Brigadier Michael Alexander Robert Skinner =
joined Skinner’s Horse in 1942. In 1960 he
became the first Skinner to command
Skinner’s Horse Regiment the first Skinner
since it was formed 150 years previously by
He was born at a house called Rockford in
Mussoorie, a picturesque Himalayan town,
in 1920 and died in 1999 at Epsom, Surrey.
His ashes were buried at St James’ Church,
Delhi. He was made an Honorary Brigadier
in the 1990’s by India’s army chief for helping
out ex-servicemen. An outspoken officer to
a fault but a fair soldier, he was known by his
regimental colleagues as “Ramrod Skinner”.
Mike was presented to HM Queen Elizabeth
II in 1961 when she came to India and
attended Sunday Service at St James’
Church, Delhi. He was also presented to
the Queen Mother in London
- Twins -
Sylvia Anne =
born in 1938
(son of Skinner) born
1958 in Edinburgh.
Adopted by the family
PhD, University of
York. Editor and
1950 Margaret Skinner,
a cousin, at St James
Church, the oldest
church in Delhi. It was
built between 1826 - 36
as commissioned by
Lt Col James Skinner,
Lillian Eva born 1923 =
at a house in Mussoorie
called Rockford. In 2017
at 94 years of age she
was living at Sikander
Hall, Mussoorie a house
built on the estate bought
in 1916 by Alice Georgina
Skinner from the assets
of the old Crown Brewery.
Victoria Helen Georgina Skinner =
(1856 - 1938) only child. She
founded the ‘model village’
of Orgaon in the Punjab
1872 Thomas Lewis
Ingram (1856 - 1938)
a barrister. They had
George Henry =
in the Mutiny
born 28 Jul 1846
bapt. 8 Nov 1849
in Lahore by Ch-
aplain RB Maltby
Margaret Alice =
Brig Michael Skinner,
her cousin and C.O.
of Skinner’s Horse
John Alan = 1)
Jenny = 2)
1957 in = 3)
James Skinner =
1805 - 1861
Capt Hercules Skinner =
1814 - 1865, educated at
the Edinburgh Academy
1824-28 and lived 25 Pitt
St (now Dundas St) 1824-7
then at 18 Ann St in 1828.
He commanded the 14th
Bengal Cavalry 1852-57
born 1815. At
at 25 Pitt (now
born 1816, at
1824-27 lived at
25 Pitt St. died
young (Ref Lillian
Thomas Elizabeth = 1)
1839 Radclyffe = 2)
the 45th Native
Infantry, killed in
manager of the
of 61st Native
Maria Cardoza, sister-inlaw to Rose-Ann Skinner =
and daughter of Samuel Cardoza of Redruth,
Cornwall travelled out to India in 1851 to find
a suitable husband. At the wedding in 1852
Hercules gave away the bride
of 58th Regiment
Colonel James Skinner CB (1778 - 1841). He was an
Anglo-Indian adventurer who became known in later
life as Sikander Sahib. Most wideley known for raising
an irregular army and in particular forming 2 Bengal
Cavalry Regiments which, when later adopted by the
British Army, were known as 1st Skinner’s Horse and
3rd (formerly 2nd) Skinner’s Horse at Hansi. They are
still part of the Indian Army. When James Skinner
raised his cavalry regiment the flag under which they
rallied bore his father’s coat of arms, the Griffin’s
Head and Bloody Hand of the ancient Skinner family,
Which was tattooed on James Skinner’s Stomach so
that he could be recognised if he was decapitated).
born in 1776,
went to sea
Major Robert Skinner
1782 - 1821. In 1809
he was appointed 2nd
in command of
Skinner’s Horse and
in 1815 command of
2nd Corps Skinner’s
Horse. He married a native woman.
Lieut. = 2)
Judge in Bengal
Civil Service. In
1834 he bought
from Lady Blount.
