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Bligh, 4th earl of Darnley, John

British, 1767 - 1831


John Bligh, born June 30, 1767, succeeded his father as Lord Darnley in 1781. Around 1785, he commissioned Thomas Gainsborough to paint his portrait (now in the NGA's collection, 1942.9.22). He was an Irish peer who took his seat in the House of Lords in 1789, and took an active part in political life. His English estate was Cobham Hall, Kent, and he was to a great extent responsible for the formation of the Darnley collection (dispersed at Christie's in 1925), which was open to the public. He was a founding member in 1787 of the Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord's. On August 26, 1791, he married Elizabeth Brownlow of Lurgan. They had three daughters and four sons, among whom were John (later Lord Clifden) and Edward (who became the 5th Earl of Darnley). In 1829, Bligh presented a petition to the King, claiming the Dukedom of Lennox (in Scotland), as he was descended from Catherine, sister of Charles, 6th Duke of Lennox and 3rd Duke of Richmond. Charles II had served as heir to the 6th Duke upon the latter's death in 1672. As Charles II's family (the Stuarts) had become extinct with the last male heir, Cardinal York, in 1807, Bligh put forward a claim as heir-general. The House of Lords, however, never came to a decision with regard to the Earl's petition. He died on March 17, 1831.

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