Caleb William Roberts


Caleb William Roberts, who paid £4,300 for Wollaston Hall on 1 July 1899. It was conveyed to him on 29 September 1899, 40 years to the day after Henry Onions Firmstone had bought it!

photo credit: HOW

supplied by: Dr Paul Collins

Previous: Wollaston Hall sales particulars 1899

Next: Wollaston Hall Sale Plan 1899


Caleb William Roberts or as the locals called him ‘Bogey Roberts’ had the habit of turning up unexpectedly in the middle of the night to see if any of his workers were asleep or skiving.

My Great Grandfather, Caleb Roberts younger brother worked for him and was given the sack along with other night shift workers.

In the family folklore it was said that he and his Mother,My Great-Great Mother were estranged to say the least,so much so you will never see any photographs with him with his Mother, brothers and sisters.

Whilst he lived in Wollaston Hall, his mother lived an ordinary hand to mouth existance.

Robert Norman Cochrane -

My Mother who was born in 1908 can remember Caleb William Roberts holding her brother in his arms and so my uncle was named after him, Caleb William.

It was said that the firm of Roberts and Cooper went into decline partly because of a decline in trade and his son Ebenezer’s poor business expertise.

Robert Norman Cochrane -

My Father-in law Bert Smith who was born in 1899 was in partnership with his brother Ernest. The firm being Thomas Trevis Smith of Cradley Heath.

Sometime around 1917 the firm received an order for barrels but unfortunately had not got the timber or the money to purchase the timber to fulfil the contract.

As Bert related he went to Roberts and Coopers saw mill ‘Cap in hand’ in Mill Street, Brierley Hill to see if they would help.

Now running the office was a formidable lady who ran the firm like an ‘iron fist’ and when Bert explained the position refused point blank to sanction any credit.

Just then Caleb William Roberts came into the office and wanted to know what was happening.

He just asked two questions, which were.
(a) ‘Had he done business with Roberts and Cooper before’?
(b)‘Had he got a good record for paying his bill’?
Both answers received a yes.

Caleb William Roberts said ‘Let him have the timber’ and turning to Bert said.‘Pay me when you can’

Result was that Thomas Trevis Smith received numerous contracts from the Admiralty for barrels which lasted into the 1970s.

Needless to say the debt to Roberts and Cooper was paid off.

What I am attempting to say is that there is a lot more to Caleb William Roberts other than Wollescote Hall.

Robert Norman Cochrane -

Finally, I would like to point out that my Great Grandfather was mentioned in Caleb William Roberts will. A copy of which I have in my possession.

robert Norman (Bob) Cochrane -

With Caleb William Roberts it is a story of a Victorian person of humble beginnings making good.
Of the company Roberts and Cooper business and the Roberts family it turned out to be the old Victorian saying.

I ought to say that I have spent 60years plus studying Caleb William Roberts and I am still on a learning curve.
‘Clogs to clogs in three generations.

Robert (Bob) Cochrane -

Particulars were sent to me by my first cousin, Robin Comley at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) in Telford, Staffs, UK.  Very interesting.  Our great gandfather was Caleb William Roberts, 1851 to 1918.  My mother’s mother was Gladys Roberts, daughter of Caleb. 

I am glad to hear some nice things about Caleb as my mother, Eileen Blades, nee Darby told me that he was unkind to his workers and he died being crushed by a boiler at his own factory.  Mum remembered this vividly.  She was born in 1911 and was a girl of 7 when this happened.  She recalled the phone call made to her mother re this incident.  January 10, 2014

Julie Hall, Vancouver, BC Canada -

Caleb Wlliam Roberts was a self made man who came from very humble beginnings. He had the nickname of ‘Bogy’ as he used to turn up at his factories at all hours of the day or night.

He was never one to be entered into the popularity stakes and along the way made many enemies.

He sacked my Great Grandfather, his brother for some minor offence.

Thank you for your e mail.

Robert (Bob) Cochrane -

We are cousins and are looking in to the family connection of Caleb Roberts /Rollings was our 3rd generation grandmother can anyone help with further information please

Lorraine and Debbie -

Loraine & Debbie, if you follow the email in the comment of my cousin Julie Hall, I will send you a copy of the family tree as I have it.

Robin Comley -

To Lorraine and Debbie.
My cousin Robin Comley at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) has a computer printout of the family tree starting with our great grandfather, Caleb William Roberts.  He can send it to you as an attachment to your email.  I have not heard of a Rollings in the family tree. 
Julie Hall, Vancouver, Canada

Julie Hall -

Lorraine and Debbie,
I am sorry I cannot help you with the information you have requested.

Robin and Julie,
On many occasions over the years I have seen one of Caleb William Roberts’s daughters listed as Mrs Christopher Darby who was very active in Church/Chapel religious affairs a century ago.

On the foundation stone of Cradley Heath Baptist Church dated 1903 is the name of Mrs. Christopher Darby.

Would you be able to tell me her Christian name please?
Help much appreciated.

Robert (Bob) Cochrane -

Sorry, I do not have a Christopher Darby listed in the family tree for the Roberts or Darbys.  Caleb William Roberts had 4 daughters.  Selena who married John Hooson, Elsie who married Alfred Marsh, Blanche Amelia Roberts who married Walter Darby and Gladys Roberts, my grandmother who married Thomas Henry Darby, my grandfather.  Blanche Amelia Roberts was born in 1883 and had no children.  I doubt if she was the same lady mentioned in 1903 as being active in the church.  I do not know the second name of Walter Darby.  My grandmother Gladys Roberts was born in 1885 so would have been too young and was not active in the church.  Robin also has the Darby family tree as we share the same grandparents.

Julie Hall -

Julie, Thank you for your prompt reply.

Your Great Grandfather, Caleb William Roberts, My Great Uncle had a young brother James who emigrated to Canada about 1900.
His wife being Lizzie nee Cartwright.

Hope this information is of some help

Robert (Bob) Cochrane -

Hello robert(bob) cochrance and Hello to Julie in Vancuover
My email address is if you wish to contact me is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Thank you very much for the kind offer of information

lorraine -

I believe he was my great, great (great?) uncle… my great grandmother, “Grannie Pargeter” was his sister, I believe, and had his picture on her wall…

Gary Bills -

My great grandfather was a younger brother of Caleb William Roberts. I would very much like to find out more information about the family. If this line of comments is still live I would very much appreciate contact from anyone with information.
My email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Philip Baker -

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don’t really provide anything that I’m interested in, but I’m most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know Centre medical dentaire

muneer ahmed -

Extraordinary guy

small business start up funding

geebranz -

Business expert!

how to get funding

geebranz -

Add your comment