Sir William Robinson had been Governor of the Falkland Islands and Prince Edward Island (part of the Dominion of Canada) before his appointment to WA in 1874.
During his administration of King Edward Island the question of the Canadian Union was debated and he had a great hand in bringing it about in 1873. Ironically though, he was strongly opposed to agitation in WA for responsible government, something his predecessor, Sir Frederick Weld, had supported.
His first term as Governor was marked at the time by his moves to restrain the political aspirations of the people and it is said that as a consequence his administration became "merely routine". He relinquished the position in 1877 to follow in the footsteps of Weld and take on the appointment of Governor of the Straits Settlement. In the same year he was knighted.
The following year he went to Bangkok on a special visit to invest the King of Siam, as he was known then, with the GCMG insignia and was himself invested with the Grand Cross of Siam, which he got permission to wear. In 1880, he again assumed the office of Governor of WA. During his second term it is reported that he left his mark on the colony by wiping out a huge debt of 80,000 pounds and leaving a surplus of 32,000 pounds.
Apparently, the colonists now found him a "sympathetic help in all their political aims" and when, in 1883, he left to assume the office of Governor of South Australia, it was "with feelings of regret that his departure was heralded". He left South Australia in 1889 to act as Governor of Victoria. A year later, Sir William was again appointed Governor of WA for a third term. He went to England where having "in view his remarkable administrative ability and tact, the Home authorities desired to avail themselves of his services and knowledge of Western Australian affairs to preside over the inauguration of responsible government in the colony".
While in London he helped the Colonial Office and delegates from WA in regard to the passing of the Constitutional Bill through the Imperial Parliament. Sir William Robinson saw WA's importance as an Australian colony rise during his terms in office and "he earned the unquestioned thanks of the bulk of inhabitants".
He retired in 1895 after serving 40 years almost wholly in the service of the colonial empire. He died in 1897 in his 63rd year.
Reviewed 2012 - 2013