ROBINSON, Thomas (1608-65), of Treveneage, St. Hilary, Cornw.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Lt.-col. of ft. (royalist) ?1642-6.
J.p. Cornw. July 1660-d., commr. for assessment 1661-d., corporations 1661-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662; alderman, Helston by 1661, mayor 1664-d.; stannator, Penwith and Kerrier 1663.2
Robinson’s grandfather, a native of Worcester, settled in Sithney, a parish adjoining Helston. His father married into the leading family in the borough and had become an alderman by 1620. He and his father both signed the Cornish petition of 1642 against arbitrary government and alterations in religion, but he took up arms for the King as second-in-command to John Arundell† of Trerice. He later claimed to have been ‘fourteen years beyond the seas, doing all he could for the Restoration’. This apparently includes a period in the royalist garrison in Scilly. Although not present at its surrender, he was allowed to claim the benefit of the articles. But he was unable to return to England owing to a charge of rape, though this would have been dropped, he alleged, if he had agreed to serve the Commonwealth in Ireland. He probably remained at St. Malo until after the Restoration, leaving his younger brother to contest Liskeard at the general election of 1660. Four months later he was involved in a double return for Helston, where he had interest on the corporation. He was seated on the merits of the return, though this was not confirmed till 10 Dec., and may have served on two private bill committees in the Convention.3
Robinson was re-elected in 1661, and though his committee record cannot always be distinguished from that of John Robinson III it seems that he was a very active Member in the first four sessions of the Cavalier Parliament, being named to 138 committees and acting as teller in four divisions. He was appointed to the committees for the corporations and uniformity bills, and took a keen interest in the poor law, acting as teller for an amendment to the bill on 6 Feb. 1662 and against a proviso 11 days later. He served on the committee for the bill to regulate the Cornish pilchard industry and carried it to the Lords on 9 Apr. He was probably engaged in the trade himself, since he later claimed parliamentary privilege against a certain John Kestle, who was detaining some of his salt. He also obtained protection for his title to land which would otherwise have been tried in his absence in the county court. He helped to consider the additional corporations bill and to examine its defects in 1663. On 8 Apr. he was ordered to attend the King, with Richard Kirkby and William Yorke, to ask for the return of deeds concerning impropriate rectories which had been surrendered to the Exchequer by Cavalier compounders. He was appointed to the committees to consider the laws against the sale of offices and against the meetings of sectaries. On 18 Apr. 1664 he was given leave with (Sir) John Coryton I to bring in a bill for making Cornish rivers navigable, though it was not until December that it reached its second reading. He also served on the committee to make Falmouth into a serparate parish, and acted as chairman of a naturalization bill. On 14 May he acted as teller for the motion to retain the reference to ‘court of equity’ in the conventicles bill. In December he opposed the Painter-Stainers’ bill. On 10 Feb. 1665 he obtained parliamentary privilege against a suit brought by his brother Francis. But this was his last session, for on 12 Aug. he was gored to death by a pet bull. The dissenters, whom he had persecuted, regarded this as a divine judgment on him; but six years later an old woman, said to be either a Presbyterian or a Baptist, was tried at the Cornish assizes for bewitching the bull. Robinson’s descendants established themselves at Cadgwith, and his grandson George was returned for Tregony as a Tory in 1710.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 402-3; Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. ii. 194.
- 2. List of Officers Claiming, 2; HMC Var. i. 333.
- 3. Gilbert, ii. 181; M. Coate, Cornw. in Gt. Civil War, 356; Cal. Comm. Comp. 2854; CSP Dom. 1651, p. 216; 1660-1, p. 217; HMC Popham, 89; Cal. Cl. SP, ii. 131, 183.
- 4. CJ, viii. 362, 393, 492, 545, 573; CSP Dom. 1671, p. 105.