b. 1842, d.1929.

Shrewsbury Scientist T.P. Blunt
Biography / Obituary


Mr. T. P. Blunt.


     The peaceful death of Mr.Thomas Porter Blunt, M.A., F.I.C., F.C.S., who died in his sleep on Friday evening, in his 87th year, removes a veteran scientist of whom Shrewsbury may well be proud. His researches laid the foundation for many wonderful modern scientific developments.
     He was a son of Mr. Thomas Blunt, a well-known chemist on Wyle Cop, and was born in Abbey Foregate. From Bangor School, where he received his early education, he proceeded to Magdalen College, Oxford, and in November 1864, he obtained first class honours in natural science. He rowed for his college (now Hertford), while he paid some attention to fishing and riding. Leaving Oxford, must have been a severe wrench to young Blunt, who was eminently fitted, by both training and natural ability, for a life devoted to scientific research. But the call of duty was too strong and he returned to Shrewsbury to his father's business on Wyle Cop, where he not only maintained the family reputation for pharmacy but, in the quaint old rooms at the rear, established and conducted his work as a public and private analyst.
   For over 50 years he was the county analyst and agricultural analyst; public analyst for a long time for Montgomeryshire and Merionethshire, and the consulting analyst for many authorities. His work in chemistry extended over a wide area and many interesting cases of poison and adulteration passed through his hands.

     He relinquished his work for his native county only three years ago. He was official gas examiner for Shrewsbury for many years, a position which he resigned in 1917 when the thermal test was prescribed. He did excellent work as honorary curator for the botanical section at Shrewsbury Museum; his interest in that direction being maintained to the last. For over 50 years he was a judge of wild-flowers at Shrewsbury Show, and it was one of his pleasures to act in this capacity at the Girls' High School.


     Although a very busy man, Mr. Blunt found time for public work, particularly that connected with education. He was a member of the School Board; a trustee of Allatt's School, and a manager of All Saint's School. He was a lecturer and examiner for the Pharmaceutical Society and also conducted important courses of science lectures for the County Council. The Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club, of which he had been a vice-president; the Shropshire Archaeological Society, and the Shropshire Philosophical Society all had his active membership.
      His activities were so many, and their range so wide, that it is difficult to summarise them within a moderate compass; but among them may he mentioned his love for the classics, for they were a constant source of comfort and pleasure to him. He was essentially religious, but like those who think deeply, he was not demonstrative. He was at one time closely identified with the development of the All Saints' Church, especially during the incumbency of the Rev. Bulkeley-Owen.

     Among his friends he numbered Samuel Butler and he also had associations with Charles Darwin, and Dr. Darwin his father. He was a nephew of Henry Blunt, the Shrewsbury artist.


     Mr. Blunt published many scientific papers, most of them arising out of his analytical work. There are indications of how far he was in advance of his day when he suggested a colorimetric method for quantitive estimation. He was a Fellow of the institute of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Chemical Society.

     His Main title to fame is based on a research which he carried out in junction with Dr. Arthur Downes (now Sir Arthur Downes, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society No. 184 1877, under the title "Researches on the effect of Light upon Bacteria and other Organisms."

The following passage is quoted from an authority on ultra-violet radiation - "In 1877 Downes and Blunt proved the bactericidal action of light. Two series of culture tubes were submitted to irradition; one of the tubes was surrounded by lead-foil which would prevent the action of light, but not that of heat, the other tubes were left uncovered, and it was found that only in the former did the organisms grow. The media in which the bacteria were killed were again innoculated with organisms which developed normally, proving that the light acted on the organs themselves and not on the media, and that the heat had no bactericidal effect." Light as a curative agent has a popular interest just now in view of its use in the King's illness, but the importance of the work done in Shrewsbury in the 'seventies in this connection is apt to be overlooked or under-estimated.
    A quotation from a standard work of "Heliotherapy" by Dr. A. Rollier, published in 1923, will serve to indicate continental opinion:
  "The scientific history (of the bactericidal action of light) really began with the work of Downes and Blunt in 1877.  These researches of Downes and Blunt occupy the same position in the study of the bactericidal action of light as those of Newton do in the study of radiant energy.



    Mr. Blunt married in 1863 Miss Emily E Robinson, granddaughter of Mr. Hurl, of Eton, King's Messenger to George, IV, and the last holder of such a position. Mrs. Blunt died many years ago and Mr. Blunt has been looked after by his daughter, Miss M.E. Blunt, at the old family home in Tower Place. Trouble with his knee brought lameness and since Mr. Blunt's leg was fractured about two years ago he had been more or less an invalid. Until his death, however, his mind was active and he had the mental outlook of a young man. He was keenly interested in modern scientific theories and only regretted that their expression and development were so mathematical. His nature was reserved and modest; a kindly and lovable man, who died with the quietness he wished.