1767 - 1816,
attorney In Calcutta
Lt Col Hercules Skinner 1735 - =
1803. 1771 admitted as a cadet
to the H.E.I.C.S., Commissioned
ensign in 1773 Hercules was
buried in Baharampur Cemetry.
Daughter of a Rajpootnee zemindar of the Bojepoor country.
She was taken prisoner at 14 years of age in a war with
Rajah Cheit Singn near Bejaghue in the Benaree district .
She bore with him three boys and three girls. The girls
were all married to gentlemen of the East India Company
Captain James Skinner 1733 - 1773. In 1762 he joined H.M.’s 84th Regiment of Foot
1772 then transferred to the Bengal Army in 1763. He was promoted Lieutenant in
1763. James rose to the rank of captain and command of the 6th Native Infantry.
James resigned 20 Jun 1769 and died 15 Dec 1773 at Baharampur (Berhampore).
His monument is the oldest in Baharampur Cemetery.
David Skinner, Provost of Montrose =
three times between 1733 and 1743
Margaret, daughter of Alexander Beattie, a burgess of
Montrose, Master of the ship ‘Hopeful Jean of Montrose’
David Skinner (born circa 1670) =
Provost of Montrose 1713 - 1714
Katherine, daughter of Robert Tailyour of
Borrowfield, Montrose. They had six sons
Sandra was educated =
at St Mary’s School,
Pune, India. She
moved to Australia
in 1995 and lives in
Daughter Kathryn. In 2017
she was teaching English
in Paris. As a child she sat
beside her mother in the
Birmingham Library whilst
Lillian researched Skinner
family history to be included
in the book book Sikander Sahib
baptised at 3rd
Cawnpore in 1784
Stanley = 1)
Arms of Colonel
James Skinner CB
Margaret Elizabeth Templeton =
1789 - 1879
Henry Wood 1782 - 1871,
Cheam, Eton & H.E.I.C.S.
Margaret Sophie Wood =
1810 - 1899
John Bury Bourne
1809 - 1869
Thomas Wood Bourne =
1845 - 1928
1858 - 1929
Basil Wood Bourne =
1883 - 19..?, Iived
Harding 1901 - 19..?
David and his brother James had a price
On their heads for backing the wrong side
during the 1745 Jacobite uprising and had
to flee the country aboard the ship -
Hopeful Jean of Montrose.
James Skinner born 5 May 1848,
bapt.. 11 Jun 1848 Chaplain’s
Station Madras. James lived in
Hercules Robarts Skinner
born 18 Aug 1852, bapt. 28
Aug 1852 at the Chaplaincy
of Jullander, died 8 Dec
1890 in Camberwell,
Star ( ) denotes more information /picture
Ref. page 6 of Sikander Sahib
by James Holman published 1961
In this photograph of Brig Mike Skinner being presented to the Queen Mother, she is asking him about the special ring he wears which King Edward VII, as Prince of Wales gave his great grandfather Alexander Skinner when the King dined at the ancestral house in Delhi circa 1875.
Margaret Skinner is seen
here being presented to
the Queen Mother in
Brigadier Michael Skinner was born in 1920 at a house called Rockford in Mussoorie (not Sikander Hall) and his sister, Lillian, 3 years later. Michael was Christened at St James’s Church. This was confirmed by emails from Lillian herself (aged 94+ at the time) to Mark Skinner as follows:-
25 May/10 Oct 2017 - “Dear Mark,
1. Michael (and I, 3 years later) was born in 1920 in a rented house called Rockford in Mussoorie town proper close to a hospital. Roads suitable for motor cars up to Mussoorie town did not exist until the 1950s and the doctor, Dr T.B.Butcher, made house calls on horseback. The mode of transport was a “dandy” or sedan chair carried by four men, or a single or 2-seater rickshaw, pulled by four or five men.
2. Alice Georgina Skinner bought the property “The Farm” and the Crown Brewery from the Company of that name in 1916. The Farm was earlier called “The Brewery House” and we renamed it Sikander Hall after Col. James, who was referred to as “Sikander Sahib”. Sikander is the Persian for Alexander a reference to Alexander the Great.
