Henry Blount 1602-1682
Sir Henry BLOUNT 1602-1682
Henry Blount was born at Tittenhanger, Hertfordshire, son of Sir Thomas Blount. BA Trinity College, Oxford 1618; admitted at Gray's Inn 1620. Like many wealthy young gentlemen he travelled abroad, but achieved fame by publishing an account of his travels through eastern Europe and Turkey in A voyage into the Levant (1636). He was knighted in 1639 and supported the King during the 1640s, taking part in the battle of Edgehill, but in the 1650s he became involved in Cromwell's government, serving on several official commissions. It was around this time that he rebuilt the house on the Tittenhanger estate. Conforming as a royalist after the Restoration, he was sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1661. His enthusiastic support for the benefits of coffee, which he had encountered in Turkey, helped to establish its popularity in England from the 1650s onwards.
We do not know the size of contents of any of the Blount family libraries, but it is clear both from the family's literary activities and from testamentary evidence that books were important to them. Aubrey, in his brief life of Sir Henry, commented that he is "not of very much reading", but that "when he was young, he was a great collector of books, as his son is now". In his will, he left all his books, then in London, to Charles; the Tittenhanger estate (with, presumably, some family library there) had already been settled on Thomas Blount, in 1678.
Sir Thomas, in his will, left all his books to his eldest son. Charles likewise left his books to his eldest son, to be inherited at the age of 30, or when he married (whichever happened first), or (should that son die too soon) to the next in line on the same terms, "hoping that if they have any value for my memory they will never sell or dispose of that study and choice collection which I have with so much charge and trouble gathered together". If all his sons died too young to inherit the books, they were to go to "such of my daughters as shall be married and have the first son then living", or failing that, to the eldest son of his brother Thomas.
A copy of John Evelyn's Sylva, 1664, now in a private collection, has been reported which has Henry Blount's inscription on the titlepage, and many Latin annotations through the text. A copy of D. Bartoli, La ricreatione del savio, 1659, illustrated in Forum Auctions 28.1.2021/lot 11 (later Christopher Edwards catalogue 83/2), had "Sr Henry Blount" written at the base of the titlepage.