Lady Eleanor Butler

 

The year is 1795. . . and we have two pencil portraits by Anna Seward

 

Eleanor Butler
(age: about 56)

Lady Eleanor is of middle height, and somewhat beyond the embonpoint as to plumpness; her face round and fair, with the glow of luxuriant health.  She has not fine features, but they are agreeable; –enthusiasm in her eye, hilarity and benevolence in her smile.  Exhaustless is her fund of historic and traditionary knowledge, and of every thing passing in the present eventful period.  She has uncommon strength and fidelity of memory; and her taste for works of imagination, particularly for poetry, is very awakened, and she expresses all she feels with an ingenuous ardour, at which the cold-spirited beings stare.  I am informed that both these ladies read and speak most of the modern languages.  Of the Italian poets, especially of Dante, they are warm admirers.

Family Statistics

born: c1739

parents: Walter Butler (1703-1783; married 1732)
                     Eleanor de Montmorency Morres († 1794)

lived at: Kilkenny Castle

siblings: 2 older sisters (Susan & Frances), 1 younger brother (John)

 

Family Connections

“The first Butler in Ireland performed for Henry I the very office his name suggests.” [Mavor bio, p. 6]
     Eleanor
s father was a lineal relation of James, 2nd Duke of Ormonde [portraits] (Lord of the Bedchamber to King James II, the Duke changed sides at the Battle of the Boyne) — “a minor branch of the great family”; George I, in 1715, stripped the Duke of his titles for his Jacobite sympathies.
     Like most of the Catholic gentry of Ireland (a grand-uncle was Archbishop of Cashel), the Butlers evaded the Penal Laws by spending periods abroad; this may, in part, account for Eleanor
s education in France.  [Ormonde genealogy: website; website (includes the marriage of Mary Butler to the 1st Duke of Devonshire)]

 

Obituaries

Annual Register, 1829

June

2. At Plasneywydd Cottage, Llangollen, the hon. lady Eleanor Butler, aunt to the marquis of Ormond, K.P.  It was about the year 1779, that Miss Butler and her companion, Miss Ponsonby (a cousin of the earl of Besborough) first associated themselves to live in retirement.  It was thought desirable by their families to separate two individuals who appeared to encourage each other’s eccentricities; and, after their first departure together, they were brought back to their respective relations.  Lady Eleanor resolutely declined marriage, of which she was said to have had five offers; and the ladies soon after contrived to elope a second time, taking a small sum of money with them.  The place of their retreat in the Vale of Llangollen was only confided to a female servant; and they lived for many years unknown to their neighbours by any other appellation, except ‘the ladies of the vale.’  The one was tall and masculine, always wore a riding habit, and hung up her hat with the air of a sportsman.  The other was fair and ladylike.  In 1796, the poetess Anna Seward celebrated the charms of ‘Llangollen Vale,’ with large eulogiums on the secluded pair.

*

Gentleman’s Magazine, 1829

“Lady Eleanor Butler.

            June 2. At Plasnewydd Cottage, Llangollen, the Hon. Lady Eleanor Butler, aunt to the Marquess of Ormonde, K.P.
            This celebrated lady was the third and youngest daughter of Walter Butler, Esq. by Eleanor, eldest daughter of Nicholas Morris, of the Court, co. Dublin, Esq. Her only brother John claimed and obtained his ancestral Earldom of Ormonde in 1791. Her eldest sister Lady Susan was married to Thomas Kavanagh, of Borris, co. Carlow, Esq. and was mother to Thomas Kavanagh, Esq. who married his cousin the late Lady Elizabeth Butler, sister to the present Marquess. Her second sister Lady Frances was married to another gentleman of the Kavanagh family. The three sisters all assumed the title of Lady, probably by Royal authority, on their brother’s recovery of the Earldom.
            It was about the year 1779 that Miss Butler and her companion Miss Ponsonby (a cousin of the Earl of Besborough, and half-sister to the present Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby-Barker, Esq. who married Lady Henrietta Taylour, sister to the present Marquess of Headfort,) first associated themselves to live in retirement. It was thought desirable by their families to separate two individuals who appeared to cherish each other’s eccentricities; and after their first departure together, they were brought back to their respective relations. Miss Butler resolutely declined marriage, of which she was said to have had five offers; and the ladies soon after contrived to elope a second time, taking a small sum of money with them. The place of their retreat in the Vale of Llangollen was only confided to a female servant; and they lived for many years unknown to their neighbours by any other appellation but ‘the ladies of the vale.’ Miss Butler was tall and masculine, always wore a riding habit, and hung up her hat with the air of a sportsman. Miss Ponsonby was fair and beautiful, and ladylike. In 1796 the poetess Anna Seward celebrated the charms of ‘Llangollen Vale,’ with large eulogiums on the secluded pair. It appears that the disposition of Lady Eleanor was the most lively of the two, as we find ‘gay Eleonora’s smile’ contrasted with ‘Zara’s look serene.’ Views of their residence have been frequently published.”

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shanae
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 10:42:30

    Regards for all your efforts that you have put in this. Very interesting information. “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” by Clive Staples Lewis.

    Reply

    • Jayne Greer
      Feb 04, 2012 @ 20:00:25

      Interesting that you should quote CS Lewis . His great great grandfather was Rt.Hon John Staples of Lissan ( I think thats the right number of greats ! ) hence his middle name. Interesting that both the ladies, Eleanor and Sarah had Staples connections – though primarily with the southern Irish Staples seat at Dunmore.

      Reply

  2. Roger Mansbridge
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 19:46:29

    Thank you, I have enjoyed reading these posts very much and will pass them on to other interested parties.

    I have if anyone is looking, two first edition copies (one still with dust jacket) of The Hamwood Papers of the Ladies of Llangollen to sell, as well as a first edition with dustwrapper of Mavor’s The Ladies of Llangollen – A study in Romantic Friendship.

    Also I own the copyright of Plas Newydd and the Ladies of Llangollen by the Late Gordon Sherratt and Miss Sara Pugh-Jones and can supply copies of these to any interested readers of this site.

    Thanks to all who share an interest in this excellent site.

    Roger Mansbridge

    Reply

    • Janeite Kelly
      Dec 31, 2011 @ 09:05:14

      Hi, Roger —

      The more I thought about the “Sherratt” name, the more I recalled your earlier message about the Hamwood Papers (book) and the Plas Newydd booklet. If you don’t hear from Jayne, and I can help put you two into contact with each other, let me know!

      k

      Reply

    • Jayne Greer
      Feb 04, 2012 @ 19:50:20

      Hello Roger,
      I would be interested in the materials you mention. You have my email address should you wish to get in contact re sale of the books.
      Jayne

      Reply

  3. Roger Mansbridge
    Dec 31, 2011 @ 12:22:19

    Hi

    Thanks for that I would be grateful of your help.

    Do you have a direct e-mail address I can use – my machine seems to be all over the place with reply’s to your site.

    Many thanks

    Roger Mansbridge

    Reply

  4. John Williams
    May 15, 2012 @ 04:54:49

    I really like your writing style, excellent information, appreciate it for putting up : D.

    Reply

  5. Thurman Chai
    May 31, 2012 @ 08:14:19

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    Reply

  6. Marks Hall
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 19:34:42

    A very well thought out and useful post.

    Reply

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