Blount, Charles Brooke (1563–1606), 8th Baron Mountjoy and earl of Devonshire , soldier and administrator, was second son of James Blount (1532/3–1581), 6th Baron Mountjoy, of Canford near Poole, Dorset, and his wife Catherine (née Lee/Leigh; d. 1576) of St Oswald's, Yorkshire. James's unsuccessful business ventures greatly reduced the family estates. Charles was a scholar at Winchester (1573), attended Oxford lectures but did not apparently join a college or graduate (though he later received an MA, 1589), and entered Middle Temple from Clifford's Inn (1579). He read widely in English, French, and Italian; his interests included poetry, theology, and, especially, the science and history of warfare. At court (c.1583) he impressed Elizabeth I, whose goodwill sustained him for twenty years with a succession of offices and several special payments; she also, however, kept him back from gaining military experience. He managed, nonetheless, to see active service in the Netherlands (1585, 1587), the Armada campaign (1588), Brittany (1592–3), and the Azores expedition (1597) under the 2nd earl of Essex (qv), in which he was lieutenant of land forces. Having been knighted (1587), he succeeded his brother as 8th Baron Mountjoy (1594) and was made a KG (1597). In parliament he represented in the commons St Ives (1584) and Bere Alston (1586, 1593), seats owned jointly by his family and the marquis of Winchester; in the house of lords he took part in framing the 1597 poor law and in several important committees. Passed over for the lord deputyship of Ireland in favour of Essex (1599), despite having been nominated by the English council, Mountjoy was made lieutenant-general of forces defending England against Spanish invasion.
He became lord deputy on Essex's recall, taking up office in February 1600 with the purpose of reforming the army, decentralising command, and planting strongholds in rebel territory, using the strategic advantage of sea power. With smaller resources than Essex, Mountjoy retook the initiative; within eighteen months of sustained campaigning he reversed what had been a confused and dangerous situation, and showed particular skill in restoring his men's morale, concentrating his forces, and surprising the enemy. While Sir George Carew (qv) subjugated Munster, Mountjoy defeated, killed, or subdued the Leinster rebels and forced O'Neill back north to be contained under increased pressure from new garrisons in west and south Ulster, together with systematic spoliation of rebel territory, at heavy cost in the lives of non-combatants. Mountjoy was briefly shaken by the downfall of Essex (whose ambitions he had assisted), but retained royal favour. The Spanish intervention at Kinsale (September–December 1601) threatened to undo his achievements; however, after the Irish defeat (24 December 1601) and Spanish surrender Mountjoy was able to resume pressure on the north. He broke the O'Neill inauguration stone at Tullaghoge (September 1602), and O'Neill submitted unconditionally at Mellifont (March 1603). On the accession of James I, Mountjoy confronted, with general success, a widespread resurgence of catholic religious observance in the towns.
On returning from Ireland he was made lord lieutenant, earl of Devonshire, a privy counsellor, and master of the ordnance (1603); in 1604 he assisted in negotiating peace with Spain, and after the gunpowder plot (1605) he served both as military commander and investigating commissioner. From c.1587/1590 he was the lover of Penelope (d. 1607), sister of Essex and wife of Robert, 3rd Baron Rich; they had three sons and two daughters, all illegitimate. Though the relationship was tacitly accepted in society, his attempt to marry her (26 December 1605) after her divorce caused a scandal. He died of pneumonia 3 April 1606 at Savoy House, London, and was buried in Westminster abbey on 7 May. Though his titles became extinct with his death, he had succeeded in restoring the family fortunes and left over £20,000, out of which provision was made for his widow and children. Several likenesses survive, including three miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard.