Robinson, Robert


b Swaffham, Norfolk 1735, d Showell Green, nr Birmingham, Warwicks 1790. His first job was as a London barber’s apprentice, during which time he preferred his books to his business. When he was 17 he heard Geo Whitefield preach on ‘the wrath to come’; he had gone intending to mock, but was awakened and remained ‘disturbed’ and in darkness, finally finding Christian assurance after 2–3 years of struggle. In 1758 he began to preach occasionally in a Calvinistic Methodist Ch at Mildenhall, Suffolk, before founding an independent congregation at Norwich. Then for nearly 30 years, from 1761, he pastored the Stone Yard Baptist Chapel, Cambridge, having persuaded the church to agree to ‘open communion’ (that is, to all baptized Christians), while supplementing his income as a coal and corn merchant and farmer. He wrote widely, on the divinity of Christ (1776) and in the next year on The History and Mystery of Good Friday (1777) and on Baptism (A History of Baptism and Baptists, 1790). He also became a leading figure in campaigns for civil and religious liberty, the abolition of slavery, and American independence. 2 biographies (by Dyer and Wm Robinson) are thought to exaggerate the influence the Unitarians had on his later years; Jn Gadsby (1861) and others have included his story in their various compilations. He is thought to have written only 11 hymns; Grosart (in Julian) calls them ‘terse yet melodious, evangelical but not sentimental, and on the whole well wrought’. Nos.317, 894.

Hymns and songs by Robinson, Robert

Number Hymn Name
317 Mighty God, while angels bless you
894 Come, O fount of every blessing