Harold Roberts Papers

Scope and Content

The collection contains manuscript letters, certificates, research notes, photographs and press cuttings. All the material relates to the career of Harold Roberts as theology tutor, minister and chair of both the Methodist Conference and the World Methodist Council.

Former reference: MA 2011/4.

Administrative / Biographical History

Roberts was born in Cheshire into a Welsh family and was raised in Manchester. Educated at Bangor University and Wesley House Cambridge, Roberts was ordained into the Wesleyan Methodist Church and earned a considerable reputation as a preacher.

He became tutor in theology, first at Headingley College (1934-1940), then at Richmond College (1940-1968). Through his report on "The Mission and Message of Methodism" (1946) Roberts exercised considerable influence on the post-war Church. He acted as Methodist Chairman of the Anglican-Methodist Conversations and was a strong advocate of the proposed union. Roberts was President of the 1957 Conference and of the World Methodist Council, 1951-1956.

After his marriage in 1972 to Myra Johnson, he lived in Tunbridge Wells, where he died on 4 October 1982.


The collection has been arranged in ten series

  • HRB/1 Printed material
  • HRB/2 Manuscript Notebooks
  • HRB/3 Letters from Harold Roberts to Mary Foster (Mary Lenton from 1940)
  • HRB/4 Letters and associated material
  • HRB/5 Correspondence, notes and related papers, representing John Lenton's research into the life and ministry of Harold Roberts
  • HRB/6 Anglican-Methodist conversations - papers
  • HRB/7 Photographs
  • HRB/8 Notes by Harold Roberts
  • HRB/9 Press cuttings and photographs relating to Harold Roberts
  • HRB/10 Certificates and loose papers

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The archive was deposited at the John Rylands Library in 2011 as part of the Methodist Archives and Research Centre collections, accession no. MA 2011/4.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

This collection was compiled by John Lenton in the process of working on a biography of Harold Roberts. Many of the papers relate to his mother Mary Lenton (maiden name of Foster) (1913-98), a close friend of Harold Roberts and a prominent lay Methodist.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

As well as the biography of Harold Roberts, written by John Lenton, that these papers were collected in support of, the Methodist Archives and Research Centre (MARC) holds a number of Roberts' own works. These include Belief in God (1936), Jesus and the kingdom of God (1955) and New Life in the Spirit (1962).

The MARC holds thousands of smaller collections of Methodist Ministers personal and official papers in addition to a large number of medium-sized personal collections relating to significant ministers, missionaries, laymen and educators, including the controversial nineteenth century leader of Wesleyan Methodism Jabez Bunting (1779- 1859), the pioneer of Methodist overseas outreach Thomas Coke (1747-1814), the lawyer and anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Allan (1774-1845), the China missionary and President of Conference Harold Burgoyne Rattenbury (1878-1961) and the minister and scholar Alfred Raymond George (1912-98).