ROBINSON, Luke (d.1773), of Elloughton on Brough, nr. Hull, Yorks.
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Family and Education
3rd s. of Charles Robinson of Kingston-upon-Hull. educ. G. Inn 1720, called 1722, bencher 1743. m., 1s. 3da.
Shortly before the general election of 1741 Robinson, a practicing barrister, of a Hull family, invited Walpole to name a candidate to join with him in contesting Hedon, a borough controlled by William Pulteney. He wrote:
I do not in the least doubt succeeding, and electing such person with me as I shall join, as I could easily convince you. Mr. Pulteney has not any personal interest there, or but very little, ’tis his money must do whatever he doth there, and though he should spend £10,000 I am very well satisfied he will not be able to carry one Member against me, and as to a petition, I am not under any concern about that, for I assure myself of a legal majority, and I do not suppose that the House will go an extraordinary length against justice to oblige Mr. Pulteney.
When Walpole refused, on the ground of his friendship for Pulteney’s brother, General Harry Pulteney, one of the sitting Members, Robinson replied:
I cant in my poor judgment think it can by any means be for your service to permit Mr. Wm. Pulteney to keep the borough, if you can prevent it, but you are the best judge of that; however I am determined to push it quite through and do not in the least doubt of carrying both the Members by an unquestionable majority, and therefore I am not in the least afraid of a petition. I am now only to beg the favour of you to leave me at my liberty to join such gentleman as I think proper. The gentleman I propose to join is heartily in your interest, and one you cannot have any objection to.1
Robinson’s election partner was Francis Chute, who was returned with him against Pulteney’s candidates. After Walpole’s fall Pulteney, now in command of the House of Commons, not only had them unseated but caused Robinson to be prosecuted for bribery, of which he was convicted at the York assizes in 1743, thereby incurring a penalty of £500 under the anti-bribery Act of 1729.2 He stood again unsuccessfully for Hedon at by-elections in 1744 and 1746, each time petitioning, but withdrawing his petition on the first occasion. In 1746 his petition was heard at the bar of the House of Commons, where ministers wanted to show the King that Pulteney, now Lord Bath, ‘had not the interest he boasted’. After the sitting Member, Bath’s brother-in-law, had been voted not duly elected, the question was raised whether Robinson was not incapacitated from sitting by his conviction for bribery. Pelham, Pitt, Fox, Legge, and Hume Campbell spoke for him, opposed by Bootle, Dr. Lee, Gundry, Lord Strange, and Prowse. The debate lasted till 11 at night, when he was awarded the seat by 139 to 104, the Prince’s people and ‘the all-opposing Tories’ voting in the minority.3 Reelected in 1747 after a contest, he was granted a secret service pension of £800 a year, which he lost when he was defeated at Hedon in 1754.4 He did not stand again, dying in 1773 (will proved 21 Aug.)5