Beverley Robinson (11 January 1721 – 9 April 1792), a wealthy colonist from New York, was a son of the Hon. John Robinson of Virginia, who was the President of that colony. He is mostly remembered as the commander of the Loyal American Regiment, a loyalist regiment in the American War of Independence and for his work with the British secret service during the war. After the war he retired to Britain.
Beverley Robinson was born in Middlesex County, Virginia. He moved to New York and married Susanna, daughter of Frederick Philipse, who owned an immense landed estate on the Hudson River. It is generally supposed that Susanna had been courted by George Washington as well. By this connection, Mr. Robinson became rich. When the American Revolutionary War began, he was living upon that portion of the Phillippes estate which had been given to his wife, and there he desired to remain in the quiet enjoyment of country life, and in the management of his large domain. That such was his inclination is fully confirmed by circumstances and his descendants. He was opposed to the measures of the Ministry, gave up the use of imported merchandise, and clothed himself and his family in fabrics of domestic manufacture.
Colonel in the American Revolution
Robinson was also opposed to the separation of the colonies from England. However, he wished to take no part in the conflict of arms. Before long, however, friends helped to overrule his own judgment and he entered the military service of the Crown. His standing entitled him to high rank and he was commissioned Colonel of the Loyal American Regiment, raised principally in New York by himself. He also commanded the corps called the Guides and Pioneers. His sons figured prominently in the selection of officers for the Loyal American Regiment. His son, Beverley, was Lieutenant-Colonel. The regiment, which saw much fighting in the course of the war, figured most prominently in the attack on Fort Montgomery, NY on October 6, 1777 when British and Loyalist forces overwhelmed the rebel fort on the Hudson River.
Involvement with Benedict Arnold
Robinson was also heavily involved in the treason of Benedict Arnold and it is generally believed that he was acquainted with the traitor's purpose before it was known to Sir Henry Clinton, or any other person. And it appears certain that Arnold addressed him a letter on the subject of going over to the Royal side, before soliciting the command of West Point. As the plot matured, he accompanied John André to Dobb's Ferry to meet Arnold, according to a previous arrangement; but an accident prevented an interview, and both returned to New York. Subsequently, he went up the Hudson River in the Vulture, for the purpose of furthering the objects in view; but failed in his most material designs. Arnold now sent Smith on board of the Vulture with a letter, which was delivered to Colonel Robinson, and on the faith of which Andre went on shore. The treacherous Whig had been expected on of the ship in person, and it has been said that Robinson was much opposed to André's trusting himself to the honour "of a man who was seeking to betray his country." But the zealous young officer would not listen to the prudent counsel, and determined to embark upon the duty from which he never returned.
On the 23rd of September, 1780, André was captured and on the 26th was conveyed a prisoner to Colonel Robinson's own house, which, with the lands adjacent, had been confiscated by the state, which Arnold had occupied as his headquarters, and of which Washington was then a temporary occupant. After André's trial and conviction, Sir Henry Clinton sent three commissioners to the Whig camp, in the hope of producing a change in the determination of Washington, and of showing André's innocence; to this mission Robinson was attached in the character of a witness. He had previously addressed the Commander-in-Chief on the subject of André's release; and, as he and Washington had been personal friends until political events had produced a separation, he took occasion to speak of their former acquaintance in his letter.
After the war
At the end of the war, Colonel Robinson, with a part of his family, went to England. Like many loyalists who moved there, he reportedly felt out of place and unappreciated. He resided at Thornbury, near Bristol, and died there on April 9, 1792, at the age of seventy.
- Loyal American Regiment: Beverley Robinson: Text for this article has been copied from this source, with permission. Virtually all this source's text concerning Robinson was in turn adapted from Sabine's Loyalists in the American Revolution, an 1848 text that is most definitely in the public domain.