Obituary of
George Henry Roberts

From the Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday September 22 1900
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Alderman George Henry Roberts , of Avenue House, Wentworth Terrace, died on Sunday at Bournmouth, where he had gone recently for the benefit of his health.

His demise, which was announced by the Passing Bell of the city hall, on Monday morning, created no small amount of surprise and regret, because although he was known to been in delicate health for twelve months or more, it was never surmised that his illness would assume a fatal turn.

On the contrary, as Alderman Roberts was only 57 years of age, it was generally believed the he had yet many years of activity and usefulness before him. But dying as he did at a comparatively early age, he has never the less left his mark upon the municipal and social life of the city, and his record of work in connection with the Wakefield Corporation, the Wakefield Board of Guardians and other institutions is such as few can equal and none surpass.

Although of a naturally retiring disposition his long residence in the city has been one continual effort to do all that in him lay for the benefit of his fellow men.

Starting life as a Gardener, fortune seemed to have smiled upon him, and inheriting later a competency for himself and his family, he ever after devoted himself to the public good.

He was elected a member of the Corporation in the year 1888 and sat until 1894. During that time he did a large amount of useful work on various committees of the corporation. He was again returned to the council the following year. As a councillor the late Alderman demonstrated his ability, especial on the sub-finance, or "Stock" committee, and on the Sewerage and Waterworks Committees his advice and suggestions were found invaluable in connection with the completing of the Sewerage Works, the filtration scheme, and the extension of the city boundaries.

So Valuable and generally recognised were his municipal labours that his confreres unhesitatingly place him, in November 1998 , in the highest position which is in their power to confer , vis that of MAYOR and Chief Magistrate of the City. But even in that Exalted position the whole of his conduct was distinguished by that unassuming dignity and impartiality which characterised every thing he did. Indeed if he had a fault it was that he was to candid, honest and impartial.

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The chief event of his Mayoralty was, it will be remembered, the visit to the city of The 1st Battalion of the K.O.Y.L.I. in the course of their march though Yorkshire; and the way he entertained the officers and men of that distinguished regiment, was as loyal as it was worthy the patriotism of the "Merry City". Then it was that the late Major Milton , who shortly after succumbed in South Africa, delivered the eloquent oration which created such a profound impression upon all who heard it.

It is hardly necessary to add, that the deceased Alderman was a Churchman. He was also a conservative of the Conservatives, but even the bitterest opponents in the Radical camp could never say that Alderman Roberts had stooped to anything like unfairness for the sake of party advantages. Although he could not be said to be an Orator, his public utterances were always marked by the sound of common sense.

During his year of office no appeal to the Mayor and Mayoress for the patronage and support of religious and philanthropic objects were ever addressed in vain; and it is hardly necessary to say that both were immensely popular.

For some fifteen years Alderman Roberts was a much valued and highly esteemed member of the Wakefield Board of Guardians. He officiated as a member of the assessment committee; he always took a keen interest in the work of the Finance Committee, being, indeed, from the inception of the scheme, one of the leading spirits of the new Workhouse Infirmary. His appointments in connection with bodies of a semi official character were extremely varied and important. He was a Director of The Wakefield Gas Company; and at the half-yearly meeting of The Ardley Gas Light Company, on Saturday last, his resignation of a seat on the directorate of that concern was announced with much regret. He was also on the directorate of the Exchange Buildings Company.

For over 30 years he was a honorary and active member of Court "Merrie Wakefield" Lodge of Foresters ; he was a member of the Wakefield Lodge (no.495) of Freemasons; and some years ago, on the recommendation of Alderman Milnes , he was elected one of the honorary arbitrators of the British Friendly Society, as position to which "Honorary" was not miss applied, for we believe we are correct in saying that he had never been called upon to exercise arbitratorial functions. He sat for many years as a J. P. for the City ,and it can honestly be said that no magistrate was more regular in attendance on the Borough Bench . There it was seen that in him the "sauvitor in mode" and the "fortiter in re" were combined in eminent degree. Bonhomie, unvarying urbanity and sympathetic generosity coupled with a very retiring disposition , were among the principally developed qualities which made Alderman Roberts esteemed as a citizen, and love as a friend.

The deceased is survived by his Widow, one son and three daughters.

The coffin containing the remains of the late Alderman Roberts , was conveyed on Monday by rail to Wakefield, and on arrival at the station it was placed in a hearse and taken to Avenue House, St. Johns to await interment

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The Mayor (Alderman Kilner) on taking his seat on the Bench at the City Court, on Wednesday morning, said that before proceeding with the business of the court, he was sorry to have to mention the loss which the had sustained by the death of their brother magistrate and esteemed citizen, Alderman Roberts.

