The Skillin family is well known as prolific and accomplished 18th century American woodcarvers. Samuel Skillin and his brothers John and Simeon apprenticed under their father, Simeon Skillin, Jr. Both John & Simeon Skillin were better known than their brother Samuel, as the two brothers received numerous important commissions, such as the carving of the figurehead for the Constitution and the sternboard of the Massachusetts.
Members of the Skillin family carved the figures on the Boston Public Library. It has long been a tradition in the New York branch of the Skillin family that the figure in wood of Saint Paul in the niche under the gable end of St. Paul's Chapel, New York City, was carved either by Samuel Skillin or his son Simeon Skillin.
Samuel Skillin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 5, 1742. From Boston he went to Philadelphia, where in 1765 he married Elizabeth Towsan. Having come from a family of woodcarvers, Samuel continued to follow this trade in Philadelphia. Samuel Skillin was enrolled June 25, 1777, in the 5th Company of the 2nd class of the Philadelphia Militia (Capt. Christian Piercy), which was mustered into the service of the U.S. at Billingsport on July 12, 1777, under Colonel Sharp Delany. Samuel Skillin's son, Simeon Skillin, was born in Philadelphia on June 9, 1766. It is not known when Samuel Skillin and his son Simeon left Philadelphia and went to New York. Simeon was also a woodcarver, as appears by the old New York city directories. Both Samuel and his son Simeon were in New York City in 1793. Samuel evidently worked for his son Simeon in that city, as he was paid by his son for certain work performed for the latter. On May 1, 1800, Simeon Skillin married Amelia Conklin of Huntingon, Long Island, and he died on January 31, 1830.