Mary Sumner Blount

Mary Sumner Blount

Mary Sumner Blount was the daughter and wife of Revolutionary War generals and the benefactor of Christ Episcopal Church, Raleigh, NC. She was born in Warren County at the home of her father, General Jethro Sumner (1759-1812), founder of the N.C. Society of the Cincinnati. Having emigrated from England about 1690, the Sumners settled near Suffolk, Nansemond County, VA.

Mary Sumner became the second wife of General Thomas Blount of Edgecombe County, NC in November 1796. They lived at a large plantation near Tarboro, NC. Blount served as a lieutenant in the N.C. Continental Line, was taken prisoner of war, and later became a major general in the N.C. Militia. He was a trustee of the University of North Carolina, on the com­mission that laid out the city of Raleigh where one of the streets bears his name, and was a member of the U.S. Congress. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.

Mary Sumner was left a large fortune at General Blount’s death. She died suddenly at the home of a friend in Tarboro. In her will she left money for the “building of a Protestant Episcopal Church in the City of Raleigh.” Duncan Cameron of Orange County and William Hooper of Fayetteville were named to carry out the intent of her will. The will stated that should any person contest the will, they were to be denied any inheritance due them. In 1826, the present church lot was purchased and a framed building erected.

The Rev. John Philips, a missionary who is credited with starting the Episcopal churches in Washington and Warrenton, NC, was the rector of Calvary Church, Tarboro, and a great friend to Mary Sumner Blount. It was Mr. Phillips who influenced Mrs. Blount to make a bequest to start a church in Raleigh.

Mary Sumner Blount is buried in Calvary churchyard in Tarboro. It is believed that a bolt of lightning destroyed her tombstone. The present tombstone was a gift of the congregation of Christ Church, Raleigh.