Sgt. John Porter

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John Porter, Sgt.

Also Known As: "Farmer Porter"
Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: Dorchester, Dorset, England
Death: September 6, 1676 (76-84)
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Danvers, Essex, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Porter and Sarah Porter
Husband of Mary Porter and Margaret Porter
Father of John Porter; Samuel Porter; Joseph Porter; Benjamin Porter; Israel Porter and 3 others
Brother of Jonathan Porter; Elizabeth Porter and John Porter

Occupation: Yeoman, farmer, tanner, Sgt.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sgt. John Porter

Sgt. John Porter was born ABT 1595 in England 1 and died 6 SEP 1676 in Salem, Essex Co., MA 2

John, from Dorset, Eng.~ was among those who came to Hing. in 1635. During his brief stay, he owned land at "Otis Hill," "Over the Delaware," at 11 Lyf ord's Liking meadows" 11 crooked meadows," 11 Plaine Neck," 4' Weir Neck," and at Turkey meadow." His home place was (it East St., on land granted to him in 1637, and Dow included in the grounds owned and occupied by the Hing. Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Constable 1641, and 29 May, 1614, deputy to the Q-tateral Court.

He removed to Salem, ab. 1645 and in 1648, sold his house and lands fit fling. to Nathaniel Baker. John d. at Salem, 1676, wt. 80 yrs.

The chritian. name of his wife was Mary.

Their Ch., were -

  • 1. John, - - Mariner."
  • 2. Samuel, - " Mariner."
  • 3. Jospeh, bt. in Hing. Sept. 9, 1638. Resided at Salem.
  • 4. Benjamin, bn. in 11 Nov. 1639 ; afts. of Beverly.
  • 5. Israel, bt. in Hing. Feb. 12, 1643. resided at Salem.
  • 6. Mary, -
  • 7. Jonathan,
  • 8. Sarah


  • Immigration: 20 Mar 1635 Waymouth, ENG 4
  • Residence: 1635 Hingham, Essex, Massachusetts 7
  • Occupation: 1640 Hingham, Essex, Massachusetts; Occupation: a tanner 9
  • Occupation: 1641 Hingham, Essex, Massachusetts; Occupation: Constable 6
  • Will: 28 Apr 1673 Danvers, Essex, Massachusetts, USA

In 1641 he was chosen constable of Hingham, and, in 1644, deputy to the general court. The same year he removed to Salem, where various tracts of land came into his possession. In 1650 he purchase 500 acres, which he later gave to his son Joseph, as a marriage portion. At the date of his death he was reputed to be the largest landowner in Salem Village, and his will distribute a large estate. He was a man of energy and influence, well known in the colony, and held many official positions.

He recorded as having served onetime upon the military staff of Governor Endicott. He and the governor also joined in the building of a sawmill, on Crane's river. John Porter established the first tannery in New ENG, and thus founded the hide and leather trade.

Massachusetts records show that he made at least two shipments to the Barbados. He was a familiarly called Farmer Porter and Sergeant Porter. According to family tradition he served, from Hingham, in the Pequot war.

He died in Salem Village, now Danvers, Sept. 6, 1676. His widow Mary, who he probably married in ENG, is said, by Judge Savage, to have died Feb. 6, 1684.

