ROBINSON, George, of Lombard St., London and More Place, Bucks.
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Family and Education
Nothing is known of Robinson’s career before 1727, when he was ‘a broker in Exchange-alley’, with a record of ruining his clients. Among these were three directors of the Charitable Corporation, a semi-philanthropic concern, which lent small sums to poor persons on pledges at legal interest, to prevent them from falling into the hands of pawnbrokers. All three having become heavily indebted to Robinson, on account of stock exchange losses which they were unable to meet, they entered into a partnership with him and one Thomson, the Corporation’s warehouse keeper, in a scheme for borrowing money from the Corporation on fictitious pledges ‘to stockjob and make fortunes by’, meaning ‘to return that money to the Company’s account when their turns were served’.1 By 1731 £356,000 was drawn out in this way by Thomson and paid to Robinson without arousing the suspicions of the other directors. About £200,000 of this was locked up in shares of the Corporation, which had been bought for re-sale on a rise but could not be sold because Robinson had pledged them to his own creditors. Nearly £500,000 of York Buildings Company stock was bought and sold by Robinson at a handsome profit, for none of which he ever accounted to his partners. Considerable sums were expended on keeping up the price of shares purchased and paying blackmail to persons who had guessed what was going on. None of the partners appears to have made much out of these transactions except Robinson, who bought an estate near Great Marlow, carrying with it an interest in that borough, for which he was returned at a by-election towards the end of the session of 1731.
Robinson did not take his seat that session and before the next one he and Thomson had fled the country to avoid an inquiry, which had become inevitable. A fortnight after his flight he was made a bankrupt on the application of the Corporation, to whom he owed £46,000 in his capacity of its banker and agent, in addition to the defalcations of the partnership. In February 1732 he was ordered by the House of Commons to attend in connexion with charges brought against him at a select committee, which had been appointed to inquire into the Corporation’s affairs. In March an Act was passed providing that if he did not appear before the end of the month he would be declared a felon and his property forfeited to the Crown. On his failure to comply he was expelled the House; a motion was passed declaring him to have been guilty of breaches of trust and fraudulent practices; his property was made over to the Corporation for the relief of the sufferers; and next year the estate at Great Marlow was sold by public auction. The date of his death is unknown.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 267-8; Reports of Committee of House of Commons on the Charitable Corporation, 1732, 1733, passim; Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss 68; see also GRANT, Sir Archibald, SUTTON, Sir Robert, and BOND, Denis.