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Peter Porter, I
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Birth: 1605, England
Death: 1652
Anne Arundel County
Maryland, USA

"NOTES: Porter (1937) says Peter was a metalsmith and a planter. Sailed on the ship Tiger, 21 September 1621, and settled near Sewell's Point, Elizabeth Cittie, Virginia (near present-day Norfolk). He and Frances (surname uncertain) were among the group of about one hundred families of dissenters from the Church of England in Virginia who went to Maryland, settling in the Severn River area of Anne Arundel County. They settled on the south side of the river at Bustion's Point, upstream from the Round Bay area. Both are believed to have been killed by Indians about 1652-53, leaving their infant son, Peter."
Courtesy of Bryce Stevens - anchor1465195

Note: Joseph Grant Stevenson in Porter Family History Volume I, 1957 page 268 in article "Porter Family Origin" reports, "Peter Porter was the First American Porter."

Peter Porter - First American Porter
William Arthur Porter, Sr.

"Peter Porter landed in Virginia in January, 1622. He was an English youth and, at the time, was just turning 17 years of age. Porter had left England on September 21st, 1621 and so had spent four months on the voyage. The trip across the ocean had been made in a small 40 ton vessel named "Tiger". on board the "Tiger" were 40 persons including several maidens for wives: Captain Nicholas Elford was in charge of the boat.

His voyage across the ocean "was rough and beset with many dangers". As stated above, the "Tiger" had left England on September 21, 1621. She sailed in consort with a larger ship named "Warwick", a vessel with 160 ton capacity.

Copeland says, "The 'Tiger' became separated from the 'Warwick' and was driven by ill weather so far as the North Cape, fell into the hands of the Turks on her way, who took most of her supplies, and all of her serviceable sails, tackling, anchors, etc; but it pleased God to deliver her, by a strange accident, out of their power, so as she escaped that danger, and arrived safely in Virginia with all of her people, two English boys only excepted, for which the Turks gave them two others, a French youth and an Irish." Copeland goes on to say, "Was not here the presence of God printed, as it were, in Folio, on Royale Crowne paper, and in Capital Letter? She arrived in January prior to the departure of the 'George'" . I have never been able to find out the nature of the "strange accident" that delivered the "Tiger" from the power of the Turks.

The "Warwick" commanded by Capt. Guy, had 100 persons aboard, including "An extraordinary choice lot of 38 maids for wives". The "Warwick" had arrived in Virginia on December 20, 1621.

Peter Porter took up his abode at once near the ocean. He either landed on the Eastern Shore or moved there soon afterwards, because on February 16, 1623, his name was on the Muster Roll of Captain William Epes, "On the Eastern Shore over the Bay". This community was located on the lower peninsula north of Chesapeake Bay and across from where Fortress Monroe is now located. This peninsula in Virginia is known today as North Hampton.

The fact that Peter lived in this lower section of the James River may have saved his life. Two months after his landing in Virginia many white people were killed in the historical massacre of Friday, March 22, 1622. The major part of the slaughter took place farther up the James River near Jamestown. "But few were killed lower down the river or on the eastern shore, which was attributed to the action of the 'Laughing King', who could not be induced to join in - and so, by coincidence kept the remote coast Indians out of the general combination against the English, which otherwise might have been the complete ruin of the colony". Thanks to the "Laughing King", there is one case where a good Indian was not a dead Indian.

Later, in 1623, Peter Porter's name was on the Muster Roll of Capt. William Tucker of Elizabeth City, the county located on the south side of Chesapeake Bay. Thus, we note that he had moved from the "Eastern Shore" to a different community. His name was still on the Muster Roll of William Tucker in 1625. I visited this locality a few years ago and found that it now has many improved bathing beaches and water resorts.

On November 23, 1623, Peter recorded a patent for 100 acres of land. The patent by which this land was transferred to him explains the method by which he had gained the title. The writer copied this deed from the records as found in the court house in Portsmouth, county seat of Lower Norfolk County, Virginia. This county was cut off from Elizabeth City County in 1636 and bounds that county on the South and West.

In this patent we note that Peter Porter had paid for, not only his own transportation, but that of Theo. or Thos. Mann. As to whether he made the payment in money in advance or by labor afterwards performed is conjectural. "Small planters could work their way out from under indenture". We know by the records that "Whosoever transports himself or any other at his own charge into Virginia shall for each person transported before midsummer 1625, have to him and his heirs forever fifty acres of land upon the second division".

It is quite probable that Peter, who was 31 years of age, soon began improving his newly acquired 100 acres. No doubt he started a patch of tobacco as soon as possible, as that was the principal crop of the times. At any rate, we find him living upon this land in 1641. It was in the year 1641 that the court directed that "This parish church should be built at Henry Sewell's Point at the cost and charge of the inhabitants, and CHAPEL of EASE at Elizabeth River". Collections for this building were made from all "planters from Sewell's Point to Peter Porter's Place".

For several years prior to 1650 many of Peter Porter's neighbors had become more and more dissatisfied with the way their religious freedom was being infringed upon by the Virginia authorities. Much can be found in the books about this increasing dissatisfaction. These people had become known as "Dissenters" or "Independents". Lord Baltimore who desired very much to attract more colonists to Maryland, offered favorable inducements to these "Dissenters" of Virginia.

