In the death of Mr George Skinner, which took place on Monday at 5.a.m., Rushden has truly lost “A Grand Old Man”. Mr Skinner, who was 97 years of age on March 9th last, was beloved of every inhabitant who knew him. His venerable appearance created a deep respect in all, whether friend or stranger, and one could easily see by his deportment that he was a man of no ordinary stamp. Many men would give a great deal to be assured of a life so full of active enjoyment and to be able to retain all their powers, both mental and physical, for so many years as was the case with the late Mr Skinner. Until within quite a short time of his death his ability in arithmetic, for instance, would have put many a young man to shame. In discrimination his powers were very great and his general knowledge of the world exceedingly wide.
Born at Rushden in 1817, in a house near the St Mary’s Church, the late Mr Skinner began life very humbly, but when quite a young man he went to Bedford, where he set up in business as a butcher on his own account. When only 24 years of age he returned to Rushden and again launched into business as a butcher, and for over 20 years supervised personally all the details of the business. In 1860 he took over a farm and was fortunately well able to watch the interests of both concerns and see them prosper.
In 1865 his son (now Councillor G H Skinner) took over the management of the butcher’s shop and the farm, but the late Mr G Skinner did not entirely sever his connection with the management of the farm and shop until about 1890.
His attendance at St Mary’s Church until comparatively recently was looked for by all who frequented that place of worship, and there is no doubt he loved the precincts of the sacred edifice.
His love for little children was very real. He used to cause not a little anxiety by persisting in walking out quite alone long after many other men at his age would have submitted to being wheeled about. His confidence in his own physical powers was remarkable and but for his dogged determination not to be beaten he must assuredly have failed to reach such a ripe old age.
For 50 years he was a churchwarden of St Mary’s, and was, it is believed, the oldest churchwarden in England.
Deceased, who was Rushden’s oldest inhabitant, leaves two sons and one daughter, 14 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. An excellent portrait of the late Mr Skinner appeared in the “Rushden Echo” recently. Mr Skinner once informed a member of the staff of this journal that the “Rushden Echo” was the best printed paper he had ever seen, and that it was, in fact, the only paper he had been able to read for some years. More than once he expressed the hope that he would live to be a centenarian.
The funeral of the late Mr G Skinner took place yesterday afternoon at the Rushden cemetery, a large number of friends being present. A service was conducted in St. Mary’s Church by the Rev Percy E Robson (Rector), assisted by the Ven A Kitchin, of Hardingstone (formerly Rector of Rushden). Mr Kitchin read the lesson and the remainder of the service was takne by Mr Robson. There was a large congregation, including Dr Greenfield, Messrs J Clarige, J.P., C.C., G S Mason, W M Hensman, W Chettle, W Robinson, W Packwood, S Fox, Knight, H H Hobbs, A T P Phillipson, A Gadsby, W Clark, W G Tye (Podington) and others.
The hymns “Lead, kindly Light” to the tune “Lux Benigna” and “On the resurrection morning” were sung by the congregation and a surplice choir.
As the cortege left the church the organist (Mr J E Smith) played very feelingly the “Dead March” in “Saul”.
The chief mourners were: Mr G H Skinner and Mr Banks Skinner (sons), Mrs Lovell (daughter), Mr G H Skinner, jun, (grandson), Mr Bert Skinner, Miss Mary Skinner, Mrs G H Denton, Mrs C Claridge, Mr Jack Skinner, Mr Edward Skinner, Mrs Rowlatt, Mr Billy Skinner, and Mrs Walker (Grandchildren), Mr C Claridge, Mrs Morris Skinner (daughter-in-law), Mr G Denton, jun., Mr J Rowlatt (Wellingborough), Mrs Bert Skinner, Mr Edward Skinner and Mr E Walker (Keysoe).
The coffin was of plain oak, with solid brass furniture, and bore the inscription:-
Died March 30, 1914
Aged 97 years.
The grave was bricked and lined with narcissi.
The wreaths were as follow:-
With fondest love and remembrance of dear father, from Henry and wife.
To the dearest and best of grandfathers, from Carl, Kathleen Jack and Bessie.
Loving remembrance, to dear father, from Annie.
From May, Effie, Charles and George.
From Ernest and Alice.
Love from Emm.
Love and affection of dear father, from Banks and Taffy.
From his great grand-children at Wellingborough.
From Peg and Billy.
From John, Ern and Peter.
From Ted, Bert, Dick and Maisie.
From Bert and Mabel.
From Miss Sartoris, to a dear friend.
Much sympathy, and a token of respect, from Mr and Mrs A Hugh Sartoris.
From Jack and Ada Lovell.
From Miss Lilley, Wellingborough.
From Mr and Mrs Edward C Browning and the Misses Browning.
Affectionate remembrance, from all at Eastfields.
From Mrs and Miss Craven.
My dear master, from A M Wilshire.
From Ada, to my dear old master.
From Mrs Boddington.
From Mr and Mrs G S Mason.
With love from the grandchildren and great grandchildren.
From the Rector, Churchwarden, and Sidesmen of St Mary’s Church, in grateful remembrance of a lifelong service.
With love from Eme.
A letter was received from Ald Miller, regretting his inability to attend the funeral.