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To be Bl(o)unt …

Most people are aware that James Blunt’s real surname is Blount. This is an influential name in late mediaeval, “Tudor” and Stuart times. Bessie Blount was another mistress of Henry VIII and bore him Henry Duke of Richmond, who married Lady Mary Howard but died without issue, to be buried at Framlingham. Walter Blount, who lived through the mid-fifteenth century, was made Baron Mountjoy, although his male line became extinct in 1679. There were also two families of Baronets, although both of them are extinct, the second as recently as 2004. James Blunt, a former Captain himself, comes from a military family, with an 1855-born great-great-grandfather who died of dysentery during the Boer War, a great-grandfather and a great-great-uncle who fell during the Great War and a cousin who died in an air accident in 1940.

The latest common ancestor of the two major mediaeval branches was Sir John Blount of Sodington, who died in c.1358 and whose principal male line (marked by his grandsons Sir John and Sir Thomas) and  leads to one of the baronetcies (Blount of Sodington). By tracing his agnatic descent, but ignoring the three titles which must be culs de sac, is it possible to connect him with the modern line?

It isn’t actually possible to do so with a single reliable cyber-source such as Genealogics as Sir John’s untitled descendants appear to expire in 1821, or 1825 for an American-based branch. However, there are other options to explore as Leo van der Pas would err towards omitting people. We have James’ ancestors back to c.1580 but they don’t connect just yet, although this Telegraph article, in two parts, helps. It describes a lineage back to Viking settlers from the tenth century – fighters, of course.

An almost-king born in Jericho….?

Well, according to the Romford Recorder Henry VIII very nearly gave us Henry IX. This would have been his illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, born to the king’s mistress Elizabeth Blount.

Henry Fitzroy is not fiction, but was born in 1519 in the Jericho Priory (see above image) at Blackmore, ten miles north of Romford. The above article states that at one point Henry VIII seriously considered making the illegitimate Henry Fitzroy his heir, brushing aside any legitimate female children the king had. This would have been Mary I, of course, and then Elizabeth I. But Henry Fitzroy died young, and then eventually Henry VIII sired Edward VI on Jane Seymour. Problem solved. For the time being at least, because Edward would also die young and Mary and Elizabeth would eventually reign anyway.

Well, I suppose that Henry VIII would only have been following in Tudor family footsteps…after all his father declared the illegitimate Elizabeth of York legitimate in order to marry her! So why not declare Henry Fitzroy legitimate in order to secure the succession in the male line? The Tudors were a little comme ci comme ça when it came to such inconvenient things.

Where to find that “Tudor” Y-chromosome?

This very good blog post details the career and planned future of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, who might have succeeded Henry VIII had he not died suddenly at seventeen and a legitimate half-brother been born a year and a quarterlater. It also states his original and current burial places, the latter being St. Michael’s Church, Framlingham, together with his wife, Lady Mary Howard

framlingham

Henry Fitzroy, whose mother was Elizabeth Blount, is one of the few adults in the disputed male line from Katherine de Valois’ widowhood. Her sons from this relationship(/s) were Edmund and Jasper, surnamed either Beaufort or Tudor, the second dying without issue in 1495. Edmund had only one son, later Henry VII. He had several sons – some died in infancy and Arthur as a teenager without issue in 1502, leaving Henry VIII. Henry Fitzroy and Edward VI were Henry VIII’s only sons not to die in infancy. That leaves seven men, five of whom are guaranteed to share a Y-chromosome, plus Fitzroy and Jasper, just in case their mothers’ private lives were even more complicated.

We also know precisely where to find Owain, the last proven Tudor – somewhere within the pre-Reformation bounds of Hereford Cathedral. So the evidence to test John Ashdown-Hill’s theory is definitely at hand.

The other point to remember is that the earldom of Richmond was under attainder from 1471-85, so the future Henry VII did not hold it until he “unattainted” himself after Bosworth.

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