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Wilfrid Roberts: Wikis


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Wilfrid Hubert Wace Roberts (28 August 1900 – 26 May 1991) was a British Liberal Party politician who later joined the Labour Party.


Early life

Roberts was born to Alderman Charles Roberts, chairman of Cumberland County Council, and Lady Cecilia Roberts, daughter of the 9th Earl of Carlisle[1]. He was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk, and Balliol College, Oxford and became a farmer and a district councillor.

Liberal MP

He first stood, without success, for North Cumberland in 1931, losing by 1,277 votes. He became a Member of Parliament for the seat at the 1935 election, gaining his seat from the Conservatives.

At the time of the Spanish Civil War, he worked in the relief effort for Basque refugees, with Christopher Hill.[2] He was Secretary of the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, working with Conservative MP the Duchess of Atholl as Chair[3], David Grenfell of the Labour Party, and Eleanor Rathbone of the Independent Labour Party[4], from 1937 to 1940[5]. He was also joint secretary, with the Conservative MP John Macnamara, of the Basque Children's Committee[6].

A radical Liberal, he was a supporter of the Popular Front advocated by Sir Stafford Cripps, seeking an alliance between left-of-centre political forces. He spoke at the 1938 Emergency Conference for a Popular Front[7].

Having been commissioned in the Border Regiment, from 1941-42 he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Liberal Leader, Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air.

At the 1950 general election, following boundary changes, Roberts contested the re-drawn seat of Penrith and the Border but lost to the Conservative. In the three previous elections, Labour had not opposed him but, in 1950, they intervened and cost him his seat.

Later life

In 1956 he joined the Labour Party and at the 1959 election fought Hexham as a Labour candidate without success.

Wives and children

Roberts was married three times. Firstly, in 1923, to Margaret Jennings, who died in 1924, shortly after the birth of a daughter; secondly, in 1928, to Anne Constance Jennings, with whom he had two further daughters, the marriage ending in divorce in 1957; and thirdly, to Kate Sawyer.[8]



  1. ^ Conqueror18
  2. ^ Basque Colonies in Great Britain
  3. ^ Time magazine, July 11 1938.
  4. ^ Susan Pedersen, Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience (2004) , p. 286.
  5. ^ A Summary Description of the papers of Wilfrid Roberts
  6. ^ Stoneham Camp
  7. ^ David Blaazer, The Popular Front and the Progressive Tradition (1992), p. 180.
  8. ^ Who's Who 1990 (A. & C. Black, London, 1990)
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Fergus Graham
Member of Parliament for North Cumberland
constituency abolished




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