Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devon

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Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devon and 8th Baron Mountjoy (1563 - April 3, 1606) served as Lord Deputy and as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.

The grandson of William Blount, Charles became the most notable of the later holders of the dukedom. 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 (1565-1601). (Christopher had married Essex's mother, Lettice Knollys, the Countess of Essex, and he was afterwards executed for complicity in Essex's treason.) In 1600 Mountjoy went to Ireland as lord deputy in succession to Essex, where he succeeded in suppressing the rebellion of Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone, whom Essex had failed to subdue.

Mountjoy brought the Nine Years War to an end by relentless scorched earth tactics in the rebel's stronghold of Ulster. In July 1601 Mountjoy made himself master of Lough Foyle by an amphibious landing at Derry, and penetrated the east of the province by a landing at Carrickfergus. In the following December he defeated O'Neill's Spanish auxiliaries at Kinsale, and drove them out of the country. In 1603 the earl of Tyrone made his submission to Mountjoy ay Melifont, near Dundalk after the accession of James I. Mountjoy continued in office with the more distinguished title of Lord-Lieutenant (1603 - 1604). He declared an amnesty for the former rebels and granted them very generous terms, leading to some severe criticism from his fellow Englishmen.

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

About 1590 Mountjoy took as his mistress Penelope, wife of Lord Rich and sister of Essex. After the execution of her brother in 1601, Lady Rich divorced her husband in the ecclesiastical courts. Mountjoy, by whom she had already had several children, married her in 1605 in a ceremony conducted by his chaplain, William Laud, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. As he left no legitimate children the Earl's titles became extinct at his death.


Preceded by:
Vacant
Master-General of the Ordnance
1597–1601
Succeeded by:
Vacant

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Reference

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