‘The potent spirit of the black-browed Jacko’: new light on the impact of John Robinson on high politics in the era of the American Revolution, 1770–84



John Robinson was a treasury secretary of obscure origin, extraordinarily diligent, efficient and persistent. Viscerally conservative, he had no place in whig history until analysis of his correspondence and parliamentary papers rediscovered his importance, particularly in electoral management. The Namierite approach to Hanoverian high politics embraced Robinson; as it went out of fashion so did he. But recent work on hitherto barely touched private letters reaffirms Robinson's crucial role in the prolongation of the North ministry, the failure of the whigs and the rise of the Younger Pitt, and casts renewed doubt on the neo-whig heroic narrative.