Roberts, Francis (DNB00)
ROBERTS, FRANCIS, D.D. (1609–1675), puritan, son of Henry Roberts, was born at Methley, near Leeds, in 1609. He entered Trinity College, Oxford, in the beginning of 1625, and matriculated on 3 Nov. 1626 (B.A. 12 Feb. 1629, and M.A. 26 June 1632). Having taken orders, he joined the presbyterian party at the outbreak of the civil war, and took the covenant. In 1643 he was instituted to St. Augustine's, Watling Street (Commons' Journals, iii. 148), and on 12 Feb. 1649 was presented by his patron, Arthur Capel, first earl of Essex [q. v.], to the rectory of Wrington, Somerset. He became a zealous partisan of the Somerset puritans, and was appointed in 1654 assistant to the commissioners, or triers, to eject scandalous ministers. At the Restoration he conformed to the ceremonies and took the oaths. On the appointment of Lord Essex as lord-lieutenant of Ireland, Roberts was nominated (23 March 1673) his first chaplain, and was created D.D. of Dublin while in that office. He died at Wrington in the end of 1675, and was buried near his wife, who predeceased him. Five daughters survived him. To Hannah, the fourth daughter, he bequeathed his ‘virginalls with all the virginall books and lessons.’ Roberts possessed considerable estates in Yatton. To the church and parishioners he bequeathed five folio books—his own ‘Clavis Bibliorum’ and ‘God's Covenant’—with three volumes of Foxe's ‘Book of Martyrs,’ which he had some time previously ‘set and chained in the church.’
Roberts was a scholarly writer. His ‘Clavis Bibliorum,’ being an analysis of the contents of the Bible with annotations for students, and a preface by Calamy, was published in London, 1648, 8vo, and a portion of it at Edinburgh, 12mo, in the following year (3rd edition, London, 1665, 4to; 4th edition, 1675, fol.). Being dissatisfied with existing versions of the Psalms, he published anonymously, and without place or date, ‘The Book of Praises’ (1644), an essay in translation containing Psalms xc.–cvii. At the request of ‘judicious ministers and Christians,’ he included in the third edition of the ‘Clavis’ an entire metrical version of the Psalms, those previously issued standing separately as the ‘Fourth Book of the Book of Hymns and Praises.’ Besides funeral sermons for Alderman and Mrs. Jackson of Bristol, and small devotional manuals, Roberts published an ingenious chart, ‘Synopsis of Theology or Divinity,’ London, 1645, for the benefit of his flock, and ‘Mysterium & Medulla Bibliorum, the Mysterie and Marrow of the Bible, namely, God's Covenants with Man,’ London, 1657, fol., a learned commentary upon biblical texts.
His portrait at the age of forty, engraved by Thomas Cross, is in the second edition of his ‘A Communicant Instructed’ (1651).
[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iii. 1054; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 438; Taylor's Biogr. Leodiensis, 1865, p. 559; Granger's Biogr. Hist. of England, ii. 189, iii. 40; Kennett's Register, p. 926; Foster's Alumni, early ser. iii. 1261; Orme's Bibliotheca Biblica, p. 375; Darling's Cyclopæd. Bibl. p. 2564; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 530; Rose's Biogr. Dict.; Will 42, Bence, at Somerset House.]