In 1649 or very soon thereafter, there were about 100 families who left Virginia and moved to Maryland and settled on or near the Severn River, which is in the vicinity where Annapolis is now situated. In J.D. Warfield's splendid work , "The Founders of Anne Arundel County, Maryland", appear many names of families who joined in the exodus from Virginia to Maryland in 1649 and immediately thereafter. One of these names was that of Peter Porter.

Peter probably had such a move in mind as early as February 15, 1648, for it was on that date that he transferred his 100 acres to a man named Hostinson.

Peter arrived in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, sometime prior to November 20, 1651. The public records show that it was on that date that Robert Clark surveyed "Porter Hills" for Peter Porter. "Porter's Hills" contained 200 acres and was located up the Anne Arundel River (now called the Severn), and on the south side of said river at a point called "Buston's Point".

If Peter and his wife, Frances, had not already been living upon their "Porter's Hills" before it was surveyed, they surely moved onto this 200 acre tract soon afterwards. They continued to live in this, their Maryland home until their tragic and untimely deaths recounted below.

It is inferred from the fact that no wife signed the deed of February 15, 1648, that Peter and Frances were married after that date. We know that they were married prior to their leaving Virginia to go to Maryland because the Maryland patent recites the fact that he had transported his wife, "Frances" into Maryland. I have no evidence as to Frances' surname, although one reliable genealogist has written me that it was probably "Dorsey", a daughter of Adam Dorsey.

They probably were married in Elizabeth City County, Virginia. The date of the marriage will be difficult to establish as the records of that county were destroyed in the Peninsular campaign of the War of 1861-65. Further proof that they were probably married not long before they moved to Maryland is the fact that their first and only child who was named Peter, married in 1673 or 74, thus suggesting that he was born about 1651 or 1652.

Peter's and Frances' residence in Maryland was destined to be of short duration. Fate decreed that they were to fall before the relentless cruelty of the Indians. I have been unable to determine the exact date of this sudden termination of an otherwise satisfactory existence. I feel confident, however, that it was within a year or two after they began living in their new home. This belief is easily implied by the facts as related below.

In addition to being a tiller of the soil, Peter Porter was a tinker in metals. He repaired large kettles, guns and other metal implements used in his time. For that purpose he had a shop adjoining his cabin.

It was a habit of the Indians to visit this shop and while "Passing the time of day" with Peter, they would indulge themselves by "picking up" little odds and ends that were handy and within easy reach in the shop. The fact that Peter became somewhat provoked by these pilfering episodes and decided to retaliate on a small scale proved to be his undoing.

One day Peter planned a little joking surprise for his Indian friends ? Peter had noticed that his visitors usually sat on upturned kettles while watching him work. Perish the thought, but on that fatal day Peter had gone to the trouble to heat these kettles to such a degree that they would be quite uncomfortable to sit on. When the Indians came and one or more sat down on the heated kettle or kettles, were they mad? They were boiling mad. They left with determined and revengeful looks on their faces.

Peter knew at once that he had made a mistake; he knew he was soon to be in serious trouble. The first thing he thought of was his gun. He had loaned it to a neighbor. He hurried at once to get it, expecting to get back before the Indians did. However, when Peter returned he found that they had murdered his wife and set his house and shop on fire. The Indians had shown some consideration, however, by saving the life of Peter's and Frances' one child, the baby son named Peter. They had left the baby lying under a nearby tree, alive and not at all injured.

When Peter saw that his wife had been murdered he was enraged and determined that he would mete out justice in his own way. He trailed the Indians until after dark. When he caught up with them he discovered the Indians doing a war dance around a campfire and amusing themselves by throwing feathers into the air; feathers that they had taken from the Porter feather bed.

Porter's gun was home made and very large. He had it heavily loaded. He had loaded the gun thus in order to kill as many Indians as possible with one shot. He waited until he had several Indians in a row sitting on a log, and then fired. He accounted for seven Indians with that one shot. The Indians scattered, but - and here is the sad part - Peter had loaded the gun so heavily that the "kick back" was so terrible that he was knocked unconscious. When there was no further firing the Indians returned and found Peter still unconscious and easy to capture.

The rest of the story runs true to form. They scalped him and burned him at the stake. This was not done, however, until they had first cut him open and sewed his little dog inside him.

Before closing the story of Peter Porter, America's first Porter immigrant, I should say that Peter was a very tall and strong man. It is said of him that when he disembarked at the end of his voyage from Virginia to Maryland he hung his hat on a high limb of a tree and remarked, "No other fellow will hang his hat on that limb".

Thus ended the life of the first Porter immigrant; truly a Pioneer. We found him, not in high places, but rather in the same humble environments that surrounded his sturdy neighbors. He and they were made of the stuff that laid the foundations of our great country."

Courtesy of William Arthur Porter, Sr. 
Family links: 
  Frances Dorsey Porter (____ - 1652)*
  Peter Porter (1650 - 1676)*
*Calculated relationship
Note: Killed by Indians
Created by: Bruce J. Black
Record added: Dec 22, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 63241827

May you rest in peace - my 10th great grandfather...
- Katherine Maurine McHale
 Added: Mar. 4, 2017
Paternal 9th great-grandfather.
- Bryan Ainsworth Mooney
 Added: Aug. 30, 2016
Rest in peace my brave 8th great grandfather - until we can meet.
- S J Jensen
 Added: Jul. 5, 2016
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