Open main menu
Map of the Philipse Patent showing the holdings of Philip Philipse, Mary Philipse, and Robinson's wife Susanna Philipse

Beverley Robinson (11 January 1721 – 9 April 1792), was a soldier and wealthy colonist of the Province of New York. Born in the Colony of Virigina, he was a son of the Hon. John Robinson, a President of its House of Burgesses. In 1745 he raised in Virginia an independent company and relocated it to New York to defend that state's frontier against Indian attack.

In 1748 he married Susanna Philipse, a wealthy one-quarter heir to the roughly 250 square miles (650 km2) Highland Patent on the lower Hudson River in the Province of New York. Upon his wife's inheritance of her interest in the Patent, the couple settled on a parcel of her land along the river. Future American general and statesman George Washington, a friend from shared Virginia youths, was for a time an irregular guest, developing an attraction to Susanna's younger sister Mary.

With the onset of the American Revolutionary War Robinson sought to remain uninvolved, but in time relented. In 1777, he formed the Loyal American Regiment, which proved a very active Loyalist force in that conflict.

In addition to serving as its commander through the British defeat 1783, Robinson is known for his work with the British secret service during the war, particularly in regards to the betrayal of Continental general Benedict Arnold in the André Affair. At the time of his betrayal Arnold was using the confiscated Robinson home as his headquarters, with Continental Army commander in chief Washington a temporary occupant. It is there Andre was brought after his capture. Following Andre's trial and sentencing British commanding general Sir Henry Clinton sent a delegation to Washington that included Robinson as a character witness for Andre, to plead for the Major's life. It is said Washington refused to see or be swayed by his old friend.

Robinson's sons Beverly Robinson, Jr., and Frederick Philipse Robinson served beneath him in the Loyal American Regiment throughout the war.

During the war the inherited Philipse Patent lands were confiscated by the Revolutionary government of New York, then sold off. Following the war the Robinsons retired to Britain with some of their family. In spite of a provision in the 1783 Treaty of Paris advocating restitution for their losses, no compensation was ever paid the Robinson family by the United States. Much later they were awarded a settlement of approximately 25% of their combined family property's £80,000 original value by the British Compensation Commission, ultimately receiving less than 20% in payment.

Both Beverley and Susanna lived out their days in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, in Southwest England.

Early lifeEdit

Beverley Robinson was born in Middlesex County, Virginia of John Robinson, President of the Virginia Colony House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, and Catherine Beverley, daughter of Robert Beverley, Esq., of Beverley, Yorkshire. The senior Robinsons were, in property and family, among the leading families in that province. John Robinson was nephew to Dr. John Robinson, Bishop of London, and had gone to America as secretary to government.[1]

Beverley Robinson is said to have been a childhood friend of George Washington - something which would come into bittersweet play during the American Revolution. It is also possible he was married during his time in Virginia to a Sarah Downing.[2]

In mid-1745s Robinson raised an independent company in Virginia and moved it to New York, where he captained it in defense of that Province's frontier against Indian attack.[3] On 7 July 1748, he married in Trinity Church, New York City Susanna Philipse 1724–1768. She was the eldest surviving daughter of Frederick Philipse II, second Lord of Philipsburg Manor, a very prosperous 81 sq mi (210 km2) hereditary estate in lower Westchester County, and heiress to an interest in the Highland Patent, a roughly 250 square miles (650 km2) landed estate on the Hudson River spanning fully between the Hudson Highlands and the Connecticut Colony border. In 1752 she, her elder brother Philip, and younger sister Mary, each inherited a one-third share of what then became known at the "Philipse Patent", effectively today's Putnam County, New York.

The Robinsons went on have at least five children, four boys[1] and a girl, including Beverley Honorable Robinson (1754–1816), Morris (1759-1815), Susanna Maria Robinson (1760–1833), John Robinson (1761–1828),[4] and Frederick Philipse Robinson (1763-1852).

