Mark Robinson (1)
1722-1799. He was born on 25 April 1722. He was the father of Admiral Mark Robinson, and of Charles Robinson, who was promoted commander in 1794, and was the senior surviving officer in that rank at the time of his death in 1853.
Having entered the Navy in 1736, Robinson was commissioned lieutenant of the Vigilant 60, Captain James Douglas, on 30 March 1746 and promoted commander on 27 September 1758 from the Ramillies 90, Captain Wittewronge Taylor, the flagship of Admiral Sir Edward Hawke. During September 1759 he recommissioned the bomb Falcon 8, sailing for the Leeward Islands, but she was wrecked on the Saintes that November during the reduction of Guadeloupe.
After taking the Isis 50 out of Portsmouth at the beginning of April 1760 on a temporary basis for her sickly long-standing captain, Edward Wheeler, he was posted captain of the Vanguard 70 for purposes of rank only on 13 August but did not see any further employment until the end of 1762 when he assumed command of the Rainbow 44. Once again active duty eluded him as he paid her off in the following January.
Robinson had to wait until the summer of 1767 for his next opportunity when he recommissioned the Fowey 24, going out to South Carolina in August and serving for the next four years off North America and in the southern seas relevant to the Falklands Island dispute. During this period he was credited with saving Charleston from a destructive fire and was rewarded by the merchants of the Carolinas with a piece of plate and a public vote of thanks. The Fowey returned to England and was paid off in July 1771.
He was next appointed to the Portsmouth guardship Worcester 64 in the spring of 1775, and in the following year he facilitated the promotion to acting-lieutenant of a young Horatio Nelson. The Worcester formed part of Commodore Sir Peter Parker’s squadron of observation preparing to voyage to Cape Finisterre in 1775, but in returning to Spithead from a cruise on 19 July 1776 she ran aground on a sandbank, to be successfully re-floated. At the end of the year she took a convoy out to Lisbon with orders to remain on that coast and intercept any American privateers. She then went out to Gibraltar in 1777 and arrived back at Portsmouth from the Rock on 4 July 1778. On 25 July she fought at the Battle of Ushant where despite being in the thick of the action she suffered only eight casualties. In April of the following year Captain Robinson somewhat conveniently was appointed to sit on the court martial of his good friend, Vice-Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser, in the wake of the political fall-out following the battle.
Upon the Worcester being ordered to the East Indies at the beginning of 1779 Captain Robinson surrendered the command to Captain George Talbot with fateful consequences for that officer. Instead he joined the Shrewsbury 74 in March, cruising off the Scilly Isles in April and giving chase to two French privateers, one of which, the Lorient-based Comte d’Artois 26, he captured. He was present in the Channel fleet retreat of August 1779, and joining Admiral Sir George Rodney’s relief force for Gibraltar he missed the Moonlight Battle off St. Vincent on 16 January 1780 as he had been required to escort the disabled Dublin 74, Captain Samuel Wallis, into Lisbon. The Shrewsbury then formed part of Commodore Hon. Robert Boyle Walsingham’s reinforcement which sailed for the Leeward Islands in May 1780 to join with Rodney, although she arrived in June, some weeks before her consorts, and she later sailed with Rodney’s depleted fleet to New York before its return to the West Indies in November.
He was present at the capture of St. Eustatius on 3 February 1781 and fought in the Battle of Fort Royal on 29 April 1781, losing six men killed and fourteen wounded. Remaining under Hood’s orders, he fought at the Battle of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781 where the Shrewsbury led the van and was roughly handled. Captain Robinson sustained a severe wound to his hip and lost his leg to a cannon shot, his first lieutenant was killed, and in total his command suffered casualties of fourteen men killed and fifty-two wounded. The invalided Captain Robinson was succeeded two weeks later by the newly-posted Captain John Knight and he retired from the service with a three hundred guinea pension.
He became a superannuated rear-admiral after his promotion to flag rank became due on 24 September 1787, and he died on 23 November 1799 at his residence of 20 Henrietta Street, Bath, where he had lived for many years.
Robinson married Elizabeth Reade of Portsmouth at St. Benet and St. Peters, Pauls’ Wharf, London on 26 November 1747 and had three sons and three daughters. His eldest son, John Reade Robinson, predeceased him in June 1781 at the age of 32.
He was one of several officers named by Lord Robert Manners as lacking character and ability as a sea officer.