SKENE, Robert (1719-87), of Hallyards, Fife.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



2 July 1779 - 7 Feb. 1780
1780 - 19 May 1787

Family and Education

b. 1719, 1st s. of David Skene of Pitlour (subsequently re-named Hallyards), by Jean, da. of John Douglas of Strathendry, Fife; cos. of Adam Smith. unm.  suc. fa. 1747.

Offices Held

Ensign 19 Ft. 1743, lt. 1745; capt. 59 Ft. 1756; lt-col. and dep. adjutant gen. N. Britain 1758; adjutant gen. 1763; inspector of roads in the Highlands 1767-80; col. 1772; maj.-gen. 1777; col. 99 Ft. 1781-3; lt.-gen. 1782; col. 48 Ft. 1783- d.


Skene stood for Fife in 1776 with the support of John, 5th Duke of Argyll, but, by a compromise, gave his interest to James Townsend Oswald against John Henderson.1 On Oswald’s resignation in 1779 he was returned, but unseated in February 1780 on Henderson’s petition, as being disqualified by his office of inspector of roads. Having resigned his office to his brother,2 he was returned at the general election of 1780, and supported North’s Administration until its fall. Although he did not vote on the peace preliminaries in February 1783, in March he was listed by John Robinson among Shelburne’s friends. He supported the Coalition; voted for Fox’s East India bill; and was counted in December 1783 among Pitt’s opponents, but was absent through illness for the remainder of the session.

Robinson hoped that in a new Parliament he would ‘very properly’ follow Administration. ‘If not’, he wrote, ‘an opposition may easily be given him.’3 But though opposed by Henderson and the Dundas interest, Skene was re-elected, and continued to vote against the Government until his death. In Parliament he was regarded as something of an authority on road bills,4 but no speech by him is known.  He died 19 May 1787.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. NLS, Melville mss 1, f. 6.
  • 2. Skene to Ld. Balgony, 21 Feb. 1780, Leven and Melville mss 13, f. 167, SRO.
  • 3. Laprade, 101.
  • 4. Dunglass mss 453.