Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Skynner, Lancelot

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SKYNNER, LANCELOT (1766?–1799), captain in the navy, eldest son of John Skynner, B.D. (1725–1805), rector of Easton in Northamptonshire, and presumably nephew of Captain Lancelot Skynner—who, in command of the Bideford frigate, was killed in action with the French frigate Malicieuse, on 4 April 1760—entered the navy under the patronage of Captain John Ford on board the Brilliant in October 1779. He afterwards served in the Nymph on the East India station, and in the Pégase and Thisbe on the home station. He passed his examination on 3 Oct. 1787, being then, by his certificate, ‘more than 21.’ On 12 Nov. 1790 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Cygnet, from which, in the following July, he was discharged to half-pay. In February 1793 he was appointed to the Aimable, in February 1794 to the Theseus, and in July to the Boyne, flagship of Sir John Jervis [q. v.] (afterwards Earl of St. Vincent) in the West Indies. On 1 Nov. 1794 he was promoted to the command of the Zebra sloop, and, remaining in the West Indies, was posted on 16 Sept. to the Pique, from which he was, within a few weeks, moved to the Beaulieu of forty guns, one of the squadron which in April–May 1796 reduced the island of Saint Lucia. In the summer of 1799 he was appointed to the 32-gun frigate Lutine, attached to the fleet in the North Sea, and in her sailed from Yarmouth for the Texel on 9 Oct. with several passengers and treasure, stated to amount to six hundred thousand dollars, belonging to various ‘commercial houses in Hamburg.’ The same night, in a heavy gale from the N.N.W., with a strong lee-tide, she was driven on shore and utterly lost. Skynner and the whole of the crew, except one, perished. At different times attempts have been made by private speculators to recover the treasure, but without any success.

[Lists, pay-books, &c., in the Public Record Office; James's Naval Hist. ed. 1860, i. 410, ii. 474; Gent. Mag. 1799, ii. 988, 994.]

J. K. L.