I keep returning to the subject of the man I consider to be the father of modern Brownhills, the one and only William Roberts – railway plate layer, ganger, publican, entrepreneur, civic stalwart, JP and philanthropist.
William was clearly as sharp as a tack in business, but also a generous man who valued community, which he supported financially and civically. He was also undoubtedly a rogue, with some interesting business deals.
In the past, I’ve featured William Roberts’ eulogy from the Lichfield Mercury, the superlative account by Gerald Reece, plus scans of the April 1990 edition of the Brownhills Gazette, which contained an article by local lady Gwen James, detailing her version of the history of the Station Hotel – and a further view of the history was detailed in ‘Brownhills Past and Present’, the book issued by Brownhills School in 1985. Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler also supplied his own research into William Roberts,
To add to the record, and hopefully expand things a bit, the great Gerald Reece has been in touch once more and sent something remarkable: scans of the last will and testament of William Roberts.He sent three wills connected with the Roberts empire in total, the other two I’ll post later.
My inability to read old script is legendary: I’m asking for help, please. Can anyone assist me please and interpret this document (if only partially), please?
Thanks to Gerald for letting me reproduce the will here, and of course for so generously supplying it. Gerald in my opinion remains the most outspoken and respected historian ever to write on Brownhills, and he’s a man for whom I have immense respect. It really is a pleasure to know he’s still engaged with our history and supporting further research into our town, even though he now lives in Devon.
My thanks also to David Evans for his work in connection with this post. Another man without whom this blog would be nothing.
Click on any page in the gallery for a full size version.