William Stevens Robinson

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ChartsAncestors of Harriet Hanson Robinson
Seth Ingersoll Browne to Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Diana, Princess of Wales, and Edward Warrington Robinson
John Adams & John Quncy Adams - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Millard Fillmore - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
(John) Calvin Coolidge Jr. - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Richard Milhous Nixon - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
Gerald R. Ford - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
George H. W. & George W. Bush - Harriet Hanson (Robinson) Pierce
William Stevens Robinson, son of William Robinson and Martha Cogswell, was born at Concord, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, 7 December 1818.1,2,3,4,5 He died at Malden, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, 11 March 1876,6 and was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.7,8,9

William married Harriet Jane Hanson, daughter of William Hanson and Harriet Browne, at Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, 30 November 1848.10,11

In 1837 William joined hs brother at the Norfolk Advertiser of Dedham, a strong temperance paper. In 1839 he became editor of the Yeoman's Gazette, later The Republican of Concord. This was Whig paper, and as an ardent Whig he was a delegate to the 1840 Whig Convention in Baltimore.

Two years later he became assistant editor of the Lowell Courier and Journal, acting for a time as it's Washington corespondent. In 1845 he went to Manchester, New Hampshire to edit The American, but soon returned to the Lowell Courier, where his strong anti-slavery views began to attract attention among the radicals of Massachusetts. His vigorous condemnation of slavery and caustic comments on Massachusetts politics and politicians finally cost him his job.

In 1848 he moved to Boston to succeed Charles Francis Adams as editor of the Boston Daily Whig, later the Boston Daily Republican, which he held through the 1848 presidential campaign. That year he also served as secretary of the Free-Soil Convention which met at Worcester. Again, he lost his jobs because of his vigorous opinions on slavery and Massachusetts politics. He returned to Lowell to start the Lowell American. He ran it for nearly four years and became recognized as on of the most radical of Massachusetts anti-slavery journalists.

In 1852 and 1853 he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature and in 1853 was clerk of the constitutional convention. The Lowell American failed in 1854 and he then joined the editorial staffs of The Commonwealth and the Boston Telegraph and violently oposed the rising tide of Know-Nothingism in Massachusetts.

In 1856 his "Warrington" letters on Massachusetts politics and politicians began to appear in the Springfield Republican and at once attracted state-wide attention because of their thorough knowledge of Massachusetts politics and their frank personal comment on the public men of the state. Similar letters over the pen name "Gilbert" were sent to the New York Tribune. In 1859 he declined an offer from them, feeling his best work could be done in Massachusetts.

He was a friend of Charles Sumner, John A. Andrew, Henry Wilson, John G. Whittier and other Massachusetts radicals and was associated with the early fortunes of the state Republican party. In 1861 as the Civil War began, he aided in editing The Tocsin, a Republican campaign paper.

In 1862 he was chosen clerk of the state House of Representatives. He held the position for 11 years and became known as the "Warwick" of Massachusetts politics. In 1863 he was made secretary of the Republican state committee which he held until 1868, writing many of the addresses and memorials of the committee during the critical years of war and reconstruction.

The strength of his political power was perhaps most evident in 1871 and 1872 when he successfully led the opposition to Benjamin F. Butler in his attempts to be elected governor. This came a cost, for he lost his clerkship in 1873 and felt that Butler had a great deal to do with it.

He served for a short time on the Boston Journal, but increasing ill health caused him to take a European trip with his wife and son in 1874. He returned to complete and publish a handbook of parliamentary law, Warrington's Manual in 1875.