31 July 2017 - “Dear Mark,
I have a copy of my father's letter to the local authority telling him that he was renaming his house, formerly know as Brewery House to Sikander Hall. In 1916 my grand aunt bought this property from the Crown Brewery Estate - yes, they brewed beer and went out of business in 1916. She built the present house. I do not know the exact date when it was built In 1923 she died and left it to her two nephews who put it up for auction In 1926. My father made a bid just to boost the price and much to his dismay it fell to him. My grandfather lived in the house until 1934 and we occupied it in 1935. There is a good boys school nearby - and Papa had four sons then to educate.
With best wishes,
Georgina Alice =
1861 - 1923
This plaque was installed
by the Regiment in Christ Church, Mussoorie (below). However The Place of birth is INCORRECT.
Stanley Edgar Skinner
(cousin) born 1866
Georgina = 2)
land on which
she built Sikander
Died in 1923
Ref (i) Confirmed in page 6 of Sikander Sahib and page 151 of the Asiatic Annual Register 1803
Ref (ii) LLD.D. - Legum Doctor (Doctor of Laws in english) is a doctorate-level academic degree in law / an honorary doctorate, depending on the jurisdiction.
Ref (iii) H.E.I.C.S. - Abbreviation for the 'Honourable East India Company Service'.
Ref (iv) MS in College of Arms given in 1703 by Rev William Skinner
Ref (v) Refers to 'A Few memorials of the Right Rev. Robert Skinner D.D. Bishop of Worcester 1663', by Alan Maclean Skinner Q.C. 1800 - 1885. Printed, not published, in 1866
Ref (vi) Recorded in The Edinburgh Academy Register 1824 - 1914 and confirmed by Andrew McMillan Hon Archivist, The Edinburgh Academy, 22nd June 2015 by email.
When Lord Lake asked James Skinner to
raise a unit of irregular cavalry, 800 men
of Perron’s Horse unit of Scindia were
readily available. These 800 men were
willing to join British forces and when
they were asked whom would they
choose as their new commander, they
unanimously shouted “Sikander Sahib”.
That’s how the finest cavalry regiment of
the Indian Army was born on 23rd Feb,
1803 at Hansi and James Skinner had
the bloody hand tattooed on the bellies of
These recruits. By 1814, the regiment
grew to 1st, 2nd and 3rd regiments of
Skinner’s Horse and each regiment was
1000 men strong. 2nd Regiment was
commanded by James’ younger brother,
Robert Skinner and the 3rd regiment was
commanded by Major William Fraser until
it was disbanded in 1819.
In 1861, 2nd regiment was renumbered as
3rd and it retained that number till 1921 when both of the regiments were amalgamated to form 1st/3rdCavalry Regiment. The regiment worked as a Local Horse unit till 1940 when, during the First Afghan War it was found that they were not entitled to draw ration from the commissariat. Just before the men and horses of the regiment started starving, they were reclassified as “1st Bengal Irregular cavalry” and commissariat started issuing rations to them. During the Great Mutiny of 1857, the defection of the entire Bengal Cavalry made Skinner’s Horse the senior most regiment and it became “1st Regiment Bengal Cavalry” in 1861.
During the 1903 reorganisation of the Indian Army, the unit retained its numerical superiority and founder’s title and became the “1st Duke of York’s Own Lancers (Skinner’s Horse)”. The regiment bade farewell to its horses in 1939 to become a motorised unit and moved to Sudan as 5th Indian Division’s reconnaissance regiment.
The regiment served in Egypt, Cyprus & Italy before coming home to serve in North West Frontier. After India’s independence, the regiment took part in Hyderabad Police Action in September 1948 to clear Bidar Axis. In 1960, Lt. Col. Michael Alexandria Robert Skinner, great, great grandson of the founder James Skinner, assumed command of the regiment. After 120 years, Skinner’s Horse regiment was at last commanded by a Skinner! In 1965, equipped with Shermon tanks, unit’s B Squadron supported 50th Para Brigade near Dograi and 2 troops helped 3 Jat in the epic battle of Dograi. The regiment fought in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war with T-55 tanks & helped 1 Dogra in capturing Harar Kalan and received well deserved Battle & Theatre Honours.
