Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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ROBERTS , HUGH GORDON ( 1885 - 1961 ), surgeon and missionary ;

one of the sons of David Roberts of Dolenog , Llanidloes, Monts. , and his wife Jane Sarah , daughter of Thomas Price Jones of Liverpool . He was born 16 July 1885 in Liverpool and was reared there. He was a great-grandson of David Roberts ( 1788 - 1869 ), a doctor in Bodedern , Anglesey (see DWB , 858) , and Sir William Roberts , F.R.S. ( 1830 - 1899 ) , who was a prominent doctor in Manchester and London , was his father's uncle. Frederick Charles Roberts ( 1862 - 1894 ) , who died young of fever when he was a missionary doctor in Tientsin , was a cousin of his. It is not surprising, therefore, that he changed his mind in the middle of an accountancy course to become a missionary doctor . He graduated M.B. , Ch.B. , at the University of Liverpool in 1912 and M.D. in 1920 . After his marriage to Katharine (d. 9 Jan. 1966 ), daughter of John Jones , Liverpool , in 1913 he went to work to the Khasia Hills , India . They had a son and daughter. He was a civilian surgeon in the capital, Shillong , during 1914-19 , and was loaned to the Assam government by the Missionary Society (CM) . This gave him an opportunity to quantify and understand the great needs of the province. Before his time the Mission had a travelling doctor , but after the war he returned to Wales to persuade the churches to build a hospital in Shillong . He himself donated £7,000 towards this and the hospital was opened in 1922 . He was the superintendent and chief physician and surgeon there from the beginning until 1948 when he retired due to ill-health. More complicated operations were dealt with in the mission hospital than in all the state hospitals of Assam put together; his name became known throughout the province. With the assistance of Margaret Buckley and others he established a nursing school there. He was a member of Assam's Legislative Council , 1921-24 , a prominent member of the Assam Medical Council 1920-43 , and president of the Assam Branch of the British Medical Association , 1931-33 . He came to Britain in 1945 and was general secretary and editor of the Medical Missionary Association of London , 1946-48 . He was strong enough to return to India in 1949 to supervise the building of a new hospital in Jowai , a gift from the Presbyterians of Wales to the Presbyterians of Assam . After the completion of the work in 1953 he returned to Britain , living in West Kirby and Eastbourne . He d. 20 Dec. 1961 .

He was honoured with the C.I.E. in 1928 , and was invested with the gold medal of Kaisar-i-Hind in 1925 and the King's Jubilee Medal in 1935 . He was Moderator of the English Conference of the Presbyterian Church of Wales in 1937 and received an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of Wales in 1946 .

Sources:

  • Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families , 1914 , 383;
  • Who was who? ;
  • Blwyddiadur y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , 1963 , 270-1;
  • John Hughes Morris , The Story of our Foreign Mission , 1930 (1930) , 54-5;
  • Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians , iv, 146-7 for a biography of Sir William Roberts;
  • Mary I. Bryson , Fred C. Roberts of Tientsin or, for Christ and China , London, 1895 (1895) ;
  • [ Arthur Hughes in J. Meirion Lloyd (ed.), Nine missionary pioneers , 1989 (1989) ].

Author:

Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001