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JOHN SKINNER (1721-1807)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 192 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHN SKINNER (1721-1807), Scottish author, son of John Skinner, a parish schoolmaster, was born at Balfour, Aberdeen-shire, on the 3rd of October 1721. He had been intended for the Presbyterian ministry, but, after passing through Marischal College, Aberdeen, and teaching for a few years, he took orders in the Episcopal Church, and was appointed to the charge of Longside in 1742. Very soon after Skinner joined the Episcopalians they became, in consequence of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745, a much persecuted remnant. Skinner's church was burnt; his house was plundered; for some years he had to minister to his congregation by stealth; and in 1753 he suffered six months' imprisonment for having officiated to more than four persons besides his own family. After 1760 the penal laws were less strictly en-forced, but throughout the century the lot of the Episcopalian ministers in Scotland was far from comfortable, and only the humblest provisions for church services were tolerated. He died at the house of his son, John Skinner, bishop of Aberdeen, on the 16th of June 18o7. It is by his few songs that Skinner is generally known. A correspondence took place between him and Burns, who considered his " Tullochgorum" "the best Scotch song Scotland ever saw," and procured his collaboration for Johnson's Musical Museum. Other of his lyrics are: " The Monymusk Christmas Ba'ing," a football idyll; " The Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn " and " John o' Badenyon." His best songs had stolen into print; a collection was not published till 1809, under the title of Amusements of Leisure Hours. Throughout his life Skinner was a vigorous student, and published in 1788 an Ecclesiastical History of Scotland (2 vols.) in the form of letters. A Life of Skinner, in.connexion with the history of Episcopacy in the north of Scotland, was published by the Rev. W. Walker in 1883. His songs and poems were edited by H. G. Reid (1859). SKINNER'S CASE, the name usually given to the celebrated dispute between the House of Lords and the House of Commons over the question of the original jurisdiction of the former house in civil suits. In 1668 a London merchant named Thomas Skinner presented a petition to Charles II. asserting that he could not obtain any redress against the East India Company, which, he asserted, had injured his property. The case was referred to the House of Lords, and Skinner obtained a verdict for £5000. The company complained to the House of Commons which declared that the proceedings in the other House were illegal. The Lords defended their action, and after two conferences between the Houses had produced no result the Commons ordered Skinner to be put in prison on a charge of breach of privilege; to this the Lords replied by fining and imprisoning Sir Samuel Barnardiston, the chairman of the company. Then for about a year the dispute slumbered, but it was renewed in 1669, when Charles II. advised the two Houses to stop all proceedings and to erase all mention of the case from their records. This was done and since this time the House of Lords has tacitly abandoned all claim to original jurisdiction in civil suits. See Lord Holies, The Grand Question concerning the Judicature of the House of Peers (1689) ; T. P. Taswell-Langmead, English Constitutional History (19o5) ; L. O. Pike, Constitutional History of the House of Lords (1894); and H. Hallam, Constitutional History, vol. iii. (1885).
End of Article: JOHN SKINNER (1721-1807)
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