Before the appointment of Primate Robinson in 1765, Armagh was an unprepossessing ecclesiastical capital. His predecessors, particularly Marsh, Boulter and Stone, had been political figures and spent much of their time in Dublin. Robinson, therefore, found a rather miserable little country town, largely of mud huts. He did not seek to be a major political figure, and by the late 1770s both Arthur Young and John Wesley were commenting on his improvements. Young commented that he had built:
"a very elegant palace ... [but] the view from the palace is much improved by the barracks, the school, and a new church at a distance, all which are so placed to be exceedingly ornamental to the whole country ... He has been the means also of erecting a public infirmary, which was built by subscription, contributing to it amply himself. A public library he has erected at his own expense, giving a large collection of books and endowed it ... He has further ornamented the city with a market-house and shambles, and been the direct means, by giving leases on that condition of almost new building the whole place. He found it a nest of mud cabbins, and he will leave it a well-built city of stone and slate."
De Latocayne, on his Walk, commented in 1796 that
'It really is a very handsome little city. Primate Robinson has built at his own charges an observatory, and has furnished funds to give it an annual income of £300 sterling, which is paid to the person in charge.'60
Armagh was throughout the century a government borough controlled by the Primate. In 1800 Dean Warburton wrote to Cornwallis' Secretary that they would return anyone moved by government as they considered that they were trustees for the government; moreover, eight out of the 12 burgesses were clerics.61 This was usual with ecclesiastical boroughs, certainly from the Hanoverian succession and probably throughout the century, with the exception of Tuam, which fell into secular hands early in the century. In 1692 Primate Boyle recommended to the corporation that Richard Reynell and Marmaduke Coghill be returned; they were both returned, although Reynell elected to sit for Wicklow borough. Coghill sat for Armagh until his death in 1739. In 1768 Thomas Waite (2154) from the Castle secretariat wrote to Robert Wilmot that 'The Primate at the request of the Duke of Northumberland makes Sir George Macartney (1302) one of the members for Armagh'; presumably this was because the Duke, when Lord Lieutenant, was responsible for Robinson's appointment, but even apart from this Macartney was Chief Secretary to Lord Lieutenant Townshend. After the Act of Union Armagh returned only one MP to the parliament of the United Kingdom, but the franchise remained unaltered.