Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 72, page(s) 735-736


Henry Cornelius Robinson died at Hartford, February 14th, 1900. Born in that city, August 28th, 1832, he traced his ancestry through his father, David Franklin Robinson, to Thomas Robinson who came to Guilford from England in 1667, and through his mother, Anne Seymour Robinson, to William Brewster, one of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in 1620, and to Richard Treat, a patentee of the Connecticut charter, and to Governor John Webster and Richard Seymour. Fitting for college in the grammar school and public high school of Hartford, he was graduated at Yale in the class of 1853, receiving the degree of A. M. in 1855 and LL. D. in 1888. He studied law in the office of his brother, Lucius F. Robinson, and with Judge William L. Storrs, and was admitted to the bar of Hartford County in 1855, continuing in full practice till his death. He married in 1862 Eliza Niles Trumbull, daughter of John F. Trumbull, of Stonington, who with three sons and two daughters, survives him.

His activities were boundless. He represented in important litigation nearly all the insurance companies, banks, railroads and greater manufacturing corporations of Hartford, in many of which he was prominent as a director. His briefs were epitomes of legal scholarship; his arguments models of forensic oratory. In politics he was a valued adviser of the republican party in the State, and represented it in the great causes that were litigated involving organic law. As mayor of Hartford from 1872 to 1874, he planned and introduced the government by executive commissions. He was a member of the fish commission in 1866, of the General Assembly in 1879, of the National Republican Convention at Chicago in 1880, commissioner of Connecticut at the Centennial of the Federal Constitution in 1889, and twice the candidate of his party for Governor of the State. He declined a mission abroad flatteringly tendered him by the chief executive.

He was tempted to abandon law for letters. We need only recall any of his orations to realize how strong was that temptation. His essays and lectures would have adorned any literature and contributed to the wisdom of any age. It is to be regretted that his addresses on legal ethics to the classes of the Yale Law School were not preserved in permanent form. Yet his richest legacy to succeeding generations is his genial, wholesome manliness. In all that he did his aims were high, his methods cleanly, his motives noble. No life that he touched but was brighter and better from the contact. No station was so high as to shield its occupant from his rebuke for wrong-doing; no wretchedness so low as to be beneath his sympathy. Busy amid the activities and ambitions of this world he was yet not of it. Religious conviction was the law of his life, and found expression in his earnest and fruitful ministrations in the church where he worshiped so many years. The world is better for his living in it and richer by a lofty type of Christian manhood.