Gardiner, Marguerite, Countess of Blessington (1789 -1849)
Margaret Power was the daughter of Edmund Power, a small landowner from near Clonmel in County Tipperary, Ireland. She was married at the age of fifteen to a Captain Maurice St. Leger Farmer, an English officer, who died in debtor’s prison in 1817. Prior to her husband’s death Margaret had moved to Hampshire where she met and subsequently married Charles John Gardiner, 1st Earl of Blessington, a widower with four children. Beautiful, charming and witty, she was no less renowned for her generosity and for the extravagant tastes she shared with her husband, which resulted in encumbering his estates with considerable debts. In 1822 they set off on a continental tour during which they met Lord Byron, and the Count D’Orsay, who subsequently married Harriet Gardiner, the Earl of Blessington’s daughter from his first marriage. In 1828 the two couples took up residence in Paris, where the Earl suddenly died at 46 of an apopleptic stroke. Returning to England with Count D’Orsay and Harriet, whose marriage collapsed soon after, Lady Blessington supplemented her diminished income by contributing to various periodicals as well as by writing novels. She edited The Book of Beauty and The Keepsake, popular annuals of the day, and in 1834 published Conversations with Lord Byron. D’Orsay continued to live with Lady Blessington, until early in 1849, when he fled Gore House to escape his creditors. Subsequently the furniture and decorations were sold in a public sale successfully discharging Lady Blessington's debts. She rejoined the Count in Paris, where she died on 4 June 1849.