- Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts
Infobox Military Person
name= The Earl Roberts
30 September 1832– 14 November 1914
St Omer, France. Buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London.
caption="Lord Roberts of Kabul and Kandahar on his Celebrated Charger" [Harper's Magazine, European Edition, December 1897, p27]
allegiance= flagicon|United Kingdom
serviceyears= 1851 - 1904
commands= Kuram field force
Kabul and Kandahar field forces
Commander-in-Chief of British forces in South Africa
Commander-in-Chief in Madras
Command of British troops in Second Boer War
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
battles= Umbeyla Campaign (1863)
Abyssinian Campaign (1867–1868)
Lushai campaign (1871–1872)
Second Afghan War Battle of Kandahar(1880) Second Boer War(1899-1902)
Victoria Cross Knight of the Order of the Garter Knight of the Order of St Patrick Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of Merit
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of India
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Indian Empire
Field MarshalFrederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, PC ( 30 September 1832– 14 November 1914) was a distinguished Anglo-Irishsoldier and one of the most successful commanders of the Victorian era. He was affectionately known as 'Bobs' by the troops he commanded.
Cawnpore, Indiaon 30 September 1832, Roberts was the second son of General Sir Abraham Roberts, a member of the famous Waterford city family that contributed so much to the city. At the time Sir Abraham was commanding the 1st Bengal European Regiment. Roberts was named Sleigh in honour of the garrison commander, Major General William Sleigh. His mother was Isabella, daughter of Abraham Bunbury of Kilfeacle, County Tipperary. He was educated at Eton, Sandhurst and Addiscombebefore entering the British East India CompanyArmy as a Second Lieutenantwith the Bengal Artillery on 12 December 1851.
Indian rebellion of 1857
He fought in the Indian rebellion, seeing action during the siege and capture of
Delhi, and was present at the relief of Lucknow, where he was attached to the staff of Sir Colin Campbell, Commander In Chief, India. In January 1858, at Khudaganj, he won the Victoria Cross.
2 January 1858at Khudaganj, India, on following up the retreating enemy, he saw in the distance two sepoys going away with a standard. He immediately gave chase, overtaking them just as they were about to enter a village. Although one of them fired at him, Roberts was not hit and took possession of the standard, cutting down the man who was carrying it. On the same day he saved the life of a sowarwho was being attacked by a sepoy.
Nora Henrietta Bewson 17 May 1859.
Abyssinia and Afghanistan
After serving with the
British Armyin the Umbeyla and Abyssinian campaigns of 1863 and 1867–1868 respectively, Roberts fought in the Lushai campaign (1871–1872), for which he was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath(CB). Six years later, he was promoted to Major-Generaland given command of the Kuram field force in the Second Afghan War, distinguishing himself enough to receive the thanks of Parliament and the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB). In the wake of this success he was appointed commander of the Kabuland Kandaharfield force, leading his 10,000 troops through Afghanistanto the relief of the latter city (" see" Battle of Kandahar). He also managed to capture Kabul, and defeated Muhammad Yakub Khan, the Afghan emir. For his services, Sir Frederick again received the thanks of Parliament, and was appointed both Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) and Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire(CIE) in 1880, becoming a baronetthe following year.
After a very short interval as
Governorof Natal and Commander-in-Chiefof British forces in South Africa, Roberts (having been promoted to Lieutenant-Generalin 1883) was appointed Commander-in-Chief in Madras, a post he held for four years. In 1885 he succeeded this appointment as Commander-in-Chief throughout the whole of India, and two years later was appointed Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire(GCIE). This was subsequently followed by his promotion to Generalin 1890, and in 1892 he was created Baron Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan and of the City of Waterford.
After relinquishing his Indian command and becoming Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India in 1893, Lord Roberts two years later returned to his homeland as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in
Ireland, becoming Field Marshalin 1895 and receiving the Order of St Patrickin 1897.
