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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches
Captain Thomas Robinson
(A biographical sketch taken from One Hundred Years, The Delaware County National Bank Chester, PA 1814-1914)
Thomas Robinson (1814-15, ‘17, ‘20), son of Abraham and Sarah
(Penrose) Robinson, was born in Lower Chichester, Delaware county, July
29, 1768. He was named for, his grandfather, Thomas Robinson, a wealthy
merchant of Philadelphia, an extensive owner of real estate in Lower
Chichester, and a signer of the noted Non-Importation Resolution in 1765
which aroused indignation in Great Britain.
Robinson was a lieutenant in the Navy when, June 21, 1804, Commodore
Preble bombarded Tripoli. Robinson commanded one of the mortar boats in
that engagement, and fought her until her hull was so shattered that it
was with difficulty she was prevented from swamping. In the War of 1812,
he was a volunteer lieutenant in the Navy and was aboard the
“President” during the three hours' engagement with the British
frigate "Endymion," when the loss on the American ship was so
severe that almost all the officers were killed or disabled, so that when
Decatur called for Lieutenant Gallagher, Robinson, who was below on the
gun deck, came up. "Take the trumpet, sir," said Decatur, and
Robinson had command of the ship during the latter half of the engagement.
The "'Endymion" was beaten, but the "President" was so
crippled by the heavy fire she had sustained that she fell a prize a few
hours later to two other British frigates.
Robinson, who was soon discharged as a prisoner of war - for the battle
took place after the treaty of peace was signed - re-entered the merchant
service, where for a number of years he commanded a vessel of the Havre
line of packets. The loss of the ship "Albion," off the coast of
Ireland, April 21, 1822, and the explosion of the steamboat
"Essex" two years later in the New York harbor, under his own
command, which was attended with frightful loss of life, so impressed
Robinson with the responsibility resting upon the captain of passenger
vessels, that he refused ever again to take command of a ship. He retired
from active sea service, and died near Chester, May 17, 1847, aged 78
years and 9 months.
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© 2002 John A. Bullock III.
This page last updated 10/17/05