He was sure they would all agree with him that in every capacity in which Alderman Roberts had taken part he had fulfilled his duty well and faithfully. They would, he felt sure, all agree with him that of the Chief Magistrate who had filled that chair that there had been none better than the one that had proceeded him. Alderman Roberts had always attended well to his duties from a magisterial and also from a public point of view. It would be his painful duty elsewhere to allude to him in a public capacity, but as far as the magisterial bench was concerned , he felt it was his duty to make these few remarks; and in doing so, that he could only say that by the death of Alderman Roberts the poor of Wakefield had lost a true friend and that the City of Wakefield had lost a good citizen. He ask Mr. Plews (magistrates clerk) in conclusion to convey an expression on condolence from the Bench to Mrs Roberts and family.


The funeral of the late Alderman Roberts, took place in the churchyard of St John's, at noon on Thursday, and was attended by a large number of the Wakefield City Council, City Justices, Members of Wakefield Board of Guardians and the various other bodies with which the deceased was connected were well represented. Owing to Wentworth Street being blocked for repair , the funeral procession had to pass from the deceased's residence Avenue House, to the church , by way of Wentworth Terrace, Northgate and St John's North. The Procession was headed by a large contingent of City Constabulary, under the direction of Inspector Robins, and the deputation followed in order named. viz ;

the Mayor, Magistrates and members of the corporation, the brethren of the Masonic lodges, Members of the Board of Guardians, the directors of the Wakefield Gas Light Company, members of the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce, Governors of the Clayton Hospital, ,and others.

The chief mourners were (in the first carriage)

Mrs Roberts, Mr Gervase H Roberts,(son) of Horwich,Lancs, Miss Roberts, and Misses Mary and Pattie Roberts(daughters);

(2nd carriage) Mr Edward Roberts (brother), Mr G. H. Roberts (Nephew), Mr Vine (brother in-law), and Mr J R Richardson (Hull).

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Dr. J W Walker was present in his private carriage, and the private carriage of Alderman W H Stewart was in attendance.

The Mayor (Alderman Kilner) proceeded by the mace bearer, was accompanied by
the town clerk ( Mr C J Hudson).
The city council was also represented by Alderman Milnes, Alderman Fernandes, Alderman Bolton; Councillors H Smith, Hall, Simpson, Atkinson, Driver, Wigham, Judge, Child, Fallas, Cookson, Powell, Stonehouse, Harrison, Saville and G A Moorhouse, and Mr C C Smith (waterworks Engineer), Mr C E Coxan (city accountant), and Mr A Whitaker (Sanitary Inspector).

The Wakefield City Bench of Magistrates was represented by Dr. W A Slatter, Mr George Stubley, Mr Geo Webster, Mr S Bruce, and Mr H Plews (magistrates clerk).

The Wakefield and other Masonic Lodges were represented by Mr A Leach, Mr W A Pearson, Mr Hy. Smith, Mr W H Kingswell, Mr T Horner,Mr B F Glover, Mr J W Tansley, Mr Kilburn, Mr J J Martin, Mr J Martin,Mr J Dunnill, Mr Gosney , and Mr J Smith.

The Wakefield Board of Guardians was represent by
Messrs E Spurr (chairman), Leake, Shaw, Kendall, A K Blackburn, Holliday,Scarth, Longley, Mr Denton ( on behalf of the clerk), MR H Beaumont and Mr Bunter (workhouse Master). Mr R E Goldthorp, and Mr G Kenworthy were present on behalf of the Wakefield Gas Company,

The Independent Order of Foresters were represented by Mr J Fletcher, Mr J Wilcock and Mr G H Wilcock, MR M I Egglestone (president).

Mr. L Twigge and Mr E Day attended on behalf of Wakefield City Tradesmen Association.

Among other present we noticed the Ven. Archdeacon Donne, Mr M B Hick, Mr Wade, MR C Beaumont, MR J R W Eldridge (secretary Wakefield Chamber of Commerce), Lieut.-col. Wright, Mr Hughes, Mr W Watson, Mr P Barrett,

Mr J Pollard, Mr C Chapman, Mr Noble, Mr S Berridge, Mr Whitiker, Mr Crawford,> and many others.

IT may be added that many of the Gentlemen present appeared in dual capacities.

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The service both inside the church and at the graveside was conducted by the Vicar (the Rev. C D H Macmillan) who read the solemn words of the burial service in a most impressive form. As the mourners left the church the "Death March" in SAUL was played by the Organist (Mr J V Marshall).
A Number of rich and beautiful wreaths were sent by Mrs Roberts and family, the Brethren of the Wakefield Lodge of Freemasons (no.495) the directors of the Wakefield Gas and Light Company , councillor J W Hall. Mr and Mrs Lee and Family, Mr Chatterton, Mr John R Richardson, and others.

The coffin which was of polished oak with heavy brass mountings, had the name plate inscribed as follows;-

George Henry Roberts
died September the 16th 1900
age 57 years

The funeral arrangements were carefully carried out by
Mr W H Kingswell, draper and undertaker, Northgate Wakefield.

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