CHARLES THEODORE ROBERTS
This post was written by Victoria Doran.
Charles Roberts was a professional golfer who joined the Liverpool Rifles in 1916 and died whilst on a one day detachment to the 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment during the German Spring Offensive of 1918.
Charles Theodore Roberts
Charles Theodore Roberts was born in the autumn of 1881 in Hoylake, the eldest of the seven sons of Charles Roberts (1856-1934) and Catherine Beck (1857-1928). He also had an older sister. He will be referred to as ‘Charles T’ from here on to distinguish him from his father. It would not have been expected that Charles T and four of his brothers would have made their living through golf, but that is what happened.
The family was moving up the social scale. Charles T’s great grandfather Peter Roberts (1805-1884) who came from Bridge Trafford near Chester, was originally a mariner, living at Parkgate. Peter Roberts married twice and Charles T’s grandfather John Roberts (1806-1903) was his eldest son by his first wife Mary Davies (1803-1831). After Peter married Mary Thompson (1805-???) he joined HM Customs & Excise as a boatman and had moved to Hoylake by 1841. In the 1860s he was moved to Liverpool, but actually died in Hoylake, where he is buried.
John Roberts became a shoemaker, spending most of his life in Hoylake, with a brief period in Wallasey where he met and married his wife Elizabeth Price (1822-1898) . Elizabeth was born in Shropshire, but nothing else is known of her.
Charles Roberts was an only child, and started work as a solicitor’s office boy. After working his way up to articled clerk, in his 50s he joined Birkenhead Corporation as a municipal clerk. On 5 July 1878 he married Catherine Beck, who came from a long standing family of Hoylake fisherman.
It is not known how the Roberts boys learned golf, but it is likely that they started as caddies at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club (RLGC), and probably belonged to the club for ‘artisans’ that still uses the golf course at certain restricted times, and whose foundation was a requirement of the terms under which the RLGC bought the land originally. It seems certain that Charles T will have known Fred Tottey and James Hunter Morris, fellow golf professionals commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial.
By 1901 at the age of 20, Charles T was working for Woolton Golf Club outside Liverpool as a golf club and ball maker. He is likely to have been taught these skills by James Hunter Morris’ father, the professional at the RLGC. On 24 November 1902 he married Charlotte Stanley (1881-1938) at Holy Trinity, Hoylake.
Charlotte’s ancestors had lived in and worked the land in north Wirral for countless generations, sometimes as small farmers. Charlotte was the youngest of 10 children and worked as a laundress on her own account before her marriage.
Charles T remained working for Woolton Golf Club until he joined the army on 25 May 1916. By this time he and Charlotte had 3 children : Rhoda Catherine (1903-1975), Charles Stanley (1906-1994) and Leslie (1914-1972).
Charles T joined the 2/6th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Rifles as Rifleman 242542. At some stage he was promoted to sergeant. We are fortunate that after the war a full history of this battalion during the war was written and it can now be read for free here. Charles T’s military record has not survived, but there is little reason to suppose that he was not with the battalion for all his service. He almost certainly arrived in France in February 1917, and spent most of his service in the trenches. He will have been involved in the disastrous gassing in Armentières in July 1917, when they returned to ‘rest’ after a spell in the front line. Half the battalion became casualties in this incident, though many were later able to return to the battalion.
Once the German Spring Offensive started in March 1917, the battalion was moved back and forth very frequently, but were not engaged with the Germans.
This excerpt from the battalion history tells us that Charles T was killed by being shot in the head whilst on detachment to the Manchester Regiment.
He was 36 years old and is buried in Couin New British cemetery.
Couin New British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
He is also commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby, the Hoylake Roll of Honour and the Roll of Honour at Woolton Golf Club. He is also probably the C Roberts commemorated on the Woolton Village Club roll of Honour.
He left Charlotte with 3 children under the age of 14. The family remained in Woolton.
Of his brothers, Hugh Athelstan Roberts (1883-1908) was a golf professional in Hoylake, presumably at RLGC; Thomas Percival Roberts (1885-1975) became a golf professional in Southport; John George Roberts (1887-1927) and Edwin Darby Roberts (1894-1978) both became golf professionals at Stockholm Golf Club, Sweden. A remarkable achievement for a family with no prior history of golfers. His youngest brother Septimus Leonard Roberts (1897-1976) served with the Cheshire Regiment at Gallipoli.
Birth: Q4 1881 in Hoylake
Death: 1 May 1918 near Albert, Pas de Calais, France; killed in action
Addresses: Seaview, Hoylake (91); Much Woolton Golf Club, Lancashire (01); 2 Speke Road, Much Woolton, Lancashire (11)
Occupation: golf professional
Unit: 2/6th Battalion (Liverpool Rifles), King’s Liverpool Regiment
Number and Rank: 242542; Sergeant
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: Couin New British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France; Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; Hoylake Roll Of Honour (now in St Hildeburgh); Woolton Golf Club Roll of Honour
Sources: BR, CWGC, RSE, SDGW, MC, H, DA, BN, Census: 91, 01,11, PR, The History of the 2/6th (Rifle) Battalion “The Kings” (Liverpool Regiment) 1914-1919 by Capt. C E Wurtzburg MC, Ancestry family tree