John Robinson (1650–1723)

John Robinson (1650–1723)

John Robinson (7 November, 1650 - 11 April, 1723), English diplomat and prelate, a son of John Robinson (d. 1651), was born at Cleasby, near Darlington.

Early life

Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, he became a fellow of Oriel College, and about 1680 chaplain to the British embassy to Stockholm, and remained in Sweden for nearly thirty years. During the absence of the minister, Philip Warwick, 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 with Charles XII in 1700. In 1709 Robinson returned to England, and was appointed Dean of Windsor and of Wolverhampton; in 1710 he was elected bishop of Bristol, and among other ecclesiastical positions he held that of dean of the Chapel Royal. In August 1711 he became lord privy seal, this being, says Lord Stanhope, "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.

In 1712 the bishop represented Great Britain at the important congress of Utrecht, and as first plenipotentiary he signed the treaty of Utrecht in April 1713 that ended the War of the Spanish Succession. Just after his return to England he was chosen bishop of London in succession to Henry Compton. He died at Hampstead on the 11th of April 1723, having been a great benefactor to Oriel College, and is buried at All Saints Church, Fulham, 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's "Account of Denmark" in 1692. Some of his letters are among the Strafford papers in the British Museum.


A member of the same family was Sir Frederick Philipse Robinson and Gary Weiss, critic of Patrick M. Byrne.



* "John Robinson's Account of Sweden, 1688: the original 1688 manuscript, edited and collated with the 1693 manuscript and the published editions from 1694", with an introduction by John B. Hattendorf. (Stockholm, Sweden: Karolinska Förbundet, 1998)

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