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John Porter's Geni Profile

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John Porter

Birthplace: England
Death: Died in Danvers, Essex, MA
Immediate Family:

Son of Sgt. John Porter and Mary Porter
Brother of Samuel Porter; Joseph Porter; Benjamin Porter; Israel Porter; Mary Gardner and 2 others

Occupation: Mariner
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Porter

Occupation: a mariner. No known marriage or children

At his trial, he was noted to have taken two loads of tanned hides to Barbados, becoming the first to export hides.

Was in prison in 1665, for abuse of his parents; in fact he was a bad fellow. His case was taken up against the colony by the royal commissioners, which made a great stir among the people at the time. In June 1683, when giving evidence in court, he stated his age to be 65. In 1681, he gave it as 52; and his counsel before the royal commissioners, in 1665, stated his age to be about 30, which was probable correct.


  • REF: Savage: Imprisoned 1665 at Boston for abuse of his parents. Got 150 pounds from father's will - less than one 15th part of the estate


  1. The History of Salem Massachusetts, volume II, 1638-1670 by Sidney Perley. Page: p161


He came to New England as an infant with his parents, the only child born in England. He was a mariner and, unfortunately, he obviously picked up some bad habits during his voyages. John Porter appeared before the General Court in Boston in May 1665. Here are some fascinating excerpts from the minutes of that session.

John Porter, Jr., son of John Porter, of Salem in County of Essex, yeoman, being about 30 years of age and of sufficient capacity to understand his duty unto his superiors according to the 5th commandment, but being instigated by the devil and his corrupt heart having no fear of God; not only did he defraud and waste in riotous living expending about £400 of money and goods given to him by his father for his improvement in two voyages to the Barbados and England, where by his evil courses he ran himself further into debt, and was therefore imprisoned from whence being relieved by the charitable assistance of some friends of his father, all which his father did voluntarily discharge. After his returning to New England his parents entertained him with loving temper as their eldest son and provided for him what was expedient and necessary.

All these things have ben demonstrated to the court but not withstanding John Porter, Jr., did carry himself very stubbornly and rebelliously toward his natural parents who are of good repute, propriety, honesty, and estate.

He called his father deaf, liar, and simple ape, shitabed, and he threatened to burn his father's house, to cut down his house and barn, to kill his cattle and horses and did with an axe cut down his fence several times and did set fire to a pile of wood near the dwelling house, greatly endangering it, being near thirty rods.

He called his mother randor buggor, gamar shithouse, garmar pisshouse, gamar two shoes, and told her her tongue went like a peare monger and said she was the rankest sow in the house. These abusive names he used frequently. He reviled and abused and beat his father's servants to the endangerment of life of one of them. He reviled Mr. Hawthorne, one of the Magistrates, called him base poor fellow and said he cared not a terd for him.

He was proved to be a vile, profane, and common swearing drunkard and attempted to stab one of his natural brethren. All which things have been proved by the oath of sufficient witnesses on record. In this vile and insufferable course he continued several years but more especially the last years 1662 and 1663.

At length his father in defense against his son's wickedness and incorrigibility, the danger to himself, he estate and family, he sought relief from authority; first more privately, which was ineffectual, and afterward more publicly before the County Court held at Salem. By the Court he was committed to the House of Correction at Ipswich where he was kept some time. Afterward he was set at liberty and still persisted in his former wicked course and was again complained of by his father to said same court on 4 and 20 of the 9th month 1663.

His offense being found of a high nature he was committed to prison in Boston; there to remain for a trial at the Court of Assistance where he was tried on 4 March 1663 and complaints against said Porter produced and witnesses brought face to face and charges proved. Also, his own natural father openly complained of the stubbornness and rebelliousness of his son and craved justice and relief against him, being oppressed thereof by his unheard of and unparallel outrages before named.

John Porter, Jr. had liberty to speak for himself; he imprudently denied some things, other things he excused by vain pretenses and some he owned but gave no sign of true repentance, whereupon the said Court proceeded to give sentence against him - the same thereof is: to stand upon the ladder of the gallows with rope about his neck for one hour and afterward to be severely whipped and so committed to the House of Correction to be kept closely to work with the diet of that house and not thence to be released without special order from the Court of Assistance of the General Court and to pay to the country as a fine the sum of £200.

If the Mother of the said Porter had not been overruled by her tender and loving affection to forbearance but had joined with his father in claiming and craving justice, the Court must necessarily have proceeded with him as a capital offender according to our law.

This notorious offender, John Porter, Jr., before sentence was fully executed, found himself to make an escape out of the prison in Boston and presented himself before three of His Majesty's Honourable Commissioners then at Warwick, Rhode Island, with complaints of injustice, unto whom they granted a warrant under their hands for the hearing of this case at Boston before themselves the 8th May 1665 and in the interim granted him protection against all the authority, officers, ad people as by copy of said warrant will more fully appear.

This warrant of protection so granted, coming to the cognizance of the General Court, they commended the consideration thereof to the gentlemen, His Majesty's Commissioners, which were all together met at Boston, 3 May 1665, that warrant, with the sentence of the General Court, was an act infringing upon the privileges of the Charter established by His Majesty's authority, but the Royal Commissioners would not withdraw their warrant. [Excerpts from General Court, Boston, Mass., 30 May 1665, p. 216.]

This was one of the two cases on which the Commissioners chose to test the question of the appeal. The Court protested, but the Commissioners would not recede and appointed nine o'clock on May 24 [1665], for the hearing. At eight o'clock, however, a messenger arrived from the General Court with the sound of a trumpet proclaimed beneath the very windows of the Commissioners, after a fitting preamble:

The Court doth, therefore, in his Majesty's name and by his authority to us committed by his royal charter, declare to all the people of the colony, that in observance of their duty to God and to his Majesty and to the trust committed unto us by his Majesty's good subjects in this colony, we cannot consent unto or give approbation of the proceeding of the above said gentlemen, neither can it consist with our allegiance that we owe to his Majesty to countenance any who shall in so high a manner go across to his Majesty's direct charge or shall be their abettors or consentors thereunto. God Save the King. By the Court. (Signed) Edward Rawson, Secty.

... This John was certainly disreputable but his case ended up strengthening the determination of the Court to maintain the freedoms granted in the Royal Charter. His life did serve a worthwhile purpose! [From The Porter Family of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia p. 2-4.]

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John Porter's Timeline

March 16, 1684
Age 50
Danvers, Essex, MA