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Earl Roberts

Arms: Azure three stars Or on a chief wavy of the same an eastern crown Gules; at the honour point a baronet’s badge, viz Argent a sinister hand couped at the wrist and appaumeé Gules

SOURCE, NOTES & CREDITS: Source for blazon: page 703, Debrett’s Peerage”, 1904 as amended by J.H. Gaylor. Source for illustration: Same. Source for text: Same Debrett’s. Plus we give thanks for an article, “Soggarth Aroon”, no author given, dated 1907, in “Catholic”, April-June 2009, the journal of the only traditional Catholic monastery in the UK, located on Papa Stronsay Isle, in the Orkney Islands of Scotland.

Field Marshal Lord Roberts, VC, KG, KP, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, OM, DCL, 1st Earl Roberts and Baronet, is entered in our armorial not because he was one of England’s most famous 19th century soldiers, nor that he was a recipient of the Victoria Cross as a young subaltern, nor that he was 23 times “Mentioned in Dispatches”, thanked by Parliament twice and granted £100,000 by them; he is entered for an Act of Charity.
In February 1900, Lord Roberts had surrounded Boer General Cronje and his 4000 men at the Modder River. The English lost 800 men in the assault in one day alone, the Gordons were replaced by a Shropshire regiment containing some Irish snipers. But one of the sergeant snipers was himself shot. His surgeon said, “He may live three days”. The Sergeant asked the nurse to get him a priest so he might have the last rites. She told him the nearest priest was 700 miles away, but he persisted anyway, saying the request of a dying man should not be refused. So she went to the tent of Lord Roberts, was admitted and told of the Sergeant’s request. The British General looked at the ground in silence, then called for Engineer Headly and asked how long it would take him to drive his train to Kimberly and back ? “ Four days, my lord.” Roberts then asked an aide, if the railroad was clear of Boers and guarded. Answered in the affirmative, he ordered Headly to Kimberly with his engine, tender and one coach and to make the ride of his life. Engineer Headly made it to Kimberly in two days with out incident and picked up a Fr. George, Chaplain of the Fusiliers, and began his return journey. The train was halted in the night and boarded by Boer General Christiaan De Wet, who threatened to kill all aboard if there were no priest. He was brought to Fr. George and said, I see you are a priest, did Lord Roberts send for you to attend to a dying man at Modder River ? “He did sir.”, was the answer of Fr. George, who seemed neither startled nor dismayed. One of De Wet’s men then said in Dutch, “He may be a spy”. De Wet responded, “Get thee out o’ here, and all of you. This train shall pass, and woe to him who will molest this man or not obey my orders.” The to the priest he said, “The Lord, our good God, be with you Father, and bring you safe to the end of your journey.” Pandemonium broke loose when the train reached Modder River, Gen. Cronje and his Boers had surrendered and the Sergeant was still alive, who then received the sacraments of the dying with his senses unimpaired and died a few hours later. “Soggarth Aroon” is Irish I believe for “dear priest”.

Lord Roberts when on to be “Second Sword” at the coronation of Edward VII and Commander-in Chief of the Army in 1901 and received the Order of Merit in 1902. ( See his portrait by John Singer Sargent in image Roberts 2 of this album ). Still alive in 1914 he went to France to visit with his old Indian troops, caught a chill and died of pneumonia on 14 November 1914 at age 82. dqw 20090731

The artwork is a rendering by John Hamilton Gaylor

Wedvick Armorial, 110a, Roberts, 20090616
no16.jpg PA010007_sm.JPG Roberts2616.jpg rom6_sm1.JPG 2011__09_SARASOTA_-_sm_4.JPG
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