Roberts, John (1576-1610) (DNB00)

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ROBERTS, JOHN (1576–1610), Benedictine monk, born in 1576 at Trawsfynydd in Merionethshire, was the son of John Roberts, esq., of Llanfrothen, a merchant of ancient descent. He was educated as a protestant, and on 26 Feb. 1595–6 matriculated at St. John's College, Oxford. Foster's conjecture that he graduated B.A. from Christ Church and M.A. from St. Mary Hall is erroneous. Leaving Oxford in 1598, he studied for a few months at one of the inns of court, and then visited Paris. There he was converted to Roman catholicism, and entered the jesuit college of Saint Alban at Valladolid on 18 Oct. 1598. In the following year he wished to enter the Spanish congregation of St. Benedict, but the jesuits were unwilling to lose him, and brought several charges against him, which almost deterred the Benedictine superiors from receiving him. He was able to prove the falsity of the accusations. In 1602 he was ordained priest, and was sent over to England as a missionary on 26 Dec. that year, though he did not reach the country till April 1603. He was four times arrested and imprisoned, once, after the failure of the gunpowder plot, in the house of Thomas Percy's ‘first wife.’ He was, however, acquitted of any complicity in the plot. On each occasion he was condemned to banishment (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1603–10, pp. 239–40, 514). He helped to found the house of St. Gregory's, Douay, 1606–7, and became its first prior. He was arrested for the fifth time in 1610, and was tried under the statute which prohibited Roman catholic priests from exercising their office in England. On his own confession he was found guilty of high treason, together with his companion, Thomas Somers, who was arraigned on the same charge. They were executed on 10 Dec., but were suffered to hang until quite dead before being disembowelled. Roberts's remains were secretly conveyed to Douay by the catholics, with the exception of his right leg, which was intercepted on the way and buried in St. Saviour's, Southwark, by the orders of Archbishop Abbot, and an arm taken to his old monastery of St. Martin's, Compostella.

[Le Vénérable Jean Roberts, by D. Bede Camm., in ‘Revue Bénédictine,’ 1895–6; Challoner's Martyrs to the Catholic Faith, ed. 1878, ii. 41–5; Pollen's Acts of English Martyrs, Quarterly ser. lxxv. 142–70.]

E. I. C.