The Immigrants
Woodstock, Connecticut
The Move to Royalton
Skinners Multiply
Calvin & Sally's Family
Lewis Skinner Family
John Calvin Skinner
Lewis & Olive Ann
Other Skinner Towns
Cheat Sheet

The original Skinner immigrants settled in Malden, Massachusetts (now a northern suburb of Boston). One of the early settlers of Malden was Joseph Hills, who emmigrated from England in 1638 on the ship "Susan and Ellen". At the time, Malden was called "The Mystic Side" (noted on the photo above) because it was across the Mystic River from Charlestown. Joseph Hills renamed the town Malden, after his hometown, Maldon, England. He became a very prominent Massachusetts resident. One of his three wives was Rose Dunster, sister of the first President of Harvard College. Among many other accomplishments, he was the first to compile all of the laws of colonial New England. For this effort, he was granted land in the county now known as Hillsborough, New Hampshire. A key person in the Skinner family, Abraham, married a granddaughter of Joseph Hills. Malden was the first town to petition the colonial government to secede from the British Empire.

A monument dedicated to Joseph Hills sits at the spot of his homestead in Malden. It is located across the street from the current City Hall and next to the current Malden Main Library. It reads "Near this spot lived Joseph Hills a man prominent in church and state. He came from Maldon, England to New England in 1638. Speaker of the House of Deputies 1647. Compiler of the Massachusetts laws of 1649. He died at Newbury 1688." Thomas Skinner, the original Skinner immigrant, would have also lived in the immediate area. Interesting note: Walt Disney is a descendant of Joseph Hills and wife Rose Dunster. Photographer Ansel Adams is a descendent of Joseph Hills and wife Hannah.

Immigrants Thomas Skinner & Mary Godden
  Seargant Thomas Skinner came to America with his wife, Mary Godden and three children Thomas, John, and Abraham sometime between the years of 1649 and 1651. Originally from Chichester, England, the family settled in Malden, Massachusetts. In 1651, Thomas received a license to maintain an inn and sell provisions in Malden. One of the selectmen voting on the license was Thomas Call, who sold beer in another part of Malden (but probably not far Thomas Skinner's Inn). Apparently, Thomas Skinner and Thomas Call were friends--Thomas Call rented a house from Thomas Skinner. Thomas Call died in 1678 at the age of 43. Thomas Skinner's wife Mary died in 1671 and Thomas Skinner subsequently married Thomas Call's widower, Lydia.

Bell Rock Cemetery
Many of Malden's settlers are buried in the Bell Rock Cemetery, including a few Skinners. Unfortunately, the burial location of the original immigrant, Thomas Skinner and his first wife, Mary are unknown. In the 1800s, many of the graves in the Bell Rock Cemetery were relocated to Charlestown and Cambridge, so it is possible their graves were among those moved to a new site. Below are the Bell Rock Cemetery graves of Thomas Skinner's second wife, Lydia Call and her first husband, Thomas Call. Several prominent 'Mystic Side' settlers are buried in Bell Rock Cemetery, including Captain Peter Tufts who was a large landowner and who Thomas Skinner most certainly knew. Charles Tufts, a descendent of Peter Tufts, donated the land for Tufts University in nearby Medford. Another of Thomas Skinner's contemporaries, Rev. Micheal Wigglesworth, is buried in Bell Rock. He was Pastor of the Malden church, was a poet and author. One of the streets bounding the Bell Rock Cemetery is Wigglesworth St.

Thomas Skinner's Life in Malden
  On January 22, 1651, Thomas Skinner received his first license to operate an inn and sell provisions. On May 26, 1652, Thomas received a license to operate an inn formerly licensed to a John Hawthorne, who had been convicted of forgery in neighboring Lynn, MA. It is unclear whether Thomas operated both inns or if he sold or abandoned his original venture. In 1654, a Malden property was transferred from a Roland Lathorne to Thomas Skinner who, in turn, rented it to Thomas Call. It was located near the corner of Cross and Walnut Streets, about 5 blocks from Joseph Hills' homestead. By 1657, Thomas Skinner retired from his inn-keeping occupation and the license to operate the inn and tavern was transferred to his eldest son, Abraham, on April 16, 1657. There are indications the Inn/tavern owned by Abraham was called the 'Surf and Turf'. In 1660 there is a record that Thomas was fined for not paying his church dues. He also did not have the money to pay the fine. In 1678 he was chosen town constable and served for two years. In 1680, Thomas was chosen as an officer of the town at the annual town meeting. In 1695, the town of Malden gave Thomas--now an old man--a 7 acre allotment of land that the town owned. The town stipulated this allotment could be used by Thomas until his death, at which point ownership would revert back to the town of Malden. Thomas Skinner died March 2, 1703 in Malden. His second wife Lydia died on December 17, 1723 in Malden.

Land Speculator
  On May 27, 1674, Thomas Skinner is one of a number of petitioners for a grant of land in an area called Quasigamug (now Worcester, MA). It does not appear that he ever moved to the new land grant, although on March 3, 1678, he appeared in the General Court of Massachusetts with 7 others concerning the December 2, 1675 burning of vacant houses located in the new land grant. As a result of the fires, the Worcester land grant was abandoned and was not resettled until 1684.

The First to Leave Malden
  Of Thomas Skinner's sons, only Deacon Thomas Skinner left Malden. He moved from Malden, MA to Colchester, CT at about the age of 53. Deacon Thomas was one of the original proprietors (settlers) of Colchester. Thomas' two brothers, John and Abraham, lived in Malden until they died. Brother Abraham married Hannah Lewis on March 6, 1680 and they had three sons and one daughter. The conventions used for naming children at that time indicate that Hannah's last name was likely the source of three subsequent Skinner relatives with first names Lewis, including Lewis Bailey Skinner. Abraham and Hannah had three sons and one daughter. One of the sons, Abraham (Jr.), acted as his father's representative on November 2, 1732 for a land grant that eventually became Westminster, MA. It appears that this was a speculative transaction, since neither the father or son (or any other members of the family) moved to the new settlement.

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(c) Jerry Gottsacker, 2008