Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/ACC1019
TitleAccession 1019: Papers of Gertrude May Roberts, (Joseph) Varley Roberts and Margaret Fleming Roberts
Extent1 standard box, 1 large volume
Date[Early 20th century]-2016
DescriptionFamily papers of Gertrude May Roberts (b 1905), nee Sawyer, CMS missionary to Northern Nigeria, and of her husband (Joseph) Varley Roberts (1885-1988), CMS mission secretary for Northern Nigeria Mission 1954-1955 and his first wife Margaret Fleming Roberts (1869-1942), nee Brodie. The collection comprises original papers and printouts of electronic copies of original documents which were made in 2016 for the purpose of inclusion in the archive by Wendy Scott, one-time ward of Gertrude and (Joseph) Varley Roberts.

Margaret Fleming Roberts was the daughter of Rev David Brodie, CMS missionary to North West India and Margaret Johnson.
ArrangementThis collection forms part of the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers. It is arranged into a single series: Family Papers
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection (forming part of the wider CMS/ACC unofficial papers catalogue) is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Special Collections.
DocumentCMS ACC1019.pdf
Access StatusOpen
Creator NameRoberts, Gertrude May, b 1905, nee Sawyer, missionary and nurse
(Joseph) Varley Roberts, 1885-1988, principal, General Post Office
Margaret Fleming Roberts, 1869-1942, nee Brodie
Administrative HistoryGertrude (also known as 'Gertie') May Sawyer, nurse, was born 8 June 1905, daughter of Arthur and Ettie Sawyer. She was accepted by CMS in December 1933 and started work in the Zaria Medical Mission, Northern Nigeria, in 1934. During her years with CMS she was Nursing Sister at the CMS hospital, Wusasa, Zaria; she took over the 'Leprosy Settlement' and worked in the city's first antenatal and child welfare clinics. She retired from CMS 12 May 1943 due to her marriage to (Joseph) Varley Roberts.

(Joseph) Varley Roberts, the son of a private hand weaver, was born 20 December 1885, in Farsley, Leeds. After leaving school aged 14 years, he started a long and successful career with the Post Office, highlights of which included serving as Secretary to the Advisory Committee on Television which met in 1935 to consider the advent of television broadcasting. He retired from the post of principal of the GPO in London in 1949. In 1920, he moved to Loughton in Essex with his first wife, Margaret Fleming Roberts. Whilst in Loughton he served over 50 years as Superintendent of the Sunday School. His roles with CMS included serving as a member of the Africa Committee and, after retiring from the Post Office, working in Nigeria as CMS mission secretary for Northern Nigeria Mission 1953-1954. He was also Honorary Secretary of the Hausa Band 1933-September 1985. He was awarded the Military Cross for his services as Signals Officer with the 18th Corps in the First World War serving at Gallipoli and on the Western Front and he worked in the communications department of the (General) Post Office in World War Two. He died in 1988, aged 102 years.

Margaret Fleming Roberts, nee Brodie, was born at Bannu Hospital, Peshawar, North West India, 28 September 1869. She was the daughter of Rev David Brodie (1838-1915), CMS missionary, later vicar of the Parish Church of St Lawrence, Biddulph, Staffordshire and Margaret Brodie (1841-1935), nee Johnson. Margaret married (Joseph) Varley Roberts in St Paul's, Canonbury, Islington, London in June 1915. She died in Loughton April 1942.

Margaret, Gertrude and (Joseph) Varley Roberts were active in fundraising for the Medical and Leprosy Mission in Zaria, Northern Nigeria and welcomed missionaries serving in Nigeria, and Hausa and Nigerian Christians to the family home in Loughton.

Whilst living at 'Woodberrie' in Loughton, Gertrude and Joseph acted as official guardians for Wendy Sharp and her brother whilst the children's parents were living and working overseas.

Sources: the records; personal communication with the donor; "Personalities of the Week." Illustrated London News [London, England] 16 Feb. 1935: 255. Illustrated London News. Web. 24 June 2016
Custodial HistoryThe papers were found by the parents of the donor whilst they were clearing the family home of Joseph and Gertrude Varley Roberts ('Woodberrie', Kings Hill, Loughton).
AcquisitionPresented by Wendy Scott (nee Sharp), 16 June 2016.
Archival NoteCatalogued by I. Frlan. Cataloguing completed July 2016. Prepared in accordance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000 and Church Missionary Society cataloguing guidelines.


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