Roberts, James

Personal Details

First nameJames
Date of death17/01/1936


Son of Thomas Roberts and Ann Jane Irwin

The Western Champion Saturday 1 February 1936
In connection with the recent death of Mr. James Roberts, well-known in Muttaburra and district, the Cooktown paper of January 20th publishes the following:-
The popular and well-known Cooktown citizen, James Roberts, passed away in the Cook Hospital early on Friday morning. The swiftness of his death came as a shock to the whole populace as he was down town on Thursday evening, but later that day he was admitted to the hospital.
Born at Cooktown 68 years ago, young Jim after leaving the local school was apprenticed to Mr. Henry, who conducted a flourishing saddlery business in Cooktown in those days. Under his alert eye, Jim made rapid strides and when his indentures were completed he was a tradesman of no mean ability. He was offered a tempting position by a well-known cordial manufacturer of those days, to solicit orders from the hotels – Cooktown could boast of 80 pubs in those days and three cordial factories – he was offered £1 per day and £7 per week to induce business. As the Roberts Snrs, had no time for the hotel business Jim kept the canvassing part of the business a dead secret. He was able to do this for many moons, but someone eventually “spilt the beans” and that ended the contract. He wrote wonderful business for his boss and remained a strict T.T. He conceived the idea of extending trade to New Guinea, which resulted in a roaring trade being carried on for many years. Being a keen observer he could see old-man depression descending upon Cooktown, so decided to try his luck in new fields, so he packed up for the Nor-west where he and a mate worked all the stations making saddles and harness in the day time and in the evenings they displayed, all sorts of merchandise. This venture proved a wonderful thing for the partnership. Later he purchased Muttaburra’s largest store. He was very popular with all sections of the community and it was not long before he was appointed secretary to the Muttaburra Race Club, which position he held for 24 years. When he resigned the Club made him a presentation of 100 guineas. He paid £2000 to go into the Muttaburra store, but the drought almost ruined him. It was while residing in that town the late gentleman had the misfortune to catch his toe in the loop of a piece of string which caused him to fall and in doing so he received injuries which made him a cripple for life. His case was a remarkable one, for at times he could discard his stick and stand up as straight as a die. He was over 6ft. in height, yet a few minutes after he was bent and stooped. His case was one that baffled medical men, and strange as it may seem, Mr. Roberts was never X-rayed. He accepted his misfortunes in a philosophical manner. He leaves behind to mourn their loss: Mrs. W. Holzapfel, of Flaggy (who is a sister), George (Mareeba), Richard (Port Douglas), brothers. Mrs. J. Main, who recently died, was a sister. The funeral was largely at tended by all sections of the community. The service at the graveside, which was read by Rev. Nichols, was very impressive.
Vale James Roberts, the people of Cooktown can say, with Wordsworth:-
“And when the stream
Which overflowed the soul was passed away
A consciousness remained that it had left.
Deposited upon the silent shore
Of memory, images and precious thoughts,
That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.”

[Source: The Late Mr. James Roberts. (1936, February 1). The Western Champion (Barcaldine, Qld.: 1922 – 1937), p. 7. Retrieved September 22, 2013, from]