Dictionary of Welsh Biography

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

ROBERTS , JOHN ( 1576 - 1610 ), Benedictine monk and martyr ;

b. at Trawsfynydd in 1576 . It is now believed, on the authority of Pen. MS. 287 , that his father was Robert , one of the sons of Ellis ap William ap Gruffydd of Rhiwgoch , and that he was, therefore, a cousin of Robert Lloyd of Rhiwgoch , Member of Parliament for Merionethshire , 1586-7 . He was brought up and educated as a Protestant and was admitted to S. John's College , Oxford , 26 Feb. 1595/6 , where he came into close contact with John ( Leander ) Jones (q.v.) . After leaving Oxford in 1598 he spent a few months studying law at Furnival's Inn and then went on a tour of the Continent. While he was in Paris he became a Roman Catholic and was admitted to S. Alban's Jesuit College , Valladolid , 18 Oct. 1598 . After being there a year he decided to join the Benedictine Order , adopted the name of Fra. Juan de Mervinia , and went to Salamanca for a further course of study. In 1602 he was ordained priest , and the following April came to England as a missionary . On four different occasions he was arrested by the authorities, once in Nov. 1605 on suspicion of being involved in the Gunpowder Plot , but on each occasion he was, after a short period of imprisonment, sentenced to exile. Roberts was arrested in London for the fifth time in 1610 , found guilty of high treason, and executed 10 Dec. He was one of the founders of S. Gregory's College , Douai , 1606-7 , which was intended to train priests for the English mission , and he was the first prior of the college . He was one of the pioneers of the revival of the Order of S. Benedict in Britain .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (and the authorities quoted therein);
  • T. P. Ellis , The Welsh Benedictines of the terror (Newtown, 1936) , 43-54, 76-104, and The Catholic Martyrs of Wales, 1535-1680 , 79-91.


Emyr Gwynne Jones, M.A., (1911-72), Bangor

Published date: 1959