John Robinson was a member of the Convention of 1867–1868 and of the Senate of Virginia. Born free in Cumberland County Robinson achieved some measure of prosperity before and during the American Civil War (1861–1865), but he moved to Amelia County in 1864 after mobs attacked him twice. Involving the courts, he was party to at least ten lawsuits to safeguard his property. Related to James F. Lipscomb, who served eight years in the House of Delegates, Robinson was elected to represent Cumberland County in the convention called to write a new state constitution. In 1869 he won a seat to the Senate of Virginia, representing Amelia, Cumberland, and Nottoway Counties. He lost reelection in 1873 and later in life operated a tavern called Effingham House.