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Sir John Robinson by John Michael Wright (detail), 1662, Guildhall Gallery

Sir John Robinson, 1st Baronet, of London (10 January 1615 – February 1680) was an English merchant and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1660 and 1667. He was Lord Mayor of London in 1662.


Robinson was the son of Archdeacon William Robinson, who was half-brother of Archbishop William Laud, and nephew of Sir William Webbe, who was Lord Mayor in 1591.[1]


He was a city of London merchant and a member of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers. He was one of the court assistants with the Levant Company from 1651 to 1653 and from 1655 to 1656. On 18 December 1655 he was elected an alderman of the City of London for Dowgate ward. He was Master of the Clothworkers Company in 1656. He was Sheriff of London from 1657 to 1658. In 1658 he became alderman for Cripplegate ward. He became a Colonel of the Green Regiment in 1659, holding the position until 1680.[2]

In 1660 Robinson was elected Member of Parliament for the City of London in the Convention Parliament.[3] He was knighted on 26 May 1660, and on 22 June 1660 he was made a baronet. He was Lieutenant of the Tower of London from 1660 to 1680 and became vice-president of the Honourable Artillery Company in 1660.[2]

In 1661 Robinson was elected MP for Rye in the Cavalier Parliament.[3] He became president of the Honourable Artillery Company in 1661 and remained until 1680. In 1662 he was elected Lord Mayor of London. In 1663 he became alderman for Tower ward. He was on the committee of the East India Company from 1666 to 1667, from 1668 to 1674, and from 1675 to 1677, In 1670 he became deputy-governor of the Hudson's Bay Company.[2]


Samuel Pepys wrote of Robinson as "a talking bragging bufflehead . . . . as very a coxcomb as I would have thought had been in the City . . . . nor hath he brains to outwit any ordinary tradesman". However an account of the aldermen in 1672 said "he hath been most industrious in the civill government of the cittie, watchfull to prevent anything that might reflect any prejudice or dishonour upon the King's government, happy in dispatch of businesse, to the great contentment of the people."[1]


Robinson was succeeded by Sir John Robinson, 2nd Baronet.



8 Annotations

First Reading

Pauline  •  Link

Sir John Robinson, Bart., his Majesty's Lieutenant of the Tower of London

Ald.? Bart.? What do these mean?

Peter  •  Link

In answer to Pauline's question...
Ald. = Alderman. This is a civic dignitary, one rung down in the hierarchy from the mayor.
Bart. = Baronet.
Bart. is still used nowadays. I'm not sure if there are still aldermen around, but I certainly remember the word being used when I was a boy in the 60's

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Ald. Sir John Robinson's wife

Anne, daughter of Alderman Sir George Whitmore (of Balmes), Lord Mayor 1631.

Wheatley ed., note to Feb 28 1663/4

For a character sketch of Robinson and wife, citing Pepys, see:-
Dixon, Her Majesty's Tower, Part 2, p. 262…

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Brief (and flattering) biographical sketch:-

Baddeley, The Aldermen of Cripplegate Ward from AD 1276 to AD 1900, 1900. p. 73…

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Sir John Robinson, created a baronet for his services to Charles II. 1660, and had an augmentation to his arms. He was Lord Mayor of London, 1663. He retained the Lieutenancy of the Tower till 1678.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

Sir John Robinson, Baronet, lieutenant of the Tower, [M.P., Rye,] got in places and gifts, by his wifes interest and otherwayes, 40000l. sheriff of London at the execution of Dr. Hewit, and a notorious R. [sic] in the late times.
---A Seasonable Argument ... for a New Parliament. Andrew Marvell, [1677] 1776.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

“Before you can say Jack Robinson …”

Sir John Robinson, Lord Mayor of London in 1662, and Constable of the Tower. He is said to have inspired the phrase ‘before you can say Jack Robinson’.  Sir John held a judiciary appointment in the City of London and was known for being able to condemn a felon, have him transported to the Tower and command the execution ‘faster than you can say Jack Robinson’.…

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