Estate of John Porter of Salem


Essex Probate Docket # 22468

In the name of God Amen. I John Porter of Salem Senr. in the County of Essex in New ENG Yeoman, do declare and make my last will and testament in manner and forme following.
   Impr. my imortall soul I do desire humbly and believeingly to comitt unto ye everlasting mercyes of God, Father, Sonne and Holy Ghost, my body I commit to ye earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Christian friends. And my outward estate I do dispose thereof in manner following.
   Impr. I do constitute and ordeine my loveing wife '''Mary Porter''', sole execcutrix of this my will, unto whom I do give the one halfe of all my goods, debts, chattills, & cattell etc. and also during her life I do give her one third pt. of the yearly vallew of all my houses and lands or the thirds thereof as the law directeth.
   To my Sonne John Porter who by his rebellious & wicked practises hath been a great greife to his parents, & hath greatly wasted my estate, on conditions hereafter expressed, I do give unto him one hundred & fifty pounds, in currant pay of ye Country at three paymts annually i. e. fifth pounds p ann. Provided always before the payment of any pt. thereof he ye said Jno. Porter shall make, signe, & seale unto my sonnes Joseph, Benjamin & Israel, their heyres & assignes, or to some one of them in behalfe of the rest of my children an absolute & full release of any further clayme to any pt. of my houses and lands whereof I am now possessed, and in speciall to any pt. of yt necke of land yt was sometimes Mr. Skeltons, & in ye meanetime shall not directly or indirectly make or signe any alienation thereof to any other, and in case ye sd. Jno. Porter shall faile in peformance of this condiccon for more than one yeare after my decease, then the above named legacy of one hundred and fifty pounds shall be utterly voyd. and in lew yr of I do give him five pounds to be payd in country pay within three yeares after my decease at the discreccon of my Excecutrix.
   Item. I do give and bequeath to my Sonne Benjamin Porter these following parcells of land, namely all that parcell of land commonly called Bishop's farm also two hundred acres of land more or less, lying in blind hole, given mee by the towne, also one hundred acres of land purchased of Mr. Broadstreeet also five acres of fresh meadow purchased of Jaffery Massey, also eight acres of meadow & upland more or less purchased of Wm. Nicholls & formly was a pt. of Bishop's farme, also ten acres of upland bought of John Hawthorne of Linn, & was formly appteyneing to Wm. Baily also one hundred pounds to be pd. in Country pay at two equall paymts annually within two yeare next after my decease.
   To my daughter Mary the wife of Thomas Gardiner to whom I have already done for according to my ability, I do give to her three children forty shillings apiece and also I do give to my daughter Mary and to my daughter Sarah to be equally divided between them, the farme called Smith's farme conteyneing eighty acres more or less & one hundred & twenty-five acres lying between the farm yt was sometime Kenistones & Laurance Leaches, also ten acres purchased of Mr. Gotte and is lying next to Putmans agt. mr. Downeings farme, also the above named Kenistones farme, conteyneing two hundred acres more or less, with twenty acres of meadow appteyneing thereunto.
   Item. I give and bequeath unto my Sonne Joseph Porter five pounds to be payd. with in two yeares after my decease and forty shillings apeece to each of his children to be pd. at ye same time.
   To John Porter Sonne of my sonne Samuel Porter I do give ten pounds to be payd him at 21 years of age.
   It. I do give & bequeath to my sonne Israel Porter, my now mansion place with all ye housing thereupon; orchard & lands adjoining vizt. so much as was by mee purchased of Mr. Sharp viz. with all ye appurtenances to ye same belonging, also I do give him sixty acres of Skeltons necke i. e. that pt. wh. I purchased of Mr. Skeltons daughters.
   It. I do give and bequeath to Joseph, Benjamin & Israel Porter the remainder of Skelton's neck of land, conteyneing 150 a[cre]s more or less, and I do order them to make payment of the one hundred & fifty pounds by mee bequeathed unto my sonne John Porter.
   To my sonne Benjamin I do give a parcel of land wh. I purchased of Mr. Gott, conteyneing eighty acres, more or less, and thirty acres purchased of Jacob Barney Junr. and forty acres purchased of Jafery Massey and forty acres purchased of Gm. Watson & forty acres purchased of Jno Pickard and my will is that he shall pay to my two daughters Mary & Sarah fifty pounds apiece, virt. in five years time, ten pounds pr ann. to each of them.
   It. I do give to my sonne Israel Porter my interest in the saw mill near Skeltons neck.
   It. I give & bequeath to the Reverend Mr. John Higgison forty shillings, and to the poor of Salim five pounds, to be distributed by my overseers as they shall in their discreccon judge meet.
   To my wife over & beside wt. is before given her, I do give her my best feather bed, with all appurtenances necessary to compleat ye same, and also give pounds in money and it is my will yt. wt. shee shall spare of yt. pt. of my estate yt. I have above bequeathed to her that shee do in speciall wise consider my two daughters and be helpfull to them in confidenc whereof I have disposed to her and to my sonnes my estate as is above expressed.
   To Cornelius Baker & Jno. Glover do give forty shillings apiece, to be payd. within twelve mos. after my decease in country pay.
   Finally, I do nominate & intreate my loveing friends Mr. Edmund Batter & Mr. Hilyard Veren to be the overseers of this my will. To whome I do give full power & authority to determine any doubt or difference yt. may arise concerning the trew meaning of this my will & in case any legatee shall refuse to submit thereunto, hee or they shall loose all ye interest therein, and as a toaken of my love and respect to my overseers, I do give them forty shillings ap. to be pd. in money.
   In witness hereof I do hereunto put my hand and seale this 28th day of Aprill 1673.
   JOHN PORTER, Sen. (Seal)
   Sealed & published In presence of
   Samuel Danforth
   Peter Olliver
   Thomas Brattle, Junir
   And the residue of my goods & chattels not a(ready) disposed of I do give and bequeath to my sonnes Joseph, Benjamin & Israel, & my two daughters Mary & Sarah, to be equally divided between them.


  1. A Porter Pedigree, being an account of the ancestry and descendants of Samuel and Martha (Perley) Porter of Chester, N.H., who were descendant of John Porter, of Salem, Mass. And of Allan Perley, of Ipswich, Mass.", compiled by Miss Juliet Porter, Worcester, Mass. 1907, pages 26-27
  2. Probate Court, Salem, Book 1, page 97
  3. The History of Salem Massachusetts, volume II, 1638-1670 by Sidney Perley. Page: p161


John arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts from Dorset in 1635, later moving to Salem Village [now Danvers, MA]. In Hingham he owned land at Otis Hill, Over the Delaware, at Lyford's Liking meadow, crooked meadows, Plaine Neck, Weir Neck, and at Turkey meadow. His home place was on East Street on land granted to him in 1637, and included grounds owned and occupied in 1893 by the Hingham Agricultural and Horticultural Society. In 1648 he sold his house and lands in Hingham to Nathaniel Baker.

