ROBERTS, Edward (1578-1660), of Willesden, Mdx.; later of Gray's Inn, London.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Sept. 1578, 2nd s. of Francis Roberts (d.1631) of Willesden and Mary, da. and coh. of John Barne of Willesden. educ. G. Inn 1598; called. m. lic. 3 May 1606, Susan, da. of Sir William Glover of London, dyer and alderman, 7s. (at least 4 d.v.p.) 6da. (2 d.v.p.).1 admon. 10 Nov. 1660.2
?Member, household of 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) 1606.3
J.p. Mdx. 1626-at least 1652,4 commr. Forced Loan 1626,5 highway repair 1626,6 subsidy 1628,7 knighthood fines 1630,8 corn sales 1630,9 oyer and terminer 1641-58,10 assessment 1641-2, 1657,11 array 1642,12 militia from Mar. 1660.13
Ancient, G. Inn 1645-d., bencher 1654-d.14
Settled near Willesden as yeomen by around 1300, the Roberts family subsequently acquired piecemeal a moderate estate in the surrounding district, especially at Neasden, where they built a seat in the 1540s. Roberts’ father Francis, who enlarged Neasden House and served as a Middlesex j.p., possessed at his death in 1631 two manors and nearly 1,700 acres within the county, besides a Hertfordshire manor and a small estate in Lincolnshire.15 Roberts’ admission to Gray’s Inn may have been smoothed by his mother’s kinsman (Sir) James Altham†, a bencher there.16 In 1606 Roberts described himself as an attendant of the earl of Salisbury, but it is not known in what capacity he served. He apparently practised law after his legal training and, perhaps as a result of his marriage to the daughter of a London merchant, was affluent enough to make small-scale property investments in London and Middlesex during the 1610s and early 1620s.17
During the mid-1620s Roberts was elected to three successive Parliaments for Penryn, and must therefore have been on good terms with the borough’s patron, Sir Robert Killigrew, who lived about ten miles from Willesden and also represented Penryn in 1624. If this relationship developed within Middlesex, Roberts’ nephew and close neighbour Sir John Franklin* may have helped to consolidate it; by 1625 both Franklin and Killigrew were clients of the duke of Buckingham. Alternatively, given that Prince Charles’s Council employed the duchy of Cornwall’s officers to influence Cornish elections in 1624, Roberts may have secured an introduction to Killigrew through Sir Richard Smythe*, the duchy’s receiver-general and father-in-law to Franklin’s sister Mary. At the time of Mary’s marriage in 1617, Roberts had become a trustee of some of Smythe’s lands.18
Despite being so frequently returned to Westminster, Roberts took little part in parliamentary proceedings. Following Franklin’s defeat in the 1624 Middlesex election, Roberts delivered a petition to Parliament protesting against the result, and then arranged for its withdrawal after the petitioners reconsidered.19 He is not known to have contributed to the Commons’ business in 1625, and in 1626 was named to just two bill committees, dealing with outlawry for debt (27 Mar.) and the naturalization of Samuel Powell, a London merchant’s son (1 June).20
If Roberts did find favour with Buckingham’s circle this might help to explain his emergence in Middlesex’s local government from 1626, considering that he was not his father’s heir. A continuing pattern of land investments, in Middlesex in 1638 and Norfolk two years later, suggests that his finances remained healthy.21 In 1642 his nephew Sir William Roberts†, now head of the family, sided firmly with Parliament, and Roberts seems to have followed suit. Sir William’s prominence during the Protectorate, as auditor of the Receipt and one of Cromwell’s peers, presumably helped to secure Roberts’ admission to the Gray’s Inn bench in 1654, unusually late in his career.22
Roberts gave the Inn as his address when making his will on 19 Jan. 1656. The choice of his daughter Mary as his executor, combined with lack of reference to his sons, may indicate that they had all predeceased him. Mary was bequeathed the bulk of his estate, which then consisted primarily of property in London and its suburbs. Roberts was appointed a militia commissioner for Middlesex in March 1660, but was dead by the following November, when his will was proved.23
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. The Gen. v. 301, 303-4; GI Admiss.; Vis. Berks. ed. W.C. Metcalfe,18; Bp. of London Mar. Lics. 1520-1610 ed. G.J. Armytage (Harl. Soc. xxv), 299; A.B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, ii. 48.
- 2. PROB 11/302, f. 281v.
- 3. Bp. of London Mar. Lics. 299.
- 4. C231/4, f. 213; CCAM, 809.
- 5. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 435.
- 6. C181/3, f. 204v.
- 7. E179/142/299.
- 8. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 342.
- 9. APC, 1630-1, p. 132.
- 10. C181/5, f. 213v; 181/6, p. 328.
- 11. SR, v. 63, 153; A. and O. ii. 1073.
- 12. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 13. A. and O. ii. 1436. Roberts was probably removed from office at the Restoration.
- 14. PBG Inn, i. 352, 409.
- 15. VCH Mdx. vii. 212, 216-8; C66/1786; C142/482/65.
- 16. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), ii. 538-9; PBG Inn, i. 110.
- 17. C54/2072/23; 54/2308/42; 54/2445/24.
- 18. Mdx. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxv), 3; Arch. Cant. xx. 78; C54/2328/22.
- 19. Lansd. 485, f. 25v.
- 20. Procs. 1626, ii. 374; iii. 340.