Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ROBERTS , ROBERT ( 1834 - 1885 ), cleric and scholar ;

b. 12 Nov. 1834 , son of Owen Roberts and Mary his wife, of Hafod Bach , Llanddewi , Llangernyw, Denbs. He went to Bala to Lewis Edwards (q.v.) for two years, 1847-9 , and then for two years more was a private tutor in Anglesey before being admitted to the training college at Caernarvon . He obtained his certificate there, and taught at Castle Caereinion and Llanllechid ( 1853 ), Amlwch , and Ruthin ( 1855 ). In Aug. 1857 he went to S. Bees College to prepare for holy orders, was ordained deacon in 1859 by bishop Short of S. Asaph and licensed to Cwm , near Rhuddlan ; he received priest's orders in 1860 and served as curate at Bala , and at Rug near Corwen . In 1861 he was compelled to give up his curacy, and emigrated to Australia . There he wrote his autobiography, which gives a remarkable picture of Welsh life in the middle of the 19th cent. He returned to Wales in 1875 and was for three years a private tutor at Betws , near Abergele . He also did much lexicographical work , and D. Silvan Evans (q.v.) profited very greatly from Roberts 's work and the materials which he supplied. His last years were spent in desultory teaching ; he d. at Llanrwst , and was buried at Llangernyw , 15 April 1885 .

Roberts was known as ‘ Y Sgolor Mawr ’ (The Great Scholar) and his work shows signs of fine scholarship which is remarkable considering the difficulties he encountered.


  • J. H. Davies (ed.), The life and opinions of Robert Roberts, wandering scholar (Cardiff, 1923) , 1923 ;
  • The National Library of Wales Journal , iv, 205;
  • Cwrtmawr Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth (N.L.W.) 792 and 937;
  • NLW MS 88;
  • [and see now Robert Roberts (Y Sgolor Mawr) 1834-1885 (Cardiff, 1957) , by T. O. Phillips (Cardiff, 1957 )].


Thomas Iorwerth Ellis, M.A., (1899-1970), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959