Roberts, George (d.1860) (DNB00)

ROBERTS, GEORGE (d. 1860), antiquary, was born at Lyme Regis, on the borders of Dorset, where he was chiefly educated. He afterwards kept a grammar school there in Broad Street, Cannon Liddon being one of his pupils. He acted as mayor of the town in 1848–9 and 1854–5. From the age of eleven he devoted himself to the history of the place and studied its archives. He spent much time in inspecting other manuscript records, and he soon became known to the literary world for his knowledge of local history. He corresponded with Sir Walter Scott and was occasionally consulted by Macaulay, who quoted him as an authority on the incidents of the invasion by the Duke of Monmouth. Hepworth Dixon, in his ‘Life of Admiral Blake,’ acknowledged obligations to Roberts. About 1857 he removed to Dover, where he died on 27 May 1860, aged 57.

Roberts published:

  1. ‘The History of Lyme Regis,’ 1823.
  2. ‘A Guide descriptive of the Beauties of Lyme Regis, with a Description of the Great Storm [of 23 Nov.] 1824,’ already published in the ‘Sherborne Mercury,’ and issued separately (1830).
  3. ‘History and Antiquities of the Borough of Lyme Regis and Charmouth,’ 1834 (incorporating a large part of No. 1. Two editions were issued, and to one of them was appended a tract on ‘The Municipal Government of Lyme Regis and an Account of the Corporation,’ which was also issued separately).
  4. ‘Etymological and Explanatory Dictionary of the Terms and Language of Geology,’ 1839; praised by Dean Buckland.
  5. ‘Account of the Mighty Landslip at Dowlands and Bindon, near Lyme Regis, on 25 Dec. 1839’ (1840). This tract went through five editions in that year.
  6. ‘Terms and Language of Trade and Commerce,’ 1841.
  7. ‘Life, Progresses, and Rebellion of James, Duke of Monmouth, with a full Account of the Bloody Assize,’ 1844, 2 vols.
  8. ‘The Social History of the People of the Southern Counties of England in Past Centuries,’ 1856, dedicated to Lord Macaulay, and mainly based on the archives of Lyme Regis and Weymouth, the proceedings of the Dorset County Sessions, 1625–37, and the proceedings before the Dorchester magistrates, 1654–1661. Its value has been acknowledged by successive historians.

Roberts edited for the Camden Society in 1848 the ‘Diary of Walter Yonge.’ From an autograph note in his copy of the ‘History of the Mutiny at Spithead and the Nore’ (1842), which is quoted in ‘Notes and Queries’ (5th ser. xii. 307, 355), it appears that he claimed to have compiled the original manuscript of that work. It was afterwards mutilated by William Johnson Neale [q. v.], to whom it is usually attributed.

[Gent. Mag. 1860, ii. 103, 201; Athenæum, 23 June 1860, p. 856; Mayo's Bibliotheca Dorset. pp. 168–70; Hutchins's Dorset (1864), ii. 50, 77.]

W. P. C.