Miss Sarah Ponsonby
The year is 1795. . . and we have two pencil portraits by Anna Seward
(age: about 40)
Miss Ponsonby, somewhat taller than her friend, is neither slender nor otherwise, but very graceful. Easy, elegant, yet pensive, is her address and manner . . . A face rather long than round, a complexion clear, but without bloom, and with a countenance which, from its soft melancholy, has peculiar interest. If her features are not beautiful, they are very sweet and feminine. Though the pensive spirit within permits not her lovely dimples to give mirth to her smile, they increase its sweetness, and, consequently, her power of engaging the affections. We see, through their veil of shading reserve, that all the talents and accomplishments which enrich the mind of Lady Eleanor, exist, with equal powers, in this her charming friend.
parents: Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby († c1762)
Louisa Lyons († c1758)
lived at: Woodstock
siblings: 2 older half-sisters, 1 younger half-sister and 1 younger half-brother
“The Ponsonbys, like most of the Ascendancy, were comparative newcomers to Ireland. Originally Cumberland squires they fought for Cromwell and had been rewarded for their services of confiscated lands….” [Mavor bio, p. 3]
Lady Elizabeth Fownes, who cared for Sarah after the death of her step-mother (Sarah’s father was Lady Betty’s cousin), had two sisters-in-law who were daughters of the 3rd Duke of Devonshire: Lady Caroline Cavendish, the duke’s eldest daughter, married Lady Betty’s brother William, 2nd Earl of Bessborough; another daughter, Elizabeth, married their brother, the Rt. Hon. John Ponsonby. It is through these Cavendish relatives, that Sarah and Eleanor were distantly related. [Cavendish genealogy: website]
Annual Register, 1829
8. At Plasnewedd, Llangollen, aged 76, Miss Sarah Ponsonby, the friend of the late lady Eleanor Butler, with whom she resided in that romantic retreat more than fifty years. She was the daughter of Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby, esq., son of major-general the hon. Henry Ponsonby, who was killed at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745.”
Gentleman’s Magazine, 1829
Dec. 8. At Plasnewedd, Llangollen, co. of Denbigh, aged 76, Miss Sarah Ponsonby, the friend and companion of the late Lady Eleanor Butler.
They resided together in that beautiful retreat for more than fifty years, beloved and respected. Their separation was short: Lady Eleanor died June 2, 1829. On that occasion (in vol. XCIV. ii. 175) we related the singular circumstances of their seclusion. The only companion of their flight was a maid named Mary, somewhat older than themselves, but who lived to an advanced age, and died not many years ago. The ladies erected over a vault a three-sided pyramid, on one side of which was placed an epitaph to Mary, when it was seen by our informant a few years since.
Miss Ponsonby’s father was Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby, esq. son of Major-General the Hon. Henry Ponsonby, who was slain at the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745, and was great-uncle to the present Earl of Besborough. Mr. Ponsonby was thrice married, and had one surviving daughter by each wife, and by his last a posthumous son, the present Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby Barker, esq. Miss Sarah Ponsonby was the daughter of his second wife, Louisa, daughter of John Lyons, of Mount, co. of Westmeath, esq. Clerk of the Council in Ireland, and deputy Mustermaster-general.”