Michael Pearson, 4th Viscount Cowdray

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The Viscount Cowdray
Born (1944-06-17) 17 June 1944 (age 75)
Spouse(s)Ellen Erhardt
Marina Rose Cordle
ParentsWeetman Pearson, 3rd Viscount Cowdray
Lady Anne Pamela Bridgeman

Michael Orlando Weetman Pearson, 4th Viscount Cowdray DL (born 17 June 1944)[1] of Cowdray Park in West Sussex, is a landowner in West Sussex with 16,500-acres and is a major shareholder of the FTSE 100 company Pearson plc, the construction, now publishing, company founded by his ancestor in the 19th century. The Pearson family was listed in the top 100 of the British Rich List of 2011.[2]


He is the eldest son and heir of Weetman Pearson, 3rd Viscount Cowdray (1910–1995)[1][3][4] of Cowdray Park, Sussex and of Dunecht House[5] in Aberdeenshire, by his first wife Lady Anne Pamela Bridgeman (1914-2009), a daughter of Orlando Bridgeman, 5th Earl of Bradford (1873–1957),[6] his parents separated when he was two years old.[7] His great-grandfather, who founded the family's fortune, was the prominent businessman Weetman Dickinson Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray (1856–1927), created Viscount Cowdray in 1917; the 53,000 acre paternal estate of Dunecht in Scotland was inherited by his half-brother Charles Anthony Pearson (born 1956).[8]


He attended Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Elgin, Moray, Scotland, after which he served the British Army for two years, worked as a financier in the City of London and briefly as a farmer.[9] In the late 1960s he became a film producer, running Cupid Productions, a film production company,[4][10] he produced Sympathy for the Devil, a film starring The Rolling Stones and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, and Vanishing Point in 1971. In the late 1970s, partly to avoid high UK taxes, he moved to Ibiza where built a house and lived the hippy lifestyle, grew long hair and beard and mixed with the celebrity set.[11] In 1985, he was listed in Debrett's Peerage as a resident of Le Schuylkill, a high-rise building in Monaco.[12] Later in the 1980s he returned to England, he was a director of the jewellers Theo Fennell Plc. He has served on the board of trustees of the Tibet House Trust for 20 years.[3][13] and donates to the school project The Drukpa Kargyu Trust. He is a patron of his local primary school, church, young farmers club, and sports teams.

Cowdray Park estate[edit]

In 1995 he inherited his 16,500-acre paternal estate at Cowdray Park, in West Sussex, purchased by his great-grandfather in 1909, now containing the very large mansion house known as Cowdray Park, a well-known polo club (which hosts the Cowdray Park Gold Cup, one of Britain's most prestigious polo events), a golf club, organic dairy herd, forestry, 330 houses, several farms and much of the town of Midhurst. In September 2010 he moved out of the house to his previous and smaller residence at nearby Fernhurst,[14] and in 2011, "wanting an easier life for his family and himself plus some funds for fresh projects",[15] he put the 16 bedroom mansion house up for sale via agents Knight Frank, at an asking price of £25 million, including two lakes, two swimming pools, six cottages, 12 flats, a bowling alley, cricket pitch, polo field, but with only 110 acres of the estate; the property failed to find a buyer. Also in 2011 he sold off much of the valuable contents of the mansion house in several auctions conducted by Christies, realising about 13.5 million pounds.[16]

In 2017 having failed to find a buyer for the house, he took it off the market and drew up plans to convert the two wings into 7 short-leasehold luxury apartments with the reception areas to be hired out for conferences, corporate events and weddings,[17] he retains the surrounding 16,500-acre estate, which has much commercial potential and employs 150 people, comprising a farm shop, cafe, golf, shooting grounds, fishing and therapy rooms for hire.

Marriages and progeny[edit]

  • In 1970 by his mistress Barbara Ray, he had a son out of wedlock:
    • Sebastian William Orlando Pearson (born 1970),[18] who although his eldest son, under the terms of the entail is barred from inheriting the family estates which descend with the Viscountcy.[19]
  • Firstly in 1977 he married Ellen Erhardt, a daughter of Hermann Erhardt of Munich,[20] Germany, who having obtained a divorce in 1984 became the fourth wife of Spencer Compton, 7th Marquess of Northampton.[1] By his first wife he had no progeny.
  • Secondly in 1987 he married Marina Rose Cordle, 2nd daughter of John Cordle, a Conservative Member of Parliament,[1][3] by whom he has five children:
    • Eliza Anne Venetia Pearson (born 31 May 1988), has two daughters (b. 2014 and 2016) with her partner Leif Christian Kvaal,[21]
    • Emily Jane Marina Pearson (born 13 December 1989), [22]
    • Catrina Sophie Lavinia Pearson (born 13 March 1991)
    • Peregrine John Dickinson Pearson (born 27 October 1994), eldest legitimate son and heir;
    • Montague Orlando William Pearson (born 17 May 1997),[1] second son;


As a producer[edit]

As an executive producer[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lundy, Darryl (18 February 2011). "Michael Orlando Weetman Pearson, 4th Viscount Cowdray". The Peerage.com. Retrieved 2 June 2013.[unreliable source]
  2. ^ Daily Mail
  3. ^ a b c Karen Kranenburg, Renaissance Man Archived 5 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Polo & More, 2011
  4. ^ a b Edwin Shrake, On A Dicey Cruise, Sports Illustrated, 16 September 1974
  5. ^ Now owned by the 4th Viscount's half-brother, Daily Mail online, 24 June 2018[1]
  6. ^ Kidd, Charles, Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage 2015 Edition, London, 2015, p.P293
  7. ^ Daily Telegraph online, 23 June 2018[2]
  8. ^ Now owned by the 4th Viscount's half-brother, Daily Mail online, 24 June 2018[3]
  9. ^ Daily Mail Online, 24 June 2018
  10. ^ Cupid Production Archived 26 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Daily Mail Online, 24 June 2018
  12. ^ Charles Kidd, David Williamson. Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1985, p. 287.
  13. ^ Meet the Cowdrays, Tatler, 28 January 2015
  14. ^ Daily Telegraph
  15. ^ Daily Mail
  16. ^ Daily Mail
  17. ^ Daily Telegraph
  18. ^ Kidd, Charles, Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage 2015 Edition, London, 2015, p.P293
  19. ^ Daily Mail "Lord Cowdray explains that this estate, in Downton Abbey style, goes with the title and the peerage recognises only legitimate heirs"
  20. ^ Kidd, Charles, Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage 2015 Edition, London, 2015, p.P293
  21. ^ "Anokhi Jaya-Kvaal". Peerage News.
  22. ^ Soames, Matilda. "10 PERFECT POTENTIAL BRIDES FOR PRINCE HARRY!". Tatler.
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Weetman Pearson, 3rd Viscount Cowdray
Viscount Cowdray
Succeeded by