Thomson J. Skinner

Last updated
Thomson Joseph Skinner
Thomson Joseph Skinner (Massachusetts Congressman).jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts
In office
January 27, 1797 March 3, 1799
March 4, 1803 – August 10, 1804
Preceded by Theodore Sedgwick (1st)
Samuel Thatcher (12th)
Succeeded by Theodore Sedgwick (1st)
Simon Larned (12th)
Constituency 1st district (1797–99)
12th district (1803–04)
7th Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts
In office
Governor Caleb Strong
James Sullivan
Preceded by Jonathan Jackson
Succeeded by Josiah Dwight
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1752-05-24)May 24, 1752
Colchester, Connecticut
Died January 20, 1809(1809-01-20) (aged 56)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Ann Foote (1754–1808)
Profession Businessman

Thomson Joseph Skinner (May 24, 1752 – January 20, 1809) was an American politician from Williamstown, Massachusetts. In addition to service as a militia officer during the American Revolution, he served as a county judge and sheriff, member of both houses of the Massachusetts legislature, U.S. Marshal, and member of the United States House of Representatives. He served for two years as Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts, and after his death an audit showed his accounts to be deficient for more than the value of his estate, which led to those who had posted bonds on his behalf having to pay the debt.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Williamstown, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Williamstown is a town in Berkshire County, in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, United States. It shares a border with Vermont to the north and New York to the west. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,754 at the 2010 census. A college town, it is home to Williams College, the Clark Art Institute and the Tony-awarded Williamstown Theatre Festival, which runs every July and August.

American Revolution Political upheaval, 1775–1783

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France and others.


Early life

Thomson J. Skinner was born in Colchester, Connecticut on May 24, 1752, the son of Reverend Thomas Skinner and Mary Thomson, the second wife of Thomas Skinner. [1] (His name is sometimes spelled Thompson, Tompson, Tomson, or even Thomas.) Skinner was educated in Colchester, his father died when he was 10 years old, and Thomson Skinner and his brother Benjamin were apprenticed to a carpenter and homebuilder. [2] At age 21 Skinner moved to Williamstown, Massachusetts with his brother, where they went into the construction business as partners in a firm they named "T. J. and B. Skinner". [3] The Skinner brothers were also involved in other ventures, including a successful tavern. [4]

Colchester, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Colchester is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 16,068 at the 2010 census. In 2010 Colchester became the first town in Connecticut, and the 36th in the country, to be certified with the National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat.

Military career

Thomson Skinner was a member of the militia, including service during and after the American Revolution. In the summer of 1776 he carried messages between units in Berkshire County and General Horatio Gates, commander of the Continental Army's Northern Department in upstate New York. [5] He also served as adjutant of Berkshire County's 2nd Regiment, adjutant of the Berkshire County 3rd Regiment (Simonds'), and a company commander in the Berkshire County regiment commanded by Asa Barnes. [6] [7] Skinner remained in the militia after the war, and rose to the rank of major general. [8] [9] During the Revolution he served as a member of the court-martial which acquitted Paul Revere's conduct during the unsuccessful Penobscot Expedition. [10] [11]

Horatio Gates American general in the American Revolutionary War

Horatio Lloyd Gates was a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga (1777) – a matter of contemporary and historical controversy – and was blamed for the defeat at the Battle of Camden in 1780. Gates has been described as "one of the Revolution's most controversial military figures" because of his role in the Conway Cabal, which attempted to discredit and replace General George Washington; the battle at Saratoga; and his actions during and after his defeat at Camden.

Continental Army Colonial army during the American Revolutionary War

The Continental Army was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the ex-British colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in their revolt against the rule of Great Britain. The Continental Army was supplemented by local militias and volunteer troops that remained under control of the individual states or were otherwise independent. General George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the army throughout the war.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city in the state with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.

