SKRINE, William (?1721-83), of Arlington Street, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



22 Nov. 1771 - 1780

Family and Education

b. ?1721, s. of Dr. William Skrine, Bath physician, by Ann, da. and h. of Henry Spurstow of Cheshire.  educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 24 Jan. 1738, aged 16.  m. (1) 21 May 1764, Jane Sumner (d. 1766),1 2da., Louisa who m. 1777 Sir Thomas Clarges, Bt. and Elizabeth Ann who m. 1781 Charles Loraine Smith; (2) c.1776, Julia Maria Siordet of Piedmont, 2s. 1da.  suc. fa. 5 Dec. 1725.

Offices Held


Skrine’s father amassed a very considerable fortune in his Bath practice,2 and formed connexions among his titled patients, including the family of the Earl of Bristol.3 Augustus Hervey wrote in his journal, 1749 (ed. Erskine, 85, 88): ‘I set off the 3rd June with Mr. Skreen [sic], we were agreed to go together’ (to Paris). On 17 Apr. 1750, Horace Mann wrote from Florence to Walpole:

We have now a Mr. Skrine here, the son of the great apothecary at Bath, who is by much the finest and most delicate man here. He has the finest clothes, always wears lace, has a fine equipage, and gives great dinners. At one of these to many English, on every salver that was presented when people called for drink, there were two caraffe, one with burgundy with a printed label pasted on it, which was relieved by one of the company telling him, and saying aloud that it looked like a draft from an apothecary’s shop, and that he hoped it was not physic, which he accompanied by putting it to his nose. He afterwards protested that he did not do it on purpose, and indeed he was as much disconcerted himself as poor Mr. Skrine appeared to be.

Skrine was a close friend of Lord Orford, and was returned for Callington on the Orford interest, after a contest in 1771. In the House he voted steadily with the Government, and his attendance at divisions was good, especially in the crucial period of spring 1780. There is no record of his having spoken in the House. Robinson wrote in his electoral survey of July 1780: ‘Mr. Skrine will not come in again.’ The reason for his relinquishing his seat is not known.

On 8 Mar. 1783, having lost very heavily at cards at Brooks’s, he blew out his brains in a tavern in Newgate Street.4 He appointed Lord Barrington, a life-long friend, one of his executors, and guardian of his children.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Walpole to Ld. Hertford, 27 May 1764; to Mann, 29 Feb. 1766.
  • 2. E. W. Ainley Walker, Skrine of Warleigh, 99-106.
  • 3. Letter Bks. of John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol.
  • 4. Walpole to Mann, 10 Mar. 1783; to Duchess of Gloucester, 13 Mar. 1783.