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William Forbes Skene was a leading member of the congregation of St Vincent's Scottish Episcopal Church in St Vincent Street in Stockbridge in north Edinburgh. He is commemorated there by a prominent memorial on the south wall of the nave. An avowed Evangelical, he had argued that, since the Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod of 1863 had established the English Book of Common Prayer as the primary authority for the Church's worship and the Scottish Episcopal Church had adopted the Church of England's Thirty Nine Articles as a doctrinal yardstick, for St Vincent's to remain outside that church could no longer be justified.
In his final years he had offices at 5 Albyn Place on the Moray Estate and lived at 27 Inverleith Row.
He died unmarried and childless in Edinburgh on 29 August 1892. He is buried with his family in St Johns Episcopal Churchyard on Princes Street. The graves lie in the south-east chapel and are marked by a bronze plaque.
The most important of Skene's other works are: editions of John of Fordun's Chronica gentis Scotorum (Edinburgh, 1871-1872); of the Four Ancient Books of Wales (Edinburgh, 1868); of the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots (Edinburgh, 1867); and of Adomnán's Vita S. Columbae (Edinburgh, 1874); an Essay on the Coronation Stone of Scone (Edinburgh, 1869); and Memorials of the Family of Skene of Skene (Aberdeen, 1887), Celtic Scotland (1880) One of Skene's harshest critics was the Scottish philologist Alexander Macbain.
MS 1467, a mediaeval Gaelic manuscript 'discovered', transcribed, and translated by Skene