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Blunt, Henrylocked

(1794–1843)
  • Edmund Venables
  • , revised by H. C. G. Matthew

Blunt, Henry (1794–1843), Church of England clergyman and writer, the son of Henry Blunt and Mary, née Atkinson, was born at Dulwich on 12 August 1794 and baptized at the chapel of Dulwich College on the 20th. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, London, from 1806, and went to Pembroke College, Cambridge, as Parkin exhibitioner, in 1813. He took his BA degree as ninth wrangler in 1817, and became fellow of his college. He was ordained on his fellowship by William Howley, bishop of London, receiving deacon's orders on 5 July 1818 and priest's orders on 20 December of the same year. After filling preacherships at the Philanthropic Institution, at Park Chapel, Chelsea, and at Grosvenor Chapel, in 1820 he was appointed vicar of Clare in Suffolk, and on 21 December of that year married Julia Ann, née Nailer, one of the six daughters of a merchant living in Chelsea. At Clare, in addition to his parochial duties, Blunt took private pupils.

In 1824 G. V. Wellesley (a brother of the first duke of Wellington), then rector of Chelsea, persuaded Blunt to resign his country living to become his curate. This post he filled for six years with steadily increasing fame as a preacher, and when Trinity Church was built in Sloane Street, London, in 1830, he was appointed its first incumbent, becoming a rector on 15 June 1832. So high was the estimation in which Blunt was held that, on Wellesley's resignation in 1832, he was offered by Lord Cadogan, the patron, the mother church of St Luke's, with the understanding that he was to hold the two livings together, with a sufficient staff of curates. This offer Blunt unhesitatingly declined. In 1835 he was presented by the duke of Bedford to the rectory of Streatham, Surrey. Blunt's health, always delicate, had by that time been completely undermined by the demands of a large London parish, and pulmonary weakness compelled him to pass successive winters at various health resorts, including Rome, Pau, and Torquay. He died in his rectory at Streatham on 20 July 1843, and was buried at Streatham.

Blunt's chief work as a preacher and a writer was done at Chelsea. Here the influence he exerted, especially over the propertied classes, was very great, while the clearness and simplicity of his style made him also acceptable to the labouring classes. Blunt was a staunch evangelical, strongly, but not narrowly, opposed to Tractarianism. His was 'perhaps the most influential congregation in London' (Balleine, 156), but he did not favour interdenominational co-operation. The most popular of his published works were the courses of lectures delivered in successive Lents at Chelsea to crowded audiences on the lives of various leading persons in the Old and New testaments. These were published between 1823 and 1839, and went through many editions. He also published a life of Christ (3 vols., 1834–6), a book on the articles (1835), selected sermons (1837 and 1838), and an Exposition of the Pentateuch (3 vols.) for family reading. Three volumes of sermons were published posthumously under the editorship of his old friend the Revd John Brown, of Cheltenham, and passed through a number of editions.

Despite frequent ill health, Blunt was a hard-working parish priest. He started the first Sunday school in Chelsea at the Clock House, and also, amid much ridicule and determined opposition, introduced Bible and communicants' classes. He published the first parish magazine, called the Poor Churchman's Evening Companion.

Sources

  • G. J. Davies, Successful preachers (1884)
  • D. Lewis, Lighten their darkness (1986)
  • G. R. Balleine, A history of the evangelical party in the Church of England, new edn (1933)

Likenesses

  • J. Brown, stipple and line engraving (after R. Fadanza), NPG
J. Venn & J. A. Venn, , 2 pts in 10 vols. (1922–54); repr. in 2 vols. (1974–8)