Roberts and Robertson are patronymic names that come from the first name Robert. The name has Old German origins coming from ‘hroth’ and ‘berht’ which mean “fame” and “bright,” similar to how our word “illustrious” is used today. [i] Had I known 50 years ago that my biological father was a “Roberts,” I probably would have adopted the illustrious surname for myself. But instead, I adopted “Taylor” as my surname, which is a story in itself.
I was pretty sure I was a Roberts long before I could prove it. After, I learned that I was most likely “a Roberts,” I purchased a Roberts tartan at a Scottish Fair. I don’t know if my Roberts’ are Scottish, as I still need to track down the origins of my Roberts line, but I like the tartan.
Today, Roberts has its highest frequency of use in Wales where one in 124 people have the surname. However, by far the greatest number of people with the Roberts surname live in the United States where over 50% of the people in the world with the surname currently live. Among the States, the greatest number of “Roberts” live in the great state of Texas. Worldwide, Roberts is the 658th most common name; approximately 793,774 people bear the surname.[ii]
My Roberts Ancestors
My earliest known Roberts ancestor is my 4th great-grandfather, Edward Roberts. I haven’t tracked down where Edward was born, yet, but his son, Elias, was born in South Carolina and died in Tennessee. Elias was born in 1767, so this Roberts line goes back to at least colonial times.
Elias Roberts married Rebecca Brashears; they had nine children including John Calvin Roberts.
John Calvin Roberts was born in the Southwest Territory (Tennessee); he married Elizabeth Blackwell and they had fifteen children, including Asa Ellis Roberts.
Asa, who was born in Tennessee, had sixteen children with two wives including a son, Hugh Ellis Roberts, with his second wife.
Hugh, who was born in Illinois, had four children including my paternal grandfather, Bert Allen Roberts.
My known relatives.
I have five half-siblings, all of whom have the Roberts surname.
My records have 272 direct descendants of Edward Roberts identified, so far.
- [i] Internet: Forebears entry for Roberts Surname Meaning & Statistics. http://forebears.io/surnames/roberts#meaning
- [ii] Ibid.
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