Ronald Ferguson

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Ronald Ferguson
Born 10 October 1931 (1931-10-10)
Died 16 March 2003 (2003-03-17) (aged 71)
Spouse(s) Susan Barrantes (m. 1956–div. 1974)
Susan Deptford (m. 1975–wid. 2003)
Children Jane Ferguson (b. 1957)
Sarah, Duchess of York (b. 1959)
Andrew Ferguson (b. 1978)
Alice Ferguson (b. 1980)
Eliza Ferguson (b. 1985)

Major Ronald Ivor Ferguson (10 October 1931 – 16 March 2003) was the father of Sarah, Duchess of York, former wife to the Duke of York. He is the maternal grandfather of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York. Major Ferguson was polo manager, initially to the Duke of Edinburgh and later, for many years, to the Prince of Wales.


Early life

Ronald Ferguson was the son of Andrew Henry Ferguson (1899–1966) and his wife Marian Louisa Montagu Douglas Scott (1908–1996), a first cousin of Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott, who became (after her wedding to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester) Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester and an aunt-by-marriage of Elizabeth II. His grandfather was Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Herbert Montagu Douglas Scott, son of Sir William Montagu Douglas Scott, 6th Duke of Buccleuch, a direct descendant of Charles II of England, and Lady Louisa Jane Hamilton. An elder brother, John, died at 10 years of age from peritonitis.

He was born in London and grew up at Dummer Down Farm, his later home in adulthood, at Dummer, near Basingstoke in Hampshire. He attended Eton College and Sandhurst.


He entered the Life Guards in 1952,[1] the regiment of which his father had previously been Colonel.[2] In 1954 Ferguson was promoted to Lieutenant[3] and Captain in 1958.[4] Ferguson retired in 1968 and was "granted the honorary rank of Major".[5] During his career he served with the regiment in Germany, Egypt, Aden, and Cyprus. In 1987, he was entered as an officer (brother) in the Venerable Order of Saint John.[6]


After he retired, he devoted himself to polo. His interest in polo frequently brought him into contact with the Royal Family, and it was through this connection that his daughter, Sarah, met Prince Andrew.

In 1979, on the England II team alongside Alan Kent, Patrick Churchward and Charles, Prince of Wales, he won the Silver Jubilee Cup.[7]

In 1988, while his daughter Sarah was married to Prince Andrew, the News of the World printed a story about Ferguson's membership of the Wigmore Club, "a health club and massage parlour in London staffed by girls who, dressed in starched white 'medical' gowns, allegedly offered à la carte sexual services to members."[8] He maintained that he had used the club "for massage only... and by that I mean a totally straight one" and as "a kind of cocoon where I could shut myself away for an hour and think".[8] The controversy did not affect his marriage, however it led him to leave his post as The Prince of Wales' polo manager and his position at the Guards Polo Club.

He was reinstated with the Guards Polo Club shortly before he died.

Personal life

Ferguson's first wife was Susan Wright. They married in St Margaret's, Westminster on 17 January 1956. They had two daughters: Jane Louisa, born on 26 August 1957, and Sarah Margaret, later the Duchess of York, born on 15 October 1959. They divorced in 1974. During their marriage, the Fergusons were recognised society figures. The Major retired from his army career and his family moved to Dummer Down Farm which he inherited upon his father's death.

In 1976, Ferguson married for the second time to Susan Deptford. They had three children, Andrew (b. 1978), Alice (b. 1980), and Eliza Charlotte (b. 1985, Basingstoke).[9]

His rare media appearances were to defend his daughter Sarah and raise awareness of prostate cancer. He battled cancer during the last decade of his life. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996, and also had skin cancer.[10] In March 2003, he died, aged 71, of a heart attack at the Hampshire Clinic, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York were among the few who attended his private funeral. His death came four-and-a-half years after his first wife, Mrs Susan Barrantes, died in a car crash in Argentina in September 1998.[11]




  1. Supplement to the London Gazette, 21 March 1952, p. 1595 (Army# 420839)
  2. London Gazette, 28 October 1966, p.11793
  3. London Gazette, 5 February 1954, p. 1
  4. Supplement to the London Gazette, 7 February 1958, p. 840
  5. Supplement to the London Gazette, 26 November 1968, p. 1
  6. London Gazette, 9 November 1987
  7. Horace A. Laffaye, Polo in Britain: A History, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2012, p. 320
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Major Ronald Ferguson", Daily Telegraph, 17 March 2003. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
  9. Births England and Wales 1984-2006
  10. Major Ron Ferguson dies aged 71
  11. Death of Susan Barrantes