T F Roberts Papers

Scope and Content

The archive contains the personal papers of Principal T F Roberts; artefacts collected by Roberts, and professional papers chiefly relating to his work as Principal of UWA. The archive also contains items relating to T F Roberts, added after his death by his son, Dr R D Roberts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Francis Roberts was born on September 25th 1860, at Aberdovey, Meirionethshire. He was educated at Towyn Academy, and at 1874 won a scholarship to the newly established University at Aberystwyth. He entered the college in the October of that year, aged only 14 years.

Whilst at college, Roberts began to preach. He became a member of various societies and, along with fellow students T E Ellis and J E Lloyd, was responsible for the appearance of a printed college magazine in 1878. In 1879, he went to Oxford, where he achieved a first class honours degree in Classics. He contested and won the Coventry Scholarship to St. John's College, previously restricted to natives of Coventry. He was also a founder member of the Dafydd ap Gwilym Society.

1883 saw the establishment of a University at Cardiff, and Roberts, straight from Oxford, became its first Professor of Greek. He remained in this post until his appointement as Principal of the college at Aberystwyth in 1891. Whilst at Cardiff, Roberts threw himself into his religion, and it was at chapel that he met Mary Elizabeth Davies, whom he married in 1893. He became Vice-President of the Cardiff Cymmrodorion Society, which boasted men such as Alf Thomas, Beriah Gwynfe Evans and Joseph Parry as members, and also became involved in workers education.

Under T F Roberts, Aberystwyth established itself as a university in its own right, no longer a college preparing students for further study and graduation at Oxford or Cambridge. He became involved with the new intermediate schools, acting as the chairman of the Cardiganshire Intermediate Schools' governing body. He recognised that these were his future students, and encouraged many of his current students to return to college to become teachers. This led to the establishment of a Teachers Training Department at Aberystwyth in 1892. He was also involved in theological education, and was responsible for the brief unification of the colleges of Haverfordwest and Aberystwyth.

Whilst at Aberystwyth, Roberts contributed to the town's campaign for the location there of the National Library of Wales. He prepared the first official case on the subject, and negotiated with the county councils. When the Library was awarded it's charter, he took a seat on the council.

Unfortunately, Roberts suffered from poor health for many years. The burdens of administration weighed heavily upon him, and the outbreak of war in 1914 affected him deeply. He died, after a long period of illness, on August 4th 1919, aged 57.

Access Information

The papers may be consulted through application by e-mail to: archives@aber.ac.uk or by post to: Aberystwyth University, Archives, Information Services, Llandinam Building, Penglais, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB. Tel: 01970 628593.

Acquisition Information

The archive was donated to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth by T F Roberts' son, Dr R D Roberts. Dr Roberts had added to the collection of papers many items relating to his father that were produced after his death, such as obituaries.


Description compiled by Rhian Phillips, Archives Hub project archivist, with reference to David Williams, Thomas Francis Roberts, 1860-1919, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1961).

Other Finding Aids

Basic finding aid available on request from Archives staff.