Born: September 25, 1841, Stanningley, England.
Died: February 9, 1920, Oxford, England.
Buried: St. Cross churchyard, Holywell, Oxfordshire, England.
John was the son of Joseph Varley Roberts and Elizabeth Hartley, and husband of Elizabeth Yates Jane Manning (married 1866).
He became organist at St. John’s Church, Farsley, at age 12; St. Bartholomew’s, Armley, in 1862; and at the Halifax Parish Church in 1868.
He was educated at Oxford (BMus 1871, DMus 1876), FCO 1876. He went on to become organist and magister choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford (1882) and organist at St. Giles’ Church, Oxford (1885–93).
In 1884, he founded the University Madrigal and Glee Club at Oxford.