Select Skinner Miscellany

 

Here are some Skinner stories
and
accounts over the years:

 

Skinner as an Occupation

 

Skynners
or skinners were clearly men in the business of
selling rawhide to others who would turn them into leather.
Though a man could
acquire one of these names by simply developing some skill in taking
the skin
off a carcass, it is far more probable that a man would have to be
clearly
associated with that process for some time to acquire the name
permanently.
The
animals were usually slaughtered on the farms by a butcher and skinned
by a skinner;
then the hides were sold to the tanners or barkers. Over the years, all
these
occupations became surnames.  Sometimes
middlemen
would try to set themselves up here, but they never really succeeded.


The Worshipful Company of Skinners



The
Worshipful Company of Skinners was one of the great
medieval trade guilds. 
It
was originally an
association for those engaged in the trade of skins and furs.   Their guild was first recognized by
Edward
III in 1327 and was confirmed by Henry VI in 1438.  That the
Skinners rose from
people who worked with hides was reflected in their motto, sanguis
et vulnera
, which is Latin for
“blood and wounds.”

Under
an order issued by the Lord Mayor of London
in 1484, the company ranked either in sixth or seventh place in the
order of the
“Twelve Great City Livery Companies.”  The Skinners were normally
sixth in the
order of precedence in even numbered years and at seven in odd numbered
years.  Some think that the expression “at
sixes and
sevens” came from this situation.

The
company evolved into an educational and
charitable institution, supporting schools such as the Tonbridge School
in Kent
and the Skinners’ Academy in Hackney, London.
William Herbert wrote a history of the company in 1837 and the
Skinners’
Company, as it is now called, is still around today.

 

Skinner from Skene
in Scotland


In
Clifford Sims’ 1962 book The Origin and Signification of
Scottish Surnames
, the following reference
was made to the Skinner name.

“Some
derive their names as well as their
arms from some considerable action, and thus a son of Struan Robertson,
for
killing a wolf in Stocket forest in Athole, in the king’s presence,
with a
dirk, received the name of Skene, which signifies a dirk.
Ian
Grimble wrote in Scottish Clans and Tartans that
this event took place in the 11th
century and that “the Skenes were an exceptionally early sept of Clan
Donnchaidh, long before it adopted the name of Robertson.”
In
other
references I’ve come across, the knife is referred to as a sgain
dhu
which means “black dirk.”  This is
a small, bone-handled knife
traditionally carried in the top of the Scotsman’s sock. It was
sometimes the
weapon of choice for a quick slit of an Englishman’s throat after the
carrying
of swords and other weapons were banned in Scotland.
According
to other reports
of the story above, the Scottish king was hunting with several others
when a
wolf attacked the party.  The Scotsman in
question drew his skaen dhu,
grappled with the wild creature at the risk of his
own neck, and dispatched the beast.  The
king honored the hero by naming him “Robertson of the Sgain Dhu.” The
family carried the appellation forward into succeeding generations and
it
eventually became the Skinner name we know today.

 

 

Captain William
Skinner of the 94th Regiment

Captain
William
Skinner took part in the capture in 1761 of Dominica in the West Indies
under
Lord Rollo.  But he drowned on August
27th of the same year at Coulehault off the coast of Dominica.

He
had married in
1753 at a very young age to Hester, the daughter of Colin Lawder of
Berwick-upon-Tweed.  Tradition relates
that the combined age of the bride and bridegroom did not exceed thirty.

A
contemporary Percival Stockdale wrote of them:

“Miss Hester
Lawder was afterwards married to Mr. Skinner who, at the time of their
marriage, was an ensign.  He was one of
the most hospitable of men.  He was
polite to me when I was a lieutenant in the Welsh fusiliers and in the
year
1756 at Gibraltar.  And I can never
forget the universal admiration which did homage to Miss Lawder’s
charms in the
Governor’s garden at the convent.”

Three
children were the result of this
marriage – William Campbell Skinner, Captain of the Royal Engineers;
Thomas
Skinner, Colonel of the Royal Engineers; and Margaret, who married the
Right
Honorable Sir Evan Nepean, Baronet
.

 

Charles Clement Skinner,
Lighthouse Keeper

The
Marshall
Point Lighthouse was
situated
on a rocky
ledge at the tip of the St. George Peninsula in Maine.
Charles
Clement Skinner, a Civil War veteran,
was its keeper from 1874 to 1919. He lived at the station with his wife
and six
children.  He died in 1932.

In
his logs, Skinner noted many strandings of both
man and beast in the area of the station.  On October 28, 1884 he
wrote:

“A
fin-back whale stranded on Mosquito Point last night.  Sixty-seven
feet in
length.”

And
on February 10, 1886:

“Steamer
Cambridge was wrecked on Old
Man Ledge at 4:45 AM.  Passengers and crew were all saved and
landed on
Allen
Island where they were taken off by Steamer Dallas this
forenoon and
taken to Rockland.”

He
made the
following journal entry in June 1895:

“Heavy
thunder showers passed over here at
one o’clock this morning. The dwelling house at this station was struck
by
lightning and one chimney, the roof, one window, and three rooms badly
shattered, lightning entered from rooms besides the cellar.  No one was seriously injured.”

His
daughter, Eula Kelley,
was born in the first keeper’s house in 1891 and lived until 1993,
spending her
last years in a cottage nearby the light station. Her sister, Marion
Dalrymple,
was born in the new keeper’s house in 1895 and lived until 1992. Both
sisters
attended the opening of the restored keeper’s house in 1990.

Millions
of Americans have seen Marshall Point
Lighthouse, even though they might not know it. The lighthouse’s wooden
walkway
served as the terminating point in Forrest Gump’s cross-country run
“Run,
Forrest, Run.

 

Kayla Skinner
in Seattle

Kayla
Skinner who died in 2004 at the age of 84 was
the matriarch of an old Seattle family and a pillar of local
philanthropy.  In 1942 she had married Ned
Skinner, a third
generation Seattle patriarch who twenty years later was to bring the
World’s
Fair to Seattle.

Kayla
played a central role in the flowering of Seattle’s arts
scene since that time, serving on numerous boards, lobbying
politicians, giving
generously herself and asking others to do likewise.

“This
was a seminal
person in the development of the Seattle arts community,” said Peter
Donnelly, president of the arts-support group ArtsFund and a longtime
friend.
“This is one of the architects of our cultural life as we know it
today.”

Her
name won’t be quickly forgotten. There’s a Kayla Skinner
Stairway at McCaw Hall, a Kayla Skinner Board Room at the Tacoma Art
Museum,
and a Ned and Kayla Skinner Theater at Cornish College of the Arts.  She was a founding member of Seattle Opera
and Pacific Northwest Ballet. She served on the boards of the Seattle
Symphony,
Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Art Museum and The Empty Space
Theatre,
among others.

She
was a small woman, not much more than five feet tall.
But she attracted attention wherever she went. It
was said by an old friend that when she
went shopping downtown in the 1950’s she used to stop traffic on Fifth
Avenue
because people would stop to look at her.
She was a somebody.

 

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