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Annie Roberts
, 1878

by George Baird Shaw

watercolour on paper (mount: 37.1 cm x 31.8 cm)

Charles Warman Roberts (1821–1894), publican, was born in Sydney, the eldest son of free settler parents who emigrated to Australia in 1821. After working as a clerk in the colonial public service, Roberts’s father became the licensee of two Sydney pubs. Roberts followed his father into the hotel business and around 1853 purchased from his brother the license for a hotel called the Crown & Anchor, situated on the south east corner of George and Market Streets in Sydney.

He married Annie Edensor Marsden (1824–1895) in Sydney in June 1845. The eldest of their eight children, Charles James Roberts (1846–1925), took over management of the Crown & Anchor from 1867 until 1887, when Charles Warman Roberts again became its licensee. In 1888, the hotel was rebuilt as the luxury Roberts Hotel – ‘a most imposing structure of five storeys’ that was ‘replete with every modern improvement’. Charles and Annie Roberts resided at a number of addresses in the eastern suburbs before settling, in 1874, in a house in Rose Bay named The Ferns, later known as Fernleigh Castle. The Roberts Hotel operated until 1919 when it was destroyed by fire. The site was sold to Farmer’s & Co and later became famous for the Gowings emporium built there in the 1920s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Reg, Lesley, Glen and Paul Thoms 2011
Accession number: 2011.30