Thomson J. Skinner

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Thomson Joseph Skinner
Thomson Joseph Skinner (Massachusetts Congressman).jpg
7th Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by Jonathan Jackson
Succeeded by Josiah Dwight
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 12th district
In office
March 4, 1803 – August 10, 1804
Preceded by Samuel Thatcher
Succeeded by Simon Larned
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st district
In office
January 27, 1797 – March 3, 1799
Preceded by Theodore Sedgwick
Succeeded by Theodore Sedgwick
Personal details
Born (1752-05-24)May 24, 1752
Colchester, Connecticut
Died January 20, 1809(1809-01-20) (aged 56)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Ann Foote (1754-1808)
Profession Businessman

Thomson Joseph Skinner (May 24, 1752 – January 20, 1809) was an American politician from Williamstown, Massachusetts. In addition to service as a militia officer during the American Revolution, he served as a county judge and sheriff, member of both houses of the Massachusetts legislature, U.S. Marshal, and member of the United States House of Representatives. He served for two years as Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts, and after his death an audit showed his accounts to be deficient for more than the value of his estate, which led to those who had posted bonds on his behalf having to pay the debt.

Early life[edit]

Thomson J. Skinner was born in Colchester, Connecticut on May 24, 1752, the son of Reverend Thomas Skinner and Mary Thomson, the second wife of Thomas Skinner.[1] (His name is sometimes spelled Thompson, Tompson, Tomson, or even Thomas.) Skinner was educated in Colchester, his father died when he was 10 years old, and Thomson Skinner and his brother Benjamin were apprenticed to a carpenter and homebuilder.[2] At age 21 Skinner moved to Williamstown, Massachusetts with his brother, where they went into the construction business as partners in a firm they named "T. J. and B. Skinner".[3] The Skinner brothers were also involved in other ventures, including a successful tavern.[4]

Military career[edit]

Thomson Skinner was a member of the militia, including service during and after the American Revolution. In the summer of 1776 he carried messages between units in Berkshire County and General Horatio Gates, commander of the Continental Army's Northern Department in upstate New York.[5] He also served as adjutant of Berkshire County's 2nd Regiment, adjutant of the Berkshire County 3rd Regiment (Simonds'), and a company commander in the Berkshire County regiment commanded by Asa Barnes.[6][7] Skinner remained in the militia after the war, and rose to the rank of major general.[8][9] During the Revolution he served as a member of the court-martial which acquitted Paul Revere's conduct during the unsuccessful Penobscot Expedition.[10][11]

Political career[edit]

He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1781,[12] 1785,[13] 1789,[14] and 1800. He was a member of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1786 to 1788, 1790 to 1797, and 1801 to 1803.[15][16]

From 1788 to 1807 he was a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Berkshire County, and he was chief judge from 1795 to 1807.[17] In 1788 he was a delegate to the state convention that ratified the United States Constitution, and voted in favor of ratification.[18]

From 1791 to 1792 he served as Berkshire County Sheriff.[19] In 1792 Skinner, recognized as a Federalist,[20] was a presidential elector, and supported the reelection of George Washington and John Adams.[21] Skinner was a founding trustee of Williams College, served on the board of trustees from 1793 to 1809, and was treasurer from 1793 to 1798.[22]

Skinner represented Massachusetts's 1st congressional district (Berkshire County) in the U.S. House for part of one term and all of another, January 1797 to March 1799.[23] He was again elected to the U.S. House in 1802, this time from the renumbered 12th District, and served from March 1803 until resigning in August 1804.[24] Skinner, by now identified with the Jeffersonian or Democratic-Republican Party, lost to John Quincy Adams, the Federalist candidate, in an 1803 election for U.S. Senator.[25]

From 1804 to 1807 Skinner served as U.S. Marshal for Massachusetts.[26] From 1806 to 1807 he was Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts.[27]


Skinner died in Boston on January 20, 1809.[28]

Accounts as Massachusetts Treasurer[edit]

After Skinner's death, an 1809 audit revealed that his accounts as state treasurer were in arrears for $60,000, while his estate was valued at only $20,000. Several of the individuals who had posted surety bonds to guarantee his performance as treasurer paid portions of the remaining $40,000 obligation in order to satisfy Skinner's debt.[29]


In 1773 Skinner married Ann Foote (April 11, 1754 – December 15, 1808). Their children included Thomson Joseph, Mary, Thomas, Ann, Eliza, and George Denison.[30] Skinner and his wife had known each other as children because Skinner's mother had married Ann Foote's father following the deaths of Skinner's father and Foote's mother.[31]