ABOVE PICTURE:- Painting of a Hindustani Musalman of 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers (Skinner's Horse) and a Musalman Rajput (standing) of 3rd Skinner's Horse, 1910.
From ‘Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi’ date 1843 in the British Library, author Sir Thomas Metcalfe (1795-1853), the Governor General’s Agent at the Court of Emperor Shah II.
Following text was written by Sir Thomas Metcalfe:-
“The remains of the brave and good Skinner were placed in a vault of white marble immediately below the Communion Table in St James Church, Delhi.
(The marble slab with inscription: H.S. Colonel James Skinner, C.B. “Forty Days were fulfilled for him.” covering the tomb of Col. James Skinner.)
This was covered by a Slab of black marble (above) representing the Helmet and Sabre of the Deceased with the coat of arms and motto of the Family “Ultrumque paratus”, prepared on every side.”
Lillian Skinner Singh
Lillian is the great great granddaughter of Col
James Skinner CB, at Sikander Hall, situated at
1300 metres altitude in Mussoorie, pictured in 2016.
From her mother’s side Lillian is a Hearsey, a
family that once owned all of Moradabad and
18 Ann Street
A 2013 picture of 18 Ann Street, Edinburgh,purchased new by Leonard Horner FRS, a merchant, geologist and educational reformer. He was a founder of Heriot-Watt University, a founder-member of The Royal Society and a founder (in 1824) and director of The Edinburgh Academy. Hercules, son of Colonel James Skinner CB, lived at 18 Ann Street whilst attending The Edinburgh Academy between 1827 and 1828.
(Between 1824 and 1825/6 Hercules and his brothers,
David and William, lived at 25 Pitt Street whilst attending The Edinburgh Academy too. The address was changed to 89 Dundas Street during the 1960s.)
St James Church, Delhi
St James Church was built by the financed amount of INR 95,000 (£20k) sanctioned by Col James Skinner C.B. after he came out alive from the battlefield of Uniara, where-in, badly injured as he lay on ground he had promised god that upon his survival he would have a church constructed.
Construction commenced in 1826 and was completed in 1836, the church being designed by Major Robert Smith.
Photo (above) of Lillian Sale (née Skinner) standing at the side of the family
house, built by her great-great grandfather at Kashmiri Gate, Delhi.
8th Oct 2017 Lillian sent this by email to Mark Skinner:-
“I have no idea of the size of the compound in which the Delhi house stood
at Kashmiri Gate.
There were several buildings to house his sons and daughters and their
families. The mosque and Hindu temple which existed when the property was
acquired by Colonel James Skinner CB, and which he maintained, still exist”.
From the book - MILITARY MEMOIR of LIEUT.-COL JAMES SKINNER, C.B. By J.BAILLIE-FRASER
“A grandson of Edmond Skinner, John Skinner (1636 - 1704), settled in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is from this Scottish
Branch that the Skinners of India descend. David Skinner was the Provost of Montrose from 1713 to 1714 and his son, also David, became Provost from 1733 to 1746. This David had three sons, James, Hercules and and David. James and Hercules obtained military service with the East India Company and served with Infantry units. Hercules took to a wife the daughter of a Rajput zaminder from whom he had three sons and three daughters. The Eldest, David, joins the Navy and very little is known of him. The other sons James and Robert obtain service with Scindia’s army
commanded by by General Perron the Frenchman. James, after serving the Maharatta Chief for seven years is forced to go to the British, at this time advancing towards Delhi under Lord Lake.“
The two oil on canvas paintings by George Chinnery RHA sold at Bonhams in 2015 for £7,500