Thomas Robinson was born in India in 1819.
His father, the Rev Thomas Robinson, was the Domestic Chaplain and personal friend of Bishop Heber of Calcutta; he was later Archdeacon of Madras, Canon of Rochester, and an eminent scholar in Arabic and Persian studies.
Thomas Robinson, the son, was, like his father, educated at Rugby, the prototypical English 'Public School' moulded by the reforms of the famous headmaster, Thomas Arnold, between 1828 and 1842. Robinson is described by William Lubenow, in The Cambridge Apostles, as one of those who 'carried the spirit of the public schools abroad', but, since his headship at Potsdam lasted less than two years, it seems unlikely that he made any great impact in that respect.
After Rugby, he proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge as his father had done. While at Cambridge he was a member of the Cambridge Conversazione Society, familiarly known as the 'Cambridge Apostles' and described, by some, as 'the world's most famous secret society'; I have to admit that although I graduated from Cambridge long ago, I had not heard of the 'Apostles' before doing this research, so it presumably was a 'secret' society! Robinson was one of the five 'Apostles' between 1820 and 1914 who became headmasters in some corner of the Empire, though the other four seem to have had rather more distinguished careers in that role.
There is no explanation of Robinson's choice of Jamaica as the place to begin his clerical career; in becoming an Anglican priest he was however following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He was ordained Deacon in 1844 and Priest in December 1845 by the Bishop of Worcester.
Before being appointed to the headship at Potsdam he had been one of the chaplains of the Bishop of Jamaica, Aubrey George Spencer, from 1852, and had been incumbent clergyman at May Hill and Newport in Manchester.