Judge James W. Robinson (1800-1857)

judgejamesrobinsonJudge Robinson was, perhaps, the only early settler who had a distinguished career before coming to San Diego. He was a native of Ohio, went to Texas at an early day, and in 1835 was living in Austin. In November of that year he was a member of a convention which met at San Felipe, and was by that body chosen lieutenant-governor of Texas. In the following January, as the result of a long quarrel between Governor Smith and his council, Smith was deposed and Robinson became governor of Texas. The independence of Texas was proclaimed on March 2nd and the republic organized. In December, 1836, he was commissioned judge of the 41st judicial district and became a member of the San Antonio bar. A short time after, Santa Ana had the whole court seized and carried away prisoners, and confined in the fortress of Perote. In January, 1843, tiring of his imprisonment, Robinson sent a letter to the Mexican president proposing to use his good offices in the negotiation of peace between the two countries. His offer was accepted and he was released and sent as a commissioner from Santa Ana to the Texan authorities. There was never any chance of such a proposition being accepted by the Texans, and Robinson knew it; but he had gained his object-his liberty.

In 1850, Governor Robinson came to San Diego with his wife and son, and settled. From the first he took a leading part in public affairs. It was stated by Mr. Morse that Robinson and Louis Rose were the originators of the San Diego and Gila Railroad project. He was district attorney in 1852-3-4-5, and in the latter year delivered the Fourth-of-July oration at Old Town. He was school commissioner in 1854, and rendered many other important services. He died late in October, 1857. His son, William N. Robinson, was a child when he came to San Diego with his parents. He was a well known citizen of Jamul, where he died October 30, 1878. He served in the Confederate army. In 1869-70 he represented the county in the assembly. Mrs. Robinson (his mother) was for many years the only American woman living in San Diego.

[Smythe, William Ellsworth. History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: History Co., 1907. (pages 286-287)]

See also:

Quinn, Ronald. “James W. Robinson and the Development of Old Town San Diego.” The Journal of San Diego History 31.3 (Summer 1985): 153-163.

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