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Alfred Roberts's Geni Profile

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Alfred Roberts

Birthdate: (78)
Death: 1970 (78)
Immediate Family:

Son of Benjamin Ebenezer Roberts and Ellen Smith
Husband of Beatrice Ethel Stephenson
Father of Muriel Cullen and Margaret Thatcher

Managed by: Michael Lawrence Rhodes
Last Updated:

About Alfred Roberts

Although born in Ringstead in 1892 he left school at 12, became a shoe maker but within a couple years soon got fed up with this, He moved to Oundle (15 mins from Ringstead) and worked in the school tuck shop,..then got a job as a shop assistant, by 1916-17 he moved toGrantham, rest is history


Alderman Alfred Roberts, revered father of Margaret Thatcher and inspirer of her Victorian values, sexually harassed young female assistants working in the grocer's shop where she grew up, according to the distinguished political biographer Professor Bernard Crick. Writing in the satirical magazine Punch, the political theorist, commentator and biographer of George Orwell recounts claims from contemporaries of the one-time Methodist preacher, pillar of society and Mayor of Grantham, Lincolnshire, that he "was a notorious toucher-up".

The assaults supposedly took place about 60 years ago, behind the counter of the shop, next to the "splendid mahogany spice drawers with sparkling brass handles (and) large, black, lacquered tea canisters", recalled in her autobiography by Baroness Thatcher, whose decisive endorsement of William Hague as Conservative leader last week has renewed her influence with the Tory right.

"Older teachers," Professor Crick was told by a Grantham friend, "all remembered their difficulty in trying, good women, to steer girls away from taking jobs at his shop.

They were frightened to hint at the real reason: for he was a figure of real power in the town."

However, although tales of her father's alleged sexual misconduct might not have been known nationally, they have been common currency in Grantham for years, it was clear last week.

Peter Hadlow, 76, lived next-door-but-one to the Roberts, and overheard many conversations about the scandal when working as an apprentice electrician. "Quite a broad spectrum of people said it. It was all over Grantham virtually," he said. "I would hear the boss talking about it. My ears were flapping - that sounds juicy, I thought.

"These stories were bandied about, and eventually you begin to believe there was some truth in them. But he was an Alderman and so that sort of thing got hushed up. It was a question of who do you believe - a teenage girl, or Mr Roberts?"

Mr Hadlow still lives in the same area of the town and added: "Funnily enough, when he gave up running the shop, he changed into a really nice bloke".

More significant still were the comments of a 74-year-old woman from Grantham, who told the Independent on Sunday that she had been molested on frequent occasions by Alderman Roberts, when she worked in his shop, aged just 15.

She said: "He was a bad one. He came round and put his arms around me, feeling my breasts. He used to put his tongue in my mouth.

"I got quite frightened. I didn't like it and I'd push him away. He'd say nothing and go, but then he would come back again. He used to chase other girls round the counter." She worked at the shop for six months until she told her parents what was happening. Her father told her she should not return.

The woman, who does not wish to be named, was then a chorister at the Methodist chapel where Alderman Roberts was a lay preacher. "One Sunday, I got up and walked out. I couldn't stand him standing up there and preaching," she said.

It was only then, when her parents challenged her to explain her behaviour, that she told them about the harassment she had suffered at the hands of the Alderman Roberts

The rumours about Alderman Roberts took on fictional form in a novel about Thirties Grantham, Rotten Borough, written by local journalist Oliver Anderson and published in 1937. It featured a councillor who ran a corner grocery shop and was given to frolicking with his female assistants. At one point he is caught in flagrante beside the pork pies and polony sausages when a faulty light is switched on and passers-by see him, trousers down, through the shop window.

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Alfred Roberts's Timeline

1892
1892
1921
1921
Age 29
1925
October 13, 1925
Age 33
Grantham, Lincolnshire, England
1970
1970
Age 78