Bishop John Skinner and the resurgence of Scots Episcopacy
Bishop John Skinner lived at a time of great transition within Britain and within Scotland in particular. In Scotland the effects of the last Jacobite rising were still being felt. Old dynastic controversy was abating and Scotland was properly fulfilling her part of the marriage bond of 1707 with England and giving of her people, her resources, and her blood to the British Empire and Hanoverian ascendancy. The Scottish Episcopal Church of which Skinner became Primus in 1788, the year Charles Edward Stuart died, was undergoing great and substantial change. She was drifting from the cold isolation into which she was plunged at the Revolution Settlement towards the warm embrace of acceptance by the Church of England. John Skinner was at the centre of these changes. He was in 1784 involved in the brave act by the church, still under the censure of Government, to consecrate the first Bishop of America. This was achieved over against the hide bound Erastianism of the British Government. He had a hand in the rescinding of the Penal Laws in 1792. He also played a keen part in bringing the two Episcopal communions of native and English congregations in Scotland together to form a new church. The process was not easy, and much of her distinctive Scottishness was seen to be sacrificed on the altar of Anglicisation. This thesis describes and analyses Skinners' involvement in these important events and movements and assesses his contribution to the debate on the nature of Episcopacy and Episcopalianism. In so doing, it seeks to throw further light on the history of the Scottish Episcopal Church during a period of significant transition in its role and status.