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Captain John Macgregor Skinner was known for acts of philanthropy and maintained a weekly allowance of bread for more than a hundred local people. He also campaigned tirelessly to improve maritime and postal services from Holyhead, and to make the journey across the Irish Sea safer, easier, and more comfortable.

In 1832, a report concluded that Captain Skinner had died at sea due to the negligence of the Post Office, who had been reluctant to make any of these recommended improvements. He was 70 years old when washed overboard the steam-packet ‘Escape’. He had served the public his entire adult life.

This oil painting depicts Captain Skinner and other significant residents of early-19th century Holyhead. It was painted by his friend and mentor, James Sparrow.

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