Liz Truss Family History
Mary Elizabeth Truss, better known as Liz Truss, was born on July 29th, 1975 to John and Pruscilla Truss in Oxford. She is the oldest of their four surviving children.
Liz, however, regards her hometown as Leeds, which was where she grew up. She was educated at Roundhay Comprehensive, a former grammar school. Her interest in politics was piqued early and she did her GCSE project on the fall of Thatcher entitled The End Of An Era. A bright girl, she was admitted to Oxford University in 1993 to study PP&E. While there, she was active in her support for the Liberal Democrats.
One of her tutors at Oxford remarked on her ability at the time to shift “unblinkingly” from one fiercely held belief to another. That might explain how later she would move from being a Lib Dem and a Remainer to espousing seemingly opposite political beliefs.
Liz joined the Conservative party in 1996, probably because she saw that it was her best career move. She tried and failed to become a Conservative MP in 2001 and in 2005, but finally succeeded in 2010.
The next decade saw her in a number of ministerial posts, culminating with that of Foreign Secretary in 2021. In September 2022 she won the Conservative leadership contest and became the British Prime Minister. But she became the British Prime Minister of shortest duration when she was forced to resign after just 44 days in office. The hastily completed book Out of the Blue: The Inside Srory of the Inexpected Rise and Rapid Fall of Liz Truss appeared later in the year.
The Truss Name
Truss is a fairly uncommon English surname. There were only 180 recorded in the 1891 UK census and the numbers today are less than 500. Its origin appears to have been in London and Essex. Some have it derived from the old French trousse, meaning “bundle” or “package,” and perhaps being an occupational name for a porter.
A notable Truss, apart from Liz Truss, is the unrelated Lynne Truss, a writer known for her championing of correctness and aesthetics in the English language (as in her 2003 book Eats, Shoots and Leaves).
The Truss Line
Liz Truss’s paternal line extends back to a Sydney Truss who was born in Abingdon, Berkshire in 1879. He was a commercial traveller in hardware and had moved to London by the early 1900’s. There he met and married Emily Owers, an ironmonger’s daughter. His son Clifford, born in Hendon in 1904, was only nine when Sydney died at the young age of thirty-four. Emily lived on until 1972.
Not that much is known about Clifford, except that he married Joyce Birtwistle from Derbyshire in 1938 and made his home outside of London in Watford. He had two sons – Richard who became a Church of England vicar and Liz’s father John.
John Kenneth Truss pursued an academic career. He graduated from King’s College, Cambridge in 1968 and the following year married Priscilla Grasby, a fellow student there. He earned his PhD at the University of Leeds in 1973 and became a lecturer and later a professor in mathematics.
John moved to Scotland to teach in 1979 before returning with his young family to academia at Leeds in 1985. Both he and his wife Priscilla had strong left-wing views and would take their daughter Liz out on protest marches against the Thatcher Government at that time.
John found it difficult to accept Liz switching her support to the Conservatives in 1996 and would not campaign for her when she first stood for election five years later. Was he dismayed by her transformation from the spirited girl in whom he had proudly instilled a strong social conscience into a standard bearer for the Tory Right?
The Grasby Line
Liz may have felt closer to her mother’s side of the family, the Grasbys. They were originally from Yorkshire where Liz grew up. And her mother Priscilla remained – unlike her father – a big supporter of hers as she rose through the ranks to become the Conservative Prime Minister in 2022.
The roots of this Grasby family were deep in the rural landscape around Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire. William Grasby, born in 1856, was a shepherd and an inn keeper at Langtoft during Victorian times.
His son George fought in the Great War with the East Yorkshire Regiment and lost his right leg at the Battle of Passchendaele. After the war he became a cobbler on Adelphi Street in Driffield despite his handicap. He also performed as a ventriloquist in variety shows during the inter-war period.
It was this George who laid the foundation for a socially-upward family. His son, also named George, won a place to read classics at Queen’s College, Oxford. During World War II he served with the Army in India in an intelligence role. After the war he became a teacher and later a head of classics at Bolton School for 25 years.
According to one former pupil, the pipe-smoking George Grasby was very much a post-Second World War socialist. His daughter Priscilla, Liz’s mother, was one of his pupils and joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Liz Truss’s Paternal Family Line
- Charles Truss (1834-1891) from Berkshire m. Emily Drewett (b. 1839)
- – Sydney Truss (1879-1913)
- Sydney Horace Truss from Berkshire m. Emily Owers (1878-1972) in 1902
- – Clifford Truss (1904-1993)
- Clifford Owers Truss from London m. Joyce Birtwistle (1906-1959) in 1938
- – Charles Richard Truss (b. 1942 in Watford)
- – John Kenneth Truss (b. 1947 in Watford)
- John Kenneth Truss m. Priscilla Grasby (b. 1948) in 1969, divorced in 2003
- – Liz Truss (b. 1975)
- – Chris Truss (b.1978)
- – Patrick Truss (b.1980)
- – Francis Truss (b. 1982)
- Liz Truss m. Hugh O’Leary (b. 1974) in 2000
- – Florence O’Leary (b. 2006)
- – Liberty O’Leary (b. 2009)
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