Political career

He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1781, [12] 1785, [13] 1789, [14] and 1800. He was a member of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1786 to 1788, 1790 to 1797, and 1801 to 1803. [15] [16]

Massachusetts House of Representatives lower house of U.S. state legislature

The Massachusetts House of Representatives is the lower house of the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is composed of 160 members elected from 12 counties each divided into single-member electoral districts across the Commonwealth. The House of Representatives convenes at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

From 1788 to 1807 he was a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Berkshire County, and he was chief judge from 1795 to 1807. [17] In 1788 he was a delegate to the state convention that ratified the United States Constitution, and voted in favor of ratification. [18]

Berkshire County, Massachusetts County in the United States

Berkshire County, pronounced, is a county located on the western edge of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 131,219. Its largest city and traditional county seat is Pittsfield. The county was founded in 1761.

United States Constitution Supreme law of the United States of America

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the President ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.

From 1791 to 1792 he served as Berkshire County Sheriff. [19] In 1792 Skinner, recognized as a Federalist, [20] was a presidential elector, and supported the reelection of George Washington and John Adams. [21] Skinner was a founding trustee of Williams College, served on the board of trustees from 1793 to 1809, and was treasurer from 1793 to 1798. [22]

George Washington 1st president of the United States

George Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father, who also served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He commanded Patriot forces in the new nation's War of Independence and led them to victory over the British. He also presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the new federal government. He has been called the "Father of His Country" for his leadership during the Revolutionary War and in the formative days of the new nation.

John Adams 2nd president of the United States

John Adams was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Before his presidency he was a leader of the American Revolution that achieved independence from Great Britain, and also served as the first vice president of the United States. Adams was a dedicated diarist and regularly corresponded with many important figures in early American history including his wife and adviser, Abigail, and his letters and other papers are an important source of historical information about the era.

Williams College liberal arts college in Massachusetts

Williams College is a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams, a colonist from the Province of Massachusetts Bay who was killed in the French and Indian War in 1755. The college was ranked first in 2017 in the U.S. News & World Report's liberal arts ranking for the 15th consecutive year, and first among liberal arts colleges in the 2018 Forbes magazine ranking of America's Top Colleges.

Skinner represented Massachusetts's 1st congressional district (Berkshire County) in the U.S. House for part of one term and all of another, January 1797 to March 1799. [23] He was again elected to the U.S. House in 1802, this time from the renumbered 12th District, and served from March 1803 until resigning in August 1804. [24] Skinner, by now identified with the Jeffersonian or Democratic-Republican Party, lost to John Quincy Adams, the Federalist candidate, in an 1803 election for U.S. Senator. [25]

From 1804 to 1807 Skinner served as U.S. Marshal for Massachusetts. [26] From 1806 to 1808 he was Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts. [27]


Skinner died in Boston on January 20, 1809. [28]

Accounts as Massachusetts Treasurer

After Skinner's death, an 1809 audit revealed that his accounts as state treasurer were in arrears for $60,000 (about $935,000 in 2017), while his estate was valued at only $20,000. Several of the individuals who had posted surety bonds to guarantee his performance as treasurer paid portions of the remaining $40,000 obligation in order to satisfy Skinner's debt. [29]


In 1773 Skinner married Ann Foote (April 11, 1754 – December 15, 1808). [30] [31] Their children included Thomson Joseph, Mary, Thomas, Ann, Eliza, and George Denison. [32] Skinner and his wife had known each other as children because Skinner's mother had married Ann Foote's father following the deaths of Skinner's father and Foote's mother. [33]

Related Research Articles

Lanesborough, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Lanesborough is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,091 at the 2010 census.

North Adams, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

North Adams is a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. Its population was 13,708 as of the 2010 census,. Best known as the home of the largest contemporary art museum in the United States, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams has in recent years become a center for tourism, culture and recreation.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts

Pittsfield is the largest city and the historic county seat of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is the principal city of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Berkshire County. The population was 44,737 at the 2010 census. Although the population has declined in recent decades, Pittsfield remains the third largest municipality in western Massachusetts, behind only Springfield and Chicopee.

