Skinner, William (1778-1857) (DNB00)

SKINNER, WILLIAM (1778–1857), bishop of Aberdeen, second son of John Skinner (1744–1816) [q. v.], bishop of St. Andrews, was born at Aberdeen on 24 Oct. 1778, and educated at Marischal College and at Oxford, where he matriculated from Wadham College on 3 March 1798, graduating B.A. in 1801, and M.A., B.D., and D.D. in 1819. William Stevens, the friend of Bishop Horne, and Jones of Nayland defrayed part of his university expenses (PARK, Life of William Stevens, 1859, pp. 29–34). Skinner was ordained by Bishop Samuel Horsley of St. Asaph's in March 1802. Returning to Scotland, he officiated as assistant, and afterwards as colleague, to his father in the incumbency of St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen. On 11 Sept. 1816 he was elected by the clergy of the diocese as successor to his father in the see of Aberdeen, and was consecrated at Stirling on 27 Oct. George Gleig, primus of the church, sent a severe but fruitless reproof to the dean and clergy of Aberdeen for electing the son of their late bishop. Skinner was one of the bishops who attended the synod held at Laurencekirk on 18 June 1828 to revise the canons of 1811; thirty canons were adopted and duly signed on 20 June. In 1832 he confirmed as many as four hundred and sixty-two persons, and a first effort was made in the same year to circulate religious works in the Gaelic language. On 29 Aug. 1838 he attended another synod held in St. Paul's Church, Edinburgh, when the canons were again revised. Upon the death of Bishop James Walker [q. v.], Skinner was unanimously elected primus by an episcopal synod held in St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen, on 2 June 1841. During his rule Glenalmond College, near Perth, was founded in 1844, and developed by the episcopalians in Scotland, as a place of education for young men studying for the church. In the previous year a serious controversy had sprung out of the refusal of Sir William Dunbar, minister of St. Paul's Chapel, Aberdeen, to receive or to administer the sacrament in accordance with the Scottish ritual. Acting with the concurrence of his synod, Skinner excommunicated Dunbar on 13 Aug. 1843 (An Address by the Rev. Sir W. Dunbar, Bart., 1843; A Letter to the Managers of St. Paul's Chapel by Sir W. Dunbar, to which is added Bishop Skinner's Declaration, 1843; The Rev. Sir W. Dunbar versus the Right Rev. W. Skinner, 1849). The bishop was assiduous and exemplary in the discharge of his duties, and did much during his primacy to consolidate the episcopal party in Scotland. He died at 1 Golden Square, Aberdeen, on 15 April 1857, and was buried in the Spital cemetery on 22 April. He married, in 1804, the youngest daughter of James Brand, cashier of the Aberdeen Banking Company.

[Aberdeen Journal, 1857, 22 April p. 5, 29 April p. 5; Gent. Mag. June 1857, pp. 729–730; Stephens's Hist. Church of Scotland, 1845, ii. 495, 665, with portrait; Lawson's Scottish Episcopal Church, 1843, pp. 381, 421.]

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