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He was born at Marykirk, Kincardineshire, on 12 May 1826. He was the son of Alexander Roberts, a flax-spinner. He was educated at the grammar school and Bang's College, Old Aberdeen, where he graduated M.A. in March 1847, being the Simpson Greek prizeman.
He was presbyterian minister (1852–71) in Scotland and London. In 1864, being then minister at Carlton Hill, London, he was made D.D. of Edinburgh. He was also minister at St. John's Wood, and was a member of the New Testament revision company (1870–84). In 1872, he succeeded John Campbell Shairp in the chair of humanity at St. Andrews ; he was made emeritus professor in 1899. He died at St. Andrews, Mitcham Park, Surrey, on 8 March 1901.
He married on 2 December 1852 Mary Anne Speid (died 18 Jan, 1911), and had fourteen children, of whom four sons and eight daughters survived him Roberts co-operated with Sir James Donaldson as editor and part translator of the English versions of ecclesiastical writers published as the 'Ante-Nicene Christian Library' (1867–72, 24 vols.); he translated also the 'Works of Sulpitius Severus' (1895) in the 'Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.' He is best known for the series of works in which he maintains that Greek was the habitual speech of our Lord, a conclusion which has not met with general favour, despite the ability with which Roberts managed his case.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gordon, Alexander (1885–1900). "Roberts, Alexander". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Hawke, Joanna. "Roberts, Alexander (1826–1901)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35767. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
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