  1. ^ Fernald, Natalie R. (May 1, 1904). The Genealogical Exchange 1. Buffalo, NY: N. R. Fernald. p. 19. 
  2. ^ Perry, Arthur Latham (1904). Williamstown and Williams College: A History. Norwood, MA: Norwood Press. p. 162. 
  3. ^ Perry, Arthur Latham (1904). Williamstown and Williams College: A History. Norwood, MA: Norwood Press. pp. 161–162. 
  4. ^ Kean, Sumner (April 4, 1964). "Location of Proposed Williams Dorm has Long History as Site of Hotels". Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA). p. 26. 
  5. ^ Perry, Arthur Latham (1899). Williamstown and Williams College: A History. Norwood, MA: Norwood Press. pp. 101, 104. 
  6. ^ Massachusetts Secretary of State (1906). Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: A Compilation from the Archives 14. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. p. 282. 
  7. ^ Ohio State Society, Sons of the American Revolution (1919). Yearbook of the Ohio Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Cincinnati, OH: A. H. Pugh Printing. p. 173. 
  8. ^ Smith, Joseph Edward Adams (1885). History of Berkshire County, Massachusetts II. New York, NY: J. B. Beers & Co. p. 673. 
  9. ^ The Massachusetts Register and United States Calendar. Boston, MA: Richardson & Lord and James Loring. 1804. p. 136. 
  10. ^ Baxter, James Phinney (1914). Documentary History of the State of Maine 19. Portland, ME: Lefavor-Tower Company. pp. 428–430. 
  11. ^ Greenburg, Michael M. (2014). The Court-Martial of Paul Revere: A Son of Liberty and America's Forgotten Military Disaster. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-6116-8535-0. 
  12. ^ Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1780-1781. Boston, MA: Wright and Potter. 1890. p. 604. 
  13. ^ Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court, 1784-1785. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. 1890. p. 626. 
  14. ^ Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court, 1788-89. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. 1894. p. 523. 
  15. ^ A History of the County of Berkshire, Massachusetts. Pittsfield, MA: Samuel W. Bush. 1829. pp. 111–112. 
  16. ^ Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1800-1801. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. 1897. p. 432. 
  17. ^ Davis, William Thomas (1900). History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts. Boston, MA: Boston Book Company. p. 211. 
  18. ^ "Ratification of the Federal Constitution by Massachusetts, published in the Hampshire Gazette, February 13, 1788". Memorial Hall Museum Online. Deerfield, MA: Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  19. ^ "List of Sheriffs of Berkshire County". Berkshire County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  20. ^ Hall, Van Beck (1972). Politics Without Parties: Massachusetts, 1780–1791. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 301–302. ISBN 978-0-8229-3234-5. 
  21. ^ "Election Results: Massachusetts 1792 Electoral College, Western District". A New Nation Votes. Tufts University. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  22. ^ Spring, Leverett Wilson (1917). A History of Williams College. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 67. 
  23. ^ United States House of Representatives (1826). Journal of the United States House of Representatives 3. Washington, DC: Gales & Seaton. p. 14. 
  24. ^ Poore, Benjamin Perley (1878). The Political Register and Congressional Directory. Boston, MA: Houghton, Osgood and Company. p. 25. 
  25. ^ Adams, Henry (1905). Documents Relating to New-England Federalism, 1800-1815. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company. p. 154. 
  26. ^ "List of United States Marshals for the District of Massachusetts, 1789-1875" (PDF). United States Marshals Service. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  27. ^ Gifford, S. N.; Marden, George A. (1881). Manual for the Use of the General Court. Boston, MA: Rand, Avery & Co. p. 217. 
  28. ^ Robbins, Thomas (1886). Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D., 1796-1854 1. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. p. 5. 
  29. ^ Sureties of Thompson J. Skinner (1812). Memorial of the Sureties of Thompson J. Skinner. Pittsfield, MA: Phineas Allen. p. 11. 
  30. ^ Foote, Abram William (1907). Foote Family: Comprising the Genealogy and History of Nathaniel Foote of Wethersfield, Connecticut and His Descendants 1. Rutland, VT: Marble City Press. p. 48. 
  31. ^ Foote, Abram William (1907). Foote Family: Comprising the Genealogy and History of Nathaniel Foote of Wethersfield, Connecticut and His Descendants 1. Rutland, VT: Marble City Press. p. 48. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Theodore Sedgwick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st congressional district

January 27, 1797 – March 3, 1799
Succeeded by
Theodore Sedgwick
Preceded by
Samuel Thatcher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 12th congressional district

March 4, 1803 – August 10, 1804
Succeeded by
Simon Larned
Political offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Jackson
7th Treasurer and Receiver General,
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Succeeded by
Josiah Dwight