Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Is anything in this article factually incorrect? Please submit a comment.

Printer-friendly page
Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Blount, Mary ("Jackie") Sumner

By Jaquelin Drane Nash, 1979


Unidentified artist, circa 1825. "Mary Sumner Blount" North Carolina Portrait Index, 1700-1860. Chapel Hill: UNC Press. p. 26. (Digital page 40).Mary Blount, daughter and wife of revolutionary generals, by whose benefaction Christ Episcopal Church, Raleigh, was built, was born in Warren County at the home of her father, General Jethro Sumner. Her mother, before her marriage to General Sumner, had been the widow Heiss of New Bern. The Sumners were of English blood, Sumner's father, William, having emigrated from England about 1690 to settle near Suffolk, Va. General and Mrs. Sumner had a son, Thomas Edward, who, like his sister, died without leaving a family.

In November 1796, Mary Sumner became the second wife of General Thomas Blount of Edgecombe County. Their large plantation adjoined the town of Tarboro, and their handsome house is still standing. Blount was North Carolina's representative in Congress at the time of their marriage and for sixteen years thereafter, until his death in office in Washington, where he was buried in the Congressional Cemetery.

Mrs. Blount's substantial fortune was distributed at her death to many relatives and friends. The most interesting bequest in her long and detailed will has as its object the "Building of a Protestant Episcopal Church in the City of Raleigh." The means was to be "a large sum of money now due to me by virtue of the will of my late husband," estimated to have been between ten and fifteen thousand dollars. Duncan Cameron, Esq., of Orange County and the Reverand William Hooper, "now of Fayetteville," were named agents to collect the money and carry out the intent of the will. "And whereas doubts have been entertained whether a bequest of this nature cannot be defeated by the interference of those on whom the law would cast the Estate in case of an intestacy, I do further will that the said Duncan Cameron and William Hooper . . . shall have the said legacy, stripped of any trust which can result to the benefit of my next of kin, and unfettered by any trust which can be enforced by any earthly tribunal: leaving the disposition of the said legacy to their consciences." Happily, the executors secured the money for the stated purpose, and in 1826 the present church lot was purchased and a frame building erected, the predecessor to the present handsome building.

Mrs. Blount's interest in building the Raleigh church was inspired by her rector in Tarboro, the Reverend John Phillips. As a missionary, he was credited with having revived the Tarboro church and with having started churches in Washington and Warrenton, in addition to the Raleigh church.

Mrs. Blount was buried in Calvary churchyard, Tarboro. A bolt of lightning, tradition says, destroyed her tombstone. It was replaced by a handsome stone, the gift of the congregation of Christ Church, Raleigh.

Mrs. Blount's portrait, painted in Washington, D.C., in 1820 by the Italian artist Pietro Bonanni, was bequeathed by her to her long-time friend, Moses Mordecai of Raleigh. It now hangs in the Mordecai House, a museum property of the city of Raleigh. The granddaughter of Moses Mordecai intended to give the portrait to Christ Church, and so stated in her will, but later revoked her intention.

Mrs. Blount died suddenly in Tarboro at the home of a friend.


Joseph Blount Cheshire, Jr., "Life of My Father" (MS, in the possession of J. B. Cheshire IV, of Raleigh)

Edgecombe County Will Book E (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh)

Alice B. Keith, ed., The John Gray Blount Papers, 1764–1795 , 2 vols. (1952–59)

The Mordecai Papers (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh)

Nell Joslin Styron, A History of Christ Church Parish (1970)

John H. Wheeler, Historical Sketches of North Carolina (1851)

Additional Resources:

Christ Church of Raleigh:

Image credit:

Unidentified artist, circa 1825. "Mary Sumner Blount" North Carolina Portrait Index, 1700-1860. Chapel Hill: UNC Press. p. 26. (Digital page 40). Accessed 10/14/2014. 

Origin - location: 


In my research on the Blount family I have found that Jackie Sumner and Thomas Blount had a daughter Rebecca G that married Joel Harris. However, Jackie didn’t mention her daughter in her Will so I am assuming that the daughter, Rebecca and her husband Joel Harris had moved to western TN by the time of writing of this Will.

Hello Beth, 

Thank you for your comment! This entry in its current form is sourced from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography which did not include information about Jackie and Thomas Blount's child or children.

If you have any resources or references to share that contain information about Rebecca G. Blount and her connection to Jackie Sumner Blount, please feel free to share them here or send them to us via email at

Alyssa Putt, NC Government & Heritage Library

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at