Born in 1821 in York (later Toronto), the second son of Sir John Beverley Robinson, Bart, the younger Robinson was educated at Upper Canada College. He served as Aide-de-Camp to Sir Francis Bond Head, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and assisted in suppressing the Rebellion of 1837. Robinson was called to the bar of Upper Canada in 1844, and became Mayor of Toronto in 1857. He served as a Member of Provincial Parliament from 1858 to 1867, and became a Member of Parliament in 1867, where he held the position of President of the Privy Council. Robinson was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in 1880 and served until 1887. During his mandate, he welcomed people from a variety of backgrounds to Government House, and his sympathetic nature earned him the respect of the public. He died in Toronto in 1896.