Frederick Sleigh Roberts 1st Earl Roberts 1832 – 1914

Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, PC 1832 – 1914 was a distinguished Anglo Irish soldier and one of the most successful commanders of the Victorian era.

Lord Roberts was a staunch advocate of homeopathy, who carried his own pocket case of remedies with him, and he often prescribed for members of his staff,

Lord Roberts worked closely with J Ellis Barker, Joseph Chamberlain,

From,_1st_Earl_Roberts Born at Cawnpore, India on 30 September 1832, Roberts was the second son of General Sir Abraham Roberts, a member of the famous Waterford city family that contributed so much to the city. At the time Sir Abraham was commanding the 1st Bengal European Regiment. Roberts was named Sleigh in honour of the garrison commander, Major General William Sleigh. His mother was Isabella, daughter of Abraham Bunbury of Kilfeacle, County Tipperary.

He was educated at Eton, Sandhurst and Addiscombe Military Academy before entering the British East India Company Army as a Second Lieutenant with the Bengal Artillery on 12 December 1851. He fought in the Indian rebellion, seeing action during the siege and capture of Delhi, and was present at the relief of Lucknow, where he was attached to the staff of Sir Colin Campbell, Commander In Chief, India. In December 1858, Roberts was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions on 2 January of that year at Khudaganj….

After serving with the British Army in the Umbeyla and Abyssinian campaigns of 1863 and 1867–1868 respectively, Roberts fought in the Lushai campaign (1871–1872), for which he was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). Six years later, he was promoted to Major General and given command of the Kuram field force in the Second Afghan War, distinguishing himself enough to receive the thanks of Parliament and the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).

In the wake of this success he was appointed commander of the Kabul and Kandahar field force, leading his 10,000 troops through Afghanistan to the relief of the latter city (see Battle of Kandahar). He also managed to capture Kabul, and defeated Muhammad Yakub Khan, the Afghan emir. For his services, Sir Frederick again received the thanks of Parliament, and was appointed both Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) and Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in 1880, becoming a baronet the following year.

After a very short interval as Governor of Natal and Commander in Chief of British forces in South Africa, Roberts (having been promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1883) was appointed Commander in Chief in Madras, a post he held for four years. In 1885 he succeeded this appointment as Commander in Chief throughout the whole of India, and two years later was appointed Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE). This was subsequently followed by his promotion to General in 1890, and in 1892 he was created Baron Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan and of the City of Waterford.

After relinquishing his Indian command and becoming Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India in 1893, Lord Roberts two years later returned to his homeland as Commander in Chief of British forces in Ireland, becoming Field Marshal in 1895 and receiving the Order of St Patrick in 1897.

Two years later, he returned to South Africa on the RMS Dunottar Castle in command of British troops fighting in the Second Boer War, relieving Kimberley and advancing to Pretoria. After a year, he was succeeded in the command by Lord Kitchener, and returned to England to receive yet more honours: he was made a Knight of the Garter and also created Earl Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan and Pretoria in the Transvaal Colony and of the City of Waterford, and Viscount St Pierre. He also became the honorary Colonel of the Irish Guards in 1900, an appointment he kept for the remainder of his life, which gained the regiment the nickname ‘Our Bobs’. He was also the following year, in 1902, appointed one of the first members of the Order of Merit.

Lord Roberts served as the last Commander in Chief of the Forces for three years before the post was abolished in 1904, and for the last ten years of his life was showered with yet more honours, including numerous honorary degrees and the Colonelcy of the National Reserve.

He was founding president of the Pilgrims Society in 1902. He was a keen advocate of introducing conscription in Britain (heading the National Service League) to prepare for a Great European War. Immediately after his return from the Boer War, he was instrumental in promoting the mass training of civilians in rifle shooting skills through membership of shooting clubs, and a facsimile of his signature appears to this day on all official targets of the National Smallbore Rifle Association.

He died of pneumonia at St Omer, France, while visiting Indian troops fighting in the First World War. After lying in state in Westminster Hall (one of two non Royals to do so in the 20th century, the other being Winston Churchill), he was given a State Funeral.

Roberts’ estate was probated in 1915 at £77,304 (equivalent to £5.32 million today).

Both his sons predeceased him, including Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts VC who was killed in action at the Battle of Colenso during the Boer War. Roberts and his son were one of only three pairs of fathers and sons to be awarded the VC.

