JAMES I and CHARLES I Illuminated letters patent creating Sir Francis Blundell a baronet, [13 October 1620]
Lot 47
Illuminated letters patent creating Sir Francis Blundell a baronet, [13 October 1620]
£4,000 - 6,000
US$ 5,400 - 8,100

Lot Details
Illuminated letters patent creating Sir Francis Blundell a baronet, first leaf only, in Latin, signed at the foot by Francis Edgeworth, Clerk of the Hanaper, bearing historiated initial letter portrait of James I together with Charles, Prince of Wales within an oval, the document bearing three decorative borders (at head and both sides); the portrait of the King showing him head-and-shoulders, crowned and in state robes, with an elaborate ruff and jewelled collar from which is suspended the Great George, the portrait of Prince Charles showing him half-length and wearing the Great George suspended by a blue ribbon, a gilt cartouche with the Prince of Wales feathers at his right; under the portrait of the King is written "Liberalitas" and immediately below (in the left-hand border) is a female figure akin to that of Fortune, wearing a billowing red cloak, blowing bubbles which a putto beneath her is trying to catch with outstretched arms, he being accompanied by the Virgilian motto "Festina Lente"; separated by a blank armorial shield below is a figure akin to Envy, with medusa-snaked hair, haggard breasts, scaly wings and serpent's tail, her left hand is shown clutching a red heart which she is bringing to her open mouth and her right shown clasping a golden key; the upper border bearing (from left to right): the head of James I; a female figure representing Truth, sounding a trumpet and seated on a male figure with extinguished torch, labelled above in a strapwork cartouche "Conciosacra", the word "Veritas" proceeding from her trumpet which bears the pendant banner marked (with elisions) "Vox clamantis in deserto parate viam domini"; next along is a female figure holding a spear whose pennant reads "Pro Patria"; next to her are two warriors as supporters to the portrait of Prince Charles, one supporter wearing the blue ribbon of Scotland, the other the red cross of St George, putti heads above, a leaping lion and tree-eating snail beneath, the portrait roundel surmounted by the word 'Yahweh' in Hebrew script; to the right beneath the strapwork cartouche title "Punito" is a female figure of Justice who advances on a female figure under the strapwork cartouche title "Ingratitudo", Justice brandishing a flaming sword and whip, a cowering dragon below her, Ingratitude being a blind-folded female figure with bare breasts, her right arm clutching an ox while her left foot rests on a lamb; at the right-hand edge is an arabesque border incorporating stylized flowers and birds; the writing and decoration in bistre pen-and-in-ink, illuminated in gilt, with green, red and blue washes; inscribed as examined in the bottom margin where the Great Seal was originally suspended; the reverse bearing a contemporary certificate of enrolment in the Patent Office, with late eighteenth or early nineteenth century filing dockets, numbered "B. 38. No 1" and "A.o 10", archive stamp of the 'Downshire Office Muniments/ Hillsborough', modern archival docket in pencil "D/EDF27" (see National Archives Access to Archives catalogue of Devonshire Papers at the Berkshire Record Office, marked as permanently withdrawn), on vellum, pierced at the lower border where seal was originally suspended, some slight smudging and overall dust-staining, minor tears at edges, c.600 x 700mm., [13 October 1620]


  • AN IRISH DEED BEARING PORTRAITS OF JAMES I AND HIS SON CHARLES PRINCE OF WALES, SURROUNDED BY ALLEGORICAL FIGURES IN THE JACOBEAN MASQUING TRADITION, as exemplified by Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones (Jonson's masques The Man in the Moon and Pan's Anniversary appearing at about this time). The head-and-shoulders portrait of James derives from the full-length state paintings of this period by Paul van Somer (ours being in reverse, indicating that it was taken from an engraving); while that of the beardless Prince Charles is based on the miniature prototype established by Isaac Oliver and continued by his son Peter.

    The beneficiary of this grant, Sir Francis Blundell, first baronet (c. 1579-1625) was a prominent lawyer who spent much of his career in Ireland, serving as MP for Lifford, in Ireland, between 1613 and 1615, as Constable of Limerick Castle, and in 1619 holding the posts of Secretary, Receiver-General and Vice-Treasurer. He was knighted by James I on 30 January 1617/18 and made an Irish baronet on 13 October 1620, as per the present deed. A descendant married into the Trumbull (Downshire) family, and the present patent was at one time housed among their papers in the Berkshire Record Office; the bulk of the archive being now in the British Library.

    The document has been signed at the foot, as enrolled, by Francis Edgeworth, whose father had emigrated to Ireland under the patronage of Essex and who was founder of Edgeworthstown and ancestor of Richard Lovell and Maria Edgeworth. As Clerk of the Hanaper (named after the hamper in which such writs were originally stored), Edgeworth was responsible for making out and issuing writs under the Great Seal. Our deed stands at the head of a decorative tradition applying to the grant of Irish titles that was to flourish well into the eighteenth century. The fact that the armorial shield at the left has been left empty may indicate that the decoration of the deed was left unfinished pending work by a specialist heraldic artist.
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  1. Simon Roberts
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