John moved from Hingham to Salem Village in 1643 when he purchased Rev. Samuel Sharp's farm of about 300 acres.

The house he built has been described as follows: It faced south, had two stories in front; a door in the middle with large rooms on either side, two windows in each front room, looking down the creek, the landing place, and the river beyond. The same number of windows in the story above with an additional window over the front door; an entry below and above, and back of each the immense chimney; from the top of the house the roof slanted back making the old fashioned leanto; on either end of the house there were doors, and on the eastern end a small entry way; on either end a small window in the attic, one window in the second story, one in the first story on the side of each front room, and one on each end for the kitchen or kitchens; bedrooms in the second story, and an open attic. In the front rooms were large fireplaces, both above and below, and also in the kitchens. From top to bottom on the front and sides of the house, between the woodwork and partitions, layers of bricks; near the northeastern end of the house the old well was built.

John continued to obtain land whenever possible and he was probably the largest individual land owner in what is now the town of Danvers. I have noted this love of owning land as characteristic of Porters down through the generations. Although our tenancy of purchased land is certainly temporary, many of us seem to derive real pleasure in owning land.

Mrs. Mary H. Dodge of Washington, D.C. drew from memory a sketch of John's house shortly after it burned in 1865. The residents of John's house have been described as follows: John Porter lived here until his death 6 Sep 1676; and in his will gave the house to his son Israel, who lived in it until his death in Nov. 1706. In the will of Israel Porter, he devised it to his son Benjamin, who died in Dec. 1726. In his will, Benjamin Porter gave it to his sons John and Benjamin, and John released his interest in the premises to his brother Benjamin on 8 Apr 1741. Benjamin Porter lived in the house until his death 10 Jun 1794; and about two years afterward his family conveyed the house and land to Caleb Oakes of Danvers. Mr. Oakes fell from his barn window 19 Sep. 1831, and died in an hour or two. He left three children, and by [many] conveyances the estate passed to Alfred Trask of Danvers 6 Jul 1849. ... While it was owned by Mr. Trask it was destroyed by fire 19 Sep. 1865.

John was a tanner and farmer, active in church and village life. He and Mary were honourable citizens. Although their eldest son John caused them great grief, their other children were all a credit to their upbringing. In his will, made 28 Apr 1673, John Sr. named his wife Mary sole executrix - a real compliment to her abilities - and gave her one halfe of all my goods, debts, chattills and cattel etc. and also during her life I do give her one third pt. of the yearly vallew of all my houses and lands or the thirds thereof as the law directeth.

He left his son John £150 to be paid £50 a year for three years; each year before receiving this amount, he was to give a signed receipt and release of any inheritance in his father's estate to his siblings: Joseph, Benjamin, and Israel. If John Jr. failed to do this he was to receive only £5, payable within three years at the discretion of Mary.

John Sr. remembered all his other children, giving each, or their children, as he felt was needed; asking that his wife out of her yearly income from his estate do in speciall wise consider my two daughters and be helpful to them in confidence whereof I have disposed to her and my sonnes my estate as is above expressed. His son Israel, in addition to John's house and farm, was to have John's interest in the saw mill near Skeltons Neck.

Reams have been written about John and Mary. The serious researcher will find their lives of real interest. For the purpose of this genealogy a scattering of his life is given above. It is possible that Richard Porter, of Weymouth, Massachusetts, may have been a brother of John. [From The Porter Family of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia p. 1-2.]

John Porter of Salem

Born 1596 in Dorchester, Dorset, Englandmap

Son of Samuel Porter and Sarah Porter

[sibling(s) unknown]

Husband of Mary (Endicott) Porter — married about 1620 in Englandmap

Father of John Porter, Samuel Porter, Joseph Porter, Benjamin Porter, Israel Porter, Mary (Porter) Gardner, Jonathan Porter and Sarah (Porter) Andrews

Died September 6, 1676 in Danvers, Essex, Massachusettsmap

Biography "John Porter was an intelligent man, in addition to managing his own estates, he often served the town as a surveyor and bridge builder. His home, stood for more than two centuries, until it was destroyed by fire on the night of September 1865. At the time of his death, he was the largest land owner in Salem Village."[1]


• George Thomas Little, Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine, (Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York 1909) • William Richard Cutter, A. M., Genealogy - Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, (Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, 1908) 1.↑ Juliet Porter, A Porter Pedigree, Worcester Mass. 11 July 1907 Page 23.

John Porter purchased "Skelton Neck" of the children of Reverend Samuel Skelton,the first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.

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Sgt. John Porter's Timeline

Dorchester, Dorset, England
Age 38
Age 39
Hingham, , Plymouth, Massachsetts, USA,
Age 41
Hingham, Plymouth, MA, USA
September 9, 1638
Age 42
Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts
November 1639
Age 43
Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts
- 1645
Age 44
Salem, Mass.
February 12, 1643
Age 47
Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
October 12, 1645
Age 49
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts