Sir John Beverley, Bart Robinson - Encyclopedia

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SIR JOHN BEVERLEY ROBINSON, Bart. (1791-1863), Canadian statesman and jurist, was the son of Christopher Robinson (1764-1798), one of the band known as United Empire Loyalists, who came to Canada at the conclusion of the American Revolution. He was born at Berthier, Quebec, on the 26th of July 1791, and studied under Dr John Strachan, by whom his religious and political ideas were much influenced. He served with distinction at the beginning of the war of 1812, and later in the war was appointed acting attorney-general of Upper Canada. In '815 he visited England and read law at Lincoln's Inn.

From 1818 till 1829 he was the head of the Tory party in Upper Canada (the so-called "Family Compact"). In 1829 he became chief justice of Upper Canada, which position he held till shortly before his death on the 31st of January 1863.

Not one of his decisions was ever reversed on appeal. In 1824 and again in 1839 he strongly advocated a federal union of British North America, and in 1839 opposed in Canada and the Canada Bill the legislative union of the two Canadas proposed by Lord Durham. In 1854 he was created a baronet of the United Kingdom and in 1855 a D.C.L. of Oxford University. His unbending Toryism rendered him a reactionary in politics, but his bitterest opponents admitted his sincerity and patriotism.

Several of his sons rose to eminence, John Beverley Robinson (1820-1896) becoming a member of the Dominion parliament and lieutenant-governor of Ontario (1880-1887). Christopher Robinson (1828-1905) was for many years the acknowledged leader of the Canadian Bar.

His Life, by his son, Major-General C. W. Robinson, C.B. (Toronto and London, 1904), gives a very favourable picture of the fine old colonial gentleman and loyalist. For a less favourable view see J. C. Dent, Canadian Portrait Gallery, vol. iv. (Toronto, 1881).

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