Beverley Robinson

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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 Revolutionary War and for his work with the British secret service during the war. After the war he retired to Britain.

Early life[edit]

Map of the Philipse Patent showing the holdings of Philip, Susanna, and Mary Philipse

Beverley Robinson was born in Middlesex County, Virginia. He moved to New York and married Susanna Philipse, the middle daughter of Frederick Philipse, second Lord of Philipsburg Manor. She had been a possible love interest of George Washington, and owned a one-third share of the Philipse Patent, an immense landed estate on the Hudson River.

By this connection, Mr. Robinson became rich. When the American Revolutionary War began, he was living upon that portion of the Phillipse 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. 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 American Revolutionary War[edit]

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 of black Loyalist soldiers 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[edit]

Col. Beverley Robinson's house, occupied by Arnold as his headquarters

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.

On September 6, 1781, Robinson may or may not have been in command of the 38th Regiment that accompanied Benedict Arnold in the burning and sacking of New London, Connecticut.[1]

Post-war years in England and death[edit]

As Loyalists, the Philipse-Robinson family was not in favor in the new United States. Property belonging to Philipse heirs was forfeited and seized by provincial New York authorities. This included Susanna's share of the Philipse Patent,[2] which was auctioned off by the Commissioners of Forfeiture without compensation to the prior holder[3] in spite of assurances of restitution in the 1783 Treaty of Paris that Revolutionary representatives signed with the British.[4]

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.

References[edit]

  • 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.
  1. ^ The Battle of Groton Heights, page 60-by William Wallace Harris, 1870
  2. ^ The Beginnings of Holy Trinity [1] "Tory Beverly Robinson's lands were seized by the commissioners of forfeiture and sold at auction in 1782 to one Joseph Roskrans."
  3. ^ Description of the Abstract of Sales, Commissioners of Forfeiture [2] "'Article V of the peace treaty signed by Britain and the United States in Paris on September 3, 1783, insists on 'the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects" and to noncombatant loyalists. Tories who fought the United States were to be given one year to reclaim their property and leave the country. Payments were to be made to loyalists whose estates had already been sold. Article VI prohibited any future confiscations."
  4. ^ Description of the Abstract of Sales, Commissioners of Forfeiture [3] "Many citizens of New York, however, still harbored strong resentment against the loyalists, leading the Provincial Congress to effectively nullify the Treaty of Paris of 1783 by an act of May 12, 1784."

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