Susan Mary Barrantes (nee Wright, previously Ferguson; 9 June 1937 – 19 September 1998) was the mother of Sarah, Duchess of York, and the maternal grandmother of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York.
She was known as "the bolter," following her elopement with an Argentinian polo player, causing a stir in social circles. After his death, she became a film producer in Buenos Aires, but was killed in a road accident.
Barrantes was born Susan Mary Wright in Bramcote, Nottinghamshire, the daughter of FitzHerbert Wright and the Honourable Doreen Wingfield. The Wrights can be traced back at least to John Wright alias Camplyon of Stowmarket who made his will in 1557, although wills and deeds show the family holding land in Suffolk and Norfolk at least a century earlier. His son, John Wright, a captain in Colonel Whalley's Regiment of Horse, was imprisoned in Newark Castle for his attachment to the Parliamentary cause, but later acquired estates in Nottinghamshire and Suffolk. Captain Wright's grandson, Ichabod, was a banker who owned estates in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, and established Wright's Bank with two of his sons. His great-grandson, Samuel Wright of Gunthorpe, married a daughter of Lord Coventry. Samuel's brother John of Langar and Lenton Hall was a banker and principal proprietor of the Butterley Company. His granddaughter became the wife of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. John Wright's son, Francis, married Selina, daughter of Sir Henry FitzHerbert, 3rd Baronet (1783–1858) of Tissington Hall, Derbyshire and was a noted philanthropist; he was Susan's great-great-grandfather. Susan's maternal grandfather was Mervyn Wingfield, 8th Viscount Powerscourt.
Susan was the youngest of four children, with two sisters, Brigid and Davinia, and a brother, Bryan. Brigid married Julian Salmond, son of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Salmond and the Hon. Monica Grenfell. Davinia married firstly Sir Richard Boughey 10th Bt, and secondly Spencer Loch, 4th Baron Loch. Bryan was a Major in the Blues and Royals.
Susan Wright completed school and for a short time attended secretarial college. During the debutante season of 1954, she was presented to the Queen.
On 17 January 1956, Susan married Lieutenant Ronald Ferguson (1931–2003) at St Margaret's, Westminster. He rose to the rank of Major, played polo with the Duke of Edinburgh, and became the Prince of Wales's Polo Manager. Ronald and Susan had two daughters: Jane Louisa, born on 26 August 1957, and Sarah Margaret, later the Duchess of York, born on 15 October 1959.
In 1972, Susan caused a stir in society circles by leaving her family, to move to Argentina with professional polo-player Hector Barrantes, causing her to be dubbed 'the bolter'. Her daughters were then raised by their father Ronald with the help of their extended family. Susan and Ronald divorced in 1974, and in 1975 she married Barrantes.
Susan and her new husband moved to the ranch-manor "El Pucara" in Tres Lomas, Argentina. In her writings and filmographic work, she recorded that aside from the birth of her two daughters, her life in Argentina was the happiest time of her life personally and professionally, since she had the chance to explore and develop a great documentary film career. Her two passions, polo and film, were combined in a new profession. She also assisted her husband's business of breeding polo ponies and cattle until his death from cancer in 1990.
Widowhood brought financial difficulties for Susan Barrantes, and she once again decided to start afresh. Selling more than half the farm to the polo-playing Australian media magnate Kerry Packer, she relocated to a large flat in the Recoleta-Palermo borough of Buenos Aires. In that city, she set up a television production company, making films about horses.
Susan remained firm friends with the Prince of Wales, who contributed a Foreword to her book titled POLO.
On 19 September 1998, while leaving for the ranch where she kept ponies, the Rover 75 she was driving collided with a Renault catering truck on a two-lane highway in flat countryside. The driver of the truck suffered a broken ankle, but Barrantes was decapitated and killed, age 61.
Susan Barrantes is buried beside her second husband in a vault beneath her home, next to a polo field on the "El Pucara" estate in Tres Lomas, Argentina. Her death came just one year after that of her daughter's former sister-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales, whose funeral Susan and Sarah had both attended in Westminster Abbey.