LONDON (Reuters) - Marguerite, Baroness de Reuter, a European aristocrat from a bygone age and last survivor of the family that founded the international news agency, died on Sunday aged 96, friends said.
A patron of the arts, she was the widow of Oliver, 4th Baron de Reuter, whose grandfather Paul Julius Reuter established his news service in London in 1851 after starting out in Aachen, Germany, using telegraph cables and carrier pigeons.
The barony -- a German title granted to Paul Julius in 1871 but later confirmed by Queen Victoria as conferring the privileges of the nobility in England -- becomes extinct on her death, as she and her husband had no children.
"The name dies with her," said her friend Michael Nelson, a former general manager of Reuters.
Another close friend, John Fox, said the baroness had suffered successive strokes late last year. She died early on Sunday in a French old people's home on the border with Monaco.
He said Swiss-born Marguerite, a widow for more than 40 years, was intensely proud of the family link with Reuters, and of the British nationality she acquired through her husband.
Last year Reuters, which had already moved out of its historic headquarters in London's Fleet Street, the traditional home of the British press, became part of Thomson Reuters Plc.
Thomson Reuters' chief executive, Tom Glocer, said he was saddened to hear of the baroness's death, adding:
"Although the founding family of Reuters were no longer significant shareholders in the company, the baroness did notably attend a service at St Bride's Church, London, to mark Reuters' historic move from Fleet Street to Canary Wharf in 2OO5."
Marguerite was born on July 14, 1912, the daughter of George Uehlinger of Neunkirch, Switzerland. Friends remembered her as a generous woman who spoke numerous languages, loved bridge, opera and ballet, and enjoyed skiing until well into her 70s.
Known to her English friends as Daisy, she long divided her time between Monte Carlo and Lausanne.
"She was a very warm-hearted, hospitable person -- generous, philanthropic, a great supporter of the arts and music. She was always immaculately turned out: elegant, refined and beautiful, with the most angelic smile," Fox said.
He said Marguerite would be cremated in Lausanne and her ashes interred there with the remains of her husband, who died in 1968. The couple married in 1937.
Editing by Kevin Liffey