Robert Skinner (bishop)

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Robert Skinner (10 February, 1591 – 14 June, 1670) was an English bishop successively of Bristol, Oxford, and Worcester.


He was born on 10 Feb. 1591, the second son of Edmund Skinner, rector of Pitsford, Northamptonshire, and Bridget, daughter of Humphrey Radcliff of Warwickshire. After attending Brixworth grammar school, he was admitted scholar of Trinity College, Oxford in 1607. He graduated B.A. in 1610, and M.A. in 1614. In 1613 he was elected fellow of his college, and until his death interested himself in its welfare. He proceeded B.D. in 1621, and became preacher of St. Gregory's Church, near St. Paul's Cathedral. In 1628 he succeeded his father as rector of Pitsford,[1] and shortly after was chosen by Laud to be chaplain-in-ordinary to the king. He was vicar of Launton from 1632.[2]

In 1634, Oxford University granted him a D.D. at the request of William Laud, without the formalities, a move criticized by John Prideaux.[3] He was diplomated or actually created as such on 14 August 1636.[4] In the 1630s Skinner was known for his sermons before Charles I asserting Arminian doctrines.[5] In 1636 he became bishop of Bristol and rector of Greens Norton, Northamptonshire. He retained the living of Launton, to which were soon added those of Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire, and Beckenham, Kent. In Bristol he was active in preaching against Calvinism.[6]

In 1641, he was translated to become Bishop of Oxford. He was one of the bishops who subscribed the protest of 17 Dec. 1641, declaring themselves prevented from attendance in parliament, and was consequently committed by the lords to the Tower, where he remained eighteen weeks. Released on bail he resided at Launton. In 1643 he was deprived of Greens Norton ‘for his malignity against the parliament.’ He was also sequestered from his livings of Cuddesden in 1646 and Beckenham in 1647. During the Commonwealth he secured a licence to preach, and continued in his diocese. He also conferred holy orders throughout England. It is stated by Thomas Warton, in his ‘Life of R. Bathurst’ (p. 35), that Ralph Bathurst secretly examined the candidates, and officiated at Launton as archdeacon.[7][8]

At the Restoration he became one of the king's commissioners of the university of Oxford, and in 1663 was translated to Worcester. He died on 14 June 1670, and is buried in a chapel at the east end of the choir of Worcester Cathedral. At the head of the inscribed stone, which is now in the crypt, are the arms of the family impaled with those of the see. He married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Bernard Bangor, esquire bedell of Oxford, and left issue six sons and four daughters.

Skinner's eldest son Matthew became fellow of Trinity. The latter's grandson was Matthew Skinner, serjeant-at-law; while from the bishop's fourth son was descended John Skinner, the antiquary.


  1. ^ "Parishes: Pitsford | British History Online". 1910-01-26. Retrieved 2016-03-04. 
  2. ^ "Parishes: Launton | British History Online". Retrieved 2016-03-04. 
  3. ^ Kenneth Fincham, Early Stuart Polity, p. 210 in Trevor Henry Aston, Nicholas Tyacke (editors), The History of the University of Oxford: Volume IV: Seventeenth-Century Oxford (1984).
  4. ^ Wood, Anthony (1813–1820). Philip Bliss, ed. Fasti Oxonienses. 1. p. 489. 
  5. ^ Kenneth Fincham, The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642, p. 40.
  6. ^ Kenneth Fincham, The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642, pp.81-2.
  7. ^ Roger Kenneth French, Andrew Wear (editors), The Medical Revolution of the Seventeenth Century (1989), p. 32.
  8. ^ "Alan Ray-Jones - Some stories and notes". Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

Church of England titles
Preceded by
George Coke
Bishop of Bristol
Succeeded by
Thomas Westfield
Preceded by
John Bancroft
Bishop of Oxford
Succeeded by
William Paul
Preceded by
John Earle
Bishop of Worcester
Succeeded by
Walter Blandford