Thomas Robinson (orientalist)

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Thomas Robinson (1790–1873) was an English churchman and academic. He became Archdeacon of Madras in 1826, [1] Lord Almoner's Professor of Arabic at Cambridge in 1837, and Master of the Temple in 1845.

An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the Syriac Orthodox Church, Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, St Thomas Christians, Eastern Orthodox churches and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Catholic Church. An archdeacon is often responsible for administration within an archdeaconry, which is the principal subdivision of the diocese. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church has defined an archdeacon as "A cleric having a defined administrative authority delegated to him by the bishop in the whole or part of the diocese." The office has often been described metaphorically as that of oculus episcopi, the "bishop's eye".

The Lord Almoner's Professorships of Arabic were two professorships, one at the University of Oxford and one at the University of Cambridge. They were both founded before 1724, but records of the holders of the chairs only date from that year. The professors were appointed by the Crown and their salaries were paid by the Crown by a grant to the Lord Almoner. The Crown ceased to appoint the professors in 1903.



Robinson was the youngest son of Thomas Robinson (1749–1813). He was educated at Rugby School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he matriculated as a scholar in 1809. In 1810 he gained the first Bell scholarship, and he graduated B.A. in 1813. He proceeded M.A. in 1816, was admitted ad eundem at Oxford in 1839, and graduated D.D. in 1844. [2] [3]

Thomas Robinson (1749–1813) Church of England clergyman, died 1813

Thomas Robinson (1749–1813) was an English cleric, known for his volumes of Scripture Characters.

Rugby School Public school in Rugby, Warwickshire, England

Rugby School is a day and mostly boarding co-educational independent school in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Founded in 1567 as a free grammar school for local boys, it is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain. Up to 1667, the school remained in comparative obscurity. Its re-establishment by Thomas Arnold during his time as Headmaster, from 1828 to 1841, was seen as the forerunner of the Victorian public school. It is one of the original seven Great Nine Public Schools defined by the Clarendon Commission of 1864. Rugby School was also the birthplace of Rugby football. In 1845, a committee of Rugby schoolboys wrote the "Laws of Football as Played At Rugby School", the first published set of laws for any code of football.

Trinity College, Cambridge Constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. In terms of total student numbers, it is second only to Homerton College, Cambridge.

Robinson was ordained deacon in 1815 and priest in 1816, then going out as a missionary to India. He was appointed chaplain on the Bombay establishment, and was stationed first at Seroor and then at Poonah. He attracted the notice of Thomas Fanshaw Middleton, and in 1825 he was appointed chaplain to Middleton's successor, Reginald Heber. He was present at Trichinopoly on 2 April 1826, when Heber was drowned, and preached and published a funeral sermon. Before the end of 1826 he was made Archdeacon of Madras. [2]

Reginald Heber English clergyman

Reginald Heber was an English bishop, man of letters and hymn-writer. After 16 years as a country parson, he served as Bishop of Calcutta until his death at the age of 42. The son of a rich landowner and cleric, Heber gained fame at the University of Oxford as a poet. After graduation he made an extended tour of Scandinavia, Russia and Central Europe. Ordained in 1807, he took over his father's old parish, Hodnet, Shropshire. He also wrote hymns and general literature, including a study of the works of the 17th-century cleric Jeremy Taylor. He was consecrated Bishop of Calcutta in October 1823. He travelled widely and worked to improve the spiritual and general living conditions of his flock. Arduous duties, a hostile climate and poor health led to his collapse and death after less than three years in India. Memorials were erected there and in St Paul's Cathedral, London. A collection of his hymns appeared soon after his death. One, "Holy, Holy, Holy", remains popular for Trinity Sunday.

In 1837 Robinson was appointed Lord Almoner's Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge. In 1845 he was elected Master of the Temple, and in 1847 was appointed Prebendary of Mora with a stall in St Paul's Cathedral. [4] In 1853 was presented to the rectory of Therfield, Hertfordshire. In the following year he was made canon of Rochester Cathedral, resigning his professorship at Cambridge. He gave up his rectory in 1860, and the mastership of the Temple in 1869, being succeeded by Charles John Vaughan. [2]

St Pauls Cathedral Cathedral in the City of London, England

St Paul's Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a Grade I listed building. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London. The cathedral building largely destroyed in the Great Fire, now often referred to as Old St Paul's Cathedral, was a central focus for medieval and early modern London, including Paul's walk and St. Paul's Churchyard being the site of St. Paul's Cross.

Therfield village in the United Kingdom

Therfield is both a small village of approximately 4,761 acres (19 km²) and a civil parish which sits upon the chalk range, three miles southwest of Royston, and six miles (10 km) northeast of Baldock and within the English county of Hertfordshire.

Rochester Cathedral Church in Kent, United Kingdom

Rochester Cathedral, formally the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an English church of Norman architecture in Rochester, Kent.

Robinson died at the Precincts, Rochester, on 13 May 1873. [2]


Early in his time in India, Robinson was engaged in translating the Old Testament into Persian. The first part, The History of Joseph from the Pentateuch, appeared in 1825, and two others, Isaiah to Malachi and Chronicles to Canticles, in 1837 and 1838. Other works were: [2]

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.


Robinson was first married in 1816, to Esther Eleanor, by Charles Simeon. [5] She died at Therfield on 3 July 1855. [6] He was survived by his wife Mary, and by two sons who were clerics, Charles Edward Ricketts (born in Madras 1829, died 1881), and Thomas (died 1895) who was a Cambridge Apostle and Head Master of Potsdam School, Jamaica. [7] [8] [9]


  1. "The last days of Bishop Heber" by his Chaplain, Thomas Robinson advertisement in The Times (London, England), Friday, May 06, 1831; pg. 7; Issue 14532
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Robinson, Thomas (1790-1873)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 49. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. "Robinson, Thomas (RBN808T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 3 May 1816
  6. The Gentleman's Magazine. W. Pickering. 1855. p. 222.
  7. Baigent, Elizabeth. "Robinson, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/23882.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. "Robinson, Thomas (RBN836T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  9. W. C. Lubenow (29 October 1998). The Cambridge Apostles, 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination, and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life. Cambridge University Press. p. 255. ISBN   978-0-521-57213-2.

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Robinson, Thomas (1790-1873)". Dictionary of National Biography . 49. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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