His health continued to decline, but the exact nature of the disease was not disclosed in any published works I could find. However, Massachusetts death records for 1876 reveal the cause was "Softening of the Brain." Websters (1913 edition) defined it as: "localized softening of the brain substance, due to hemorrhage or inflammation. Three varieties, distinguished by their color and representing different stages of the morbid process, are known respectively as red, yellow, and white, softening."12,6,13


Harriet Jane Hanson b. 8 Feb 1825, d. 22 Dec 1911
  • Harriet Lucy Robinson14 b. 4 Dec 1850, d. 21 Mar 1937
  • Elizabeth Osborne Robinson14 b. 11 Sep 1852, d. 27 Sep 1926
  • William Elbridge Robinson14 b. 6 Oct 1854, d. 14 Dec 1859
  • Edward Warrington Robinson+15,14 b. 4 May 1859, d. 8 Jan 1904
This person was last edited on16 Aug 2022


  1. [S663] , Concord, Massachusetts: Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1635-1850(Concord, Massachusetts: Town of Concord, 1891), 322, further cited as Concord Vital Records.
  2. [S76] Harriet H. Robinson, "John Robinson of Exeter, and Some of His Descendants," The Robinsons and Their Kin Folk Third Series (July 1906): 99-123, at 121, further cited as Robinson, "John Robinson of Exeter."
  3. [S457] Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Census [on-line database and images] (http://www.ancestry.com), Malden, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, population schedule, sheet #380, dwelling #1138, family #2333, Wm. S. Robinson household, age 33, born in Massachusetts, an Editor; original data: NARA micropublication M432, Seventh Census of the United States, 1009 rolls, roll #327.
  4. [S458] Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Census [on-line database and images] (http://www.ancestry.com), Malden, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, population schedule, sheet #153/29, dwelling #200, family #234, William S. Robinson household, age 40, born in Massachusetts and a Journalist; original data: NARA micropublication M653, Eighth Census of the United States, 1438 rolls, roll #506.
  5. [S459] Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Census [on-line database and images] (http://www.ancestry.com), Malden, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, population schedule, sheet #393/66, dwelling #387, family #540, W. S. Robinson household, age 51, born in Massachusetts. He was Clerk in the House of Representatives and had $4000 in real estate, $3500 in personal estate; original data: NARA micropublication M593, Ninth Census of the United States, 1748 rolls, roll #629.
  6. [S277] Massachusetts, Births, Marriages (1841-1895), and Deaths (1841-1899); Indexes to Births and Marriages (1841-1905), Deaths (1841-1971), v.284:125, FHL microfilm 960210, further cited as Massachusetts Births, Marriages, and Deaths.
  7. [S186] Harriet Hanson (Mrs. W. S. Robinson) Robinson, "Warrington" Pen Portraits: A Collection of Personal and Political Reminiscences from 1848 to 1876 From the Writings of William S. Robinson(Boston, Massachusetts: p.p., 1877), 171-172, further cited as Robinson, Warrington Pen Portraits.
  8. [S721] Harriet H. Robinson, "William S. Robinson ("Warrington")," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 39 (Oct 1885): 313-324, further cited as Robinson, "William S. Robinson."
  9. [S1546] Rebekahpaw, Find A Grave memorial #55128145, added 18 Jul 2010, online http://www.findagrave.com, accessed 10 Oct 2011, further cited as Find A Grave.
  10. [S78] Claudia L. Bushman, "A Good Poor Man's Wife": Being a Chronicle of Harriet Hanson Robinson and Her Family in Nineteenth Century New England(Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1981), 79, further cited as Bushman, A Good Poor Man's Wife.
  11. [S2543] Jay Mack Holbrook, Massachusettts Vital Records: Boston 1630-1849(Oxford, Massachusetts: Holbrook Research Institute, 1985), Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, U.S., Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011, img 11210, further cited as Holbrook, Boston Vital Records.
  12. [S78] Bushman, A Good Poor Man's Wife.
  13. [S278] Definition: softening of the brain, online http://dict.die.net/softening%20of%20the%20brain/, further cited as DIE.
  14. [S76] Robinson, "John Robinson of Exeter," 122.
  15. [S1018] Warrington Robinson, Death Certificates, File No. 93 (1904), Colorado Department of Health, Denver, Colorado.