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rish of the north of Scotland, and who answered most literally to Goldsmith's description of the “ Village Preacher :"
“ A man he was to all the country dear,
The Reverend John Skinner, for nearly sirty-fire years Minister of the Episcopal Congregation in Longside near Peterhead, was born at Balfour, in the parish of Birse, Aberdeenshire, on the 3d of October, 1721. His father, then schoolmaster of that parish, was of the same name, and had married Mrs Jean Gillanders, the widow of Donald Farquharson, Esq. of Balfour, Grandfather of Dr William Farquharson, the present President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. About two years after the birth of their only son (the subject of this memoir) the mother died, when Mr Skinner removed to the parish of Echt, within twelve miles of Aberdeen, where he continued to discharge the duties of School. master for full fifty years, to the entire satisfaction of many persons of distinction, whose sons were entrusted to his care and tuition : And so great was his diligence in the line of his profession, that he fitted out more young men for the University, than most country schoolmasters of his day. After having been several years a widower, he married a second time, and had a numerous family, the youngest, and only surviving son of which marriage, James, is a writer of some standing in Edinburgh. The eldest son, John, studied under his father, and at a very early period displayed an uncommon genius,
particularly for acquiring the knowledge of the Latin language. When only thirteen years of
he appeared as a candidate at the annual competition in Marischal College, Aberdeen, and gained a considerable bursary, which greatly contributed towards defraying the expence of his attendance during the usual term of four sessions in that University. Having finished his academical courses, his first employment was as a teacher for a few months in the parish school of Kemnay, near Aberdeen. From thence he went to the adjoining parish of Monymusk, and acted as assistant to the Schoolmaster there; till Lady Grant having seen some of his poetical effusions in the Scottish dialect,* was pleased to encourage his rustic muse, by affording him in the house of Monymusk every accommodation for prosecuting his studies, and improving his mind in the attainment of useful learning. Here it was, that enjoying the conversation, and the benefit of reading under the direction, of a worthy episcopal clergyman in that neighbourhood, † he became a convert to the principles of episcopacy, and united himself to the venerable remains of the old established church of Scotland. This was the cause of no small disappointment to his father, who had naturally flattered himself, that a son of such promising talents would in time have made a figure in the presbyterian establishment. But
* Among others, what he called the “Monymusk Christmas Ba’ing," to be seen in the third volume ; and a “ Poem on a visit to Paradise,” a beautiful spot of pleasure ground, which Sir Archibald Grant had laid out on the banks of the River Don ; but of this no copy can be found.
Mr Alexander Lunan, then at Blairdaff near Monymusk, afterwards at Inglismadie, Kincardineshire,
respecting, as a man of his good sense could not fail to respect, the conscientious, and disinterested motives, by which his young friend was actuated, the only sentiment, which remained for the father to cherish, was a fervent wish, that the son might show himself sincere in his now episcopal profession, and do credit to the principles which he had adopted. His attachment to these principles was soon after strengthened by a circumstance, which at once gave him an opportunity of making some farther enquiry into the truth of them, and by the consequences resulting from it, was the means of fixing his future destiny in life.
In the month of June, 1740, Mr Skinner received an invitation from the Reverend Robert Forbes in Leith, afterwards a Bishop of the Scotch episcopal church, to undertake the office of tutor to the only son of a gentleman of considerable property in Shetland. Having accepted the offer thus made to him in the most friendly manner, he continued in that situation for about a year, when, by the arrangements which took place in consequence of the death of his pupil's father, * his services being no longer necessary, he quitted, with the regret of all concerned, the station, which he had occupied to their entire satisfaction. The family, in which he had been employed, was of the episcopal communion, and of course was frequently visited by the only clergyman of that persuasion, in the Shetland Isles, the Rev. Mr Hun
* Mr Sinclair of Scalloway, on the subject of whose early and lamented death, Mr Skinner wrote a very affecting Elegy in Englisk, and a Latin Inscription for his tombstone, both which were highly approved of by that learned grammarian Mr Thomas Ruddiman; from whose printing press some copies of them were thrown off in a very handsome manner.
ter, whose unwearied assiduity in discharging the duties of his office, with great fatigue of body, and often at the imminent risk of his life in those boisterous seas, endeared him to the people under his pastoral charge, and made his memory precious among them, long after the hand of death had deprived them of that unremitting attention to all their wants, which never ceased but with his life. In the company and conversation of this truly pious, and faithful servant of Christ, Mr Skinner found such kind assistance in the prosecution of his studies, and such unaffected zeal for his happily accomplishing the object of them, as made him anxiously wish for a still nearer connection with one of so amiable a character, and from whom he had already experienced so much disinterested friendship, as seemed to flow from paternal affection. Nor did he in this form a vain expectation ; for before he quitted the society of his venerable friend, and took his leave of Shetland, he had the happiness of receiving in marriage the hand of Mr Hunter's eldest daughter ; and with her the best of all earthly blessings, a sweetly soothing affectionate wife, who was his dear companion, and ministered tenderly to all his wants, for the uncommon space of fifty-eight years.
Haviog returned to Aberdeenshire, and completed his preparatory studies, with a view to his entering into the service of the church, he received holy orders from the Right Rev. Bishop Dunbar, at Peterhead ; and a vacancy happening in the episcopal congregation at Longside, by the removal to Dundee of its beloved pastor, Mr William Robertson, Mr Skinner was immediately settled as his successor, and entered on his new charge in November, 1742, at the unanimous desire of a large and respectable congregation. Within a few years after his accepting this pastoral charge, the church to which he belonged, when beginning to emerge from her former state of suffering, was subjected to another deeply afflicting trial, occasioned by suspicions of the same political attachment, which had already exposed her to no small distress and danger.
The last, and most unfortunate attempt made by the exiled family of Stuart, for the recovery of what they had lost by the Revolution in 1688, having completely failed, without leaving the smallest hope of future success; those, who had embarked in the hazardous enterprize, had nothing to expect as individuals, but the ruinous consequences of legal prosecution; while the Scotch episcopal church was doomed to feel, as a community, not only the rigour of law, but some of the most cruel effects of military violence. Their chapels, or meeting houses, were either burnt to the ground, or otherwise demolished by parties of armed men sent through the country for that purpose ; and many of the clergy were obliged to leave their houses, under the terror of immediate imprisonment, if found at home; nay, to leave them to the mercy of plundering soldiers, out of the reach of discipline, or acting under the command of officers of the lowest rank, eager, by the strict execution of this barbarous service, to raise themselves in the esteemi of some furious and enraged superior.
Such was the state of things through the north of Scotland in the summer of 1746, during which the episcopal