John Roberts

Above the tomb of Geoffrey Chaucer in Poets' Corner Westminster Abbey is a white marble monument to politician John Roberts. Part of the Chaucer monument was taken away when it was erected and the medieval arcading was cut through. There is a half length portrait relief, beneath a bas-relief of a mourning woman sitting near an urn. The sculptor was Richard Hayward and the memorial was erected in 1776. The inscription reads:

To the memory of John Roberts Esq. the very faithfull secretary of the Right Honourable Henry Pelham, Minister of State to King George the second. This marble was erected by his three surviving sisters Susannah, Rebecca and Dorothy MDCCLXXVI

He was a son of Edward Roberts of Chester and his wife Elizabeth. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church Oxford. After tutoring Henry Pelham's son he became Henry's secretary. While Pelham was First Lord of the Treasury John was responsible for secret service payments. Among other appointments he was receiver general of quit rents in the state of Virginia. Later he entered the service of the duke of Newcastle. He died in London on 13th July 1772 but it is not known where he is buried. It is not known if he married but his son John Christopher (died 1810) served in the secretary of state's office and was secretary of the province of Quebec.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


13th July 1772




South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type


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John Roberts
John Roberts memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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