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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]

Mr. William Henry Sherwood Roberts

Mr. William Henry Sherwood Roberts , who was a Member of the Oamaru Borough Council in 1879, was born at Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, on the 16th of October, 1834. He comes of a Worcestershire family, and was educated at the Palace school, Enfield, near London. His father was an officer in the Honourable East India Company's Service and owned freehold property in Wales and Worcestershire. Mr. Roberts was originally intended for the profession of medicine, but studied as a book-keeper and land surveyor. He, however, left for New Zealand before becoming licensed, and arrived in Nelson, by the barque “John Phillips,” on the 6th of May, 1855. In the following year Mr. Roberts travelled overland from Nelson to Invercargill and became a squatter in Southland, but lost his cattle run in 1857 through the “Land and Lease Ordinance, 1856.” Two years later he bought a run at Pomahaka, near Tapanui, and named it “Ardmore,” but lost that also in 1871, when the land was opened for sale by the Government. On this last occasion his loss amounted to something like £30,000. Mr. Roberts then purchased a farm at Waipani, where he remained from 1872 to 1878. In December of the latter year, he settled in Oamaru and subsequently purchased three acres of land at Meadowbank, where he built his beautiful residence named “Marapua.” Mr. Roberts held the Commission of Justice of the Peace for twenty one years, and was for a short time engaged as a commission agent, auctioneer, and valuator in Oamaru. He was for six years a member of the Anglican Synod, and frequently officiated as Lay Reader is Oamaru and elsewhere. In addition to serving on the Borough Council, he was also a member of the Hospital Committee. He was initiated as a Freemason in Lodge Otago, 844, E.C., and became a Master Mason in June, 1866, and was exalted as Companion of the Kilwinning Royal Arch Chapter on the 23rd of January, 1871. Mr. Roberts is well known as a literary man, and has written a “History of Oamaru and North Otago,” from 1853 to 1889. It is an interesting volume of over 500 pages, particularly useful as a book of reference, and was published by Mr. A. Fraser, of Oamaru, in 1890. In 1895, Mr. Roberts published “Southland in 1856–1857, with a Journey from Nelson to Southland in 1856.” He was married in October, 1867, to the only daughter of Captain P. Williams, of Dunedin, and of a family of ten children, has, surviving, one daughter and five sons.

Marapua House: The Residence of Mr. W. H. S. Roberts.

Marapua House: The Residence of Mr. W. H. S. Roberts.