Name: Ronald Ivor Ferguson
Given Name: Ronald Ivor
Change Date: 12 DEC 2004
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Birth: 10 OCT 1931 in 15 Cumberland Terrace, London, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Death: 16 MAR 2003 in Hampshire Clinic, Basingstoke nr Dummer, Hampshire, England
Event: Ronald Ivor Ferguson
Funeral 24 MAR 2003 All Saint's Church, Odiham, Hants, England
Burial: AFT 24 MAR 2003 Village Church, Dummer, Hampshire, England
Father: Andrew Henry Ferguson b: 10 OCT 1899 in Polebrooke Hall, Oundle, Northampton, England
Mother: Marian Louisa Montagu-Douglas-Scott b: 16 JUN 1908 in Bridgefoot, Barnet
Susan (Susie) Mary Fitzherbert Wright b: 9 JUN 1937 in Bramcote Hills, Nottingham
17 JAN 1956
in Westminster, London, Middlesex, England
- Jane Louisa Ferguson b: 26 AUG 1957 in Lowood, Sunninghill, Berkshire, England
- Sarah Margaret Ferguson b: 15 OCT 1959 in Lowood, Sunninghill, Berkshire, England
- Andrew Ferguson b: 7 SEP 1978 in of England
- Alice Makim Ferguson b: 1980
- Elizabeth (Eliza) Ferguson b: 1985
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Title: Family Search
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- Abbrev: Note
Duchess's tribute to 'officer and gentleman' father
The Duchess of York has lovingly remembered her father Major Ronald Ferguson as an "officer and a gentleman" as she led tributes to him at a service of thanksgiving.
The Duchess, accompanied by the Duke of York and one of her children, Princess Beatrice, described her father as a "British institution in the best sense."
Maj Ferguson, who was suffering from prostate cancer, died of a heart attack last week, aged 71.
More than 300 people gathered at All Saints' Church, Odiham, Hants. for the service to celebrate his life.
The rest of the Ferguson family, including Maj Ferguson's widow, Susan, and his three children from their marriage, were present.
Lord Palumbo of Walbrook - a friend of Maj Ferguson for 44 years - read out some thoughts written by the Duchess.
She wrote: "Our father was a military man born and bred - 'an officer and a gentlemen' as one commentator recently put it. He was given to briskness, precision and punctuality, a gentleman's virtues. To some who didn't know him well he might have seemed a bit formal and reserved.
"But to those who knew him, those who loved him, Dad was a British institution in the very best sense.
"He was brave, kind, loyal, sensitive, outspoken, a champion of the underdog and devoid of any pomposity or malice. He had a rare sense of humour, he was willing to see the absurdity in any situation. Rarer still, he was willing to laugh at himself."
Maj Ferguson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996. He died at the Hampshire Clinic in Basingstoke and his private funeral took place this morning.
- Abbrev: Note
Text: The private funeral of Major Ferguson, who died aged 71 last Sunday after a heart attack, is on Monday morning.
Later in the day there will be a service of thanksgiving at Odiham All Saints Church, near Basingstoke, Hampshire.
21 Mar 2003, Friday
- Abbrev: Note
Text: Major Ronald Ferguson
Major Ronald Ferguson, who died on Sunday aged 71, would probably have remained in comparative obscurity as a polo player and administrator of the sport had it not been for the marriage of his daughter Sarah into the Royal Family.
As it was, after Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew in 1986, her father became something of a public figure in his own right, his every activity - and in particular his occasional romantic indiscretions - of consuming interest to the tabloid press.
Ferguson was a bluff, uncomplicated former soldier; and although he and his family were no strangers to royalty or to the protocol which surrounds it, he was ill-equipped to negotiate the perilous intrigues of court life.
Flattery was not among his vices (he habitually referred to the senior courtiers at Buckingham Palace as "toadies"), and he became embittered about the way in which he and his daughter Sarah, Duchess of York, had been, as he saw it, ill-used by the Royal Family.
In 1994 Ferguson published an autobiography, The Galloping Major. Its subtitle, My Life in Singular Times, appeared to signify his bewilderment at the furore which greeted some of his more vivid escapades.
The most famous of these was his patronage of the Wigmore Club, a health club and massage parlour in London staffed by girls who, dressed in starched white "medical" gowns, allegedly offered a la carte sexual services to members.
In 1988 a tabloid newspaper printed a sensational story about Ferguson's membership of the Wigmore. While 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", he was not re-elected to his post as deputy chairman of the Guards Polo Club.
Ferguson issued a statement saying: "I have not been sacked. I have not resigned. I was not re-elected as deputy chairman for 1988-9 and was not prepared to accept the alternative position . . . Having given a lifetime of devotion and dedication to the Guards Polo Club, I feel very sad and extremely angry at the way the whole matter has been handled."
There were also rumours that Ferguson's departure was prompted by a management consultants' report that had identified financial irregularities at the club; Ferguson denied any wrongdoing, and claimed he had been made a "scapegoat".
What really rankled, however, was the reaction of Prince Philip. According to Ferguson: "I was deeply wounded by Prince Philip's refusal, as President of the Club, to discuss it with me. I made repeated requests to see him, and appointments were made which were subsequently cancelled."
Ferguson nonetheless continued in his role as polo manager to the Prince of Wales, a post which he had occupied since 1972. His job was to arrange the Prince's schedule of matches, fitting them in around his many official engagements, and to look after the Prince's ponies and equipment.
This relationship did not come to an end until 1993, after more adverse press coverage. This time Ferguson was in trouble over his connection with Lesley Player, an ambitious woman who ran an employment agency in London and with whom he had organised a Ladies' International Polo Tournament. First there were allegations of improper financial dealings surrounding the tournament; then of an affair between Ferguson and Miss Player, who later wrote a book stating, among other things, that the major had "terrible legs".
