Roberts, Mary (DNB00)

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ROBERTS, MARY (1788–1864), author, born at Homerton, London, on 18 March 1788, was daughter of Daniel Roberts, a merchant of London, by his wife Ann, daughter of Josiah Thompson of Nether Compton, Dorset; her grandfather was the quaker botanist, Thomas Lawson [q. v.], and her paternal great-great-grandfather was Daniel Roberts [see under Roberts, John, 1623?–1684]. In 1790 her parents removed to Painswick in Gloucestershire. There she developed an intense love of nature to which she soon gave literary expression. Some passages in her ‘Annals of my Village, being a Calendar of Nature for Every Month in the Year’ (London, 1831, 8vo), fall little short of the descriptive power of Richard Jefferies [q. v.] Although born and brought up a quaker, Mary Roberts left the society after the death of her father, when she removed with her mother to Brompton Square, London. She died there on 13 Jan. 1864, and was buried in Brompton cemetery.

Besides her ‘Annals’ Miss Roberts published (in London) many works of similar character. The chief are: 1. ‘Select Female Biography,’ 1821, 12mo. 2. ‘The Wonders of the Vegetable Kingdom displayed in a Series of Letters,’ 1822, 12mo; 2nd edit. 1824, 12mo. 3. ‘Sequel to an Unfinished Manuscript of H. Kirke White's, to illustrate the Contrast between the Christian's and the Infidel's Close of Life,’ London, 1823, 8vo. 4. ‘The Conchologist's Companion,’ 1824, 12mo; another edit. 1834, 8vo. 5. ‘An Account of Anne Jackson, with particulars concerning the Plague and Fire in London, edited by M. R.,’ 1832, 12mo. 6. ‘Domesticated Animals considered with reference to Civilisation and the Arts,’ 1833, 8vo. 7. ‘Sister Mary's Tales in Natural History,’ 1834, 8vo. 8. ‘The Seaside Companion, or Marine Natural History,’ 1835, 8vo. 9. ‘Wild Animals, their Nature, Habits, and Instincts, with Incidental Notices of the Regions they Inhabit,’ 5th edit. 1836, 8vo. 10. ‘The Progress of Creation considered with reference to the Present Condition of the Earth,’ 1837, 12mo; reprinted, 4th edit. 1846. 11. ‘Sketches of the Animal and Vegetable Productions of America,’ 1839, 12mo. 12. ‘Ruins and Old Trees associated with Memorable Events in English History,’ illustrated by Gilbert, n.d. 12mo. 13. ‘Flowers of the Matin and Evensong; or Thoughts for those who rise early, in prose and poetry,’ 1845, 8vo. 14. ‘Voices from the Woodlands, descriptive of Forest-trees, Ferns, Mosses, and Lichens,’ 1850, 4to. 15. ‘A Popular History of the Mollusca,’ with coloured plates engraved by W. Wing, 1851, 4to. She edited in 1851 ‘The Present of a Mistress to a Young Servant, by Ann Taylor’ [see {{sc|Gilbert, Mrs. Ann}].

Some confusion has arisen between Miss Roberts and a cousin of the same name, Mary Roberts, daughter of Samuel Roberts (1763–1848) [q. v.] of Sheffield, authoress of ‘Royal Exile,’ 1822.

[Jackson's Guide to Literature of Botany, 1881; Smith's Catalogue, ii. 500; Ann. Monitor, 1832, p. 40; Montgomery's Life, vii. 123, 288; Registers at Devonshire House; Fosbrooke's Hist. of Gloucestershire, ii. 484; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

C. F. S.