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Sir John Beverley Robinson

(1791—1863) jurist and politician


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William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874—1950) prime minister of Canada

 

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(1792–1863). If any one individual personified the ‘Family Compact’ of early Ontario, it was Robinson. During the War of 1812 he served with distinction and, thanks to the patronage of Justice William Powell, was made acting attorney general in 1813. He capably handled a number of difficult situations, including the treason trials of Canadian raiders. After the war, he was sent to England and studied law. Upon his return in 1818, he was appointed solicitor and then attorney general. Elected to the assembly in 1820, he became the voice of the lieutenant-governor's administration and directed several important measures for public development. But since his war years he had distrusted Americans and saw disloyalty behind every criticism of the government. His approach to settling the issue of alien (American) property rights brought him many enemies and encouraged a determined reform movement. W. L. Mackenzie subjected Robinson to a tirade in his radical newspaper, the Colonial Advocate. Despairing of politics, Robinson was appointed chief justice in 1829. Robinson's last foray into public affairs occurred in 1840, when he travelled to England to lobby against the Durham Report. He wrote a conservative treatise on the future, Canada and the Canada Bill, and although he gained the support of the Duke of Wellington his campaign ultimately failed. Robinson remained chief justice until 1862.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.


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