2.1 A brief human history
Fig 1 The 1970s rabbit spotters guide 
The following brief history of the island as a human resource is based on the draft 1992  management plan.
It may be its accessibility, as well as its size, made Skomer possible as a place of early human settlement. There is no physical trace of settlement on the adjacent island of Skokholm before the documented evidence of Norman occupation (1219 onwards), but Skomer is covered with very old  field enclosures consisting of innumerable tiny fields and stone-boundaries which edge even the  wild fringe of the steep cliffs. The remains have not been dated accurately but it is considered that  they may belong either to the late prehistoric Iron Age or to the Romano-British era. 
From the time when parochial boundaries were established, Skomer has been classed as a hamlet  of St Martin's Parish, Haverfordwest.  The first documented reference to Skomer as part of the  Pembrokeshire rural economy is the 1324 rent for the "pasturage of Skalmeye, Skokholm and  Middleholm".  This amounted to £52.15.0, a considerable sum at the time; "rabbit profits there"  were £14.5.0.  In the 14th to 16th centuries rent was paid for "pasturage" and at this time rabbits  were also of great importance to the island economy.
During the 17th century corn was grown and the first lime kiln was built. 
The first two decades of the 1800's saw an extension of corn growing and there is evidence of five step ploughing on the south facing slopes of North Valley which date from this time. During this period an injection of cash by the then owner, Charles Phillips (W.C.A. Phillips) enabled the farmhouse, the farm buildings and the enclosures to be substantially improved as a speculative development of his Pembrokeshire estate for a rental income. The work was completed in 1843.  The previous year the Tithe Map and Apportionment for the island was published.  The following  sketch map (Fig 2) was made from the Tithe Map of 1842.  It depicts the farm house as a small  building in compartment 373 (The Homestead).  The field names come from the Tithe  Apportionment.
Fig 2 Sketch of the Homestead and adjacent fields as depicted in the Tithe Map of 1842
Comparing the Tithe Map with an early Ordnance Survey map showing th W.C.A. Phillips new  homestead and the layout of its surrounding fields shows the old farmstead is still there to the  northeast of the new farmouse and outbuildings, which were derelict. The remains of the old  farmhouse is now known as the 'chicken-shed' from the time when it was used for this purpose by  Mike and Roseanne Alexander.
Fig 3 Farmhouse of 1843 in relation to the adjacent fields (from and OS map at the turn of the  beginning of the 20th century.
In the late 1840's Edward Robinson, one of a new breed of scientific improvers, took the lease.  In due course he passed it on to Captain Vaughan Palmer Davies, his son- in-law, in 1861. Palmer  Davies farmed the island for thirty years and he left in March 1882 aged 66 years. He had survived  a period of considerable agricultural decline from the late 1870's onwards.  His financial situation  throughout this period is unknown, but it is probably that he was cushioned with wealth he  amassed as a young merchant seaman from his voyages between India and China.
Meanwhile, the ownership of the island passed from William Phillips to his son Charles, who in turn passed to his son William.  William bequeathed Skomer to his nephew Charles Allen, who  changed his name to Charles Allen Phillps, and willed the property to his son William Charles Allan Philips of St Brides.
W.C.A Phillips died without children and Skomer became the property of his nephew, Gilbert  Charles Frederick Harries, Rector and Canon of St David's.  Canon Harries sold Skomer, together  with Midland, Gateholm and Grassholm, to Lord Kensington in 1897.  It was then farmed by the  tenant from Trehill, one William Jones.  
In 1905 J.J.Neale, a Cardiff trawler owner and a great friend of Robert Drane who first described the Skomer Vole, acquired the lease. This was the turning point for Skomer as he was a keen naturalist  and he was even moved to forbid public landing and photography. Neale died in 1909 and Walter  Sturt, a dentist, bought the island in 1922 but he had no intention of farming. His motivation seems  to have been to improve the health of his asthmatic wife.  In 1930 their daughter, an only child,  eloped to Gretna Green with Reuben Codd, their young farm labourer from the mainland.  Reuben  was the last to farm the island, which he did throughout very depressed times up to the 1939 war.  He returned again from 1946 to 1948, when he grew potatoes for the early Pembrokeshire market, but the logistical problems of ferrying pickers and potatoes across Jack Sound in rowing boats, led to failure of the enterprise.  The story of the Sturts and Codds, is told by the local author Roscoe Howells in his book 'Cliffs of Freedom'.  
In 1946 Ronald Lockley and John Buxton organised a summer long field survey of the island under the auspisces of the West Wales Field Society  the first such study to be undertaken on the island  and the basis for much of the subsequent biological recording.
Walter Sturt died in 1949 and the island was sold in 1950 to Leonard Lee. a Midlands industrialist (the West Wales Field Society tried to raise the required money to buy the island at this time but failed), but he never lived there and the house deteriorated quickly. The roof was badly damaged in storm in 1954 and never repaired.
Lee, in due course, sold Skomer to the West Wales Field Society in 1959 for the sum of £10,000 and they in turn sold it the same day to the Nature Conservancy for £6,000 in return for a 21 year lease renewable for a further period of 21 years. It was declared a National Nature Reserve in April 1959.