JOHN BLIGH, citizen of London, the founder of this noble family, was employed as agent of the adventurers for the forfeited estates by the rebellion of 1641, and in that capacity arrived in Ireland during the usurpation of Cromwell, when he became an adventurer himself to a large extent.
Mr Bligh was returned for Athboy in the first parliament after the restoration.
He married Catherine, sister of the Rt Rev William Fuller, Lord Bishop of Lincoln; and dying in 1666, was succeeded by his only son,
THOMAS BLIGH (1654-1710), of Rathmore, County Meath, MP for that county, and of the privy council to QUEEN ANNE.
This gentleman wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel James Naper, of Loughcrew, in the same county, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
JOHN BLIGH (1687-1728), MP, who espoused, in 1713, the Lady Theodosia Hyde, then only daughter and heir of Edward, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, by Catherine, Baroness Clifton, and had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;Mr Bligh was elevated to the peerage, in 1721, in the dignity of Baron Clifton, of Rathmore; Viscount Darnley.
JOHN, succeeded his brother;
Mary; Anne; Theodosia.
In 1725, his lordship was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF DARNLEY.
He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,
EDWARD, 2nd Earl (1715-47), who had previously inherited the English barony of CLIFTON on the decease of his mother, 1722.
His lordship died unmarried, and the honours devolved upon his brother,
JOHN, 3rd Earl (1719-81), who espoused, in 1766, Mary, daughter and heir of John Stoyte, of Street, County Westmeath, barrister, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,
Edward, General in the army;
Mary; Theodosia; Catherine.
JOHN, 4th Earl (1767-1831), who married, in 1791, Elizabeth, thgird daughter of the Rt Hon William Brownlow, of Lurgan, County Armagh, and had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;This nobleman presented, in 1829, a petition to the King, claiming the dukedom of LENNOX, as heir of line of Charles, 6th Duke of Lennox and 4th Duke of Richmond, at whose death, in 1672, CHARLES II was served His Grace's heir.
As His Majesty's (legitimate) issue became extinct in 1807, with His Eminence the Cardinal Duke of York, and as that personage was the last heir male of the STUARTS, the Earl of Darnley put forward his claim as heir general, being descended from Catherine, sister of the 6th Duke.
The petition was referred to the House of Lords, but their lordships came to no decision about it.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,
EDWARD, 5th Earl (1795-1835), who wedded, in 1825, Emma Jane, daughter of Sir Henry Parnell Bt, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;His lordship, who was Lord-Lieutenant of County Meath, was succeeded by his eldest son,
Elizabeth Caroline; a daughter.
JOHN, 6th Earl (1827-96), Hereditary High Steward of Gravesend and Milton.
- John Stuart Bligh, 6th Earl (1827-96);
- Edward Henry Stuart Bligh, 7th Earl (1851–1900);
- Ivo Francis Walter Bligh, 8th Earl (1859–1927);
- Esme Ivo Bligh, 9th Earl (1886–1955);
- Peter Stuart Bligh, 10th Earl (1915–80);
- Adam Ivo Stuart Bligh, 11th Earl (b 1941).
|Darnley Estate Office|
During the 1641 Rebellion, the town of Athboy, County Meath, was captured by Owen Roe O'Neill.
In 1694, the town's 'lands and commons' and several other denominations of land were erected into a manor and granted to Thomas Bligh, MP for Athboy, who had earlier purchased almost 3,000 acres in the area of Athboy.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Darnleys planned and carried out the development of Athboy, giving it the form which prevails today.
It was not until 1909, under the 1903 Wyndham Act, that Francis Walter, 8th Earl, auctioned the town of Athboy.
The Darnley estate office was finally closed in 1948.
Today the erstwhile Darnley estate office on the main street is the Darnley Lodge Hotel.
Former town residence ~ 46 Berkeley Square, W1
First published in July, 2012. Darnley arms courtesy of European Heraldry.