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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

Captain Thomas Robinson

Captain Thomas Robinson

(A biographical sketch taken from One Hundred Years, The Delaware County National Bank Chester, PA 1814-1914)

Years in parentheses are years of service as a Director of The Bank of Delaware County and/or The Delaware County National Bank

Captain 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.

Thomas 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.

Captain 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.

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