Matthew Skinner

Matthew Skinner (22 October, 1689 – 21 October, 1749) was an English serjeant-at-law, judge and politician.


A great-grandson of Bishop Robert Skinner, he was the third and youngest son of Robert Skinner of Welton, Northamptonshire, and of the Inner Temple, judge of the Marshalsea court, and law reporter. Born on 22 October 1689, he entered Westminster School at the age of 14. Elected to a studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, he matriculated on 18 June 1709, and entered Lincoln's Inn two days afterwards.[1]

Called to the bar on 21 April 1716, Skinner joined the Oxford circuit, and was chosen recorder of Oxford on 30 May 1721. In 1719 he purchased from Simon Urling (later recorder of London), a place as one of the four common pleaders of the city of London, who then enjoyed the exclusive right and privilege of practising in the lord mayor's court; but this position he gave up in 1722 to Thomas Garrard (later common serjeant of London).[1]

Skinner's practice grew rapidly, and he was called to the rank of serjeant-at-law in Easter term, 1 February 1724, was made one of the king's serjeants on 11 June 1728, and became his majesty's prime (or first) serjeant by letters patent on 12 May 1734. He served as treasurer of Serjeants' Inn in 1728. After making an unsuccessful attempt to enter parliament for Andover in 1727, Skinner, who resided at Oxford (1722–1739), was chosen member for the Oxford constituency at the general election of 1734.[1]

On 26 November 1738 Skinner vacated his seat in Parliament on being appointed chief justice of Chester, and of the great sessions for the counties of Flint, Denbigh, and Montgomery; this judicial position, together with the recordership of Oxford, he occupied for the rest of his life. He was the second counsel for the Crown in the prosecution of Jacobite rebels on the northern circuit in July 1746; and led for the crown at Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerinoch's trial in the House of Lords the same year.[1]

Skinner died at Oxford on 21 October 1749, and was buried in Oxford Cathedral.[1]


Skinner published his father's Reports of Cases decided in the Court of King's Bench, 33 Charles II to 9 William III in 1728.[1]


Skinner married, in 1719, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Whitfield of Watford Place, Hertfordshire. His eldest son died on 8 April 1735; while another son, Matthew Skinner, was also a barrister of Lincoln's Inn.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Skinner, Matthew". Dictionary of National Biography. 52. London: Smith, Elder & Co.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Skinner, Matthew". Dictionary of National Biography. 52. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Thomas Rowney, junior
Francis Knollys
Member of Parliament for Oxford
1734 1738
With: Thomas Rowney, junior
Succeeded by
Thomas Rowney, junior
James Herbert

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