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 , ROBERT ALUN ( 1894 - 1969 ), Professor of Agricultural Botany at University College, Bangor, and a naturalist .

Born 10 Mar. 1894 , at Glan Gors , Tan'rallt , Dyffryn Nantlle, Caerns. , son of Robert Roberts (brother of Owen Roberts , father of Dr. Kate Roberts ) and Jane Thomas . He received his primary education at Nebo school and won a scholarship to Pen-y-groes county school . For a period, he was a pupil teacher before securing a place in University College , Bangor in 1911 . He was awarded a B.Sc. with honours in 1915 and completed his Ph.D. in 1927 . His first appointment was as a science teacher at Botwnnog school ( 1915-17 ). He served with the Ministry of Agriculture from 1917 to 1919 , and later as an agricultural botany consultant for the Ministry until 1921 when he was appointed to a lectureship in the Agricultural Botany department in the University College , Bangor . In 1926 , he was promoted independent lecturer and head of the college's Agricultural Botany department . Between 1941 and 1944 he was seconded from his college post to become an administrative officer with the Ministry of Agriculture in Caernarfonshire . For a short period in 1944-45 he was one of His Majesty's Inspectors for rural schools , and this experience enabled him to contribute to the 1944 Education Act . In July 1945 he returned to University College of North Wales , Bangor and was appointed the first Professor of Agricultural Botany . He held this post until his retirement in 1960 .

Alun Roberts worked diligently to establish a strong department in Bangor and developed his own incomparable style of imparting knowledge to his students. He contributed numerous articles and papers to scientific journals. For a decade he lectured on biological topics in tutorial courses and he and R.E.V. Roberts were the first members of the panel of naturalists on a well-known radio programme, Byd Natur . His wide knowledge of Wales led to many requests to serve on a host of national bodies and commissions such as the management committee of the Welsh National Folk Museum ; the Agricultural Council for Wales ; the council of the Wales Forestry Commission ( 1946-53 ); the Lord Carrington Council on Agricultural Education ; he was first chairman of the Nature Conservancy ( 1953-56 ); the Welsh member of the Royal Commission on Common Land ( 1955-58 ); a member of the Nuffield Foundation team researching into Common Land in Wales and of the Water Resources Committee for Wales . From 1955-56 he was High Sheriff for the county of Caernarfon . In recognition of his contribution to agriculture he received a C.B.E. in 1962 . He was to be awarded an honorary D.Litt. in July 1969 but died in the Caernarfon and Anglesey Hospital on 19 May 1969 . His ashes were scattered on the slopes of the Cymffyrch , a stone's throw from his old home.

He was the author of numerous books, e.g. Y tir a'i gynnyrch ; Hafodydd brithion ; Welsh Homespun ; Y tyddynnwr-chwarelwr yn Nyffryn Nantlle ( Pen-y-groes Library Annual Lecture, 1968 ); Yr elfen fugeiliol ym mywyd Cymru (Radio Lecture, 1968 ) and co-author of Commons and Village Green ( 1967 ).

He m. Jennie , daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Morris Williams , Cae Mawr , Tan'rallt , in 1924 , and they had one daughter.


  • Who's who? , 1969 ;
  • Y Gwyddonydd , 2 (1964) ;
  • Melfyn R. Williams , Doctor Alun Bywyd a gwaith yr Athro R. Alun Roberts (Talybont, 1977) ;
  • personal information;
  • his manuscripts in the Library, University of Wales, Bangor (MSS 20811-21046).


Melfyn Richard Williams, Llanuwchllyn

Published date: 2001