Cortlandt Skinner

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Courtlandt Skinner
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
Governor William Franklin
Preceded by Robert Ogden
Succeeded by Stephen Crane
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
Governor William Franklin
Preceded by Stephen Crane
Succeeded by John Hart
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the City of Perth Amboy district
In office
Serving with John Johnston, John L. Johnston, John Coombs
7th New Jersey Attorney General
In office
Governor Jonathan Belcher, Sir Francis Bernard, Thomas Boone, Josiah Hardy, William Franklin
Preceded by Joseph Warrell
Succeeded by William Paterson
Personal details
Born December 16, 1727
Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, Province of New Jersey, British North America, British Empire
Died 15 March 1799(1799-03-15) (aged 71)
Bristol, England
Resting place St. Augustine's Churchyard, Bristol
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Kearney
Relations Stephanus Van Cortlandt (grandfather), Philip Kearney (father-in-law)
Children Cortlandt Skinner Jr., Maria Skinner, Sir George Nugent, 1st Baronet (son-in-law)
Parents William Skinner and Elizabeth Cortland (Van Cortlandt)
Occupation attorney general, attorney, colonial militia officer

Cortlandt Skinner (December 16, 1727 – March 15, 1799) was the last Royal Attorney General of New Jersey and a Brigadier General, in the British, Loyalist force, the "New Jersey Volunteers" also, known as "Skinner's Greens", during the American Revolutionary War.

Early life[edit]

Cortlandt Skinner was born December 16, 1727, to a wealthy family, in Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, Province of New Jersey, British North America, British Empire, the eldest son of the Reverend William Skinner. and Elizabeth Cortland (the daughter of Stephanus Van Cortlandt, the first native born mayor of New York). Skinner was of English, Dutch, and possibly, Scottish ancestry. There was a firm family tradition that William Skinner, later the Rector of St. Peter's Church in Perth Amboy, had participated in one of the Jacobite risings, and was related to the chiefs of the Clan Gregor - changing his name from MacGregor to avoid the persecution inflicted upon all those of that name.


In 1751, Cortlandt Skinner married Elizabeth Kearney, the daughter of Philip Kearney, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. They had manys children, including Cortlandt Skinner Jr. and Maria Skinner, who married Sir George Nugent, 1st Baronet also, known as General George Nugent MP and later Field-Marshal George Nugent.

Legal and political career in the coming American Revolution[edit]

Cortlandt Skinner studied law at Newark while clerking for David Ogden, a member of the governor's council, and then began practising at Perth Amboy. At the age of twenty-seven, he was appointed Attorney General of New Jersey in 1754 and also acted as speaker of the provincial Assembly between 1765 and 1770 and between 1772 and 1776. Sources differ as to his conduct as Attorney-General of New Jersey, but his general reputation was one of integrity and ability.

Military career in American Revolutionary War[edit]

Cortlandt Skinner was one of the three current and past speakers, of the Province of New Jersey colonial assemblies, who actively opposed American independence. At the outbreak, of the hostilities, in the American colonies, Cortlandt Skinner was offered, by the Patriot rebels, the pick of all civilian and military posts. In January, 1776, Skinner fled, after having received an intercepted letter, authorizing his arrest, by the Rebels.

As a prominent, New Jersey Loyalist, Cortlandt Skinner accepted service and a commission, on September 4, 1776, as a brigadier general, under the British Crown and was authorized to raise a Provincial corps, known as the New Jersey Volunteers and "Skinner's Greens". Three battalions were authorized, to consist of 2,500 soldiers. In the first months, of trying to increase enlistments, the corps could only raise 1,000 men, but eventually, Skinner's Greens increased their ranks to 2,000 soldiers. The New Jersey Volunteers mercilessly harassed, their Loyalist and Patriot rebel opponents, throughout the war, in the Province of New York, from the defensive outposts, of Long Island, to Staten Island.

By the end of war, in 1783, Brigadier General Skinner was one of the three, highest ranking, Loyalist officers, in the British Army.

Exile to England, later life, and death[edit]

His wife and family embarked for England in the summer of 1783, in the Le Solitaire, and were forced into Halifax by stress of weather. He himself followed after the evacuation of New York City. His claim to compensation for his losses as a Loyalist was difficult to adjust, and caused the Commissioners much labour ; but an allowance was finally made; and he also received the half-pay of a Brigadier-General during his life. He died at Bristol, England, in 1799, aged seventy-one. He is buried in St. Augustine's Church, in Bristol.


This entry incorporates text from Lorenzo Sabine's Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution (1843), a publication now in the public domain.

  • Susan Burgess Shenstone, So Obstinately Loyal: James Moody, 1744-1809 (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000)
  • W.D.Hoyle, The Macgregor Family, in volume 8 of The Scottish Antiquary, or Northern Notes and Queries (Edinburgh, 1894)
  • A.G.M. MacGregor, History of the Clan Gregor, Volume II, (William Brown, 26 Princes Street, Edinburgh, 1901)