Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ROBERTS , JOHN ( 1879 - 1959 ), minister (Presb.) and historian ;

b. 16 Oct. 1879 at Porthmadog, Caerns. , son of John J. Roberts (‘ Iolo Caernarfon ’; DWB , 870) and Ann , his wife. He was educated at Porthmadog board school , Bala grammar school and Jesus College , Oxford , where he graduated in classics, and subsequently in theology. (The University of Wales conferred on him an honorary D.D. degree towards the end of his life.) He was ord. in 1905 , and served as minister at Aberdovey ( 1903-06 ), David St. , Liverpool ( 1906-13 ), and Pembroke Tce. , Cardiff ( 1913-38 ). He was called to serve as secretary of the Central Fund of the South Wales Association in 1938 ; ten years later the funds of North and South Wales were combined and he became the first secretary of the united Fund of the Presbyterian Church of Wales . In 1903 he m. Annie Jones Hughes , Porthmadog ; they had four sons and two daughters. He d. 29 July 1959 .

John Roberts was among the leading preachers of his time, even though his voice was not suitable for the pulpit (see R.T. Jenkins 's opinion of him as a preacher in Cyfoedion ( 1976 ), 39-41). He was Moderator of the South Wales Association ( 1941 ) and Moderator of the General Assembly ( 1943 ). He delivered the Davies Lecture in 1930 on the philosophy of the history of the denomination, which was published in Welsh ( 1931 ), and in English under the title The Calvinistic Methodism of Wales ( 1934 ). (See again R.T. Jenkin 's assessment of this work which placed him in the forefront of historians of the Presbyterian Church , ibid. , 41-2). He contributed numerous articles to Y Goleuad , and to the periodicals of his denomination. His most valuable contribution to his Connexion was to establish a new scheme for planning and sustaining the ministry . He developed into a first-rate organiser and administrator . He had a discerning and disciplined mind which made him master of everything he undertook. It is interesting to note that his hobbies were heraldry , reading Who's who and maps, and mastering railway timetables .


  • In addition to the references above,
  • Who's who in Wales (1921) , 414;
  • Who's who in the Free Churches? (1951) , 323;
  • Blwyddiadur y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , 1960 , 271-2;
  • W. Morris (ed.), Deg o Enwogion (1965) , 60-8;
  • personal acquaintance.


Rev. Gomer Morgan Roberts, M.A., (1904-93), Pont-rhyd-y-fen / St Dogmael's / Llandybïe

Published date: 2001