SKINNER, Ralph (1513/14-63), of Durham.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1513/14. educ. Winchester 1528; New Coll. Oxf. BA 1536, fellow 1531-8, MA by 1551. ?m. c.1538, Elizabeth, da. of one Ellis, s.p.

Offices Held

Lay rector of Broughton Astley, Leics. 1550-3; pro-warden New Coll. 1551-3; warden, Sherburn hospital, Durham 1559; dean of Durham 1560; chancellor and receiver gen. palatinate of Durham c.1561; member, council in the north from Jan. 1561; commr. to enforce Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy, province of York 1561; j.p.q. Yorks. (N. Riding), and diocese of Durham from c.1561; rector of Sedgefield, co. Dur. 1562-d.


After opposing government measures in Mary’s first Parliament, showing himself a courageous speaker in the Commons in April 1554, and voting against a government measure in 1555, Skinner did not sit in 1558. He was returned in 1559 for Westbury, by whose intervention is not clear — perhaps that of the 6th Lord Mountjoy or one of the Seymour family. It was probably he rather than John Skinner (15 Apr. 1559), with John Carnsew, who had a certain Thrower, servant of the master of the rolls, brought before the bar for ‘evil words’ against the House. Some six months later, having been taken up by Archbishop Parker, Skinner was ordained (26 Jan. 1560), and made dean of Durham, the installation being in the following March. It was obviously thought necessary to do something to promote the Elizabethan settlement in a conservative part of the country, and his appointment was specifically stated to be ‘on account of the scarcity of learned and good ministers of the gospel in the north’. He was himself troubled about his previous views, preaching a sermon in 1561 against a book he had printed (no details of it are given), which he now described as ‘very heresy’. Considering his character, he might well have become a bishop in time, but he died in January 1563, being buried on the 21st at Sedgefield. No will or inquisition post mortem has been traced.

G. Burnet, Hist. Reformation, ed. Pocock, ii. 447-8; T. F. Kirby, Winchester Scholars, 115; Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 102; LP Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 126; NRA 6229, no. 97; Reid, Council of the North, 494; CPR, 1558-60, pp. 5, 390; 1560-3, pp. 61, 170-1, 341; Bodl. e Museo 17; Guildford Mus. Loseley 1331/2; CJ, i. 59; Strype, Grindal, 73; Parker, i. 173; Annals i(1), p. 402; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 161; Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, iii. 299; W. Hutchinson, Hist. Durham, ii. 142-3.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge