FSRoberts family history - origins and associations -The Roberts family - 2004 research
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This further page of Roberts family research includes current updates.

Martha Roberts married Francis Smith/Smyth/e on 7th September 1829, in the parish of Bedminster St. John - a southern suburb of Bristol. Francis Smith was a cooper, the son of Thomas Smith, also a cooper.

Martha was born in about 1808 and Francis was born in about 1807. They were both born in Bristol. It is believed that Martha's father was named James Roberts and that her mother's name was Betty.

This would probably account for her first son (James Francis Smith/Smyth/e) bearing the name "James" - and then "Francis" after his father (Francis Smith/Smyth). The recorded father of Francis Smith/Smyth was Thomas Smith/Smyth. It is possible that this Thomas was dead by 1830 since it would have been traditional for the first-born son to carry the male line grandpaternal name of Thomas somewhere; which he did not. It may also indicate a rift between Francis and his father, Thomas.

Martha was baptised on 12th June 1808 at Ebenezer Chapel, King Street Wesleyan, Bristol, Gloucestershire (England) - IGI Record Batch # C083531 - Dates: 1793-1837 Source 0825381 RG4 913,3257). In a second record available, she is recorded as having been born on 11th March 1808 and baptised 12th June (same day as previous baptism) at St. Philip and Jacob Chapel, Bristol, Somerset (England). IGI Record Batch # 7212414 and Source Call # 0820344.

It is possible that this LDS IGI link refers to the marriage in question and that - if so - Betty's name at marriage was Watkins. According to this LDS entry, the wedding took place at St. Augustine The Less, Bristol, on 7th December 1807.

Given that James and Betty are known to have had (inter alia) another daughter, Mary Roberts, in 1804, it is most likely that the 7 is a transcript error for 1 and that the marriage actually took place in 1801 and not 1807. James and Betty (Watkins) Roberts appear to have had four daughters - as evidenced below.

The area Stapleton appears to be significant in the history of this family group.

This site was contacted via the Guest Book by James Roberts' descendant, Howard Wayne Roberts, who generously wrote:

I believe that the Martha Roberts you speak of is my 3 great aunt. James Roberts was my 4th great grandfather the son of Henry Roberts and Elizabeth Miller married at St. James' Church, Bristol in 1758. The family estate was located at White's Hill in St George, Bristol.

James was a shoemaker/shopkeeper at Kingswood Hill, but lived in Oldland Bitton, where his son (via his first marriage) John and [wife] Hester also lived. Not suprisingly, John's first son was called James. Besides Martha, James and Betty had Clementina, Mary, and Elizabeth. Mary married Sam Britton at St Mary's Church Bitton, but was dead by 1851, probably in child birth. She had two sons, Joseph and Robert.

James was 93 when he died and left considerable propery in his will. Strangely there is no mention of Martha. James was married twice; first to Catherine Coleman, and then to Betty, although I have not found out her maiden name. Their son, John (my 3xg grandfather) was born to James and Catherine. He's listed in Pigot's 1830 Directory under John Roberts & Co."

ROBERTS Hester Boarding / Lodging House 43 Queen's Square, Bristol
ROBERTS John & Co. Brick & tile Maker Hill's Bridge wharf, Temple Gate
ROBERTS John & Co. Coal Merchant Hill's Bridge Wharf, nr Temple Gate
ROBERTS John & Co. Lime Burner Hills-Bridge Wharf nr Temple Gate

Writing shortly afterwards, Wayne states: "I still cannot confirm Martha though, although it is clear that James married twice. He had another son called James, and there was also a Charles. Clementina married Abraham Pratten in about 1854, about three years after her father had died. They lived at Kingswood Hill. She was given guardianship of the youngest daughter, Elizabeth. This probably accounts for why, in the Pratten records on-line, she is recorded as being Clementina and or Elizabeth. His last and youngest daughter may well have been named after his wife - although the name is clearly a family favourite.

Both James and his brother, Henry, were sticklers for leaving wills mainly because, in 1770, the overseers of the poor (St Lukes Church Brislington) had Henry his wife Elizabeth and their children James, Henry, Mary and Elizabeth, moved to St. George. They obviously never forgot the experience.

Henry and Elizabeth had further children; Arthur who married Rebecca Willis in St George and Susanna who married Stephen Flook. Although the date given (1776) does not tie in to early records, but she is mentioned in her brother's will. There are also other Roberts' of St.George who married into the Flook family that I cannot account for. Again, they seem to use the same family Christian names and obviously liked the Flooks! Samuel Roberts married Mary Flook (Widow) 1794. James Roberts married Mary Flook 1805. James Roberts married Susanna Flook 1776.

