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William Robinson, Rev

(b. 1727, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire – d. 8 Dec 1803, Burghfield, Reading, Berkshire )

Gender: M

William Robinson (1727-1803) was born in his grandmother’s house in Cambridge. He received his initial education at Scorton Grammar School in North Yorkshire, but was moved to Westminster School in January 1742. He proceeded to St John’s Cambridge, where he became a good friend of the poet Thomas Gray. He was the only one of the Robinson brothers to make his career in the Church, being ordained as a priest on June 13th 1756. He obtained a curacy in Kensington, where he met his future wife, Mary Richardson. They were married on 26th July 1760.

Immediately following his marriage, he and his wife travelled to Italy with her invalid brother, and stayed there until April 1763, when they returned by way of Paris. Their first child, Matthew William, was born there but died at the age of one year shortly after their return to England. In 1764 William was made Rector of Denton in Kent by Mrs Cecilia Scott, who held the ‘advowson’ or right of appointment. This was a poor parish, and in 1767 William’s father, Matthew Robinson, also purchased a forty-year lease on the right to appoint the Rector of the parish of Burghfield near Newbury in Berkshire, and presented it to his son. William continued to hold the two livings, but paid a curate to carry out his duties in Burghfield, and rarely went there except to collect the rents and tithes. In 1785 Mrs Cecilia Scott died and in her will transferred the living of Denton to her nephew, and William moved to Burghfield with his wife, his son Matthew and his daughters Sarah Elizabeth and Mary.

It is possible that William suffered from some sort of depressive illness, being often miserable and easily moved to tears. He himself admitted he was indolent, and his sisters regarded him as mean with money, referring to his covetousness. W Powell Jones has described him as ‘one of the eighteenth century’s most celebrated nonentities’, and ‘a good example of an indolent parson of means, a pluralist who never did more than the bare minimum of parish work’ [W Powell Jones, The William Robinsons in Italy, in Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 4 no. 3, (April 1941), pp. 343-357.]

On the memorial put up in Burghfield church, William’s son Matthew, who succeeded him as Rector, nevertheless recorded ‘the elegant Taste, the classical Erudition, the Urbanity of Manners & the Brilliancy of Wit which endeared the Society of his Father to every affectionate Relation & every admiring Friend’.

Also known as:

  • William Robinson
  • Reverend Robinson

Authorities

Electronic Enlightenment DOIexternal link
Oxford DNB DOIexternal link

Mentioned in 40 letters

Title EMCO ID
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Sarah Elizabeth Robinson 87
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1144
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1764
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1781
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1795
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1799
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1800
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1801
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1802
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1804
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1805
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1814
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1829
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1833
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1836
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1841
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1843
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1844
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1845
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1847
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1850
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1852
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1856
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1862
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1864
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1869
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1873
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Sarah Elizabeth Robinson 1875
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 1879
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Sarah Elizabeth Robinson 1885
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to James Beattie 1886
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2123
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2124
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2125
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2126
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2127
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2128
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2130
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2132
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Mary Robinson 2133

Recipient of 10 letters