Goronwy Roberts, Baron Goronwy-Roberts

Goronwy Owen Goronwy-Roberts, Baron Goronwy-Roberts PC, MA (20 September 1913 – 23 July 1981) was a Labour Member of Parliament.

Early Life

Roberts was the younger son of Edward and Amelia Roberts from Bethesda, Gwynedd, where his father was a deacon of the Presbyterian Church of Wales.[1] He was educated at Ogwen Grammar School, Bethesda and the University College of North Wales, Bangor.[1] Later he attended the University of London and was appointed a Fellow of the University of Wales in 1938. While at Bangor, Roberts, together with Harri Gwynn was one of the founders of Mudiad Gwerin, a nationalist left-wing pressure group.[1]

Roberts served in the army in 1940-41 and in the army reserve until 1944. From 1941 until 1944 he worked as Youth Education Officer for Caernarfonshire and in 1944 was appointed lecturer in youth leadership at the University College of Swansea.

Member of Parliament

Goronwy Roberts was elected Labour MP for Caernarvonshire in 1945, when he defeated the sitting Liberal MP Goronwy Owen, who had held the seat since 1923.[1] Following boundary changes, he was elected to represent Caernarvon at the 1950 General Election, defeating the Liberal candidate by over 10,000 votes.[1] He continued to represent the constituency until February 1974, when he lost his seat to Dafydd Wigley of Plaid Cymru. Since then, no Labour candidate has won the seat.

During the 1950s, Roberts was, together with Cledwyn Hughes and others, a stalwart of the Parliament for Wales campaign. In 1951, Plaid Cymru announced that the party would not oppose him at the General Election due to his support for the campaign.[2] Eventually, he presented the final petition to Parliament, bearing more than 250,000 signatures, in May 1956.[1]

He was a Member of the House of Commons Panel of Chairmen in 1963-64, and served in government as Minister of State at the Welsh Office from 1964–66, Minister of State, Education and Science from 1966–67, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 1967-69, Minister of State for Trade 1969-70. When Labour lost power in 1970, Roberts became an opposition spokesman on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1968.

House of Lords and later life

On his defeat at the February General election in 1974 he was created a life peer as Baron Goronwy-Roberts, of Caernarfon and of Ogwen in the County of Caernarfonshire.[3] He returned to government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 1974-75 and as Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 1975-79. He was Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, 1975-79.

Personal Life

In 1942 Roberts married Marian Ann Evans, daughter of David and Eliazbeth Evans of Robertstown, Aberdare. They had a son, Dafydd and a daughter, Ann.

He was a Member of the Court of Governors of University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and of the National Museum of Wales, and of the Fabian Society. He was appointed a FRSA in 1968 and an Honorary Freeman of the Royal Borough of Caernarfon in 1972.


Goronwy Roberts was a strong supporter of devolution and of Welsh culture but was also a fierce critic of what he regarded as the nationalistic excess of Plaid Cymru. His own roots were in the Labour tradition of the quarry working communities of his constituency. His Welsh was fluent and attractive ("swynol, dawel, gerddorol").[4] He was greatly troubled by his defeat at the General Election of 1974.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Jones, John Graham. "Goronwy Owen Roberts, Baron Goronwy-Roberts". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  2. Jones 1992, p. 214.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 46249. p. 4005. 28 March 1974.
  4. ROBERTS, GORONWY OWEN, (1913-1981) http://yba.llgc.org.uk/cy/c6-ROBE-OWE-1913.html


Books and Journals



External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Goronwy Owen
Member of Parliament for Caernarvonshire
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
David Price-White
Member of Parliament for Caernarvon
1950Feb. 1974
Succeeded by
Dafydd Wigley
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