Phillip Skinner

NOTES: As the Bishops Tawton Parish Register clearly indicates, Phillip Skinner was a servant of the Chichester family in their manor house (known simply as "Hall") just outside the village, which in turn is just a short distance from the town of Barnstaple, which is in Devonshire but right on the border with Cornwall.  He rose to become Butler by 1842, but the beginning and ending of his life are somewhat more obscure at present.  Sometime before 1850 he emigrated with his family, except for Thomas and the first William (both of whom may have died in childhood), to Batavia in upstate N.Y., where he is listed in the 1850 Census as a "Laborer."  The two oldest children are not listed in that census, but they definitely came to America, and presumably were just not in the household as of 1850.  At some point Philip worked for the DeVoe School in Niagara Falls, and possibly the family moved there then [need to check 1860 census].  Ethelyn Sawyer Patti has old family pictures of the school, and a description of the Niagra River written by Eliza.  It appears from the 1870 census that another son named William was born in 1849, probably in America (there's no B.T. record of the birth) and late enough to miss the census; in any event, this strongly suggests that the first William had died by this date, and I would guess that the same is true of Thomas.  I don't recall seeing burial records, but I may not have been looking for them.

In 1870 the family has moved into William Smith's neighborhood in Somerset County, N.J., and both John (age 28) and Phillip (age 66) are listed as "Head of Household" and as "Farmer," suggesting perhaps that John bought a farm in this place and Phillip was willing to "retire" from his own farm.  Sarah is still alive, and Eliza and the younger William are still in the household; interestingly, both Sarah (now "61") and Eliza (now "22") have shaved a couple of years off their official ages! And that's the last I know of Phillip and Sarah Skinner, though it should not be hard to trace them to their deaths.

But back to the question of Phillip's birth and parentage, and back to Bishops Tawton register, unless stated otherwise:

Here are some candidates for parents in the generation before:
Children of John and Charity Skinner (marriage not in this register):
July 9, 1775 Elizabeth
Mar. 15, 1778 Anne
Apr. 23, 1780 John
Nov. 3, 1782 Mary
Feb. 6, 1785 William
Jan. 21, 1787 Charity
Apr. 22, 1789 Robert

From the Barnstaple St. Peter's register, different Skinners:
June 10, 1799 Robert Skinner of Chumleigh and the North Devon militia, m. Elizabeth Lewis
[I have no other record of this couple, but let's try to track them down. Phillip and Sarah Skinner named one female child Elizabeth and one male child Lewis, and there is clearly a tradition, at least with the Averys, of repeating family names.]
May 29, 1799 Robert, son of George and Elizabeth Skinner, b. [these parents also candidates for parents of Philip.]

Children of Michael and Elizabeth Skinner (candidates):
June 13, 1802 Michael
Mar. 28, 1804 George
[Unless 1804 is not correct date for Phillip's birth, the entry for George eliminates this couple from the competition.]

There is no record of Philip's baptism in either B.T. or Barnstaple, nor in Braunton, which was his parish at the time of marriage. After John and Charity's children were born, Skinners stopped being born for a generation in B.T., and the next listed is Ann, daughter of Charity Skinner
(apparently illegitimate) on Oct. 13, 1811--presumably the Charity born in 1787.

I need to know where the Mormon entry for Philip Skinner came from, and why it is vague on the year of birth and on the line where parentage is usually given ("relative: John S."). My best guess, given that they all started in B.T. and he ended up working there, is that he is the child of one of the first six children of John and Charity--including the women because of the possibility that he was illegitimate; there was a lot of that going around at the time (the North Devon militia may have had something to do with it!), and it might explain the "relative: John S." The uncertainty about
exact year of birth sometimes means the person did not get baptized until later on.

Additional info from marriage record of Philip Skinner and Sarah Avery:  Sarah's middle initial appears to be "E." but the signature is unclear.  Witnesses were Mary Avery and John Houle [who may be the father of a John Houle, b. 1835, d. 1928, in B.T. graveyard.]