ROBERTS, Wilson Aylesbury (1770-1853), of Bewdley, Worcs.; Packwood, Warws., and 26 Dover Street, Mdx.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Educationb. 23 June 1770, 1st surv. s. of Wilson Aylesbury Roberts, attorney and dep. recorder, of Bewdley and Packwood and Betty Carolina, da. and h. of John Crane of Bewdley. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1788; L. Inn 1790. unm. suc. fa. 1819. d. 28 Nov. 1853.
Bailiff, Bewdley 1809, 1812, 1815; sheriff, Worcs. 1837-8.
Lt. Wolverley yeomanry 1803.
Roberts’s ancestors were originally from Cornwall, but at the beginning of the eighteenth century his great-grandfather Henry settled in Droitwich and established an ‘extensive salt works’. Thereafter his family benefitted from two fortuitous marriages: Roberts’s grandmother was heir to the Packwood estates of her brother William Aylesbury, and his mother to the Bewdley properties of her uncle Thomas Cheeke. Roberts’s father, a local attorney, became an increasingly ‘influential member’ of the close corporation at Bewdley, which had his son returned without opposition in 1818. On his death the following year Roberts inherited canal shares and local property worth approximately £60,000, and assumed control of the family interest.1
At the 1820 general election he was again returned unopposed by the corporation. A lax attender, whose votes were subject to confusion with those of Abraham Robarts, Member for Maidstone, when present he continued to give silent support to the Liverpool ministry. ‘As this Member entertains some "philosophic doubt" on the utility of the House of Commons’, jibed the Black Book, ‘it is not surprising he is so remiss in his devotions at St. Stephen’s’.2 On 28 June 1820 he was excused attendance from the Berwick election committee after its chairman had verified a certificate from a surgeon who claimed to have found him ‘in a state of bodily illness that rendered it impossible for him to attend’. He was absent from the division on Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, but present to divide against it, 1 Mar., and in its favour, 21 Apr. 1825. He was listed in the minorities for repeal of the malt duty, 3 Apr. 1821, and reductions in naval expenditure, 7 May 1821, 22 Feb. 1822. He divided against parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821. He voted for the Irish insurrection bill, 14 June 1824, and suppression of the Catholic Association, 25 Feb. 1825. He was granted a month’s leave on urgent private business, 28 Mar. 1825. At the 1826 general election Roberts was again returned unopposed.3 He voted against Catholic claims, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. On 13 Mar. 1827 he was granted six weeks’ leave on urgent private business after serving on an election committee. He was one of the Members who presented multiple petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 22 Feb., but he did not vote on this issue, 26 Feb. 1828. In February 1829 the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, and he duly paired in its support, 6 Mar. 1829. He divided against parliamentary reform, 18 Feb. 1830. On 11 Mar. he was granted a month’s leave on account of domestic affliction. He voted for Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and paired against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830.
At the general election the following month he was re-elected unopposed.4 He was listed by the Wellington ministry as one of their ‘friends’, but was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and paired for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he was again returned without opposition.5 He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, but was absent from the divisions on Chippenham’s inclusion in schedule B, 27 July, the passage of the bill, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831. He was in the minorities against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832. At that year’s dissolution he retired from Bewdley, where the operation of the Reform Act had destroyed the electoral hegemony of the corporation and ‘rendered his re-election impossible’. The following year he withheld his father’s accounts as deputy recorder from the municipal corporations commission.6
Roberts died at Bewdley in November 1853. By his will, dated 24 Feb. 1848, the bulk of his property passed to his ‘natural son’ Thomas Lloyd Roberts of Langley Farm, near Ludlow, Shropshire (d. 9 June 1922) and his ‘lawfully begotten’ grandchildren. He was buried at Dowles churchyard, Worcestershire, alongside his ‘late companion’ and ‘trustworthy and faithful servant’, James Lankester.7
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Philip Salmon
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1854), i. 322; PP (1835), xxv. 367; PROB 11/1617/294; IR26/794/539.
- 2. Black Bk. (1823), 188; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 482.
- 3. Worcester Herald, 17 June 1826.
- 4. Ibid. 24 July, 7 Aug. 1830.
- 5. Ibid. 30 Apr. 1831.
- 6. Gent. Mag. (1854), i. 322; PP (1835), xxv. 367.
- 7. PROB 11/2186/150; IR26/2006/163.