RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
Ref NoABSI/SJ/13
TitleArchbishop Thomas d'Esterre Roberts SJ (1893-1976)
LevelSub fonds
DescriptionThis collection contains official papers relating to Robert's role as Archbishop of Bombay and other ministries, papers relating to his involvement at Second Vatican Ecumencial Council and with various charity organisations and causes as well as documents relating to his publications, broadcasts and retreats he gave. There is also a series of personal correspondence and some miscellaneous items. In addition there is a series of condolence letters and documents relating to Roberts' death.
Admin_HistoryThomas D'Esterre Roberts was born on 7 March 1893 in Le Havre, France. When the family returned to England he was educated at St Francis Xavier's College in Liverpool.

He joined the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1909 at Roehampton and studied philosophy at St Mary's Hall. From 1916 to 1922 he taught at Preston Catholic College and went on to teach theology at St Beuno's. On 20 September 1925 he was ordained a priest, following which he taught at Beaumont until he went on his Tertianship at Paray-le-Monial. From 1929 until 1935 he taught again at Preston, taking his final vows in the Society of Jesus on 21 September 1930. He was appointed Rector of the Liverpool college and parish in 1935.

In 1937, he was named Archbishop of Bombay by Pope Pius XI. En route to Bombay he met with the Portuguese Premier, Dr Salazar, to begin discussions over the abolition of the 'Padroado' system of alternating appointment of Archbishops of Bombay between the Portuguese and British and which had contributed to Catholic disunity in India. He created a new parochial system and organised various social services. During World War II he was appointed Bishop Delegate for the armed forces in India and South-East Asia and he travelled a lot to keep in touch with the men. In 1939 he published 'From the Bridge', an account of his first year in Bombay. Although he officially remained the Archbishop until 1950 he absented himself from Bombay between 1946 and 1950 to make way for his Auxiliary, Valerian Gracias, who had been consecrated Bishop in July 1946, travelling to the United States of America to raise funds for Bombay and then he joined the Apostleship of the Sea, sailing from port to port across the world. In December 1950 he formally resigned from the See of Bombay with Gracias succeeding him as Archbishop.

Roberts was appointed Titular Archbishop of Sugdaea in 1950, which he resigned in December 1970. Following his resignation as Archbishop of Bombay he served for a time at Loyola Hall giving retreats and in 1951 became Spiritual Father at Campion Hall before moving to 114 Mount Street in 1954. In 1954 he published 'Black Popes', which concerned abuse of authority in the Church.

After 1954 Roberts became increasingly involved with numerous causes and organisations concerned with social and political issues as well as holding several teaching and lecturing roles in North America, including spending two years on the Gonzaga University staff in Washington from 1958.

In 1960, he was delated to Rome by the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop O'Hara, on the basis of complaints from unidentified sources. Although Roberts met with the Pope to defend his position and was promised an enquiry, one was never held. He later explored the possibility of taking civil action against members of the hierarchy.

Roberts attended Vatican II and took part in discussions on weapons of mass destruction and conscientious objection.

He wrote a foreword to 'Nuclear Weapons and Christian Conscience' (1961), contributed to 'Problems of Authority' (1962), 'Objections to Roman Catholicism' (1963) and 'Contraception and Holiness (1963). His last book was 'The Diary of Bathsheba', which was published in 1970.

He died on 28 February 1976 in London after several weeks in hospital due to having become very weak. His Requiem Mass was celebrated on 8 March in Farm Street Church.
Related MaterialFor newscuttings, see CM/1/6/9 Farm St Minister's Log Book entry on 12 January 1965.

Recorded sermon given at the Second Hopkins Service 1970 see 100/966/4.

"The Month" (March 1973) is a 'Tribute to Archbishop Roberts on his 80th Birthday'.

Artefacts belonging to Roberts can be found in the Stonyhurst Collection.

For photographs see SJ/PH/1071.

For photograph with class at Preston Catholic College, 1920, see YG (2018/58).
FormatAudio tape
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives. Some papers are closed due to DPA 2018.
DS/UK/667Roberts; Thomas d'Esterre (1893-1976); Roman Catholic Archbishop; Jesuit Priest1893-1976

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