Removing Patrick Robinson from Office

This post goes from 1684 to 1686 and in Philadelphia. It sets precedence for removing officials from office today. Updated May 8, 2017.

Who was he, anyway?

Patrick Robinson did not own any land, at least according to the deed records in Chester County, so he was a man who attached himself to the courts and Council and made his living in that way.

These records show that he verbally abused the Provincial Council and the County Court of Philadelphia.

This is a verbatim transcript of the minutes of the Provincial Council, except the spelling, punctuation, abbreviations, and mechanics have been modernized.

MPC = Minutes of the Provincial Council

May 30, 1684

The persons ordered to attend the Council came accordingly and were discoursed concerning the Bill of Public Aid and considering the whole matter. Pat. Robinson, James Claypoole, John Songhurst, and Samuel Carpenter, Tho. Winn, John Jones were nominated to be persons to get in the money arising by the same: Who if they accept of it, they shall not only be made savers if they give in a just account but gainers. They are to give in an account hereof at 6 o’clock tonight.

Post Meridiem [PM]

The persons return with this answer:

Samuel Carpenter offers and all of them are willing that a survey be made upon their goods and think they shall raise three hundred pounds or more amongst friends that may answer the thing intended; also that they will give an account thereof and get the inscriptions to be in lieu of other engagements. (MPC 112)

16 May 1685

Mr. Mann complaining that a prisoner was sheltered in the governor’s house. The president [of the Council] asked him whether he was taken into custody by the order of this board or by the Assembly.

Abraham Mann in behalf of the rest said they did it as their own act.

Whereupon the president did disavow that his board did allow him in any kind. Question put to Patrick Robinson what immediate power was used; he said the warrant would show it, which was read. The Speaker and Assembly. (MPC 138)

18 May 1685

The Speaker, with the Assembly, attended this board and declared that they were abused by Pat. Robinson, who said, “You have drawn up an impeachment against Pres. Moore at hab nab, for which he desire satisfaction.”

The President and Provincial Council, taking into consideration the words spoken by Pat. Robinson, this board concerning the Assembly that the impeachment against Judge Moore was drawn hab nab, which expressions of his we do unanimously declare to be indecent, unallowable, and disowned.

29 July 1685

John Blunstone and George Maris came to renew their former desire in behalf of the Assembly that Patrick Robinson might be removed out of his public office …

The Council answered that as soon as President Lloyd was come from New York (who is expected the next week) they would give then an answer, but at present could not

In regard, Patrick Robinson was his deputy in the office of Master of the Rools (MPC 152)

13 May 1686

Four person, viz. Wm Biles, John Goodson, George Maris and Thomas Duckett, were sent from the Assembly with a message in writing about the removal of Patrick Robinson from his places, we follow, verbatim:

The Assembly does request that the President and Provincial Council would be pleased to give their reasons why the request of the late Assembly concerning the removal of Patrick Robinson from all public offices of trust was not according to promise, answered.

The committee rose, telling them they would present it to the Council. (MPC 181)

14 May 1686

The committee sat yesterday in the evening reported to the Council the message from the Assembly, which was in writing and read, about Patrick Robinson. The Council declared it was not proper nor seasonable to be answered, nor was it signed by any of the Assembly (MPC 181)

21 Sep 1686

Patrick Robinson was admitted upon his submission to remain three months longer in his office of clerk at which time he promises to resign the same with the records thereunto belonging and with his own hand endorsed the same on his commission, promising further in the meantime to behave himself civilly and respectfully to the magistrates and peaceably to all persons or for the first offense committed in that nature to have his commission forthwith cancelled. (MPC 191)

1 Oct 1686

The judges report the great abuse offered by Patrick Robinson in the Provincial Court to the judges then sitting on the bench, to the great hazard of the good, quiet, peaceable Constitution of the government and great disturbance and hindrance of justice in the highest court of this province/

Upon the judges’ complaint to this board of the ill behavior of Patrick Robinson in the Provincial Court, it is ordered that he be dismissed of his office as clerk of the County Court of Philadelphia and that the records of the said court and all other papers relating thereunto be brought to the Council or delivered to David Lloyd, who is ordered to succeed him in his office and commission ordered to be forthwith drawn accordingly. (MPC 192)

2 Oct 1686

Edward Green and Wm Southersby, both members of the Council, appointed to go to Patrick Robinson and in the name of the Council demand the Record and all other writing that belong to the County Court of Philadelphia.

Ordered a letter be writ to the Governor in answer of two letters received by this board from the Governor.

Edward Green and W, Southersby report that according to the order of this board they went to Patrick Robinson and that he was very willing to deliver up all the files, both for his time and the time of John Southern was clerk, with all possessions and continuances of actions and after six hours peaceable continuance in his own house, he will deliver up all accounts for the levies and that he will much abbreviate the time he had for perfecting the records, which he has in a great measure gone into, but yet wants to draw out of his own accounts in order to gather in his debts, which, if he should part withal, was wholly incapable of doing; and likewise that he desired he might be admitted to come before the Council and discourse about it.

The two members of the Council were again appointed to go to Patrick Robinson and tell him that he might come to the Council with his keeper.

The two members of the Council returned. Patrick Robinson came with them. The mebers reported they delivered their message to Patrick Robinson, that he made answer that if his keepers would not look after him he had no reason to seek them, but would come along with us.

Patrick Robinson did before this board engage freely to deliver all things that relate to the County Court of Philadelphia that was in his possession, either tonight or on next second day morning, to the secretary, if the Council will appoint him to give the receipt for the same and that he might have free access to them for the making up of his accounts, which was granted and ordered accordingly. (MPC 192-93)

It seems to me at least that the two members of the Council should have taken the records right then and there. I got the impression that he wanted to “straighten out” the books, to hide any malfeasance.

In any case, he was dismissed. You can decide whether it was just.

Update May 8, 2017

26 April 1693

However, a record says:

Patrick Robinson took the oaths and test and oath of a councilor, and his place at the Council board, by his Excellency’s [Benjamin Fletcher’s] direction. (MPC 365)

Is this his son or himself? I say it is Patrick Robinson himself. He now appears everywhere in the Minutes of the Provincial Council. In one record he even speaks Latin. So he was an educated man.

Related:

The Impeachment of Judge Nicholas Moore

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