Skinner, James (1818-1881) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 52
Skinner, James (1818-1881)

by Edward Irving Carlyle
1904 Errata appended.

SKINNER, JAMES (1818–1881), author and hymn-writer, born at Forfar on 23 June 1818, was youngest son of John Skinner, dean of Dunkeld and Dumblane, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Provost Ure of Forfar. His grandfather was John Skinner (1744–1816) [q. v.], bishop of Aberdeen.

In 1832 James entered Marischal College, Aberdeen, and in the following year, when Durham University was first opened, he was admitted a foundation scholar. He graduated B.A. in 1836 and M.A. in 1840, and soon after was elected a fellow. Ordained deacon on 27 June 1841 and priest in the year following, he was successively curate of Burton Agnes in Yorkshire, of Holy Trinity, Windsor (during 1844), chaplain of the district military prison at Southsea Castle (from July 1845), and curate of St. Mary's, Reading, from 1846. His health giving way, he accepted the post of chaplain to the forces in Corfu, but in 1850 he returned to England.

Skinner, who for many years enjoyed the friendship of Pusey, ardently embraced the views of the tractarians, but until 1851, when he became senior curate of St. Barnabas, Pimlico, he took no active part in controversy. St. Barnabas's was a centre of ecclesiastical strife. The former vicar, William James Early Bennett, an advanced ritualist, had just been driven to resign, but his successor, Robert Liddell, warmly supported by Skinner, continued the forms of ritual which had given offence. The affair was finally taken into the ecclesiastical courts. But in 1856, before the case was decided, Skinner, failing to restore his health by a visit to Egypt and Palestine in 1855, was compelled to resign his curacy and to go to Mentone. During 1859, while living at Hillingdon, Middlesex, he occupied himself with organising the English Church Union. From 1861 to 1877 he held the country living of Newland in Worcestershire, and devoted much of his time to literary work. After 1877 he made Ascot his headquarters, desiring to assist Pusey in his work among the poor in that place. But his health was broken, and he died at Bath on 29 Dec. 1881. He was buried in the churchyard at Newland.

By his wife, Agnes, daughter of Oliver Raymond, vicar of Middleton, Essex, whom he married on 18 July 1848, he had one daughter, Agnes Raymond, who died before him in 1868.

Skinner published, besides pamphlets and sermons:

  1. ‘A Guide for Advent,’ 2nd edit. London, 1852, 12mo.
  2. ‘A Guide for Lent,’ London, 1852, 12mo.
  3. ‘Twenty-one Heads of Christian Duty,’ London, 1864 and 1868, 8vo.
  4. ‘The Daily Service Hymnal,’ London, 1864, 12mo.
  5. ‘A Plea for the Threatened Ritual of the Church of England,’ London, 1865, 8vo.
  6. ‘The Manual of St. Augustine,’ London, 1881, 8vo.
  7. ‘A Synopsis of Moral and Ascetical Theology,’ London, 1882, 4to.

He also edited the ‘Child's Book of Praise,’ London, 1874, 16mo.

[James Skinner, a memoir by Maria Trench; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, p. 1061; Guardian, 11 Jan. 1882; Church Quarterly Rev., July 1884; Notes and Queries, 9th ser. i. 163.]

E. I. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.251
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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6 f.e. Skinner, James (1818-1881): for Gloucestershire read Worcestershire