Ladies of Llangollen - Early Lives

Early Lives

Eleanor Charlotte Butler (11 May 1739–2 June 1829) was a member of one of the dynastic families of Ireland, the Butlers, the Earls (and later Dukes) of Ormond, who number amongst their ancestors Queen Anne Boleyn (through her paternal grandmother Lady Margaret Butler). Eleanor was considered an over-educated bookworm by her family, who resided at the Butler family seat Kilkenny Castle. She spoke French and was educated in a convent in France. Her mother tried to make her join a convent because she was becoming a spinster.

Sarah Ponsonby (1755–9 December 1831) lived with relatives in Woodstock, Ireland. She was a second cousin of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough, and thus a second cousin, once-removed, of his daughter the Lady Caroline Lamb.

Their families lived only two miles (3 km) from each other. They met in 1768, and quickly became friends. Over the years they formulated a plan for a private rural retreat.

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