Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Roberts, William (1585-1665)

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ROBERTS, WILLIAM (1585–1665), bishop of Bangor, was born in 1585, his descent being traced from Edwin, king of Tegeingl, and founder of one of the so-called tribes of Gwynedd (Yorke, Royal Tribes of Wales, ed. 1887, p. 201 n.) According to local tradition he was born at Plas Bennett, in the parish of Llandyrnog, Denbighshire, and belonged to the Roberts family that long resided there, whose sole representative is now Miss Gabriel Roberts of Ruthin. He was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow, and in 1619 he held the office of proctor of the university. In 1629 he was appointed to the sub-deanery of Wells, which he resigned (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 19 March 1637-8) on his promotion, through the interest of Laud, to the see of Bangor, as a reward (according to Wood) for his integrity in discovering church goods to the value of 1,000l. His consecration took place in September 1637. He held, in commendam with his bishopric, the rectory of Llandyrnog and the sinecure rectory of Llanrhaiadr in Cimmerch (both of which continued to be so held by his successors until 1859), together with the archdeaconries of Bangor and Anglesea (which were held by occupants of the see between 1574 and 1685).

He is said to have suffered much for his adherence to the king during the civil war. In 1649 his temporal estates were sequestrated, and the manor of Gogarth was sold on 18 July 1650, but it is still one of the possessions of the see. He is mentioned as 'Doctor William Roberts, of Llanliddon (Llanelidan) in the county of Denbigh,' in a list of those whose estates were declared forfeited for treason by an act of 18 Oct. 1652 (Scobell, Acts and Ordinances, ii. 216), but all his property was restored to him in 1660. In the following year he recommenced services in the cathedral and settled the 'orders and turns of preaching' (his scheme is printed in Willis's Bangor, p. 289).

He died on 12 Aug. 1665 at the rectory. Llandyrnog, near Denbigh, and was buried in the chancel of that church, where was placed an inscribed memorial slab, removed in 1877 to the south aisle near the font. By his will he bequeathed 100l. towards adorning the choir of the poor cathedral church of Bangor, which (according to a letter addressed by him to Laud on 29 Oct. 1639) had then not a penny of yearly revenue to support the walls, much less to buy utensils' (Cal. State Papers, s.a.) This sum was devoted by his successor towards restoring the organ. He also left 100l. to Queens' College, Cambridge, to found an exhibition for a poor scholar from the diocese of Bangor, a like sum to Jesus College, Oxford, and 200l. to be distributed among the poor of Westminster and St. Giles's, London, which were visited by the plague. A portrait of him, with beard and long hair, and wearing his robes and a close black cap, was formerly at Pontruffydd, near Denbigh.

[Willis's Survey of Bangor, pp. 113-15; Thomas's Hist, of the Diocese of St. Asaph, pp. 414, 432; Williams's Eminent Welshmen, pp. 457-8; Wood's Athenae Oxon. ii. 888; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 2; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 106, iii. 622; communication from the Rev. D. Williams, rector of Llandyrnog.]

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