Mount Greylock mountain in Massachusetts

Mount Greylock is a 3489 foot mountain located in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, the highest point in the state. Its summit is in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. Although technically it is geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting Berkshire Mountains to the east. The mountain is known for its expansive views encompassing five states and the only taiga-boreal forest in the state. A seasonal automobile road climbs to the summit, topped by a 93-foot-high (28 m) lighthouse-like Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower. A network of hiking trails traverse the mountain, including the Appalachian Trail. Mount Greylock State Reservation was created in 1898 as Massachusetts' first public land for the purpose of forest preservation.

The Berkshires mountain range

The Berkshires are a highland geologic region located in the western parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The term "Berkshires" is normally used by locals in reference to the portion of the Vermont-based Green Mountains that extend south into western Massachusetts; the portion extending further south into northwestern Connecticut is locally referred to as either the Northwest Hills or Litchfield Hills.

Ephraim Williams Jr. was a soldier, land owner, and slaveowner from the Province of Massachusetts Bay who was killed in the French and Indian War. He was the benefactor of Williams College, located in northwestern Massachusetts. The school's athletic programs, the Ephs, are named after Williams.

Samuel L. Powers American politician

Samuel Leland Powers was a United States Representative from Massachusetts.

Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center

The Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center is a transit facility located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The $11 million facility is named after Joseph Scelsi, a longtime State Representative who represented Pittsfield. Owned by the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA), it is serviced by local BRTA bus services, Amtrak intercity rail service, and Peter Pan intercity bus service. The second floor of the building houses two classrooms used by Berkshire Community College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Simon Larned was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

Fred J. Burrell American politician American politician

Fred Jefferson Burrell was a Massachusetts businessman and politician who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and as Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts from January 21, 1920 – September 3, 1920.

Charles E. Hibbard American mayor

Charles Edmund Hibbard was an American lawyer, banker and politician who served as the Western Massachusetts District Attorney and as the first Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Harvey A. Gallup American politician

Harvey Alpheus Gallup (1869–1946) was an American politician who served as a Massachusetts State Senator, on the city council of and as the twelfth Mayor of North Adams, Massachusetts. Records indicate he was either born on Oct. 7 or 17th in Clarksburg, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and died on August 6, 1946, in Adams, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Walter Foxcroft Hawkins American politician

Walter Foxcroft Hawkins was an American attorney and local political figure who, from 1896 to 1897, served as mayor of Pittsfield, the largest city and county seat of Massachusetts' Berkshire County.

Harding and Seaver

Harding and Seaver was an architectural firm that operated for over 20 years. George C. Harding was an architect of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from MIT. He worked alone for five years and then partnered with Henry M. Seaver.

Benjamin Simonds was a militia commander of Massachusetts during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. He was colonel of the all-Berkshire regiment of about five hundred men known as the “Berkshire Boys” during the American Revolutionary War. His regiment notably fought in the Battle of Bennington in the summer of 1777. Simonds died in 1807 and was buried in what is now known as West Cemetery in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Simeon Griswold was a Massachusetts Representative from Pittsfield, Massachusetts and a member of the political Griswold Family.

James Barker (judge)

James Madison Barker was a Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1891 to 1905. He was appointed by Governor William E. Russell.

Charles T. Rathbun

Charles T. Rathbun was an American architect who practiced in Pittsfield, Massachusetts during the second half of the nineteenth century.


