Betts, Robert (1829-1910)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1883

Early years

Robert was born in 1829 at Yaxley, Suffolk. He was baptised on 3 May 1829 at Yaxley. His mother, Ann, was a lace weaver.

Robert’s parents were poor, so at the earliest age possible he had to help the household income by the earnings of farm service. In 1851 Robert was working as a farm labourer.


Robert’s obituary records that he had a close association with Robert Key. So intense was their intimacy that it was common practice for one to speak about ‘Father Key’ and the other about his ‘Son Yorbet’.

Robert’s ambitions began and ended with his circuits. It was in the pulpit, not in the committee room, that he came to his own – that he was seen to best advantage. In every sense of the word, he was a master of assemblies, a man who could sway the crowd.

Careful preparation lay at the back of his public efforts, but once upon his feet he needed no further regard for the exact ipsissima verba of his manuscript.

Ritualism and sacredotalism wherever revealed aroused his intensest opposition, and called forth his most unsparing invectives, almost too unsparing, one has sometimes felt.


Robert married Matilda Collins (1834-1929) in the summer of 1859 at Norwich, Norfolk. Census returns identify six children. (The 1911 census records Matilda had eight children, 3 of whom had died before the 1911 census.)

  • Alice Matilda (1861-1943) – a teacher of music
  • James Wallace (b1863)
  • Louisa Jane (1868-1920) – married William Hildyard, a chemist
  • Kate (1870-1955) – married Arthur Edward W Smithdale, a mechanical engineer
  • Arthur Edwin (1873-1943) – a life assurance agent (1911)
  • Violet Clarissa (b1875) – married John Robb Andrew, a grocer, and later married Robert Granger.

Robert died in 1911 at Thetford, Norfolk.


  • 1855 Brandon
  • 1857 Yarmouth
  • 1858 Cambridge
  • 1859 Fakenham
  • 1861 Briston
  • 1864 Brandon
  • 1867 Norwich
  • 1869 St Ives, Hunts
  • 1870 N Walsham
  • 1876 Ipswich
  • 1877 E Dereham
  • 1880 Bury St Edmunds
  • 1883 N Walsham
  • 1889 Diss
  • 1890 Acle
  • 1893 Wangford
  • 1895 Lynn
  • 1899 Acle (Sup)
  • 1905 Thetford


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1883 (portrait)

PM Minutes 1911/20

W Leary , Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits , 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Transcription of an article in the Christian Messenger 1915

Comments about this page

  • Rebecca,
    The information provided is the only information I have come across thus far. If I find any further information I will add it to the page.

    By Geoff Dickinson (29/08/2020)
  • Robert Betts is my great great Grandfather – Arthur Edwin is my great grandfather. Do you have any further information or pictures ?

    By Rebecca cordy (28/08/2020)
  • This page was modified on 22 December 2015 to add a transcription of an article from the Christian Messenger 1915.

    By Geoff Dickinson (22/12/2015)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *