BBC BLOGS - Anne Diamond's Blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

With just a few careful clicks, I find my grandfather!

Post categories:

Anne Diamond | 15:00 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Nancy Astor

He's the grandfather I never met and the father my mother never knew, because he died when she was a newborn baby. With the aid of the internet, today I was able to trace him to the house he grew up in.

Today, with the government launching a big initiative to get another nine million people online, we're doing the same here at the BBC, with the relaunch of FirstClick, a project designed to get loads more of us onto the internet, allowing it to enhance our lives. You wait till I tell my mum what I've been able to find out about her family!

Oh and by the way, if you fancy a wonderful day dressing up and pretending you're a socialite, go along to Nancy Astor Day at Cliveden on Sunday. Her birthday is coming up, and so the good folk at her former mansion have organised a birthday party with entertainment, food, fun and vintage cars lining the route - and by the way, you get in free if you go along in full 1930s costume!

Fantastic character, Nancy Astor. She was the first woman in the House of Commons, and the ultimate socialite. Her maiden speech in the Commons warned about the perils of drinking, and in 1923 she introduced a Private Member's Bill aimed at raising the age at which one could buy alcohol to eighteen. She's so famous for her great historic quotes, too. Such as:

"I married beneath me - all women do"

"One reason I don't drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time."

"The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything - or nothing."

"The only thing I like about rich people is their money."

"The penalty for success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you."
Bu especially "I used to dread getting older because I thought I would not be able to do all the things I wanted to do, but now that I am older I find that I don't want to do them."
She said that in 1959. (She died in 1964.)

But her little exchanges with Winston Churchill (who didn't really approve of women in Parliament) are probably the best known. The portly statesman said having a woman in Parliament was like having one intrude on him in the bathroom. Nancy shot back, "You're not handsome enough for such fears." And the most famous of all: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea". To which the great man replied: "Madam, if I were your husband, I'd drink it."


Be the first to comment

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.