Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Duke of Northumberland
12th Duke of Northumberland Allan Warren.jpg
Portrait by Allan Warren, 1997
Born Ralph George Algernon Percy
(1956-11-16) 16 November 1956 (age 60)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Jane Richard
(m. 1979)
Parents Hugh Percy, 10th Duke of Northumberland
Elizabeth Diana Percy, Duchess of Northumberland

Ralph George Algernon Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland, DL (born 16 November 1956), styled Lord Ralph Percy until 1995, is an English aristocrat, hereditary peer and largely rural landowner.


Ralph Percy was born the second son (and one of seven children) of Hugh Percy, 10th Duke of Northumberland, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Lady Elizabeth Montagu Douglas Scott.

He attended Eton College and then studied History at the University of Oxford, and then land management with Reading University and worked in the Arundel Castle estate office for seven years, before moving back to Northumberland to manage the Alnwick estate for his elder brother Henry, the 11th Duke.[1]

He succeeded in the dukedom in 1995 on the death of the 11th Duke, who had no offspring. As such, he was a member of the House of Lords until the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999 ended the right of hereditary peers to sit in the House. Hansard records no contributions to House of Lords work by Northumberland.[2]

The Duke assists in managing Northumberland Estates (the corporation holding the ducal assets) which has many venture subsidiaries and associated trusts, which altogether own land and property in Northumberland, Scotland and to a lesser extent London, Surrey and Tyneside.[3] Ralph Percy was ranked at number 248 in the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, with an estimated wealth of £315 million. He or the mentioned British active corporation is the owner of Alnwick Castle, an ancestral ducal seat, as well as Warkworth Castle and Prudhoe Castle in Northumberland; Syon House and Syon Park in London; Hulne Park and Hulne Priory at Alnwick; Albury Park in Surrey, and other listed buildings such as Brizlee Tower.[4] Northumberland Estates manages 100,000 acres (400 km2): directly managing 4,000 acres (16 km2) of forestry and 20,000 acres (81 km2) of farmland, with approximately 100 tenant farmers managing the remaining bulk of the land.[5][6][7]

The 12th Duke has shown a greater degree of entrepreneurial zeal than recent predecessors, and his redevelopment plans meet frequent criticism.[8] His sale on the open market, rather than at a lower price to The National Gallery, of Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks in 2003 was also subject to some criticism.[9] At much the same time, in response to a Foot and Mouth disease crisis, the Duke cut the rents of tenant farmers by 10 percent.[10] The Duke has showed opposition to certain wind farms, however he adopted renewable energy in the restoration of a hydroelectric power generator.[11][12][13] The Duke is a sponsor of The Northumberland Church of England Academy.

On 8 April 2014, the estate's management announced the date of a new art sale to raise £15 million to cover the costs of the Newburn flood caused by the failure of a culvert for which it was responsible on 25 September 2012.[14] The sales were completed by Sotheby's in July 2014.

Marriage and children[edit]

Northumberland married Jane Richard on 21 July 1979 at Traquair Parish Church. They have four children:[15]

  • Lady Catherine Sarah Percy (b. 23 June 1982), a gunsmith, married to Patrick Valentine since 26 February 2011.[16] The couple separated in late 2013 with no issue.
  • George Dominic Percy, Earl Percy (b. 4 May 1984), managing director of energy company Cluff Geothermal with Professor Paul Younger.[17]
  • Lady Melissa Jane Percy (b. 20 May 1987), a tennis player, married Thomas van Straubenzee, an estate agent and schoolfriend of Princes William and Harry, on 22 June 2013.[18] The couple were divorced in 2016.[19]
  • Lord Max Ralph Percy (b. 26 May 1990) is engaged to Princess Nora of Oettingen-Spielberg


Titles and styles[edit]

  • 16 November 1956 – 31 October 1995: Lord Ralph Percy
  • 31 October 1995 – present: His Grace The Duke of Northumberland




  1. ^ Barber, Lynne (3 August 2003). "Gardener's question time". The Observer. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Mr Ralph Percy". Hansard. UK Parliament. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Northumberland Estates". Alnwick Castle website. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "History and Heritage". The Northumberland Estates. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Farming". The Northumberland Estates. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Sawmill and Forestry". The Northumberland Estates. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Duke's Plans Spark Suspicion". Northumberland Gazette. 7 February 2001. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  8. ^ Burnham, Nigel (19 October 2009). "Will the Duke's grand plans ruin Northumberland?". Mail Online. 
  9. ^ "Duke hits back at £35m art sale critics". Northumberland Gazette. 16 January 2003. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Duke slashes farm rents to ease rural crisis". Northumberland Gazette. 6 November 2002. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Duke joins fight against windfarm". Northumberland Gazette. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "... while Duke lashes turbines as "ugly and noisy"". Northumberland Gazette. 2 December 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "Duke's hydro system taps into the past". Northumberland Estates. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Duke of Northumberland plans £15m art sale to cover flood bill". The Journal. 8 April 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  15. ^ http://thepeerage.com/p6827.htm#i68268
  16. ^ Noblesse et royautés (fr).
  17. ^ "Cluff Geothermal: the team". 
  18. ^ "Mr T. van Straubenzee and Lady Melissa Percy". Daily Telegraph. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Duke of Northumberland's daughter gets divorced". ITV News. 

External links[edit]

Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Henry Percy
Duke of Northumberland
1995 – present
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duke of Manchester
Gentlemen Succeeded by
The Duke of Leinster