Facts and Events
On February 26, 1592/3, Skelton was baptized in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, England where his father, William was Rector. He matriculated at Clare College, Cambridge in 1608 and graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1611 and earned a master's degree there in 1615. He was curate of Sempringham, Lincolnshire, c. 1615-20 and probably later chaplain to the Earl of Lincoln. In 1619 he married Susanna Travis at Sempringham.
He was recruited by John Endecott, who had just been appointed as the governor of a new colony, the London Plantation in the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Endecott invited Skelton to come to America with him and serve as minister of the colony. Endecott already had a close relationship with Skelton and considered him as his spiritual father.
Skelton and his family arrived in Salem on June 23, 1629. Skelton had been ordained in England, and had served for many years as a priest of the established Church of England in Lincolnshire. The new church in Salem was organized as one of the established English churches, and continued in that capacity until January 1, 1630. At that point, use of the Book of Common Prayer was discontinued, and the church became the second independent Congregational church in New England. This change, along with the significant assistance of Skelton, made it possible for the Pilgrims and the Puritans to unite as one colony.
Colonial authorities granted Skelton 213 acres of land in Danversport for services rendered to the colony (the land was a peninsula which became known as Skelton Neck). Skelton was considered to be reserved "in his manners," but "his talents and attainments were respectable." He was "a man of gracious speech, full of faith, and furnished by the Lord with gifts from above."
Roger Williams came to America in 1631 and in April became an assistant to Rev. Skelton. After Skelton's death, Williams became minister but was banished from Massachusetts for questioning the power of the colonial government over the church. As a result, he left the colony and founded Rhode Island.