Richard Roberts

Memorial Plaque

PTE R. ROBERTS
NORFOLK REGT
  13 JUNE 1916

Connection with Effingham

He was not native to Effingham but was working here at George Craig Saunders Pauling’s mansion The Lodge as a gardener in 1911.

Genealogy

Richard’s grandfather was Gaius Roberts, born at Bledlow, Buckinghamshire around 1830. His forename is misrendered as “Gains” in several sources. The 1841 Census finds Gaius aged “11” living at Bledlow with his widowed mother Mary in the “Seven Stars” inn, of which she was the inn keeper [PRO Ref: HO107 Piece 40 Book 4 Folio 8 Page 9]. He has not been found in the 1851 Census but may have been in Middlesex where, in 1853, he married Eliza (née) Miles [GRO Ref: Uxbridge 3a 28, 1853 (Q2)]. She had been born to parents Thomas Miles and Susan (née Dossett) at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire and baptised there on December 6th 1829 [IGI: Batch C072792].

The 1861 Census finds Gaius and Eliza living in Rickmansworth with just one child Frederick: 

1861 Census
Beer House, Solesbridge Lane, Rickmansworth : PRO Ref: RG9 Piece 835 Folio 111 Page 11

Gaius Roberts : head : mar : 30 : gardener, labourer : Bledlow, Buckinghamshire
Eliza Roberts : wife : mar : 31 : — : Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
Frederick Roberts : son : unm : 7 : scholar : Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

Frederick, born in 1854 [GRO Ref: Watford 3a 295, 1854 (Q2)], was the future father of Richard. By 1871 he was still living with his parents in Solesbridge Lane and was occupied as a labourer [PRO Ref: RG10 Piece 1383 Folio 147 Page 6]. In 1879 he married at Chorley Wood to Mary Ann Smith [GRO Ref: Watford 3a 534, 1879 (Q3)]; the IGI gives the date as September 11th [IGI: Batch M157241]. By 1881 he was occupied as a hay dealer and pub keeper, as also was his father Gaius:

1881 Census
Black Horse Public House, Black Horse Dell, Rickmansworth : PRO Ref: RG11 Piece 1440 Folio 145 Page 5

Frederick Roberts : head : mar : 27 : hay dealer & licenced victualler : Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
Mary A. Roberts : wife : mar : 28 : — : Waltham, Berkshire
Edith M. Roberts : dau : unm : 1 month : — : Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
Gains [sic – Gaius] Roberts : brother : unm : 13 : — : Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

1881 Census
The Village, Chenies, Buckinghamshire : PRO Ref: RG11 Piece 1454 Folio 4 Page 2

Gaius Roberts : head : mar : 49 : hay dealer & beer house keeper
                                                employing one man: Bledlow, Buckinghamshire
Eliza Roberts : wife : mar : 50 : publican’s wife : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
Sarah A. Roberts : dau : unm : 17 : publican’s daur. : Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
Gains [sic – Gaius] Roberts : brother : unm : 13 : — : Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

Gaius (Snr.) died very soon after this census, aged “48” [GRO Ref: Amersham 3a 287, 1881 (Q2)].

Frederick and Mary Ann’s son Richard was born in 1884 [GRO Ref: Watford 3a 542, 1884 (Q3)]. Here he is in 1891:

1891 Census
No. 26, Solesbridge Lane, Chorley Wood, Rickmansworth : PRO Ref: RG12 Piece 1121 Folio 139 Page 11

Fredrick [sic] Roberts : head : mar : 38 : labourer in general : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
Mary A. Roberts : wife : mar : 39 : — : Waltham St. Lawrence [Berkshire]
Edith M. Roberts : dau : unm : 10 : scholar : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
John F. Roberts : son : unm : 8 : scholar : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
Richard Roberts : son : unm : 6 : scholar : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire

and in 1901:

