About Thomas Blount

Blount was “never advantaged in learning by the help of an university, only his own geny [natural bent] and industry, together with the helps of his scholastical acquaintance during his continuance in the Temple, before and after he was barrester.”

Anthony à Wood (Blount’s friend)

Blount, deemed ‘a recusant antiquary,’ was a stalwart Roman Catholic. You can see the influences of his faith in not only Glossographia, but also his other published works and the people he associated with. No doubt the political climate was vital in shaping his practice. I have only introduced some snippets of his life, relevant to his work as a lexicographer. Blount has published other works in addition while working on his dictionaries, including about the mistreatment of Catholics in Calendarium Catholicum: Or An Universall Almanack, 1661, no doubt influenced by his own experiences.

Thomas Blount (1618-1679) was born in Worcestershire to Myles Blount and Anne Bustard Blount. Both of them were Catholics, loyal to Charles I, who outwardly refused to accept the Anglican faith. They owned estates, but because of their Catholicism, the sequestration ordinance in 1643 prevented them from leasing back their sequestered properties. Thus, they lost almost two-thirds of revenue from their properties. He married Anne Church, who also happened to be a zealous Catholic and Royalist.

Cover page of Blount’s Glossographia, 1661 edition

In 1639, Blount became a student at the Inner Temple, for legal training for barristers and judges. This can be seen on the cover page of Glossographia: “By T.B. of the Inner-Temple, Barrister.” He was called to bar in 1648, but could not practice in courts because he was Catholic. Instead, he served as a specialist in properties, and studied law as an amateur. He also read widely in other academic disciplines. Blount desired scholarly recognition and particularly wanted to cement his position as a legal authority, despite not being allowed to practice in the courts. His lexicographical publishings were a way to secure himself a scholarly reputation and to transmit his knowledge. From his first edition of Glossographia in 1659 to the end of his life, Blount collected material, revised, and updated his dictionaries.