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Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh

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The Lord Hesketh
Chief Whip of the House of Lords
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
In office
22 May 1991 – 16 September 1993
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byLord Denham
Succeeded byViscount Ullswater
Minister of State for Industry
In office
2 November 1990 – 21 May 1991
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded byDouglas Hogg
Succeeded bypost vacant
Parliamentary under-secretary of State for Environment
In office
31 January 1989 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byVirginia Bottomley
Succeeded byDavid Heathcoat-Amory
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
28 October 1971 – 11 November 1999
hereditary peer
Preceded byFrederick Fermor-Hesketh
Succeeded byseat abolished
House of Lords Act 1999
Personal details
Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh

(1950-10-28) 28 October 1950 (age 73)
Political partyUKIP
Other political
Conservative (until 2011)
Hon Claire Watson
(after 1977)
EducationAmpleforth College

Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh, KBE, PC (born 28 October 1950) is a British peer and UK Independence Party politician.

Early life[edit]

Insignia of Baronet

Hesketh succeeded in the barony (and baronetcy) on 6 October 1955, aged four, when his father, Frederick Fermor-Hesketh, 2nd Baron Hesketh, died aged 39. His mother, Christian Mary McEwen, Dowager Lady Hesketh, served as the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1981.[1]

He was educated at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire.[2] He went on to work for Dean Witter in San Francisco before returning to manage his family's businesses.[3]


Hesketh automatically became a member of the House of Lords but took no active part in politics until he met Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after the Irish Republican Army's bomb attack on her in Brighton on 12 October 1984. Thatcher visited Easton Neston and in conversation, Hesketh explained that he did not occupy his seat in the House of Lords. He later explained, "Mrs Thatcher asked me if I served on a regular basis in the House, and when I told her no, she said, 'You must. It's your duty, and I expect you to be there.'"[1] From that point Hesketh worked under Thatcher, whom he described as "the most outstanding person I ever worked with"[4] and held the office of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment between 1989 and 1990 and was Minister of State in the Department of Trade and Industry between 1990 and 1991.

On 22 May of that year, he became Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms (Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords) under the next prime minister, John Major, a position he kept until 16 September 1993.[2] During his period in office as Chief Whip he helped secure the Local Government Finance Act 1992, which introduced council taxes, and the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993,[5] which ratified the Maastricht Treaty.

Hesketh lost his seat in the House of Lords in 1999, when the House of Lords Act 1999 removed all but 92 hereditary peers, and he was not one of the 92 who were elected to keep their seats.

In 2003, he became treasurer of the Conservative Party, resigning in 2006 owing to his own financial difficulties, and was formerly a board member of The Conservative Party Foundation.[3]

On 10 October 2011, Hesketh defected to the UK Independence Party, in response to Prime Minister David Cameron ruling out a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.[6] During the years 2011/12 Hesketh donated approximately £31,000 to that party.[7]


Known for his love of motor racing, Hesketh founded Hesketh Racing in 1972, best known for competing in Formula One from 1973 to 1978. The team was famous for its flamboyant and patriotic approach to the sport and for refusing sponsorship. Between 1973 and 1975 the team had some success with the English driver James Hunt, including winning the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix. He later was president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, from 1993 to 2000.

Hesketh formed Hesketh Motorcycles plc. In 1982 a modern purpose built factory was set up to manufacture the Hesketh V1000 motorcycles in Daventry. However, there were numerous problems. The bikes were heavy, made worse by a high riding style; and unreliable, with numerous manufacturing problems adding to an overheating rear cylinder due to lack of air flow. The resultant bad press combined on top of an under-developed bike, lack of cash and a collapsing market meant that after the production of 139 bikes, the company went into receivership. The Triumph Motorcycles co-operative looked at buying the rights to the machine, as they lacked a new model beyond the aged Triumph Bonneville. A V1000 machine even appeared with a Triumph badge on its tank, but Triumph also lacked funding to buy and develop the machine. In 1983, Lord Hesketh formed a new company called Hesleydon Ltd to manufacture a revamped V1000 with a full fairing, called the Vampire. However, although the company had produced a motorcycle with export potential in mind, the Vampire retained too many of the V1000's faults and only 40 were produced before the company closed again in 1984.

In 1994 Hesketh helped set up British Mediterranean Airways (BMED). He also became chairman of the new airline – a role in which he continued until early 2007, when BMED was purchased for £30 million by UK Airline BMI. He subsequently served as an "independent director" of Air Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan.[8]

Hesketh joined the board of Babcock International Group on 6 October 1993, becoming non-executive deputy chairman on 26 April 1996. He was forced to resign in November 2010 after a comment regarding the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, in which he was reported as saying the project would make the country a "laughing stock".[9]

Personal life[edit]

The family seat, Easton Neston, which Lord Hesketh sold in 2006.

On 21 May 1977, Lord Hesketh married Hon. Claire Georgina Watson, a daughter of Rupert Watson, 3rd Baron Manton and the former Mary Elizabeth Hallinan. Together, they are the parents of three children who use the surname Hesketh day-to-day:[2]

  • Hon. Flora Mary Fermor-Hesketh (born 1981)
  • Hon. Sophia Christian Fermor-Hesketh (born 1984)[10]
  • Hon. Frederick Hatton Fermor-Hesketh (born 13 October 1988)

In 2006, Lord Hesketh's financial difficulties forced him to sell the family seat, Easton Neston, at Towcester, Northamptonshire—the only surviving completed house by the English baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor—and all furnishings of the house, including even the family portraits.[11][12] He sold off the estate and Gothic village of Hulcote piecemeal.[13]

Honours and arms[edit]

In 1997, Hesketh was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).[citation needed] Hesketh was portrayed by British actor Christian McKay in the 2013 biographical drama Rush.

Coat of arms of Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh
1st A garb Or banded Azure (Hesketh); 2nd Out of a ducal coronet Or a cock’s head Gules combed and wattled Gold.
Quarterly 1st & 4th Argent on a bend Sable three garbs Or (Hesketh); 2nd & 3rd Argent a fess Sable between three lions’ heads erased Gules (Fermor).
On either side a griffin Or gorged with a collar Gules thereon a fleur-de-lis Gold and charged on the shoulder with a rose also Gules barbed and seeded Proper.
Hora E Sempre [14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Good Lord: A Profile of Alexander Hesketh". Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  2. ^ a b c "Lord Hesketh 'Le Patron'". HESKETH RACING. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Lord Hesketh". Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Lord Hesketh". The Observer. 3 February 2002. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  5. ^ European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 Office of Public Sector Information
  6. ^ Hough, Andrew (11 October 2011). "Lord Hesketh: former Tory party treasurer defects to Ukip 'over Europe'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Search – The Electoral Commission". search.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  8. ^ Air Astana, "Board of Directors" Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  9. ^ "Babcock's Lord Hesketh resigns amid carrier row". BBC News. 8 November 2010.
  10. ^ Tatler http://www.tatler.com/the-tatler-list/h/sophia-hesketh Archived 23 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Whelan, Frank (7 June 2004). "For sale: $90 million ** English estate is what Easton and Northampton County were named for". The Morning Call. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Reluctant Hesketh to sell £50m family seat". Telegraph. 17 May 2004.
  13. ^ Daily Telegraph 13 July 2005
  14. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1949.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Conservative Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Sporting positions
Preceded by President of the British Racing Drivers' Club
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Baron Hesketh
Heir apparent:
Hon. Frederick Fermor-Hesketh