John Robinson (1650-1723)
John Robinson was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 and prelate.

Early life

Robinson was born at Cleasby
Cleasby is a village and civil parish in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire, England. It is close to the River Tees and Darlington. John Robinson , bishop of London and diplomatist was born and attended school there. He was the son of a cooper in the village....

, North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire is a non-metropolitan or shire county located in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England, and a ceremonial county primarily in that region but partly in North East England. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972 it covers an area of , making it the largest...

, near Darlington
Darlington is a market town in the Borough of Darlington, part of the ceremonial county of County Durham, England. It lies on the small River Skerne, a tributary of the River Tees, not far from the main river. It is the main population centre in the borough, with a population of 97,838 as of 2001...

, a son of John Robinson (died 1651). Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford
Brasenose College, Oxford
Brasenose College, originally Brazen Nose College , is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. As of 2006, it has an estimated financial endowment of £98m...

, he became a fellow of Oriel College, and about 1680 chaplain to the British embassy to Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, and remained in Sweden for nearly thirty years. During the absence of the minister, Philip Warwick
Philip Warwick
Sir Philip Warwick , English writer and politician, born in Westminster, was the son of Thomas Warwick, or Warrick, a musician....

, Robinson acted as resident and as envoy extraordinary, and he was thus in Sweden during a very interesting and important period, and was performing diplomatic duties at a time when the affairs of northern Europe were attracting an unusual amount of attention.

Among his adventures not the least noteworthy was his journey to Narva
Battle of Narva (1700)
The Battle of Narva on 19 November 1700 was an early battle in the Great Northern War. A Swedish relief army under Charles XII of Sweden defeated a Russian siege force three times its size. Before, Charles XII had forced Denmark-Norway to sign the Treaty of Travendal...

 with Charles XII
Charles XII of Sweden
Charles XII also Carl of Sweden, , Latinized to Carolus Rex, Turkish: Demirbaş Şarl, also known as Charles the Habitué was the King of the Swedish Empire from 1697 to 1718...

 in 1700.

In 1709 Robinson returned to England, and was appointed Dean of Windsor
Dean of Windsor
The Dean of Windsor is the spiritual head of the Canons of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. The Dean chairs meetings of the Chapter of Canons as primus inter pares.-List of Deans of Windsor:* William Mugge, 1348* Walter Almaly, 1380...

 and of Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. For Eurostat purposes Walsall and Wolverhampton is a NUTS 3 region and is one of five boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "West Midlands" NUTS 2 region...

; in 1710 he was elected bishop of Bristol
Bishop of Bristol
The Bishop of Bristol heads the Church of England Diocese of Bristol in the Province of Canterbury, in England.The present diocese covers parts of the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire together with a small area of Wiltshire...

, and among other ecclesiastical positions he held that of dean of the Chapel Royal. In August 1711 he became Lord Privy Seal
Lord Privy Seal
The Lord Privy Seal is the fifth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and above the Lord Great Chamberlain. The office is one of the traditional sinecure offices of state...

, this being, says Lord Stanhope
James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope
James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope PC was a British statesman and soldier who effectively served as Chief Minister between 1717 and 1721. He is probably best remembered for his service during War of the Spanish Succession...

, "the last time that a bishop has been called upon to fill a political office." Echoing his Scandanvian connections, the motto on his coat of arms is written in runic characters
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...


In 1712 the bishop represented Great Britain at the important congress of Utrecht, and as first plenipotentiary he signed the treaty of Utrecht
Treaty of Utrecht
The Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, comprises a series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of Spanish Succession, in the Dutch city of Utrecht in March and April 1713...

 in April 1713 that ended the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

. Just after his return to England he was chosen Bishop of London
Bishop of London
The Bishop of London is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of London in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 458 km² of 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the River Thames and a small part of the County of Surrey...

 in succession to Henry Compton.

In 1718 he fostered a plan for the union of the English and Swedish churches, supported by Count Gyllenberg, Swedish Ambassador to London. The plan fell through because of the opposition of most Swedish bishops, although Svedberg of Skara and Gezelius
Johannes Gezelius the younger
Johannes Gezelius the younger was born in Dorpat AD 1647, and died AD 1718 in Uppland. He was a theologian, professor in The Royal Academy of Åbo and also superintendent of Livonia as his father had been. He became bishop of Åbo between 1690-1718....

, Bishop of Turku (Finland) were in favour. The reason for the opposition was that the Church of England was too Calvinist for them

He died at Hampstead, having been a great benefactor to Oriel College, and is buried at All Saints Church, Fulham
All Saints Church, Fulham
All Saints Church, Fulham is an Anglican Church in Fulham, London sited close to the river Thames, beside the northern approach to Putney Bridge.-History:...

, London.


Robinson wrote an Account of Sweden together with an Extract of the History of that Kingdom. By a person of note who resided many years there (London, 1695). This was translated into French (Amsterdam, 1712), and in 1738 was published with Viscount Molesworth
Robert Molesworth, 1st Viscount Molesworth
Robert Molesworth, 1st Viscount Molesworth PC came of an old Northamptonshire family. He married Letitia Coote, daughter of Richard Coote, 1st Lord Coote of Coloony and Mary St. George.His father Robert Robert Molesworth, 1st Viscount Molesworth PC (7 September 1656 – 22 May 1725) came of an old...

's Account of Denmark in 1692. Some of his letters are among the Strafford papers in the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...



A member of the same family was Sir Frederick Philipse Robinson
Frederick Philipse Robinson
Sir Frederick Philipse Robinson, GCB was a Virginian soldier, born in the Highlands, near New York, in September, 1763, who fought for Britain during the American War of Independence....

and Gary Weiss, critic of Patrick M. Byrne.
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