Lady Diana Cooper, daughter of Harry Cust, might be Lady Thatcher’s aunt
The child of that relationship, Beatrice Stephenson, was Margaret Thatcher’s mother so Beatrice and I were, biologically speaking, half-sisters, and Maggie therefore is actually my nieceLady Diana Cooper
Lady Diana Cooper was only one of many such offspring. She told me, during my meeting with her in 1979, that another young woman who succumbed to Cust’s undoubted charms was a certain Mrs Phoebe Stephenson, who briefly worked as a housemaid at the 17th-century Brownlow stately home, Belton House, near Grantham.
“The child of that relationship, Beatrice Stephenson, was Margaret Thatcher’s mother,” said Lady Diana, “so Beatrice and I were, biologically speaking, half-sisters, and Maggie therefore is actually my niece.”
Thatcher’s maternal grandmother was a farmer’s daughter from the village of Fishtoft Fen, born Phoebe Crust near Boston in Lincolnshire. According to the notes from my 1974 interview with Thatcher, Phoebe worked as a factory machinist in Grantham. In 1876, she married Daniel Stephenson, a humble cloakroom attendant. “They were extremely poor,” Thatcher said, “and after their marriage, my grandmother went back to work in domestic service.”
Her daughter Beatrice Stephenson was born in Grantham on August 24, 1888, and married in 1917 to an ambitious young grocery assistant, Alfred Roberts, four years younger than herself. Margaret Thatcher was the younger of their two daughters.
If the story is true it means that the Iron Lady had centuries of royal and aristocratic blood coursing through her veins. The Brownlows trace their lineage back to Gauthier d’Aincourt who was of royal blood and who fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.
Harry Cust, who died in 1917 at the age of 55, claimed descent from King Edward III.
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