Biography and History

Sarah Ponsonby was the orphaned daughter of Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby. She lived an unhappy life with relatives in Woodstock, Ireland. She met Lady Eleanor Butler in 1768. Since both women shared a mutual love of the arts and were both unhappy with their lives, they decided to live a quiet rural life. They left Ireland and they set up home in "Plas Newydd," in Llangollen, North East Wales, in 1780. Because they led an unusual and secluded life, Ponsonby and Buttler became known as the Ladies of Llangollen. Their relationship scandalized and fascinated their contemporaries, and they became famous all over Great Britain. Eventually, they attracted the interest of the outside world. Their new Gothic residence became a magnet for writers, intellectuals, and artists, such as Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Sir Walter Scott, as well as the Duke of Wellington, Caroline Lamb, and Josiah Wedgwood. Ponsonby and Butler lived together for the rest of their lives, over 50 years.

Source: From the finding aid for C1172