Daniel Skinner case study
Daniel Skinner case study
14/08/12: CSG, 14/08/12
Case study: Daniel Skinner the elder and his two sons, 1654
The case of Daniel Skinner the elder and his two sons, Daniel Skinner the younger and Thomas Skinner, all merchants of Dover, shows a merchant family commercially active outside London, yet maintaining commercial and family links with the capital city and dominant commercial port.
The links were maintained through the London merchant Albertus Skinner, then aged twenty eight, another son of Daniel Skinner the elder. In his HCA 13/69 deposition, Albertus Skinner reported being requested by his Dover family to seek an insurance policy on the ship the Yong Gyant (formerly the Yong Elephant) of Dover and its cargo of cognac wine, which he presumably sought to do at the Exchange in London. He was requested to insure the ship and cargo at eight pounds in the cent, but, being offered rates of ten pounds in the cent, declined to take out a policy. He also paid bills of exchange, when requested to do so by his family.
Research by this author shows that Daniel Skinner the elder (b. ca. 1579, d. 1659), was active in the Antwerp cloth trade and located in Antwerp earlier in his commercial career (1608 to ca. 1627 or 1628), nearly twenty years prior to the HCA proceedings of 1654. Making a deposition in January 1635/36, roughly eight years after leaving Antwerp, and having established himself as a merchant at Dover, Daniel Skinner the elder stated:
"that he had lived about twenty years at Antwerp from 1608, and had had born there eleven children, all which he had been compelled to take to their church to be baptized by the Romish priests, and that the Bishop of Antwerp peremptorily required him to frequent their churches, which he refused to do being the King of England's subject, and a few months after came from thence."
This statement conflicts with the firm identification by a modern academic author, Paul Arblaster (2004), of Daniel Skinner the elder as a Catholic.
Daniel Skinner the elder had a large family. Five are known to have been sons who survived into adulthood and who became merchants. The birth order is unknown. These sons were Daniel the younger, Frederick, Thomas, Albertus and Abraham. Neither Frederick nor Abraham are mentioned in the 1654 HCA depositions. Frederick Skinner had gone out to Bantam in 1650 as a factor, under the security of his father. Abraham Skinner (b. ? pre-1628, d. ca. 1661), writing his will in November 1661, gave his family, occupation and residence as "son of Daniell Skinner nowe dwelling in the porte of Dover in the Countie of Kent Merchant."
Albertus Skinner (b. ca. 1626, d. post 1668, pre 1679) referred in his 1654 deposition to the HCA to being borne in Antwerp, as were his brothers Daniel Skinner the younger and Thomas Skinner, though Albertus had been back in England for most of the last ten years (since ca. 1644 or 1645). Daniel Skinner the elder, appears frequently in the EEIC Court Books, 1645-1649, recorded as located in Dover and assisting the EEIC in purchasing bullion in considerable quantities in Dover, as well as providing shipping news. It is unclear whether he was free of the EEIC.
Frederick Skinner (b. ?, d. pre 1679), who had gone out to Bantam in 1650 as a factor for the EEIC, subsequently became the EEIC Agent at Bantam. He appears to have been an active private trader and to have fallen into dispute with the EEIC.
Albertus Skinner is recorded in the EEIC Court Books in 1652, identified as Frederick's brother, as much later is Thomas Skinner. There are some further records of Albertus Skinner, merchant of London, trading with France in the 1650s. He died intestate, leaving two children, according to his brother Daniel Skinner the younger, whose own will was proven in 1685.
Thomas Skinner (b. ? pre-1628, d. post- 1685) was involved in trade with the East Indies in the late 1650s and early 1660s. His brother, Daniel, referred in his will to a lengthy legal dispute in the Court of Exchequer between Frederick and Daniel, though the cause was not detailed.
The Skinner family connection with Dover was retained until at least the early 1660s. A document, probably drafted by Sir Andrew Riccard, in the early 1660s, refers to the Thomas of Dover, which Daniel Skinner the younger, Thomas Skinner, and Frederick Skinner, were alleged to have dispatched to the East Indies in 1657, and which Daniel Skinner the younger reported to its insurers in 1660 as lost. Abraham Skinner, as mentioned above, was resident in Dover at the time of writing his will in late 1661.
Daniel Skinner the younger (b. ?pre-1628, d. ca. 1685) moved his residence at some time after 1654 from Dover to London, describing himself in his will as "of London". His (?eldest) son, Daniel Skinner (b. ?. d. ?), was educated at Westminster School, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he bacame a minor fellow (1673), and a major fellow (1679). This son, Daniel, played an important role in attempting to publish (and later to suppress the publication of) several papers of John Milton, including De Doctrina Christiana. Since the discovery by XXX of these papers in 18XX in the State Record Office there has been speculation about the identity of this Daniel Skinner, his father, and the son's relationship to John Milton. A recent book by Gordon Campbell et al. addresses these issues of identity and analyses the strength of the case for the attribution of De Doctrina Christiana to Milton.
Relevant HCA 13/69 depositions
The following links will take you to unedited transcriptions of depositions by several members of the Skinner family, which are to be found in the HCA 13/69 volume.
Other primary and secondary records of the Skinner family of Dover and London
The following links will take you to further background on individual members of the Skinner family of Dover and London. These pages are in the Merchant Research Project wiki, which can be accessed with the Username and Password you have been given for the MarineLives Project Manual wiki
Arblaster, Paul, Antwerp & the world: Richard Verstegan and the international culture of Catholic reformation (Leuven, 2004)
Bruce, John (ed.), Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I ...: 1635-1636 (London, 1866)
Campbell, Gordon, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale and Fiona J. Tweedie, John Milton and the Manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana (Oxford, 2007)Campbell, Gordon, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale, David Holmes, Fiona Tweedie, 'Milton and 'De Doctrina Christiana', 5 October 1996, pub. online, viewed 01/04/12
- John Bruce (ed.), Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I ...: 1635-1636 (London, 1866), p. 191
- Paul Arblaster, Antwerp & the world: Richard Verstegan and the international culture of Catholic reformation (Leuven, 2004), p. 98, citing Roland Baetens, De nazomer van Antwerpen welvaart: de diaspora en het handelshuis De Groote tijdens de eerste helft der 17de eeuw. Pro Civitate. Historische uitgaven. Reeks in-8:o, 45; 1976, I, 231; and P. Voeten, 'Bidrage tot de Geschiednis van het Handelsleven te Antwerpen tijdens de eerste jaren van het Twaalfjarig Bestand (1609-1612)', unpubl. licence thesis, KU Leuven, 1954, 98
- PROB 11/307 Laud 1-52 Will of Abraham Skynner or Skinner, Merchant of Dover, Kent 26 March 1662
- See C 10/86/2 Thomas Andrewes, Daniel Skinner, Frederick Skinner and Francis Gardener v Albertus Skinner and Martin Skinner: money matters, Middx 1668; see also PROB 11/361 King 125-176 Will of Elizabeth Skinner, Widow of Dover, Kent 17 October 1679. In this will written in 1679, Elizabeth Skinner, mother of Albertus, stated that Albertus was already deceased
- Gordon Campbell, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale and Fiona J. Tweedie, John Milton and the Manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana (Oxford, 2007). See also an earlier paper: Gordon Campbell, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale, David Holmes, Fiona Tweedie, 'Milton and 'De Doctrina Christiana', 5 October 1996, pub. online,viewed 01/04/12