Two years later, he returned to South Africa on the RMS "Donottar Castle" in command of British troops fighting in the
Second Boer War, relieving Kimberley and advancing to Pretoria. After a year, he was succeeded in the command by Lord Kitchener, and returned to Englandto receive yet more honours: he was made a Knight of the Garterand also created Earl Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan and Pretoria in the Transvaal Colony and of the City of Waterford, and Viscount St Pierre. He also became the honorary Colonelof the Irish Guardsin 1900, an appointment he kept for the remainder of his life, which gained the regiment the nickname 'Our Bobs'. He was also the following year, in 1902, appointed one of the first members of the Order of Merit.
Lord Roberts served as the last Commander-in-Chief of the British Army for three years before the post was abolished in 1904, and for the last ten years of his life was showered with yet more honours, including numerous honorary degrees and the Colonelcy of the National Reserve. He was founding president of the
Pilgrims Societyin 1902. ["The Pilgrims of Great Britain: A Centennial History " (2002) - Anne Pimlott Baker, ISBN 1-86197-290-3] He was a keen advocate of introducing conscription in Britain (heading the National Service League) to prepare for a Great European War. Immediately after his return from the Boer War, he was instrumental in promoting the mass training of civilians in rifle shooting skills through membership of shooting clubs, and a facsimile of his signature appears to this day on all official targets of the National Smallbore Rifle Association. He died of pneumoniaat St Omer, France, while visiting Indian troops fighting in the First World War. After lying in statein Westminster Hall(one of three non-Royals to do so in the 20th century, the others being Winston Churchilland Edward Carson.) He was awarded a State Funeral
Roberts' estate was probated in 1914 at £77,304 (equivalent to £4.8 million in 2004).
Both his sons predeceased him, including
Frederick Hugh Sherston RobertsVC who was killed in action at the Battle of Colensoduring the Boer War. Roberts and his son were one of only three pairs of fathers and sons to be awarded the VC. Today, their Victoria Crosses are in the National Army Museum. His baronybecame extinct, but under the special remainder granted with them he was succeeded in the earldomand viscountcy by his elder surviving daughter.
Roberts Barracks at
Larkhill Garrisonis named after him.
Titles and Honours
* 1858-1872 Frederick Roberts VC
* 1872-1878 Frederick Roberts VC CB
Major-GeneralFrederick Roberts VC CB
* 1880-1881 Major-General
SirFrederick Roberts VC GCB CIE
* 1881-1883 Major-General
The Rt Hon.Sir Frederick Roberts VC GCB CIE
Lieutenant-GeneralThe Rt Hon. Sir Frederick Roberts VC GCB CIE
* 1887-1890 Lieutenant-General The Rt Hon. Sir Frederick Roberts VC GCB GCIE
GeneralThe Rt Hon. Sir Frederick Roberts VC GCB GCIE
* 1892-1893 General The Rt Hon. The Lord Roberts VC GCB GCIE PC
* 1893-1895 General The Rt Hon. The Lord Roberts VC GCB GCSI GCIE PC
Field MarshalThe Rt Hon. The Lord Roberts, VC GCB GCSI GCIE PC
* 1897-1900 Field Marshal The Rt Hon. The Lord Roberts VC KP GCB GCSI GCIE PC
* 1900-1902 Field Marshal The Rt Hon. The Earl Roberts VC KG KP GCB GCSI GCIE PC
* 1902-1914 Field Marshal The Rt Hon. The Earl Roberts VC KG KP GCB OM GCSI GCIE PC
Roberts is a Senior Boys house at the
Duke of York's Royal Military School, where, like Welbeck collegeall houses are named after prominent military figures.
*gutenberg author| id=Frederick+Sleigh+Roberts | name=Frederick Roberts
* [http://www.garenewing.co.uk/angloafghanwar/articles/roberts_funeral.php Account of Earl Roberts' funeral]
* National Portrait Gallery: [http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?search=ss&sText=Roberts&LinkID=mp03806 Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts (1832-1914), Field Marshal]
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