Niihau owner Lester Beauclerk Robinson

Lester Beauclerk Robinson (1901-1969) was the great-grandson of Eliza McHutcheson Sinclair, who’d purchased the island of Niihau from Kamehameha V in the names of her two sons, Francis and James Sinclair, as indicated on Royal Patent No. 2944, dated Feb. 23, 1864.

Thereafter, ownership of Niihau progressed from Francis and James Sinclair to Francis Sinclair alone, then to Francis’s sisters Jane Gay and Helen Robinson and Francis’s nephew Aubrey Robinson, and on to Aubrey Robinson singly.

When Aubrey Robinson died in 1936, ownership of Niihau passed on to his sons, Lester and Aylmer Robinson, with Aylmer inheriting 75 percent interest in Niihau and Lester the balance.

Both Aylmer and Lester Robinson worked to preserve the lifestyles and culture of its Hawaiian residents to the extent that Aylmer reportedly maintained Niihau financially with his own funds, and it was also noted that Lester likewise spent about $50,000 a year for the same purpose.

Upon the death of Aylmer Robinson in 1967, Lester Robinson, already the assistant manager of his family’s Kauai sugar lands and its grazing lands on Kauai and Niihau, became the sole owner of Niihau.

Helen Matthew Robinson, Lester’s wife, inherited 87 ½ percent interest in Niihau when Lester died in 1969.

Their sons, Keith and Bruce Robinson, inherited the remainder, and have been sole owners of Niihau since their mother passed away in 2002.

Lester Robinson was a reserved man who shunned the public light; in 2008, Keith Robinson shared anecdotes with me indicating his father and uncle, Aylmer, also possessed quite a sense of humor.

For instance, after Keith’s mother had accidentally driven over her pet Weimaraner in her carport, causing a minor pinching of its toes and a loud yelp, Lester and Aylmer, watching curiously nearby, offered first aid.

When Mrs. Robinson saw the result — her indignant-looking Weimaraner bandaged and splinted from muzzle to tail, lying stiffly by two sober-faced brothers — her remorse was genuine, that is until a suspicious glint in Aylmer’s eye betrayed their prank.

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