Eleanor Butler of Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny City Ireland and Sarah Ponsonby of Woodstock House, Kilkenny became known as the Ladies of Llangollen. Together they eloped from Kilkenny in April 1778. They set up home together in Llangollen, Denbighshire in North Wales. The Ladies of Llangollen lived there for the remainder of their lives.
Eleanor Butler was born at Kilkenny Castle, the seat of the Earls of Ormonde, on May 11th 1739. By the age of 39 she had not married so the family tried to get her to become a nun. Sarah Ponsonby, who was born on December 9th 1755, was living just over 20km south of Kilkenny City at Woodstock House near the Village of Inistioge. Sarah had been orphaned as a child and her middle aged guardian, Sir William Fownes wished to marry her.
The two ladies had met and become friends in 1768.They decided to elope to Wales to escape their situations. Their first attempt failed when their families caught up with them in Waterford and forced them to return to Kilkenny. However, within a short space of time the two ladies eloped again and this time their families did not attempt to make them return. They spent some time touring Wales in search of a suitable place to set up home. They were given a small allowance by their families and eventually in 1780 they settled at Plas Newydd near the town of Llangollen.
The Ladies of Llangollen lived in seclusion at first but soon their lifestyle attracted attention. They were visited by people such as William Wordsworth, Percy Shelly and the Duke of Wellington. They were granted a pension by the King George III. It is reported that they slept together and referred to each other as ‘My Better Half’. All their letters were jointly signed and their books and glassware carried both sets of initials. They lived in Llangollen for over 50 years.
Eleanor Butler died aged 90 in the year 1829. Sarah Ponsonby died two years later at the age of 77 in the year 1831 On This Day.Plas Newydd, Llangollen, Wales (LOC) by The Library of Congress on 1890-01-01 00:00:00