BETTY BOOTHROYD’S name might be one of the most recognisable in Parliamentary history as the first female Speaker.
However her proud parents Archibald and Mary originally wanted to call their only child Hannah when she was born at their home in Marriott Street, Dewsbury, on October 8, 1929 as the world became gripped by the Great Depression.
“My arrival, seven months after their wedding, delighted them both, but especially Dad, who had thought he would never be a father,” wrote Baroness Boothroyd in her autobiography.
“He wanted to call me Hannah, but Mum thought otherwise and I was duly named Betty. She may have objected to Hannah because it was the name of Dad’s first wife, who had died two years previously, as well as his mother’s name. At any rate, I am glad Mum had her way. Betty suited me fine.”
She was also one of the first public figures to highlight growing public disillusionment with politics.
Quoting “letters from her postbag” when she stepped down as Speaker in 2000, she warned all MPs: “It is our responsibility, each and every one of us, to do what we can to develop and build public trust and confidence.”
In recent times, Baroness Boothroyd has made telling interventions on current affairs, despite occasional bouts of ill-health.
She admonished John Bercow for refusing to allow President Donald Trump to address both Houses of Parliament.
“Speakers must always remember they are the servant of the House and not its master,” she said.
And she also made her disquiet clear over Brexit, telling a People’s Vote rally that “nobody voted for this mess”.
“I blame the charlatans who peddled the falsehoods that (Brexi) would be easy. I wouldn’t trust them to run my bath, let alone the country,” added the no-nonsense Yorkshirewoman.