The First Skillman in America

The following is extracted from “The Skillmans of America and Their Kin” by William Jones Skillman of Philadelphia, PA. This is the beginning of the first of twelve quarterly issues published in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record from January 1906 through October 1908. William Jones Skillman’s genealogy and history of the Skillman family in America covers the first five generations of Skillmans in this country and it is considered the definitive genealogy of our family. The genealogy in its entirety is available in the “Members Only” section of the website under the menu bar “Skillmans of America.”

“[The first Skillman in America] came probably from London or from near there. He was a musician in the Nicolls forces, and all his life, tradition says, was a musician. With his commander he sailed in the Guiney [sic], the chief of the three (possibly four) very small vessels that brought the adventurers to these shores. Down to this day he is known among his descendants always as Captain Thomas Skillman, a courtesy title, or one gained in later service in this country, or possibly it came from some militia connection merely.”

“[Thomas1 Skillman] was an Englishman, an enlisted soldier under Col. Nicolls, to whom Nieuw Amsterdam surrendered in 1664, becoming thereafter New York. This conquest achieved, the ancestor, so the story goes, being specially attached to his commander, now made Governor of the Province, did not return with his comrades in arms to the home land, but soon took a wife and settled permanently in the Newtown, (L.I.) region, at Maspeth or Dutch Kills. Then the children afterwards intermarried with their Hollandish neighbors, and so the family ultimately came to be much more largely of Belgic than of British blood.”

“With this brief introduction we now pass to the formal record (condensed) of the Skillman Family in this country, direct and collateral, running through the first three and possibly into some of the later generations, so far as details at present date can be fairly well determined.

Thomas1 Skillman, b. 1635-40. Soldier under Col. Richard Nicolls in Expedition of Duke of York, ordered by the King, Feb. 25, 1664, sailed from Portsmouth, May 15, and dropped anchor in the harbor of Nieuw Amsterdam (near present Fort Hamilton), Aug. 18, same year. After the surrender he stayed in this country and became ‘inhabitant and freeholder’ at Newtown (L.I.), under Nicolls’ patent of Jan. 13, 1666. Served in Esopus War; honorably discharged April 6, 1668. In 1669 he m. Sara, Dau. of John Petit, Newtown…John Petit and Sarah Scofield, his wife, were the parents of Sara, wife of Thomas Skillman. Children:

  • Thomas,2 b. 1671
  • Elsje, b. 1672
  • Sara, b. 1675; m. Cornelius Hendricxen, 1694. Their dau. Marytje, bap. In Ref. Dutch (Collegiate) Church, of New York, Aug. 10, 1695
  • Lijsbet, b. 1677…She m. Jan Aten, of Flatbush, brother of Thomas, settled at Jamaica, L.I. and had a child bap. there (Ref. Dutch Church), in 1705.In 1710-15, with other members of the Aten family, Jan removed to Three Mile Run, N.J…Jan Aten’s will, probated March 13, 1743, names his wife Elizabeth.”

(To be continued with the 2nd generation)

John E. Skillman III


Welcome to the Skillman Family Association’s website. Here you will find membership information, historical research and connections to other family members. Please be sure to visit regularly as we add lots of great Skillman Family information.