Your Stories

Family Story 2nd May 2007 Family History
I have been researching the PORTER family for some time, tracing the family back to Cornwall and covering several branches and links with other families, such as PASCOE, BAKE, SINCLAIR, all of whom have long Cornwall histories.

The search has involved the use of National Archives, College of Arms, Burkes Peerage, Trade Directories,
Census, BMD, Records Offices, Parish Records, Wills and Probate and general history to find out more about, not only the people, but their lives. 

I have also been in touch with Royal Colleges, where I have found information about ancestors in their records, such as the Royal College of Surgeons - having discovered at least four ancestors who were early members and Fellows. 

I have researched Brunel having found that one of the ancestors worked with Brunel on the Tamar Bridge at Saltash - and wrote papers on what is now known as 'Caisson's disease', based on his research with divers who went down to work on the bridge foundations.
I have found several family members and many distant relatives during this research and been able to extend to putting other family members in touch with relatives they had long thought out of reach, or didnt even know existed.  My christmas card list is getting longer by the minute!
The Porter family, it seems, descended from Russel Janitori de Trematon, who was Constable of Trematon Castle.  He was granted land 'outwith the castle gates' by Lord Valletort. 
These lands were known as 'Porters Park' and included Shillingham Manor, which still stands today and was sold in 2005 having been completely refurbished. 

I have traced the history of area back to the year 981, when Ordgar, EArl of Devon founded Tavistock Abbey.  Under the 'Endowments of Tavistock' land lying between the Lynher River and the sea, which included one hide in Sheviock, one in Rame and a half hide in Anthony was 'endowed'. 

In the time of Edward the Confessor, this land was held under the Abbey by Ermenhald. William the Conqueror gave tracts of this land to his half-brother, Robert, Comte de Mortain.  The land was held for him by Lord Valletort who was also guardian of Trematon Castle.   (A hide, which is thought originally to have been the amount of land necessary to support a family has been estimated at around 120 acres).
Roger de Valletort sold Trematon Castle and Manor to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the rent was paid to the Earl's baillif - £6.18s equivalent in 1290! 

Trematon was mentioned in Domesday and passed to the Dutchy of Conrwall in 1337. In 1580, Sir Frances Drake return from his round the world voyage and stored his treasures at Trematon Castle.
The College of Arms in London did some research for me on the Coat of Arms and Crest for the Porter name - which was described in the 'Visitations of Cornwall'  as Arms;  three church bells, a canton Arg.  Crest  a demi goat, erect, ppr.. 

In 'Survey of Cornwall' 1769 there is reference to the Coat of Arms but with canton ermine (black) rather than argent (silver).  This Survey also refers to the grant of land to Russell Janitori de Trematon and states that 'of the ancient officers, one yet retayneth the name, though not the place viz  M Porter, to whofe anceftor, when Vantor was L. thereof, one by a deed before date, gaue land, lying without the gate, by the title of Ruffell Ianitori de Trematon, which he frill enioyeth.  M Porters Armes are Sa.  Three Belles Ar. a Canton Ermine.  This M Porter was in Saltash, where most of the other Porters I had researced also lived.
Saltash and St Germans figure largely in the Porter family history - the detailed family tree now extends back to Richard Porter in 1496 who married into the Parkyng family of Torr. 

In Saltash itself, Porters had medical practices, solicitors practices and one was the Mayor.  There were at least two vicars, one of whom is buried in St Stephens with his wife , along with many ancestors.
Some were soldiers in the Dragoon guards, including Capt. Thomas Cole Porter b 1851 who married Mary Frances Louisa Mcleod, daughter of James William McLeod of Talbot Square, Hyde Park - they married in Umballa, East Indies. 

There was also Major Porter  of Shillingham  and Brigadier General Porter, who served in the Trasvaal and  who was mentioned in an article on the funeral of Vicar Erisey John Porter in the Hartland and West Country Chronicle in 1907.
The Falmouth branch of the Porter family were mariners, working on the packet ships and later moved to Southampton, when Royal Mail took this over. 

The National Archives records contain detail of ships on which the Porter men served, leaving from Liverpool, Falmouth, Southampton, Portsmouth - including HMS Victory.  I have also been able to find information on the ships from the Maritime Museum in Falmouth. 

A sister of the mariners, Mary Ann, married John Job and they  ran the Beerhouse in Church Street Falmout from 1841 - her brothers John, Thomas and William all stayed there in 1861. I have yet to find any old pictures or maps of this. 

Her father was Anthony Porter and her mother was Ann Pascoe.  John Porter married Elizabeth Sinclair- shown as Sinkler on the parish records.  I have also traced the Sinclair family back to 1400s, having made contact with other descendants.
The Porter women usually married well,  again the College of Arms confirmed for me that the Porter Coat of Arms appear in relation to Elizabeth, daughter and sole heir of Richard Porter, who married Sir John Hamby. 

Their daughter, Elizabeth married John Chaplin whose father Francis Chaplin was Lord Mayor of London in 1680s.  John Chaplin became Squire of Tathwell in Lincolnshire.  Research for this part of the family took me to Burke's Peerage as another source of information
I am now looking for a book called Ancient Westcountry families and their Amorrial bearings - the story of the nobility and gentry of Devon and Cornwall by BH Williams which was published by JAD Bridger of Jew Street Penzance in 1916. This lists the Porters of Landrake, Saltash, Shillingham, St Stephens and Trematon Castle, among others - all the places in which I have tracked back one half of my family tree so far!
The other half goes back through old East End of London and includes at least one Bishop, a Countess and a Hotel Company in London - but that is another story!

Shirley Fletcher

Shirley Fletcher

Please login if you wish to rate this article.