  1. Fernald, Natalie R. (May 1, 1904). The Genealogical Exchange. 1. Buffalo, NY: N. R. Fernald. p. 19.
  2. Perry, Arthur Latham (1904). Williamstown and Williams College: A History. Norwood, MA: Norwood Press. p. 162.
  3. Perry, Arthur Latham (1904). Williamstown and Williams College: A History. Norwood, MA: Norwood Press. pp. 161–162.
  4. Kean, Sumner (April 4, 1964). "Location of Proposed Williams Dorm has Long History as Site of Hotels". Berkshire Eagle. Pittsfield, MA. p. 26.
  5. Perry, Arthur Latham (1899). Williamstown and Williams College: A History. Norwood, MA: Norwood Press. pp. 101, 104.
  6. Massachusetts Secretary of State (1906). Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: A Compilation from the Archives. 14. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. p. 282.
  7. Ohio State Society, Sons of the American Revolution (1919). Yearbook of the Ohio Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Cincinnati, OH: A. H. Pugh Printing. p. 173.
  8. Smith, Joseph Edward Adams (1885). History of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. II. New York, NY: J. B. Beers & Co. p. 673.
  9. The Massachusetts Register and United States Calendar. Boston, MA: Richardson & Lord and James Loring. 1804. p. 136.
  10. Baxter, James Phinney (1914). Documentary History of the State of Maine. 19. Portland, ME: Lefavor-Tower Company. pp. 428–430.
  11. Greenburg, Michael M. (2014). The Court-Martial of Paul Revere: A Son of Liberty and America's Forgotten Military Disaster. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England. p. 205. ISBN   978-1-6116-8535-0.
  12. Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1780-1781. Boston, MA: Wright and Potter. 1890. p. 604.
  13. Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court, 1784-1785. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. 1890. p. 626.
  14. Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court, 1788-89. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. 1894. p. 523.
  15. A History of the County of Berkshire, Massachusetts. Pittsfield, MA: Samuel W. Bush. 1829. pp. 111–112.
  16. Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1800-1801. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter. 1897. p. 432.
  17. Davis, William Thomas (1900). History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts. Boston, MA: Boston Book Company. p. 211.
  18. "Ratification of the Federal Constitution by Massachusetts, published in the Hampshire Gazette, February 13, 1788". Memorial Hall Museum Online. Deerfield, MA: Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  19. "List of Sheriffs of Berkshire County". Berkshire County Sheriff's Office. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  20. Hall, Van Beck (1972). Politics Without Parties: Massachusetts, 1780–1791. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 301–302. ISBN   978-0-8229-3234-5.
  21. "Election Results: Massachusetts 1792 Electoral College, Western District". A New Nation Votes. Tufts University. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  22. Spring, Leverett Wilson (1917). A History of Williams College. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 67.
  23. United States House of Representatives (1826). Journal of the United States House of Representatives. 3. Washington, DC: Gales & Seaton. p. 14.
  24. Poore, Benjamin Perley (1878). The Political Register and Congressional Directory. Boston, MA: Houghton, Osgood and Company. p. 25.
  25. Adams, Henry (1905). Documents Relating to New-England Federalism, 1800-1815. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company. p. 154.
  26. "List of United States Marshals for the District of Massachusetts, 1789-1875" (PDF). United States Marshals Service. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  27. Gifford, S. N.; Marden, George A. (1881). Manual for the Use of the General Court. Boston, MA: Rand, Avery & Co. p. 217.
  28. Robbins, Thomas (1886). Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D., 1796-1854. 1. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. p. 5.
  29. Sureties of Thompson J. Skinner (1812). Memorial of the Sureties of Thompson J. Skinner. Pittsfield, MA: Phineas Allen. p. 11.
  30. Ann Foote Skinner at Find a Grave
  31. Goodwin, Nathaniel (1849). The Foote Family: Or, the Descendants of Nathaniel Foote, One of the First Settlers of Wethersfield, Conn. Hartford, CT: Case, Tiffany and Company. p. 84.
  32. Foote, Abram William (1907). Foote Family: Comprising the Genealogy and History of Nathaniel Foote of Wethersfield, Connecticut and His Descendants. 1. Rutland, VT: Marble City Press. p. 48.
  33. Foote, Abram William (1907). Foote Family: Comprising the Genealogy and History of Nathaniel Foote of Wethersfield, Connecticut and His Descendants. 1. Rutland, VT: Marble City Press. p. 48.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Theodore Sedgwick
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st congressional district

January 27, 1797 – March 3, 1799
Succeeded by
Theodore Sedgwick
Preceded by
Samuel Thatcher
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 12th congressional district

March 4, 1803 – August 10, 1804
Succeeded by
Simon Larned
Political offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Jackson
7th Treasurer and Receiver General,
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Succeeded by
Josiah Dwight