SKINNER, Matthew (1689-1749), of St. John the Baptist's, Oxford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1734 - Nov. 1738

Family and Education

b. 22 Oct. 1689, s. of Robert Skinner of Welton, Northants., and the Inner Temple, judge of the Marshalsea court, by Anne, da. of William Buckby, serjeant-at-law, recorder of Daventry, Northants. educ. Westminster (Q.S.) 1704; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1709; L. Inn 1709, called 1716. m. 1719, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Whitfield of Watford Place, Herts., 2s.

Offices Held

Common pleader, city of London 1719-22; recorder, Oxford 1721-d.; serjeant-at-law 1724, King’s serjeant 1728, prime serjeant 1734; c.j. Chester Nov. 1738-d.


Skinner was the great-grandson of Robert Skinner, bishop of Oxford and of Worcester. On his election to be recorder of Oxford in May 1721, Hearne reported: ‘Mr. Skinner carried it above three to one ... [he] is a very honest gentleman, and an excellent lawyer.’ After unsuccessfully contesting Andover in 1727, he was chosen unanimously as a Tory for Oxford in 1734, with the support of the Earl of Abingdon and ‘the most reputable persons, both of the university and city’.1 But he soon went over to the Government, speaking, 16 May 1737, in favour of the bill against the provost and city of Edinburgh after the Porteous riots. He left the House on being appointed chief justice of Chester a year and a half later. In July 1746 he was counsel for the Crown in the prosecution of the rebels on the northern circuit, and led for the Crown at Lord Balmerino’s trial before the House of Lords the same year when, according to Horace Walpole, he made ‘the most absurd speech imaginable’.2 He died 21 Oct. 1749.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Hearne, Colls. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), vii. 246; xi. 330-1.
  • 2. To Mann, 1 Aug. 1746.