Sir Hercules Robinson was born in Rosmead, County Westmeath, Ireland on 19 December 1824. Robinson had a brief army career before joining with the civil service. He held various diplomatic posts including President of Montserrat (1854), Lieutenant-Governor of St Christopher (1855), Governor of Hong Kong (1859) and Governor of Ceylon (1865).

Made Governor of New South Wales in February 1872, Robinson was not content to be a mere figurehead, and his active role in politics saw him contribute to the development of responsible government in New South Wales. While in that post Robinson negotiated the cession of the Fiji Islands in 1874 and was President of the 1877 Exhibition Committee.

Despite his active involvement in Colonial Government, Robinson's attitude to colonial institutions was essentially paternalistic, more suited to a crown colony than a semi-independent, albeit fledgling, democracy. He tended to antagonize parliament, but he was publicly popular, in part because he had developed a flair for public speaking in which he extolled popular themes such as manly sports.

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.

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