Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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ROBERTS , JOHN BRYN ( 1848 - 1931 ), lawyer and politician ,

b. 8 Jan. 1848 (and christened John Roberts ), son of Daniel and Anne Roberts , Bryn Adda , Bangor , was a member of the widespread Roberts family of Castell , Llanddeiniolen, Caerns. , for which see J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees , 381. He was educated at Cheltenham , qualified as solicitor in 1868 , but was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1889 . In 1885 he became Liberal Member of Parliament for south Caernarvonshire , and held the seat till 1906 , when he became county-court judge in Glamorgan . In 1918 he was transferred to North Wales and Chester . He retired in 1921 , d. at Bryn Adda 14 April 1931 , and was buried in Llanfair-is-gaer churchyard. Bryn Roberts was a most remarkable man. A fearless rider to hounds , he took to driving a motor car when approaching his eighties, and became something of a peril on the roads, ‘handling his car,’ as a friend put it, ‘as if it were a hunter.’ His political Liberalism was of the old individualistic type; he had nothing to say to socialism, and nothing to nationalism in Welsh politics. He opposed the South African War , and when the 1914 war broke out, there is evidence that although his position as judge forbade comment in public from him, he felt that Britain ought not to have gone to war. Politically, indeed, he was an uneasy yoke-fellow; disapproving strongly of the ‘Liberal Imperialism’ of Asquith and Grey , he yet refused to support Lloyd George 's campaign against the Balfour Education Act of 1902 , and was an uncompromising opponent, later on, of Lloyd George 's Coalition government. He made no mark in the Commons and was an unattractive platform speaker — yet, somehow, his audiences were impressed. He was a very sound lawyer ; his county-court judgments were not infrequently unpopular, but on appeal they were upheld — a judge of the Appeal Court spoke of him as ‘ that very learned judge .’ In matters religious, he was a Calvinistic Methodist , and an elder — but, here again, a man of sturdy independence.

Sources:

  • Who was who? ;
  • E. Morgan Humphreys , Gwyr Enwog Gynt argraffiadau ac atgofion personol (Aberystwyth) ( 1950 ), i, 28-39 (interesting reminiscences).

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959