Today, their Victoria Crosses are in the National Army Museum. His barony became extinct, but under the special remainder granted with them he was succeeded in the earldom and viscountcy by his elder surviving daughter.

Roberts Barracks at Larkhill Garrison is named after him.

Of interest:

C G Roberts was a Member of the Management Committee of the Hull Homeopathic Dispensary,

Josiah Roberts was on the Management Committee of the Manchester Homeopathic Hospital,

J D Cramer Roberts was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become a Physician at the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Dispensary,

R Roberts was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become a Physician at the Hackney Homeopathic Dispensary, and at 10 Canonbury Lane, Islington,

William Henry Roberts ?1862 – ?1955 LRCP Edin 1895, LRCS Edin 1885, LMR Dub 1882, was an Irish orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, to become a Physician at the Hahnemann Homeopathic Hospital Liverpool, and a Physician at the Dublin Homeopathic Dispensary,

William Henry Roberts lived at 63 Lower Mount St, Dublin,

The single most active Irish homeopath this century was probably Dr William Henry Roberts (c1862-c1955), who ran the Dublin Homeopathic Dispensary for many years until its demise in the early 1950’s (Heal Thyself 1932-54). Dr Roberts lived at 63 Lower Mount St, Dublin and was LRCP Edin 1895, LRCS Edin 1885, LMR Dub 1882, and formerly at the Hahnemann Homeopathic Hospital Liverpool. He contributed articles regularly to Heal Thyself during the nineteen forties and fifties.

W P Roberts was an advocate of homeopathy, attending a meeting at the Athanaeum in Manchester to listen to a lecture by John Epps in 1851,

7 thoughts on “Frederick Sleigh Roberts 1st Earl Roberts 1832 – 1914”

  1. Hello
    My name is Ms Pauline Margaret Roberts and i ahve been traceing my family history for about 20 years and have now found out the my Great Great Grandfather was Sir Thomas Roberts. but i have no photos on Sir Thomas Roberts.
    do you know were i can see or get one of him
    Sir Thomas Roberts live at Clifton and had a son and grandson both called Edward ( this being me Great grandfather and my Grandfather )
    I would like to know if there are any other member of Lord Frederick Family still alive today and were are they liveing.
    What was Sit Thomas Roberts children’ names.

    Hope you can help me.

    Yours sincerley

    Ms Pauline Margaret Roberts

  2. Hi My name is Ms Pauline Margaret Roberts
    I ahve just found out that Sir Thomas Roberts was my Great Great Grandfather, he had a brother called Sir Abraham Roberts and they both live in Clifton, Sir Abraham Roberts live at 23 Royal York Cressent Clifton Bristol but i would like to fine out Where Sir Thomas Roberts live in Clifton and is there any photos of Sir Thomas Roberts.

    Sir Abraham Roberts has a son Called Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts and Sir Thomas Roberts has a son and greadson called Edward Roberts so this would have been my grandfathers cousin and my dad second and me thired cousin.
    But i have no photos of him and would love to see who we look like, as iam putting a book together with photos of family in it, so that me neice and great neices and nephews can see the likeness .

    if you can fine any can you please e-mail them to me at
    [email protected]

    Yours sincerley
    Ms Pauline Roberts

  3. I have finished tracing my family history and found out me grandfather name was Edward Ussher Roberts, his father and mother was Edward Roberts JP of Weston Near, Waterford Ireland his mother name was Martha Ussher, does anyone out there know why there is no History to be seen on Edward Roberts ( my grandfather ) who was born on the end March 1866. You can email me at [email protected]
    From Ms Pauline Roberts

  4. I have changed my email address it is now [email protected]
    I am looking to see if Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts had a cousin called Edward Roberts ( or Edward Albert Roberts. my grandfather) he was born on the 2nd March 1866 and died in 1935 in Great Bowden Leicestershire, he married Hannah Elizabeth Batty, there children was, Water born and died in 1869 Lelia Roberts born in 1899 and died 1950 age 50, Albert Roberts born 1902, Gladys Roberts born 1903, and my father Reginal Arthur Roberts born on the 7th October 1906 and died on the 4th Feb 1981 My father was born in Isleington. London. can anyone tell me s there any connection with Lord Roberts and my family, Please at the right email address.

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