In February 1993 Ferguson's position with the Prince was: "abruptly terminated in a letter to me from his private secretary . . . After serving him faithfully and unquestioningly for 21 years, I was appalled by the way it was handled. The Prince of Wales did not have the guts to send for me and tell me straight to my face."
By this time the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York had broken down, and Ferguson added in his autobiography: "The impression was that [the Prince] had been advised to perform a royal version of ethnic cleansing by getting rid of the Ferguson family from his circle."
In the same year Ferguson parted company with the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, where he had gone as Director of Sponsorship after leaving the Guards Polo Club in 1988. He was clearly embittered, complaining of being "shunned by the polo fraternity in Britain"; he continued his association with the game in America, where he successfully organised polo matches for charity.
Ronald Ivor Ferguson was born at his parents' house in Regent's Park, London, on October 10 1931. Nine years later his father was given command of the Life Guards, as his own father and grandfather before him had been. Young Ronald's mother was a granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Buccleuch, and through both parents he could trace his ancestry back to Charles II.
His mother, indeed, flew into a towering rage when a newspaper, at the time of Sarah Ferguson's engagement to Prince Andrew, referred to the future bride as "a middle-class farmer's daughter".
Ronald had his first pony at the age of two, the start of a lifelong love affair with horses and with riding. As a small boy, he was known as "Baby Ogre" for his naughtiness (he once hijacked his grandfather's battery-powered wheelchair, driving it into the ornamental lake).
At nursery school the young Ferguson received a report which said he was "trying" - an assessment that pleased his mother, until she discovered that a fellow-pupil had been described as "very trying".
Going on to Ludgrove and then Eton, Ronald occupied himself almost exclusively with sport; by his own admission he was not academically gifted. Aged 17, he emulated his father, grandfather and great-grandfather by joining the Life Guards; from the Mons Cadet School, Ferguson went to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he continued to devote himself to sport - here he took up point-to-pointing - and added debutante parties to his curriculum.
In 1952 Ferguson was posted to Germany as a second lieutenant with A Squadron, in which he was to remain for the rest of his Army career; two years later he was sent to Egypt, where he played polo for the first time. He was so taken with the sport that he wrote to his father: "Sell my point-to-point horses. When I get back to England, I'm only going to play polo."
He met his first wife, Susan Wright, at a debutante dance in 1955, when she was only 17; they married in January the following year. In late 1958 Ferguson was posted to Aden, without his wife, although she joined him later.
The family, now including two daughters, Jane and Sarah, was back in England in 1959, when Ferguson was promoted staff captain, London District, on Horse Guards Parade. In this role he had the opportunity to do a job he loved, organising ceremonial duties. After Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965 Ferguson oversaw the burial in Bladon churchyard, Oxfordshire.
In the winter of 1963-4 Ferguson was playing polo in India when he was appointed to take over command of his squadron in Cyprus, as part of a United Nations peace-keeping force sent to defuse increasing tension between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The locals knew him as "Major Tractor", assuming that he was the source of the Ferguson farm machinery.
Ferguson's father died in 1966, leaving him the 876-acre family farm at Dummer in Hampshire. Two years later Ferguson left the Army, having orchestrated a highly-successful military tattoo which he took to Philadelphia, Boston and New York. In 1969 Ferguson landed a job at the Mayfair offices of the public relations firm Neilson McCarthy, before, in 1971, being appointed Deputy Chairman of the Guards Polo Club.
In his early years a keen shot, Ferguson gave up the sport not long after he left the Army, deciding that he "no longer had the right to take an animal's or bird's life". Two days after making this decision, Ferguson had to host a shooting party at Dummer, and acted as head beater for the occasion.
"This was good experience," he later recalled. "I hadn't before realised what a difficult job it is . . . Nothing gave me more pleasure than sending birds right over the heads of friends who stood little chance of hitting them. When it came to the expert shots, I sent the birds in the opposite direction."
He made a recovery after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996, and helped to raise funds for charities associated with the disease, but he fell ill again in 2001.
In 1974 Ferguson was divorced from his first wife Susan, who then married the Argentine polo player Hector Barrantes; she died in a car accident in 1998. Ronald Ferguson married secondly, in 1976, Susan Deptford; they had a son and two daughters.
- Abbrev: Note
Text: Ronald Ferguson dies after heart attack
Major Ronald Ferguson, father of the Duchess of York, has died after a heart attack.
The Major, 71, had been battling against prostate cancer since 1996 and had suffered a series of heart attacks.
The Duchess, who was said to be "grieving", was on her way to Australia when her father died in The Hampshire Clinic, Basingstoke, close to the family home at Dummer.
A spokeswoman for the Duchess said: "She is grieving but is grateful for the time she had with her father to say goodbye."
The Duchess, nicknamed Fergie, will carry out commitments in Australia for WeightWatchers but will return home early at the end of the week.
A friend said: "This is exactly what the Major would have wanted. He was very much in the mould of 'the show must go on'."
The Duchess's flight to Australia had already taken off when her father died and she was told the news during a stop-over at Bangkok.
The Major's second wife Susan was with him when he died.
The Queen has been informed and will be be sending a private message of condolence to the Major's widow, said Buckingham Palace.
The Duke of York was said to be "deeply saddened" by the news, as was the Prince of Wales, for whom the Major acted as polo manager for several years.
Also see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1-613958,00.html
- Abbrev: Note
Text: FERGIE By Ingrid Seward. Retired Military officer and polo manager to the Prince of Wales. A major of the British Life Guards.
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