Beatrice Ethel Roberts (1888- 1960)
Beatrice Ethel Stephenson was born at 10 South Parade, Grantham, in August 1888.
She was officially the daughter of Daniel Stephenson, who was employed for 35 years as a cloakroom attendant, and Phoebe Crust, a factory machinist whose father was a farmer from a village near Boston.
In fact, it is now generally accepted that she was the daughter of local lothario Harry Cust, the heir to the Brownlow title and estates, including Belton House.
Cust’s sexual appetite was legendary and is also credited with seducing the Duchess of Rutland and being the true father of her daughter, Lady Diana Cooper, among many others.
Beatrice’s father Daniel died in December 1916, five months before she married shopkeeper Alf Roberts. The couple had met through the Methodist Church, of which they were both members.
Beatie, as she was known, had been strictly brought up by her mother not to waste money or be idle. She accompanied her husband and daughters – Muriel and Margaret (later Thatcher) to church twice every Sunday, and went to a sewing circle on Tuesdays.
While baking for the family, she would turn out a few extra loaves to give to families who were temporarily down on their luck.
Yet her name is mysteriously absent from the first 862-page volume of Baroness Thatcher’s memoir,. In that work, the former Prime Minister paid an extended tribute to her father, alderman Alfred Roberts,
Similarly, her Who’s Who entry recorded Lady Thatcher as “d. of late Alfred Roberts, Grantham, Lincs” as if the good alderman had conceived and given birth to him by himself.
“I loved her dearly,” Lady Thatcher said of her mother in an interview in the Daily Express in 1961, “but after I was 15 we had nothing more to say to each other.”