The Bristol Record Office has kindly confirmed that James' age ties him in to have been the one who married Catherine Coleman at St Augustine's the Less. The LDS record only highlights John as being born in Bristol - no religious denomination is given. In the Oldland census of 1851 he is shown as being born in St.George.

The sons born to John and Hester (found so far on LDS) were all christened at Kingswood School NC Bitton - James, Samuel, Joseph (my great great grandfather who married Emily Neads) and William. I am not really sure how far back we go in the Kingswood area. I thought we would have branched off to Gloustershire or Westerleigh by now. There is not one Roberts family in the 16th century parish records of Hanham, Oldland and Bitton. The earliest I have come across is another Henry Roberts (Pump maker) and his wife Elizabeth and daughter Martha! They are recorded as leasing a house at Jeffries Hill in 1666."

Francis Smith and Martha Roberts

In the opinion of this site, the fact that indenture papers pertaining to Francis Smith (Martha Roberts' husband who had been apprenticed as a cooper) had written on them that "Friends" were to find his clothing and account for his laundry, it is more than possible that the "Friends" element relates to the Quaker fraternity. Wayne Robert's research shows the following:-

"The early Quaker family of John Roberts of Siddington is also connected with our family. They have the same coat of arms. He married Lydia Tyndale in Bristol in 1646. My third great grandfather, John, was connected with Leonard Boult and Co., but went his own way later. He also purchased land at Crews Hole to make creosote from tar. William Butler ran it, but when it burned down he sold it to him.

I think that the persecutions of the non-conformists took place a little earlier than the time-scale we are interested in. However, the whole manner of speech and dress in Kingswood, I understand to have its roots in Quakerism. Even children whose parents had been thrown in prison for their non-conformist activities still carried out meetings in their absence - usually at Crews Hole."

Since Wayne has earlier stated that some Roberts family branches of Bristol seem to have been victimised, this may well account for that state of affairs and may also suggest a reason as to why Martha - a Quaker or marrying a Quaker and so a non-conformist, perhaps - was not mentioned in James Roberts' Will. She had been cut off and disowned.

Wayne contributes further to this research as follows:- "I have been trying to establish if this Martha is the daughter of my ancestor James. The only thing I have come up with is that Clementina's daughter married at Wesleyan Chapel Kingswood, the same place where Martha (1808) was baptised."

Whilst there was a Francis Smith who married a Martha Strong in 1815 - he was a miner and was more than likely connected to the coal mining Roberts family as well as the Francis (cooper) Smith of this line, the fact that Francis (cooper) and Martha named their twin boys (1834) Philip Vickery Smith and Joasiah Hill Smith, leads this site to suggest the following:

Thomas Smith (or Smyth/Smythe) - father of Francis, was perhaps married to a Vickery daughter. (Hill might also be a family tribute - or a reference to Kingswood Hill or White's Hill). Whilst Wayne can find no mention of any Vickery family attaching to the information that he currently has on record, in terms of Smith/Smyth ancestry, the following observation is worth considering.

Research by this Family Vault site has established that the Vickery name attaches strongly to the West Country and is also found in Ireland to some degree. The Vickery family ... first found in Devonshire. They were originally from La Vacherie, and acquired their seat at Dunkeswell in Devon soon after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Some of the first of this name - or some of its variants - to settle overseas were: John Vickery settled in the Barbados in 1654; Mary Vickery settled in Maryland in 1724; Ambrose Vickery settled in Georgia in 1733; Henry Vickery settled in Philadelphia in 1856.

The image of James Francis Smythe, born in 1830 - eventually a Baptist Minister - eldest son of Francis and Martha (Roberts) Smith, bears a remarkable likeness to a member of England's World Cup winning Rugby Union team of 2003, namely Raging Bull - alias Philip Vickery, prop forward and M.B.E. Whilst such "trait" comparisons are not necessarily reliable, there are structural echoes in facial features and, particularly, in upper skull geometry. If Phil Vickery is a typical gene representative of that family line, then Smith/Smyth connection to Vickery is certainly suggested in the late 1700s or at the turn of the 1800s.

James Francis Smythe

Phil - Raging Bull  - Vickery England Rugby Union Team 2003 World Cup winners

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