• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

The Duke of Northumberland

Sir Henry Alan Walter Richard Percy, (14th Bt), 11th Duke of Northumberland; born July 1, 1953, died October 30, 1995.

Loading article content

THE 11th Duke of Northumber-

land, who died on Monday at Syon House aged 42, was the eldest son of the 10th Duke of Northumberland and his duchess, Lady Elizabeth Montagu Douglas Scott, daughter of the 9th Duke of Buccleuch. He was a godson of the Queen.

Belonging to one of Britain's most blue-blooded families, he was directly related to six other dukedoms. His maternal grandmother was a daughter of the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon. His maternal great-grandmother was the daughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll; Lady Elizabeth Percy, his aunt, was married to the 14th Duke of Hamilton & Brandon; Lady Diana Percy was married to the 6th Duke of Sutherland. His mother's cousin was married to the 7th Duke of Portland.

The Percy family have been an influential and turbulent dynasty in England ever since their founder, William de Percy, arrived from Normandy with William the Conqueror in 1066 for the Battle of Hastings. Richard de Percy was one of the chief nobles to force King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, and Henry de Percy assisted Edward I of England in his attempts to subjugate Scotland. In return for his support, Henry was granted Robert the Bruce's forfeited titles and lands in the north of England.

Harry ''Hotspur'' Percy, the soldier-statesman, inspired the excitable character featured in William Shakespeare's Henry IV. The 6th Earl of Northumberland was the lover of Anne Boleyn; the 8th Earl was a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots.

Educated at Eton, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied history, Harry Northumberland inherited the great estates of Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, and Syon House in Middlesex, at the age of 35. The fortune, although entailed for future generations, was considerable. Estimated at over #200m in total, assets include Tottenham football ground. At Syon, the walls are hung with a vast collection of old masters, numbering among them Titians, Tintorettos and Van Dycks.

From an early age he had been fascinated by the cinema and film-making. This led him to found a film company, Hotspur Productions, investing his own money into its first production Lost in Africa, shot in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, about a tourist party kidnapped by ivory poachers. He was a regular guest at film premieres, and only last week attended the opening of Haunted in London's Leicester Square.

Despite having been in ill-health for most of his adult life (he suffered from ME, a renal illness, and depression), he took the responsibilities of his title and inheritance very seriously, and was deeply concerned for the welfare of all those who depended upon him.

A particular interest was the preservation of Britain's national heritage, as evidenced by the care and attention he lavished upon his own two great stately homes, notably Syon which has become one of London's major tourist attractions.

He did not marry, but for a time his name was romantically linked with a number of glamorous companions, including Barbara Carrera, the Nicaraguan-born actress and former 007 girl. Athough shy by nature, his shrewd intelligence, breadth of interests, and simple, unaffected charm made him a much-loved figure by those who knew him well.

The dukedom now passes to his younger brother Lord Ralph Percy, a land agent, who is married to Jane Richard, daughter of John Richard, former chairman of the Scottish Stock Exchange, and Angela, Lady Buchan Hepburn. They have two sons and two daughters.

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

PARCH1.653279