Roberts, Robert Richford

Roberts, Robert Richford, bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Frederick County, Md., Aug. 2, 1778. He removed while a child to Ligonier Valley, Pa., and was converted when he was about fifteen years old. He was admitted on trial in the Baltimore Conference in 1802, and was ordained deacon in 1804. He was soon placed in charge of important stations in Baltimore, Alexandria, Georgetown, and Philadelphia. In 1815 he was appointed presiding elder of Schuylkill district, embracing the city of Philadelphia; and owing to the death of bishop Asbury, he was elected to preside over the Philadelphia Conference in the spring of 1816. At the following session of the General Conference (May 1816) he was elected to the office of bishop, being the first married man in America who filled that position. He made his first residence in Chenango (now Mercer) County, Pa., but in 1819 settled in Lawrence County, Ind. The record of his last year's service will serve to give an idea of the extent of his labors while bishop. In that year he preached in six different states and among four Indian tribes in the West, presided at four annual conferences, and travelled nearly 5500 miles. In the spring of 1843 his disease, the asthma, greatly increased upon him, and he died March 26. His body was buried on his own farm, but in January, 1844, in pursuance of a resolution of the Indiana Conference, it was removed to Green Castle. Bishop Morris writes of him: "He possessed by nature the elements of an orator — an imposing person, a clear and logical mind, a ready utterance, a full — toned, melodious voice.... He was always patient and pleasant; above all, unpretending." See Simpson, Cyclop. of Methodism, s.v.; Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, 7, 387.

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