1901 Census
No. 11, Solesbridge Lane, Chorley Wood : PRO Ref: RG13 Piece 1322 Folio 42 Page 5

Fredk. Roberts : head : mar : 48 : carter : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
Mary A. Roberts : wife : mar : 48 : — : Waltham, Berkshire
John Roberts : son : unm : 19 : general labourer : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
John F. Roberts : son : unm : 8 : scholar : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
Richard Roberts : son : unm : 17 : houseboy : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire

By 1911 Richard was in Effingham working as a gardener at The Lodge. The Census finds him living there in the “bothy” with six other gardeners, none of them native to the parish:

1911 Census
The Bothy, The Lodge, Effingham, Leatherhead : PRO Ref: RG14 Piece 3193 Schedule 43

Charles James Carr : — : unm : 28 : gardener domestic : Nettlestead, Suffolk, Surrey
Richard Roberts : — : unm : 25 : gardener domestic : Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire
Albert George Gealer : — : unm : 26 : gardener domestic : Wrexham, Wales
Louis Sparks : — : unm : 20 : gardener domestic : Ramsgate, Kent
Thomas Henry Sawkins : — : unm : 19 : gardener domestic : Farnham, Surrey
Henry James Longhurst : — : unm : 19 : gardener domestic : Ashtead, Surrey
Charles Barnard : — : unm : 35 : gardener domestic : Swaffham, Norfolk

He enlisted with the Norfolk Regiment in November 1914 and was posted to Mesopotamia a year later. He died there from typhoid on June 13th 1916 and was buried at the Amara Cemetery.

Military Records

1. Service Record

National Archives: WO363 (War Office): Soldiers’ Documents, First World War ‘Burnt Documents’

Richard’s service papers have survived. They record that his attestation for 3 years of service on the Colours took place at Guildford on November 9th 1914. He then gave his age as 27 years and 155 days, his birthplace as “Hertford” and his occupation as gardener. He was medically examined the same day, the report noting that he was 5’103/4″ tall, 148 lbs in weight and had blue eyes and black hair. His physical development was “fair” although there were signs of “old rickets on chest wall, slight bunion(s) on both feet and defective and deficient teeth”, all judged to be trivial. Below is his original signature from the Attestation Form:

He was assigned Service Number 16397 and served initially as a Private in the 10th Bn., Norfolk Regiment. On June 11th 1915 he was appointed unpaid Lance-Corporal. Based in Colchester, later that year, he was – according to his Company Conduct Sheet – reprimanded for neglect of duty on September 2nd and was admonished for an “overstaying” offence on November 1st.

On December 10th 1915 he was posted to Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq), now with the 2nd Battalion, and embarked from Devonport. He disembarked at Basra on January 7th 1916. Six months later, on June 13th, he “died of disease”. His B103 Casualty Form says that he “Died of Paratyphoid Fever” at Amara, but gives his battalion in evident error as the 10th. He was buried at the Amara Cemetery. His next-of-kin (his mother) was notified more than a fortnight later, on June 29th.

On May 12th 1917 his personal effects were sent to Mary Ann who was then living at the Cedars Alms House in Chorley Wood. They comprised “Testament, diary, cig. case, pen knife, photos & disc”. The record of this correctly places him in the 2nd Bn. On December 12th Mary Ann completed the declaration form needed for her to be issued with the standard commemorative plaque and scroll. It was witnessed by the vicar of Chorley Wood and it noted that her husband was also dead – Frederick had died aged “59” just before the War [GRO Ref: Watford 3a 720 1913 (Q3)]. On December 10th 1921 she acknowledged receipt of Richard’s medals. She may have died in 1940, aged “87” [GRO Ref: Watford 3a 2558, 1940 (Q1)].

Name
Rank
Regiment
Age
Date of Death
Service No.
Additional info.
Grave/Memorial Ref.
Cemetery

ROBERTS, R
Lance Corporal
Norfolk Regiment, 2nd Bn
29
13/06/1916
16397
Son of Fredrick [sic] and Mary Ann Roberts, of Cedars Alms House, Chorley Wood, Watford.
VIII. F. 17.
AMARA WAR CEMETERY

3. “Soldiers Died in the Great War” Record

This adds nothing further to the above.

4. Medal Record