of Bristol, left him £5 and a silver cup with a cover bearing a dragon, in return for his acceptance of the executorship. In 1418 Blount agreed to be overseer of the will of John Droys*, some of whose property he instructed the executors to sell for pious purposes. After John Barstaple (d.1411), another ex-mayor, obtained licence to found a hospital at Lawford’s Gate, Blount joined the fraternity associated with it, and he was thus a member in February 1417 when the brethren obtained royal licence to incorporate their guild and dedicate it to the Holy Trinity and St. George. Incidentally, difficulties arose two years later when Barstaple’s son, Nicholas, a chaplain, initiated proceedings in Chancery disputing the guild’s right to the manor of Ridgeway (Gloucestershire) as well as certain property at Bristol of which the fraternity had been enfeoffed with a view to settling them in mortmain on the hospital. Blount entered recognizances in £500 to abide by the court’s decision.7
Blount had married Alice, daughter of William Norton, a local tucker, and it was the latter who, in 1407, bequeathed to them by will his house in Temple Street, conditional upon it being sold after their decease and the proceeds of the sale donated towards the rebuilding of Temple church. Subsequently, when Blount drew up his own will on 26 May 1441, gifts to this church predominated: he requested (like his father-in-law), burial in the Temple cemetery, and donated to the church his antiphonal and £2 for a projected tower, and, to the parish, 500 lbs. of lead to be made into pipes for carrying water from Temple Gate to Temple Cross. He also made bequests to the mendicant priests of Bristol, and to Wells cathedral. Blount’s second wife, who survived him, retained their house, shops and gardens in Temple Street, rights of remainder in which Blount had previously sold for £200 to a business colleague, Richard Forster, who also received property in Tucker Street with land and a drying room in St. Thomas Street. Margaret Blount was also bequeathed, in association with the bailiff of ‘Temple Fee’, all her late husband’s right in a tower called ‘Towreharratz’ and a plot of land behind the city walls. In addition, she was to have the use of Blount’s jewels and silver vessels until she died, when they were to be made into chalices for poor churches. Blount died before 28 June when his will was brought up for probate before the mayor of Bristol.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Bailiff of Bristol 1368-70: Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxvi. 127.
- 2. Bristol Wills (Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. 1886), 82, 129.
- 3. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxvi. 129-30; C267/5, nos. 39, 44.
- 4. C267/5, nos. 36-39, 58.
- 5. Little Red Bk. Bristol ed. Bickley, i. 137, 139, 144, 148, 153, 169; ii. 93, 99, 101; CFR, xi. 226; E364/39 m. Ad; C219/10/4, 6, 11/1, 8, 12/2-6, 13/1-5, 14/2, 3, 5, 15/1.
- 6. E101/339/2, 7; E122/16/24, 26, 34, 17/1, 9, 10; SC8/229/11442; C1/10/36; CPR, 1441-6, p. 308.
- 7. Bristol Wills, 24-25, 31, 48, 92, 100, 115, 125; Gt. Red Bk. (Bristol Rec. Soc. iv), 240; Cart. St. Mark’s Hosp. (ibid. xxi), 65-66; CPR, 1405-8, p. 410; 1416-22, p. 68; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 523-4; C1/6/270-1, 11/334; PCC 23 Marche.
- 8. Bristol Wills, 82, 129.