Robinson, Samuel (1865–1958), businessman and philanthropist, was born 9 June 1865 in Culcrum, near Cloughmills, Co. Antrim, eldest son among three sons and two daughters of Samuel Robinson, farmer, and Margaret Robinson (née Megaw). His mother's family, the Megaws, produced several judges and doctors, including Sir John W. D. Megaw (qv), who was Margaret's nephew. Samuel served an apprenticeship with his mother's brother, William James Megaw, chairman of Ballymoney urban district council 1888–1920, who was a grocer in Ballymoney. The young man emigrated to Philadelphia in April 1888, and joined a friend, Robert H. Crawford, who was also from the Cloughmills area and may have been a relative, in opening a grocery business in south Philadelphia. They called their shop ‘The House that Quality Built’, and it became very successful; they opened other shops and merged with four other chains to become in 1917 the American Stores Co., of which Robinson was president. The company was said to be the biggest food retailer in the world; at one time it employed 20,000 people. Robinson made many innovations in management and services; his stores were among the very first self-service supermarkets, with baskets on wheels to encourage people to select their own goods, and he quickly recognised the importance of the motor car, providing free parking beside all his stores. Robinson was president of the company until 1927, when he was succeeded by William Park from north Antrim, who was his sister's son, as well as being married to a niece of Robinson's wife.
Samuel Robinson had married (24 August 1909) Mary Elizabeth (‘Minnie’) Parkhill from Coldagh, near Ballymoney; her father was Robert Parkhill. The Robinsons had no children, and Robinson took great care to share his vast wealth with charitable and religious bodies in Ireland and America. He provided money for scholarships for young presbyterians to attend presbyterian-related colleges, including Princeton and Schreiner University, stipulating that applicants had to know the shorter catechism by heart. His gift in 1945 to Assembly's College, Belfast, was the largest it had ever received; in the 1950s the stocks and shares provided an annual income of £3,600. His huge house in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, was bequeathed to the Presbyterian Children's Village. Robinson always retained a strong affection for Co. Antrim, where he is remembered because of his gift of a cottage hospital: the Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ballymoney, so named in memory of Robinson's parents, opened in 1933. His gifts of over £100,000 to build and equip the hospital were supplemented by large bequests in his will; local trustees administer the funds, which have provided a very high quality of medical care, especially in maternity wards, and latterly in geriatric services. Robinson died 26 October 1958, and was buried in West Laurel Hill cemetery, Philadelphia.