Cortlandt Skinner
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Cortlandt Skinner
Courtlandt Skinner
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly

GovernorWilliam Franklin
Robert Ogden
Stephen Crane
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly

GovernorWilliam Franklin
Stephen Crane
John Hart
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the City of Perth Amboy district

Serving with John Johnston, John L. Johnston, John Coombs
7th New Jersey Attorney General

GovernorJonathan Belcher, Sir Francis Bernard, Thomas Boone, Josiah Hardy, William Franklin
Joseph Warrell
William Paterson
Personal details
BornDecember 16, 1727
Perth Amboy, Province of New Jersey, British America
Died15 March 1799(1799-03-15) (aged 71)
Bristol, England
Resting placeSt. Augustine's Churchyard, Bristol
Elizabeth Kearney (m. 1751)
RelationsStephanus Van Cortlandt (grandfather)
Sir George Nugent, 1st Baronet (son-in-law)
ParentsWilliam Skinner
Elizabeth Van Cortlandt
OccupationAttorney general, attorney, colonial militia officer

Cortlandt Skinner (December 16, 1727 - March 15, 1799) was the last Royal Attorney General of New Jersey and a brigadier general in a Loyalist force, the New Jersey Volunteers, also known as Skinner's Greens, during the American Revolutionary War.[1][2]

Before the Revolution

Cortlandt Skinner was born December 16, 1727, to a wealthy family in Perth Amboy in the British Province of New Jersey, the eldest son of the Reverend William Skinner and Elizabeth nee Cortland. His grandfather Stephanus Van Cortlandt had been the first native born mayor of New York.[3][4] Skinner was of English, Dutch and possibly Scottish ancestry. There was a firm family tradition that William Skinner, later the Rector of St. Peter's Church in Perth Amboy, had participated in one of the Jacobite risings and was related to the chiefs of the Clan Gregor - changing his name from MacGregor to avoid the persecution inflicted upon all those of that name.[5]

Skinner studied law at Newark while clerking for David Ogden, a member of the governor's council, and then began practising at Perth Amboy. At the age of twenty-seven, he was appointed Attorney General of New Jersey in 1754 and also acted as speaker of the provincial Assembly between 1765 and 1770 and between 1772 and 1776. Sources differ as to his conduct as Attorney-General, but his general reputation was one of integrity and ability.[6]

Revolutionary War

Skinner was one of the three current and past speakers of the New Jersey colonial assembly who actively opposed American independence. At the outbreak of the hostilities in the American colonies, he was offered by the Patriot rebels the pick of all civilian and military posts. In January 1776, he fled after having received an intercepted letter authorizing his arrest by the Rebels.

As a prominent New Jersey Loyalist, Skinner accepted a commission, on September 4, 1776, as a brigadier general under the British Crown and was authorized to raise a Provincial corps, known as the New Jersey Volunteers or "Skinner's Greens". Three battalions were authorized, to consist of 2,500 soldiers. In the first months of trying to increase enlistments, the corps could only raise 1,000 men, but eventually, Skinner's Greens increased their ranks to 2,000 soldiers. Throughout the war, the New Jersey Volunteers mercilessly harassed their Patriot opponents in the Province of New York, from the defensive outposts of Long Island to Staten Island.[7]

Skinner, for the duration of the war, was the leading civil and military authority over Staten Island.[8] By the end of war in 1783, he was one of the three highest ranking Loyalist officers in the British Army.[9]

His wife and family embarked for England in the summer of 1783, in the Le Solitaire, and were forced into Halifax by stress of weather. He himself followed after the evacuation of New York City. His claim to compensation for his losses as a Loyalist was difficult to adjust and caused the Commissioners much labour, but an allowance was finally made. He also received the half-pay of a Brigadier-General during his life.

Personal life

In 1751, Cortlandt Skinner married Elizabeth Kearney, the daughter of Philip Kearney, of Perth Amboy, Province of New Jersey. They had many children, including:[3]

He died at Bristol, England, in 1799, aged seventy-one. He is buried in St. Augustine's Church, in Bristol.


  1. ^ "Biographical Sketch of Brigadier General Cortland Skinner". The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ Lamb, Martha Joanna (1877). Embracing the period prior to the Revolution, closing in 1774. A.S. Barnes and Company. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ a b Burke, Bernard (1871). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland. Harrison. p. 1270. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Burke, John (1838). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank: But Univested with Heritable Honours. H. Colburn. p. 243. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Constant, Silas; Roebling, Emily Warren (1903). The Journal of the Reverend Silas Constant, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Yorktown, New York: With Some of the Records of the Church and a List of His Marriages, 1784-1825, Together with Notes on the Nelson, Van Cortlandt, Warren, and Some Other Families Mentioned in the Journal. private circulation. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ Lamb, Martha Joanna (1896). History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise and Progress. A. S. Barnes. p. 706. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ "Law Office of Hon. Cortlandt Skinner, King'sAttorney for the province of New Jersey. In 1776 Brigadier General in British army with headquarters on Staten Island". New York Public Library. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ Sedgwick, Ellery and Leslie, Mrs. Frank. Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, Volume 19, page 362.
  9. ^ Shenstone, Susan Burgess (2001). So Obstinately Loyal: James Moody, 1744-1809. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. ISBN 9780773524163. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Sabine, Lorenzo (2009). Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. Applewood Books. p. 307. ISBN 9781429019538. Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ Walford, Edward (1864). The County Families of the United Kingdom, Or Royal Manual of the Titled and Untitled Aristocracy of Great Britain and Ireland. 2. Ed. Greatly Enl. Hardwicke. p. 388. Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry. H. Colburn. 1847. p. 1362. Retrieved 2019.
  • This entry incorporates text from Lorenzo Sabine's Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution (1843), a publication now in the public domain.
  • Susan Burgess Shenstone, So Obstinately Loyal: James Moody, 1744-1809 (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000)
  • W.D. Hoyle, The Macgregor Family, in volume 8 of The Scottish Antiquary, or Northern Notes and Queries (Edinburgh, 1894)
  • A.G.M. MacGregor, History of the Clan Gregor, Volume II, (William Brown, 26 Princes Street, Edinburgh, 1901)

External links

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