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pointed out the passage in Masters is inclined to adopt it.44
The inference from it will be that he would easily become known to the Separatists at Gainsborough and through them to those of Basset-Lawe. We are hardly warranted in supposing that he was connected with the Thomas Robinson who was so deeply concerned in the affair of the Bawtry Hospital, but it is far from improbable that Robinson was originally of Gainsborough, where in the reign of Charles II Robinsons were chief persons among the Dissenters of that town.
It must not, however, be concealed that Dr. Young states that he was born in 1576, entered Emmanuel College in 1592, took the degree of M.A. in 1600, and B.D. in 1607, and what this very cautious writer states is not to be lightly controverted: but the last of these dates and therefore the earlier dates can hardly belong to this John Robinson. In truth all that can be said of his early history ought at present to be stated with a prudent reserve: but it cannot be as some modern writers have stated that he was con
44 Memoir of the Rev. John Robinson, in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Fourth Series, vol. i, p. 113.
temporary with Brewster at the same College. His age forbids it.
We are told that he was beneficed in Norfolk someBenificed where near Yarmouth. This is far too near Yarmouth. vague to satisfy even the most moderate curiosity about such a man. In looking over the list of Norfolk incumbents in Blomefield's history of that county, I meet with only one Robinson of his period who was beneficed in any place which could be said to be near Yarmouth.45 This was the incumbent of the vicarage or perpetual curacy of Mundham, which is about fourteen miles distant from Yarmouth. We have no more of his name than “Robinson :” but as Mundham was an impropriation of the Hospital of St. Giles in Norwich, and as we have the testimony of Dr. Joseph Hall, that Robinson the Separatist had some expectation of being appointed the master of that
45 History of Norfolk, vol. v, p. 1155. “In 1600 I find it served by Mr. Robinson, a stipendiary curate, and so remains, nominated by the mayor, &c., of the City of Norwich : and in 1603 he returned 144 communicants.” The church' had been appropriated to the Hospital of St. Giles in Norwich in 1340. It is Mundham Magna or Mundham St. Peter of which I am speaking. Mundham Parva or Mundham St. Ethelbert was also held by St. Giles's Hospital, and so came to the Corporation of Norwich, who nominated the curate here also.
hospital, it seemed a reasonable presumption that Mundham was the benefice in Norfolk, which he is said to have held. But Mr. Ashton appears to have discovered that the incumbent of Mundham, whose surname was Robinson, was named Robert. It is, however, singular that there should be two Robinsons at that time, both brought into connection with St. Giles's Hospital at Norwich, and both clergymen.
We know that John Robinson lived for some time at Norwich. “Witness the late practice in Norwich, where certain citizens were excommunicated for resorting unto and praying with Mr. Robinson, a man worthily reverenced of all the city for the grace of God in him.” This occurs in Ainsworth’s ‘ Answer to Crashaw,' and is cited by Mr. Hanbury.46 Dr. Young has referred me to one of Robinson's Tracts for a more direct testimony. It is his 'People's Plea for the exercise of prophecy,' 16mo, 1618. He dedicated it to “his Christian friends in Norwich and ,
I and Lives in Nor. thereabouts,” and afterwards says, “even as when I lived with you.”
We also know that he left Norwich in some disgust.
46 Historical Memorials relating to the Independents : by Benjamin Hanbury. 8vo, 1839, vol. i, p. 185.
Ephraim Pagitt speaks of “one Master Robinson, who leaving Norwich malcontent, became a rigid Brownist.” 47 Dr. Hall in a passage of his Apology against Brownists, cited by Dr. Young, makes this apparently uncharitable insinuation : “Neither doubt we that the mastership of the hospital at Norwich, or a lease from that city (sued for with repulse) might have procured that this separation from the communion, government, and worship of the Church of England should not have been made by John Robinson.”
On the whole it may be taken as being very near the truth that he took the office assigned him in the Basset-Lawe Church in 1606 or 1607.
Again and again have we to complain of the want of dates and other specialty in the writings of Bradford: but we may refer to them for a most hearty testimony of respect and affection for the memory of Robinson ;
"a man not easily to be paralleled for all Bradford's testimony to things, whose singular virtues we shall not
on. take upon us here to describe. Neither need we, for they so well are known both by friends and enemies. As he was a man learned and of a solid judgment, and of a quick and sharp wit, so was he
47 Heresiography, 4to, 1655, p. 73.
also of a tender conscience, and very sincere in all his ways, a hater of hypocrisy and dissimulation, and would be very plain with his best friends. He was very courteous, affable, and sociable in his conversation, and towards his own people especially. He was an acute and expert disputant, very quick and ready, and had much bickering with the Arminians, who stood more in fear of him than any of the university. He was never satisfied in himself until he had searched any case or argument he had to deal in thoroughly and to the bottom; and we have heard him sometimes say to his familiars that many times both in writing and disputation, he knew he had sufficiently answered others, but many times nof himself; and was ever desirous of any light, and the more able, learned, and holy the persons were, the more he desired to confer and reason with them. He was very profitable in his ministry and comfortable to his people. He was much beloved of them, and as loving was he unto them, and entirely sought their good for soul and body. In a word he was much esteemed and reverenced of all that knew him, and his abilities [were acknowledged] both of friends and strangers.”48 With 48 Young, p. 451.