John Skene (New Jersey)

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John Skene
3rd Deputy Governor of West New Jersey
In office
Governor Edward Byllynge, Dr. Daniel Coxe
Preceded by Thomas Olive
Succeeded by Vacant
Personal details
Born c1649
Newtyle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died c1695
Burlington County, West New Jersey
Spouse(s) Helen Fullerton
Children Alexander, Katherin, Lilias, Christian, Matthew

John Skene was the third deputy governor of West Jersey, part of the American Province of New Jersey, serving from October 1684 to April 1692.


Skene was born in Newtyle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In 1659 he was admitted as a burgess in Aberdeen.[1] A Quaker, he left Scotland and settled in West New Jersey where he purchased a 500-acre plantation he called Peachfield.

John Skene was a Freemason, having been a member of Aberdeen Lodge No. 1 in Scotland, and is cited as the first Freemason to settle in the New World.[2]

John Skene was a member of the West Jersey General Free Assembly representing the Second Tenth in 1683, and was chosen by the Assembly to serve as a member of the West New Jersey Provincial Council, members at the time being able to serve in both houses.[3]

In October 1684 he was appointed by Governor Edward Byllynge as deputy governor, ousting Thomas Olive, the Assembly Speaker, who had been chosen by the lower house to serve concurrently as both speaker and governor; Byllynge considered this an illegal usurpation of his power.

Skene remained deputy governor until Byllynge's death in January 1687; he was continued in office by Byllynge's successor Daniel Coxe, and succeeded by Gov. Andrew Hamilton in April 1692.


  1. ^ Memorials of the family of Skene of Skene; William Forbes Skene, D.C.L., LL.D.; Printed for the New Spalding Club, 1887, p. 78
  2. ^, History of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey
  3. ^ The Grants, Concessions and Original Constitutions of the Province of New Jersey, Aaron Leaming and Jacob Spicer; W. Bradford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1758. p. 457