Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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ROBINSON, Conway, jurist, born in Richmond, Virginia, 15 September, 1805; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 30 January, 1884. The first emigrant of this family was John Robinson, who settled in Virginia, apparently in York county, where his son Anthony was a large landed proprietor in 1691. The family is not to be confused with that of the colonial treasurer, or with Christopher Robinson, president of the council. Conway Robinson's father, John, was appointed in 1787 clerk of the superior court, Richmond, and was the author of "Forms in the Courts of Law of Virginia." The son received his education at a school in Richmond, and became deputy clerk under his father. Here he studied law and issued a new edition of his father's "Forms" (Richmond, 1826), which is still valued by clerks in Virginia. He secured a large practice soon after entering on his profession. He next issued his "Law and Equity Practice in Virginia" (3 vols., 1832-'9), which has been highly praised. In 1842 Mr. Robinson became reporter to the Virginia court of appeals, but, after publishing two volumes of reports (1842-'4), he resigned the office in 1844. From 1846 till 1849 he devoted himself, with other eminent lawyers, to a revision of the civil and criminal code of Virginia, which went, into effect on 1 July, 1850. In the same year a constitutional convention met in Virginia, some of whose changes, such as the election of all judges by the people, were vainly opposed by Mr. Robinson. Further changes in the code being necessitated by the new constitution, he was chosen by Richmond its representative in the house of delegates in 1852, in order that he might assist in the revision. In 1860 he took up his residence at "The Vineyard" near Washington, D. C., and practised in the supreme court. He had begun in 1854, and in 1874 completed, "The Principles and Practice of Courts of Justice in England and the United States" (2 vols., Richmond, 1855). This work was preceded by careful researches in England, where its value has been recognized by high authorities. Conway Robinson was for many years chairman of the executive committee of the Virginia historical society, which published his "Account of the Discoveries of the West until 1519" and of Voyages to and along the Atlantic Coast of North America, from 1520 to 1573" (1848). He made several important discoveries in history, and in 1853 found in the state archives in London a MS. journal of the first legislative assembly in Virginia (1619). At the close of the above-named work on the early voyages to America he alluded to a work in preparation. "The Annals of Virginia," but this was not published, as the later years of the author were devoted to his "History of the High Court of Chancery, and other Institutions of England; from the time of Caius Julius Caesar until the Accession of William and Mary (in 1688-'9)." Of this work the first volume has been published (Richmond, 1882), and the second and concluding volume will probably appear. The first volume possesses a value independent of the second, and has large annotated indices, it is the only work of the kind in English, and is virtually a cyclopaedia of legal history in the eleven centuries that it covers.
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