Frederick Robinson – Biography

Below is the biography of Frederick Robinson more commonly known as the Viscount Goderich in the history of the Victorian Era. He served as Prime Minister for a period of one year and was an important political figure in the Victorian Era.

Early Life of Frederick Robinson

Frederick John Robinson or FJ Robinson was the first Earl of Ripon. He was born on the 30th of October, 1792 in the Newby Hall, Yorkshire near London.

Frederick Robinson Biography
A portrait of Frederick Robinson by Sir Thomas Lawrence.

His father was Thomas Robinson – 2nd Baron Grantham. His mother was called Lady Mary Jemima Grey Yorke. She was the daughter of the Second Earl of Hardwicke.

Frederick Robinson’s Education

He was sent to Sunbury-on-Thames for his schooling and further joined the St John’s College in Cambridge. He completed his MA in 1802 and received an award for excellence in Latin in the previous year.

ST Johns College Cambridge
St John’s College, Cambridge – Alma Mater of Frederick Robinson.

In 1804, he did part-time military service as Captain. By the year 1814, he was promoted to Major in the Northern Regiment of West Riding Yeomanry which he continued until 1817.

Political Career of Frederick Robinson

Robinson entered politics in 1804 as the private secretary of the third Earl of Hardwicke – Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was his maternal cousin. Two years later he was elected the MP for Ripon and gave up the job of private secretary of his cousin.

Frederick Robinson Biography
A portrait of George Canning.

In the starting years at the Parliament, Robinson was offered a number of junior ministerial jobs which he declined because of being a patron of the Earl of Hardwicke – his cousin who was against the Prime Minister of the time – the Duke of Portland.

Soon, he met George Canning – the foreign secretary. He convinced Robinson to become the secretary for the mission of Lord Pembroke to Vienna. The motto of the mission was to secure a new treaty of alliance between Britain and Austria.

History Of Frederick Robinson

He was a supporter of the Tory party and was greatly influenced by George Canning. In May 1809, he served as Under Secretary for War Office and was appointed by Lord Castlereagh – a rival of George Canning.

Lord Castlereagh
A portrait of Lord Castlereagh

In the same year, he resigned from the post along with Lord Castlereagh as they were against the Prime Minister in office – Spencer Perceval. After this, he accepted the duty at the Admiralty board in June 1810. He served there for a year after which he went on militia duties in Yorkshire and took a break from the Parliament.

In 1812, he became the Vice President of the Board of Trade under Lord Liverpool until the next six years. In March 1815, he introduced the Corn Laws to the Parliament. His Corn Importation Bill was successfully passed in the Parliament.

Corn Laws

The Corn Laws made the prices of wheat unreasonably high and were a bane to the working class while a boon to the upper class.

Repeal of The Corn Laws Effects

The consequences of passing the law were faced by Robinson. He was threatened to be attacked and saw peoples outrage in the form of riots outside his house, his furniture being ripped out, etc.

House of Commons

At this time, he was a member of the House of Commons. In the year 1818, he entered the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade and the Treasurer of the Navy which requires a great deal of trust by the high authorities. In 1823, he was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He successfully served as the Chancellor for four years.

House of Commons
The House of Commons

There was order in the rotation of revenues and there was a surplus in the first three years of his service. In January 1827, he was given the title of ‘Viscount Goderich’ by Lord Liverpool who was later succeeded by George Canning.

House of Lords

In George Canning’s later life, he was more of a supporter of the Whig’s while he became Leader of the House of Lords. Since the Tories split into four categories due to Catholic emancipation. However, Canning passed away in August 1827.

King George IV
A portrait of King George IV

On the day of Canning’s death, King George IV called Goderich and Home Secretary to the Windsor Castle and announced Viscount Goderich the Prime Minister. He was officially the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 31st August 1827.

Frederick Robinson as The Prime Minister

Viscount Goderich or Frederick Robinson had a time maintaining a balance between the Whigs and the monarchy demands about the composition of the Cabinet. He highly dissatisfied both the parties.

The Whigs showed total outrage and put one of the leaders openly called him ‘unfit for the situation he has been put in’. There was discontent all the time and he was stuck between the accusations of the Whigs and the King.

Frederick Robinson Biography
William Huskisson

On the other hand, the Tories too were not satisfied with his reign. William Huskisson, a fellow Tory said ‘Goderich has no nerves’ and kept writing things like these which shaped Goderich’s reputation as a scared one.

Soon, Goderich wrote his letter of resignation to the King. He was in tears while he was being interviewed by the King. He lasted only 144 days on the seat.

Personal Life of Frederick Robinson

In 1814, Frederick married Lady Sarah Albinia Louisa Hobart. She was the daughter of the 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire. They had three children together – one girl and two boys. The first two children – Hobart and Eleanor Robinson died at young.

George Frederick Samuel Robinson Portrait
A portrait of George Frederick Samuel Robinson – the son of Frederick Robinson

Only the last son – George Frederick Samuel Robinson lived a long and healthy life. He also became the first Marquess of Ripon. He was a noted Liberal Statesman and Cabinet Minister.

Later Life and Death of Frederick Robinson

In 1830, Viscount Goderich became the Colonial Secretary for Lord Grey’s Cabinet which means he had now moved to the Whig party. In 1833, he became the Earl of Ripon, the title given to him by the King. He then had to leave the Cabinet office and decided to join no other cabinet again.

Viscount Goderich Portrait

From 1841 to 1843, he served as the President of Board of Trade and was later promoted to President of the Board of Control which was his final position in the Parliament. He has been in almost every party there was including the Conservatives, the Whigs, the Tory, the Canning, the Peel.

Frederick Robinson’s Works

He also worked with Lord Stanley in the House of Lords. It is surprising to know that apart from the political career, Robinson had a flair for literature as well. He was the President of the Royal Society of Literature for eleven years after 1834.

Frederick Robinson Biography

He was also the President of the Royal Geographical Society from 1830 to 1833. He died of old age at Putney Heath, London on the 28th of January, 1859 at the age of 76 years.

He was buried at the memorial chapel of All Saint’s Church, Nocton and so was his wife – Lady Sarah Albinia Louisa Hobart, just three years later.

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