In the course of an appreciation, written to Miss Blunt by an old medical friend, occur the phrases:-

  "I always feel that recognition for his early work, and even fame, came to him while he was yet alive and able to appreciate the honour in which his name was held. It was certainly long overdue. Even yet in his own country, that work is too little known ; but it was true pioneer work and all the wonderful modern developments of treatment by Finsen light, ultra-violet rays, carbon arc lamps, etc., date back to it and are founded on his discoveries. Possibly even His Majesty the King, owes his recoveries to these agencies. If so, he owes it directly to your father's work."


The funeral took place at the Shrewsbury Cemetery on Tuesday. Prior to the burial there was a service at St. Chad's Church, conducted by the Vicar, the Rev, B.S. Lombard. The lessons were read by Preb. P. A, L. Emson, Rural Dean.

The chief mourners were: . Miss M. E. Blunt, Mrs. F. A. Rodick (Essex), Mrs. James Thomson (Dundee), daughters; Major H. P. Blunt (Liverpool), son; the Misses A. and E.M. Blunt, cousins ; Miss C. Blunt, niece.

Among those present at the church were: Major J Becke (Chief Constable of Shropshire), the Rev. T. Townsend (representing Allatt's trustees, Mr. T. Plummer (representing the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club).  Mr. G. Fulton and Mr. G. Stealey (churchwardens of St. Chad's), Dr. H. H. B. and Miss MacLeod, Preb. R. D. Machen (Church Stretton), Mr. H. E. Forrest, Mr. H. Lowe (county analyst), Mr. R. Topham (chairman ot the County Council Animal Diseases Committee), Mr. P. J. Crawley, (county accountant), Mr. Norman Withers, Mr. and Mrs. S. Ralphs, Miss H, M. Lloyd, Miss Lloyd (Dogpole) Mr. G. R. Robertson, Miss Gale, Mr. T. E. Pickering, Mr. W. H. Pendlebury, Mr. and Mrs. E. Druce, Mr. H. L. Grocott, Mr. F. G.Corser, Dr. M. Gepp, Ald. W. Gowen Cross, Mr. W. Johnson, Dr. Salt, the Rev. A. C. Lawson, Mrs. G. Grimes, Mr. A. E. White, Mr. R. K. A. Green,

Miss D. Robinson, Mr. F. Withers, Mr. S. Kent, Miss Ebrall (representing Mrs. Ebrall), Miss Backhouse, Mrs. P. Mathews, Mrs.F. A. Herbert, Mr. J. E. Henshaw, Mr. J. A. Morris, the Rev. E. R. Sequeira, Mrs. C. Clarke and Miss Clarke, Mrs, Dean Roberts, Mr. A. T. Marston, Mrs. Arthur Williams, and Mrs. Thomasson.

     The following is a list of wreaths: With love from all his children;
J.E. Henshaw and all at 23, Wyle Cop; President and members Shropshire Philosophical Society; Mr. and Mrs. A. E. White; Girls' High School; St. Chad's Ladies' work-party; Mr. and Mrs.E. Druce and family; Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Corser; Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Marston ; The headmistress and staff, Shrewsbury High School; Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Godson; Mr. and the Misses Corser, 23, The Crescent; Chairman, Vice-chairman, members and officials of the Salop County Council; Mr. Cecil E. Salt; Mr., Mrs. and Miss Plimmer; Agnes and Ellen ; Dr, and Mrs. Herbert Henstock; Mr. and Mrs. W. Edmond; M. C. and C. E. Ward; Mrs. Robert A. Craig and Mrs. R. L. E. Downer; Mr. and Mrs. Pendlebury and family; Mr. and Mrs. Ralphs; Miss F. K. and Miss K. Watkins; The Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club; Mr. and Mrs. Hal-comb Hughes; Dr.and Mrs. R. H. Urwick, Mrs. J. Harold Cock; Mr. and Mrs. Harold Lowe; Miss MacLeod; Mr. and Mrs. Trueman and Girls; All at Bicton Vicarage; Col. and the Misses Robinson; Charity Blunt.



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also: Thomas Porter Blunt Obituary by Harold Lowe
who joined Thomas in his analytical work in 1912 and does a wonderful writeup regarding the chemist side of his life


Mr. Thomas Porter Blunt

Please note that all passages are written as recorded in the
original obituary, complete with hyphens and spelling.


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