SKINNER, John II (by 1509-71), of Reigate, Surr.
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Family and Education
Servant of Sir Anthony Browne by 1540; clerk of the avery by 1541; under steward, lordship of Banstead, Surr. by 1546; commr. relief, Surr. 1550, musters 1557, conventicles 1557, subsidy 1563; j.p. 1554, q. by 1558/59-64; collector of loan 1557; clerk of the green cloth by 1564-d.; usher and crier, KB by d.2
Nothing is known for certain of John Skinner’s upbringing and his early career is not easily disentangled from the last phase of his father’s. He is unlikely to have been the Oxford graduate of 1521 but he could have spent some time at the Inner Temple. When first heard of at court in 1540 he was in the service of Sir Anthony Browne, master of the horse. Since that office had earlier been held by Sir Nicholas Carew, a neighbour and friend of the Skinners, it may have been from Carew’s service that Skinner passed to Browne’s and so to the King’s; Carew was one of the trustees named by the elder John Skinner when he gave Anne Newdigate a life interest in certain property on her marriage to his son.3
By the close of 1541 Skinner was clerk of the avery in the royal stables. He was so described when in December of that year the council attendant on the King recommended that he should be given charge of Lord William Howard’s house at Reigate after Howard had been sent to the Tower for suspected complicity in Catherine Howard’s treason; the Council’s letter, written by (Sir) Ralph Sadler, was signed by, among others, Sir Anthony Browne. At the parliamentary elections in Surrey which immediately followed, Browne was returned for the shire and Skinner for Reigate. Both may be thought to have had crown support, but Skinner’s election, with his uncle James Skinner, also answered to the family’s standing in the borough; his father had been returned for it in 1529 and probably since, and it was evidently thought prudent to identify the new Member by the addition of ‘junior’ to his name. He may have been re-elected to the next Parliament, for which the names of the Reigate Members are lost; he had probably succeeded to his patrimony in 1543, had accompanied the King to France in the following year and had bought a house and lands in Reigate.4
Under Edward VI Skinner appears to have made little headway. The 30-year lease of all the attainted 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s property in and near Reigate which he obtained in March 1547 did not secure him a seat in the Parliament of that year and his only local promotion was to the relief commission in 1550; the John Skinner named in October 1551 as one of the commissioners to reform the canon law was almost certainly a namesake, doubtless the registrar of the ecclesiastical commission of 1559. In July 1553 Skinner attended the funeral of Edward VI as second averer in the stable. The reign of Mary first brought him into prominence. His appointment to the Surrey bench followed, and perhaps rewarded, his steadfastness during the rebellion of his kinsman Sir Thomas Wyatt II, when he and his uncle helped Lord William Howard to arrest Sir Thomas Cawarden, and towards the close of the reign he was to be much in evidence in the county, especially as a collector of the loan of 1557; but his most notable achievement was to sit in the last two Marian Parliaments as second knight of the shire, even though this was made easier for him by the eclipse of Cawarden. As could be expected, he does not appear on the list of Members of the Parliament of 1555 who supported Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing one of the government’s bills.5
Skinner conformed as readily under Elizabeth as he had under Mary. Retained on the commission of the peace, in which capacity he was adjudged ‘indifferent’ (that is, impartial) in 1564, he improved his standing in the royal household by his appointment as clerk of the green cloth. Although he did not sit in Parliament again, his son did so for Reigate. Skinner’s lands in Reigate, all held of the manor there, included a house called Dodds; he also had property in Charlwood and Horley, and in 1565 he bought from Lord William Howard the manors of Billeshurst and Lingfield. By his will of 27 Aug. 1570 he asked to be buried in Reigate church near his grandfather John Skinner, left his wife a life interest in Dodds and in her settled lands, made gifts to his married daughters, their husbands and his own servants, and provided an annuity for an unmarried daughter. He named his wife and his heir executors, and his overseers were his brother (the vicar of