John Michael Skipper

John Michael Skipper was born on 12 July 1815 in Norwich, Norfolk, England, to John Skipper (a solicitor) and his wife Jane, nee Stark. J M Skipper started studying towards law, but left his studies to join the Sherbourne, an East India Company ship bound for Calcutta. On his return he was articled to Charles Mann, who had been appointed South Australia’s Advocate General and Crown Solicitor. Skipper was encouraged in his interest in art by his uncle, painter James Stark.

Skipper sailed for South Australia aboard the Africaine, turning 21 on the voyage. Although travelling in Cabins of lesser comfort than those occupied by privileged passengers and intermediate between them and the dormitory accommodation afforded the emigrants. Intermediate , Arthur Gliddon observed that Skipper took his meals ‘in the 1st cabin’.

On arriving in the Colony, Skipper married fellow Africaine passenger Frances Amelia Thomas. In 1840 he was admitted as an attorney and proctor of the South Australian Supreme Court and eventually left the the service of Mann and set up his own law practice. He briefly joined the Goldrush but returned soon after to become the clerk of the Port Adelaide court. Skipper remarried in 1856 after the death of Frances, marrying her younger sister Mary. Skipper was also a gifted artist and throughout his life he created artworks, many of which depicted life in the new colony. Skipper died on 7 December 1883.

At sea in the 'Africaine', 1836. John Michael Skipper. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

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Image credit: At sea in the 'Africaine', 1836. John Michael Skipper. watercolour 4.1 x 11.4 cm Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Morgan Thomas Bequest Fund 1942

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