Through his wife Mr. Robinson became rich, although the Patent itself was only lightly settled by tenant farmers and lacked the commerce and industry of the Manor belonging to her eldest brother, Frederick Philipse III. When the American Revolutionary War began the Robinsons were living at Beverley, the family home they had built on one of their Patent holdings at the foot of Sugarloaf Hill in the Hudson Highlands. It is there that Beverley desired to remain in the quiet enjoyment of country life and management of his large domain. He was opposed to the measures of the British Ministry, gave up the use of imported merchandise, and clothed himself and his family in fabrics of domestic manufacture.[3]

Colonel in American Revolutionary WarEdit

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 upon raising the "Loyal American Regiment", principally in New York, he was commissioned its Colonel. He also commanded the corps of Guides and Pioneers, which included black Loyalist soldiers from the Black Company of Pioneers. His sons figured prominently in the selection of officers for the Loyal American Regiment, with Beverley serving as Lieutenant-Colonel and Frederick an ensign. The regiment, which saw much fighting in the course of the war, figured most prominently in the attack on the Hudson River's Fort Montgomery, on October 6, 1777, when British and Loyalist forces overwhelmed the Colonials in the Battle of Fort Montgomery.[3]

Involvement with Benedict ArnoldEdit

 
Col. Beverley Robinson's house in the Hudson Highlands, 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 Major John André, Adjutant General of the British Army in America and head of British Secret Service, 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 HMS Vulture, for the purpose of furthering the objects in view; but failed in his most material designs. Arnold now sent Smith on board Vulture with a letter, which was delivered to Colonel Robinson, and on the faith of which André went on shore. The treacherous Whig had been expected on 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.[3]

On September 23, 1780, André was captured and on September 26 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, 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.[3]

On September 6, 1781, Robinson was not in command of the Loyal American Regiment that accompanied Benedict Arnold in the burning of New London, Connecticut. His son, Lieut. Colonel Beverly Robinson Jr. commanded it in his place.[5]

Post-war years in EnglandEdit

As Loyalists, the Philipse-Robinson family was not in favor in the new United States. Property belonging to Philipse heirs was forfeited in 1779 and seized by provincial New York authorities. This included Susanna's share of the Philipse Patent,[6] which was auctioned off in 1782 by the Commissioners of Forfeiture without compensation to the Robinsons[7] in spite of assurances of restitution in the 1783 Treaty of Paris that Revolutionary representatives signed with the British.[8]

At the end of the war, Colonel Robinson went to England with a part of his family. Ultimately the British Compensation Commission granted them £24,000 toward the original £80,000 value of he and Susanna's personal estate (reflecting about £16,000 Sterling, plus the 60,000 Philipse Patent acres and some city property valued together at about £64,000), though only about £17,000 was ever paid.[9]

Like many loyalists who moved to England, Robinson 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.[3]

ReferencesEdit

  • 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. ^ a b Gentleman's Magazine February 1852 pp 188–190
  2. ^ Through whom was descended a granddaughter, Miss F. Page Robinson, member n. 5 of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Born in Virginia, she was a descendant of Colonel William Robinson, daughter of Major Thomas Robinson and Mary S. Hoomes; granddaughter of Colonel Beverley Robinson and Sarah Downing; great-granddaughter of Major John Robinson and Katherine Page; great-great-granddaughter of Rev. and Colonel William Robinson and Agatha Beverly Smith (Rev. William Robinson was a clergyman and soldier in the American Revolutionary War). National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution 1901
  3. ^ a b c d e f Loyal American Regiment: Beverley Robinson
  4. ^ Find a Grave, Susanna Philipse Robinson
  5. ^ The Battle of Groton Heights, page 60-by William Wallace Harris, 1870
  6. ^ The Beginnings of Holy Trinity [1] Archived 2015-03-25 at the Wayback Machine "Tory Beverly Robinson's lands were seized in 1779 by the commissioners of forfeiture and sold at auction in 1782 to one Joseph Roskrans."
  7. ^ 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."
  8. ^ 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."
  9. ^ Life of Sir John Beverley Robinson, Bart., C.B., D.C.L.: Chief-Justice of Upper Canada, by Major General Charles Walker Robinson, C.B. (1904), as cited at Loyal American Regiment, Beverley

External linksEdit