Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ROBERTS , PETER ( 1760 - 1819 ), cleric, Biblical scholar and antiquary ;

b. in 1760 at Tai'n-y-nant , Ruabon, Denbs. His father, JOHN ROBERTS , son of a freeholder at Ruabon , attained considerable fame as a clock-maker ;. his name appears in the list of subscribers to Dewisol Ganiadau , published in 1759 by Huw Jones of Llangwm (q.v.) . John Roberts lived at Wrexham from 1764 till after 1771 and made a clock for Izaak Walton ( Peate , Clock and Watch Makers of Wales , 60-1).

Peter Roberts was educated first at Wrexham grammar school , and afterwards (from about 1775 ) at S. Asaph grammar school ; He then became private tutor to the Irish pupils at the school; this led to his matriculation (as a sizar) at Trinity College , Dublin , where he graduated M.A. Afterwards he continued his studies in Hebrew and astronomy , and had some hope (which, however, was not realised) of succeeding Henry Ussher in the chair of astronomy at Trinity College , Dublin . As his health was poor he had, in 1789 , to go to reside in the Barèges valley in the south of France to recuperate. Returning to Ireland he became family tutor , later accompanying two of his pupils to Eton ; at the end of the boys’ sojourn at Eton (where Peter Roberts had finished a Harmony of the Epistles , published at the expense of the University of Cambridge in 1800 ) he was assigned a pension by two of his pupils. He returned to Wales and worked upon the study of Welsh antiquities . In 1810 he was appointed vicar of Llanarmon , in the vale of Ceiriog ; he resided, however, at Oswestry and there wrote a history of the town (published anonymously in 1815 ). About 1814 he became vicar of Madeley , Salop , and in 1818 was given the rectory of Halkin, Flints. , where ill-health and indifferent preaching outweighed his geniality and abundant charity. He d. on Sunday 30 May 1819 ( 21 May according to D.N.B. and J.T.J. — the ‘ 1839 ’ suggested in Arch. Camb. , 1863 , is obviously a misprint). In addition to the works mentioned above, and to other books (theological and astronomical), he published A Sketch of the Early History of the Cymry (700 B.C.-A.D. 500) , 1803 ; The Chronicles of the Kings of Britain , 1811 ; and his well-known Cambrian Popular Antiquities , 1815 (with coloured plates), a Welsh version was published at Carmarthen in 1823 , with illustrations by Hugh Hughes ( 1790 - 1863 ) (q.v.) .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru (1870) ;
  • Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru , ii, 498-500;
  • Archaeologia Cambrensis 1863 (60 ).


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

Published date: 1959