Archbishop Richard Robinson, Lord Rokeby

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Robinson, Richard, Lord Rokeby, Archbishop of Armagh, was born in Yorkshire about 1709. Coming over as chaplain to the Duke of Dorset, Lord-Lieutenant, he was consecrated Bishop of Killala in 1751; translated to Ferns in 1759, and to Kildare and the Deanery of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, in 1761. In 1765 he was advanced to the Primacy. In 1777 he was created Baron Rokeby; and on the death of his brother succeeded to a baronetcy. Bishop Mant thus enumerates his benefactions: "A publick infirmary, erected by his means, and in a great degree by his contributions; a publick library, constructed, endowed, and furnished at his cost with what a Greek inscription described as c the medicine of the soul; the town of Armagh, converted by his prudential management of the episcopal property from an unsightly crowd of mud cabins into a handsome city of stone dwellings; an observatory, built at his expense, and inscribed with the appropriate motto, 'The heavens declare the glory of God;' combined in attesting the multiplicity and extent, the solid value, and the practical usefulness, of his benefactions. In the mean time the creation of new parochial cures, and the providing of additional residences for the ministers of the Church, proved his solicitude for the welfare of the clergy and people of his diocese; and the legislative enactments which he caused to be effected for the general extension of these improvements bore witness to his care for the general welfare, and enlarged and augmented efficiency of the Church."

He built several churches in his archdiocese, and a splendid palace for himself at Armagh. A contemporary, quoted by the same author, describes the state in which he lived: "I accompanied him on the Sunday forenoon to the Cathedral. He went in his chariot with six horses, attended by three footmen behind... On our approach the great western door was thrown open, and my friend (in person one of the finest men that could be seen) entered, like another Archbishop Laud, in high prelatical state, preceded by his officers and ministers of the church." He died near Bristol, 10th October 1794, aged 85. His body was interred in the Cathedral of Armagh, where a monument, surmounted by a marble bust, has been erected to his memory. Amongst other liberal bequests was one of £1,000 to the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin. His portrait and bust are placed in the library and hall of Christ Church, Oxford, of which he was a generous benefactor. Cotton says: "He is acknowledged to have been one of the most vigilant prelates and the most munificent benefactors of the Church of Ireland."

Sources

118. Ecclesiae Hiberniae Fasti: Rev. Henry Cotton: Indices by John R. Garstin, M.A. 5 vols. Dublin, 1851-'60.

186b. Irish Church History: Richard Mant, Bishop of Down and Connor. 2 vols. London, 1840.

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