John Skingle 1623-1658
John SKINGLE 1623-1658
Born in Hertfordshire and baptised in St Mary’s, Ware on 23 July 1623; the sixth of seven brothers and sisters whose father, Robert, was a moderately wealthy yeoman of the county. Educated in Ware before going up to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge where he matriculated in 1641, receiving his BA in 1645. Nothing is known of Skingle from the years 1645 – 49. However, on 26th November 1649 he was appointed by the Committee for Plundered Ministers "to be minister of the said [Dulwich] College” and "to receave the profits.” Skingle was replaced as Minister in March 1658 when the College was once again allowed to elect its Fellows. In his will made later that year, he describes himself as being of the parish of Little Hadham in Hertfordshire and it was there that he was buried on 2nd September 1658.
Skingle’s will gives the impression that he owned few books as he specifies only a small number as legacies to his brothers. To his eldest brother Robert he bequeathed “South his worke, Junius and Tremellius Latin Bible, Mr Stocks His Comment Upon Malachy,” and to Richard he bequeathed “Hutchinson on John, Doctor Sibbs Doubting Soule, Mr Burroughs his 2nd and 3rd on Hosea and the sixth seaventh and eighth part of Mr Carrills exposition on the book of Job and Mr Ffenners Several sermons in quarto; & Jerome’s translation of the Bible.” To his youngest brother William he left “all my goods and chattils unbequeathed.”
The will is misleading as a list of Skingle’s possessions was drawn up before they were released into the hands of his brothers William and Richard, and this records more than 400 book titles. Approximately half were religious titles in the form of Bibles, Testaments and Psalters, Bible commentaries, sermons and other theological works, almost exclusively Protestant, with a marked leaning towards Calvinism/Presbyterianism. Classical works make up the bulk of the rest of his library but the inventory reveals a small number of books on philosophy and logic, mathematics and science, and English poetry and playbooks.
There is no evidence to suggest that Skingle’s books have survived into the modern age. They were removed from the College under the terms of the will mentioned earlier by Skingle’s brothers, William and Richard who signed for them on 21st October 1658. Aside from the volumes bequeathed to Robert and Richard the vast majority were left to William. He was also a graduate of Sidney Sussex before becoming curate of Little Dunmow in 1662 and vicar of Stebbing, Essex in 1664 where he remained until his death in 1712. In his will he bequeathed to his son, Robert, “all my books to be delivered upon demand.” This bequest must have included at least some of John Skingle’s books along with any additional books that William may have purchased in the intervening years. Robert had followed his father to Sidney Sussex and was also ordained, serving as preacher at Dunton Waylett and rector at Hawkwell from 1695. Robert died in 1736 and in his will he bequeathed “all my Books and Household goods unto … Ralph Skingle and Mary Skingle equally to be divided between them share and share alike.”
None of Skingle's books have been identified.
- Young, William, The History of Dulwich College (London: William Young, 1889)
- Will of John Skingle, The National Archives PROB 11/283/143.
- London, Dulwich College, MS VI, 21, Inventory of John Skingle, 20 September 1658.
- Information from Paul Fletcher.