Glen Innes History Matters: Dr Alexander Skinner

Doctor from colonial times: Alexander Skinner.

Doctor from colonial times: Alexander Skinner.

Dr Alexander Skinner, born in Rosshire in Scotland, trained as a physician and surgeon at the University of Glasgow.

His first appointment was as a surgeon on a whaling cruise to the north of Scotland before coming to Australia as a ship’s doctor on the immigrant ship Lady McNaughton.

He practised in Muswellbrook before leaving for the Spanish colony of Manilla and, when he returned to Australia, first settled in Melbourne, leaving to work in South Grafton, where Skinner Street and Skinner’s Swamp are named after him.

Mrs Elizabeth Skinner.

Mrs Elizabeth Skinner.

By 1854, he was practising in Glen Innes and signed the call for the first Presbyterian minister, Archibald Cameron, to come to Wellingrove.

...the deceased gentleman was at one time a large station holder in the east of the colony, and took lively interest in all matters of public concern...

Inverell Times, January 21, 1899

There was no hospital in Glen Innes until 1877, when a small building containing a six-bed men’s ward was erected. Over many years, this was added onto and has now become “the old Glen Innes hospital”, the building that now houses The Land of the Beardies History House Museum and Research Centre, at the corner of Ferguson Street and West  Avenue.

The historical society archives have several references to Dr Skinner.

He was a surgeon in Meade Street, appointed Government Vaccinator 1868, signed the petition for the Municipality 1872,  exhibited Cheviot sheep at the 1875 Glen Innes show, and was on the Public School Board. He left for Inverell and was medical registrar there from 1886 to 1895.

His daughter Jane married Donald Alexander Campbell and they lived at Beaufort before going to Inverell Station.

At the time of his death, aged 88, in January 1899, 13 years after he started practising at Inverell and had retired to “Airlie Brake”, his obituary in the Inverell Times January 21, 1899, referred to him as: “the oldest qualified doctor in the colony ….the deceased gentleman was at one time a large station holder in the east of the colony, and took lively interest in  all matters of public concern...”