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The Skinner family arrived in Colonial America in the early 18th century, as they fled Scotland after the unsuccessful Jacobite rising of 1715. Two generations later, Captain John Macgregor Skinner joined the Royal Navy and fought with loyalist forces in the American Revolutionary War.

During the Revolutionary War, Captain Skinner served as an officer aboard 'HMS Phoenix', where he lost an arm in battle. This splayed fork was used by Captain Skinner after the injury, as it allowed him to eat independently with one hand. He had earlier lost the sight in one eye following a childhood accident.

Although an apparently ordinary object, the fork speaks to Captain Skinner’s extraordinary life, and to his role in important historical events.

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