William Roberts (biographer)

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William Roberts (1767 in Newington Butts – 21 May 1849) was an English barrister and legal writer, an evangelical journal editor and the first biographer of Hannah More.

Life[edit]

William Roberts was taught at Eton, St Paul's and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he gained his BA in 1788 and MA in 1791. He toured the Continent (including Paris) before returning to England and founding a short-lived biweekly journal, The Looker-on (1792-1793) under the pseudonym Rev. Simon Olive-Branch. Entering the law, he wrote several legal treatises. He married Elizabeth Anne Sidebotham, daughter of a Middle Temple barrister, who bore him ten children. From 1811 to 1822 he was editor of the British Review, and London Critical Journal, founded by the evangelical lawyer John Weyland and published by John Hatchard, an evangelical Tory publisher with offices at Piccadilly.[1] When Canto I of Don Juan made the facetious claim that Byron had "bribed my grandmother's review - the British" to review the poem well, Roberts issued a solemn denial.[2] Roberts published his four-volume biography of Hannah More in 1834:[3] its hagiographic tone and editorial inaccuracy drew the scorn of John Gibson Lockhart in the Quarterly[4] but the inclusion of extended extracts from More's letters has ensured its enduring interest to those interested in More. He retired from the law to Surrey, and later to St Albans in Hertfordshire.[5] His son Arthur Roberts wrote a biography in 1850.[6]

Works[edit]

  • A treatise on the construction of the statutes, 13 Eliz. c. 5. and 27 Eliz. c. 4. relating to voluntary and fraudulent conveyances and on the nature and force of different considerations to support deeds and other legal instruments, in the courts of law and equity, London, 1800[7]
  • A treatise on the statute of frauds as it regards declarations in trust, contracts, surrenders, conveyances, and the execution and proof of wills and codicils : to which is prefixed a systematic dissertation upon the admissibility of parol and extrinsic evidence, to explain and controul written instruments, London: J. Butterworth, 1805[8]
  • A treatise upon wills and codicils with an appendix of the statutes, and a copious collection of useful precedents, with notes, practical and explanatory, 1809[9]
  • (anon.) The Portraiture of a Christian Gentleman. By a Barrister, London: J. A. Hessey, 1829. Republished under Roberts's name, 1831.
  • Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Hannah More, 4 vols, London: R. B. Seeley & W. Burnside, 1834.
  • History of Letter-Writing, From the Earliest Period to the Fifth Century, London: W. Pickering, 1843.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pottle, Mark. "Hatchard, John (1768-1849)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005. <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/12590>
  2. ^ McGann, Jerome; Soderholm, James (16 September 2002). "Byron and Romanticism". Cambridge Studies in Romanticism. Vol. 50. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511484384. ISBN 978-0-511-48438-4. Retrieved 2011-02-09. The editor of the British Review, however, William Roberts, took it all in high seriousness, and was moved to issue a public denial of Byron's imaginary declaration. 
  3. ^ Hannah More; William Roberts (1834). Memoirs of the life and correspondence of Mrs. Hannah More. IV vols. London: R. B. Seeley and W. W. Burnside. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  4. ^ Anon; [John Gibson Lockhart] (1834). "Art. VI - Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Hannah More". In J.T. Coleridge, ed. The Quarterly Review. Vol. LII. London, United Kingdom: John Murray. pp. 416–441. ISSN 2043-5819. OCLC 1763249. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  5. ^ Blanton, Thomas L (July 1994). "William Roberts". In Steven Serafin. Nineteenth-century British literary biographers. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 144. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. pp. 261–68. ISBN 978-0-8103-5558-3. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  6. ^ William Roberts; Arthur Roberts (1850). Arthur Roberts, ed. The life, letters, and opinions of William Roberts, Esq. London, United Kingdom: Seeleys. OCLC 60702775. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  7. ^ William Roberts (1800). Treatise on the construction of the statutes 13th Eliz. c. 5, and 27th Eliz. c. 4, relating to voluntary and fraudulent conveyances ... London: J. Butterworth. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  8. ^ William Roberts (1805). A treatise on the statute of fraud: as it regards declarations in trust, contracts, surrenders, conveyances, and the execution and proof of wills and codicils ... London, United Kingdom: J. Butterworth. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  9. ^ William Roberts (1809). A treatise upon wills and codicils: with an Appendix of the statutes, and a copious collection of useful precedents, with notes, practical and explanatory. London, United Kingdom: J. Butterworth. Retrieved 9 February 2011.