A history spanning hundreds of years seen through one man’s family’s eyes has been encapsulated in a new book.

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Sir Samuel Roberts Bt has written the latest edition of The Roberts Book, entitled Follow the Master.

The first edition was printed in March 1862 and it is has since been the tradition for each Samuel
Roberts in the family line to update the book.

As the ninth Sir Samuel Roberts Bt, Sir Samuel started to write his version three years ago and, having decided that the Roberts’ genealogy and 18th-century letters would be of little interest to a non-family readership, he took it upon himself to rewrite the work.

The father-of-four has been inspired by books of press cuttings, memoires and photos found tucked away in black tin boxes in the attic and piled up chests not opened for 50 years at his home, Cockley Cley Hall near Swaffham.

Sir Samuel, 65, who is a trained barrister, said: “It’s not just a family history but looking at history through the eyes of my family. Each generation and what they lived through was so different from today.

“It was a joy to do it, I’ve really enjoyed it – it’s been a huge source of fun, finding interesting and amazing cuttings and photo albums.

“Some of the love letters between my mother and father are enough to make you cry, reading what it was like to leave a wife and family to go off and serve in the Coldstream Guards.

“I found out so much about my family which I never knew about before. It was fascinating.”

Sir Samuel’s father wrote the fourth edition in 1971.

Each edition takes the reader up to the writer’s father’s death.

Follow Your Master shares stories of Sir Samuel’s family’s involvement in national politics, campaigns against chimney sweeps and the mining industry, his father’s time as an MP and how his home, Cockley Cley Hall, was taken over by the army during the Second World War.

The book tells of his family history up to his father’s death in 1985.

“It’s an extraordinary tale through the different generations and I’m delighted with the final product,” said Sir Samuel, who now passes on the responsibility of writing the next edition to his 24-year-old son.

The book went on sale at Ceres bookshop in Swaffham on Saturday.

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