ROBINSON, Sir Christopher (1766-1833), of Wimpole Street, Cavendish Square, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 18 July 1766, 2nd s. of Christopher Robinson, DD, rector of Albury, Oxon. and Wytham, Berks., by 1st w. Elizabeth Bailey of Haseley, Oxon. educ. Charterhouse 1776-83; Univ. Coll., Oxf. 16 Dec. 1782, aged 16; Magdalen Coll. 1783, BA 1786, MA 1789, DCL 1796. m. 11 Apr. 1799, Catherine, da. of Rev. Ralph Nicholson, rector of Didcot, Berks., 3s. 2da. Kntd. 6 Feb. 1809.
Adv. Doctors’ Commons 1796, treasurer 1804-5; King’s adv. Feb. 1809-28; chancellor, diocese of London and judge of the consistory ct. 1821-8; judge of ct. of Admiralty Feb. 1828-d.; PC 5 Mar. 1828.
Commr. for building new churches 1825.
Robinson’s grandfather Robert Robinson was a modest Yorkshire gentleman; his father, who had been a fellow of Magdalen, held the living of Albury for 42 years. He himself was intended for the church, but preferred the law. He had, it seems, no start in life beyond his father’s library and £20 in cash1 (he was one of 12 children), but was recommended to Sir William Scott’s* attention and studied maritime law. In this branch of the profession he became eminent. Six volumes of reports of cases in the Admiralty courts were edited by him (1799-1808) and he was the author of the Collectanea Maritima (1801) on prize law, in which he specialized. He was not a wealthy man, but when in February 1809 he succeeded Sir John Nicholl* as King’s advocate and became leading counsel in the Admiralty court in prize cases his prospects improved greatly.
In 1818 Robinson was returned after a contest on Lord Clinton’s interest for Callington, as a supporter of administration. He made four speeches during the two years he was in Parliament—he was no orator. On 19 Feb. 1819 he explained how difficult it was to find lawyers prepared to act as commissioners for the execution of the recent slave trade abolition treaties with Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands. On 26 Apr. he objected strongly to Dr Phillimore’s Marriage Act amendment bill and was teller for the minority who voted against it. He again objected to the sweeping nature of the measure on its third reading, 21 May. He gave his ‘cordial support’ to the foreign enlistment bill, 3 June 1819, defending its ‘strict neutrality’ from legal history. Unseated after his re-election in 1820, Robinson did not return to Parliament, but realized his professional ambitions by becoming an Admiralty judge. He died 21 Apr. 1833.2