John Porter: The Older Man
|John Porter’s English origins have not been found. His birth year is estimated between 1590-1608. While in England he
married Margaret (___) Odding/Oddyn, whose first husband was William Odding, will proved 12/3/1612 at Braintree,
Co. Essex, England. The Oddings had a daughter, Sarah, who was still a minor when her father died. John and
Margaret apparently had just one child, a daughter named Hannah, born ca. 1633.
John brought his family to Boston in 1633 and they settled in nearby Roxbury (along with many others from Essex
County, England). Like William Dyer, he was disarmed in November 1637 as a supporter of Anne Hutchinson and
relocated to Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Educated and well-respected, Porter filled many town and colonial offices. When land was laid out for Portsmouth’s
settlers, William Coddington and William Hutchinson received 400 acres, but poor men got 30-80 acres. Porter must
have been affluent, for he was granted 240 acres.
Porter did not follow William Coddington to Newport. He remained in Portsmouth, where he was a leading citizen. In light
of John’s exemplary life in Portsmouth, Herodias Long must have been a very tempting woman to seduce John from his
Nov. 5, 1633: John Porter was made a freeman in Boston, MA. In the same year Porter and his wife Margaret were
members of the Roxbury church (a suburb of Boston).
Nov. 20, 1637: Porter was among the dozens of Reverend John Wheelwrights' supporters who was ordered to turn in
their weapons when insurrection was feared.
Feb. 19, 1638: Porter was allowed to leave Massachusetts with his fine remitted as long as he did not return not any
Mar. 7, 1638: Porter was a freeman at the organization of Portsmouth, Rhode Island
May 5, 1638: Porter was on a committee to lay out land at Portsmouth this year, and also on Nov. 16, 1638, Jan. 2,
1639, and Apr. 30, 1639
Feb. 10, 1640: Porter was granted 240 acres at Portsmouth. In Oct. 1643 he was given five acres next unto the
swamp down to the sea.
Mar. 12, 1640: Porter was a freeman at the when Portsmouth and Newport formed a joint government. He represented
Portsmouth as a governor's assistant, commissioner, or selectman for Portsmouth on many occasions between this
date and May 12, 1662.
Jun. 17, 1647: John Porter in his role as Rhode Island assistant, officiated at the Newport wedding of John Coggeshall
Jr. and Elizabeth Baulston. That marriage ended badly, as outlined in The Reputed Wife.
1655: Porter was in the Portsmouth section of the list of Rhode Island freeman made this year.
Mar. 17, 1656: Mr. Porter is freed from personal training, only he is to pay sixteen shillings a year.
Jan. 20, 1657: The Pettaquamscutt Purchasers made their first Narragansett land purchase from Quassaquanch,
Kachanaquant and Quequaquenuet, chief sachems of the powerful Narragansett Indian tribe. They paid L17 and other
considerations for all the land and the whole hill called Pettaquamscut, bounded on the south and southwest side of the
rock with Ninigret’s land, on the east with a river, northerly bounded two miles beyond a great rock in Providence,
westerly bounded by a running brook beyond the meadow, together with all manner of mines. The Purchasers were
also granted free access to those sachems’ lands, and all the black lead on this title and at Coojoot [a graphite deposit
near Pettaquamscutt Rock]. The deed was witnessed by John Lawton and Philip Lang, and signed only by
Kachanaquant, who confirmed the deed on Jan. 29th.
The Purchasers were John Hull of Boston and John Porter, Thomas Mumford, Samuel Wilson, and Samuel Wilbore Jr.,
all of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Wilbore’s wife was Hannah Porter, the daughter of John. A few years later, Benedict
Arnold and William Brenton, both of Newport, become partners.
May 19, 1657: John Porter was chosen as commissioner to represent Portsmouth at court, but he being sick, and not
able to attend, his fine is by this Court remitted. This would become a familiar tactic by Porter.
Jun 8, 1657: Porter was on grand and petit juries several times, often as foreman. He also served on Jun 30, 1657,
Mar. 13, 1660, Mar. 13, 1660, Mar. 11, 1662, Oct. 8, 1661, May 7, 1666.
May 18, 1658: Mr. John Porter and Mr. John Roome, chosen commissioners for Portsmouth, they being by illness not
able to attend that service, their fines are remitted.
May 22, 1660: Porter was on a committee to ripen the matter concerning the purchase made by the gentlemen of the
Bay, in Narragansett.
May 21, 1661: Porter was on an Audit committee, and also on a committee to raise money for obtaining the royal
Between 1638 and 1662 Porter served Portsmouth in many ways, and too many times to list here. His services end
abruptly in December 1662. Perhaps that was the year that he removed to Pettaquamscutt.
July 20, 1664: John Porter was described as lately of Portsmouth when he and William Baulston settled a minor
difference in their Portsmouth land boundaries.
May 14, 1666: Thomas Mumford, on behalf of the Pettaquamscutt Purchasers, writes to John Hull in Boston, Honrd Sr,
Mr. John Holle, my Best Respects presented to your selfe And Mrs Holl, Sr, my Request to you is, that you would Bee
pleased to come Up to ye Island fore thare is [very] gratt neseasety of your Being heare, Both concerning our
Accounts And our deades, And as for ye [letter] that Mr Brenton sent to your selfe, Was With [all] our Consentes,
though Mr Porter Was pleased to [say] that it Was not With Samll Willsons And my Consent, What Mr Brenton did
Wright thee, Reason that hee sayd so, I do suppose Was, Bee Case that hee is very free of Disposing of Land And
taking Up of ye pay, And Will not give ye partners nowe Account of it, thare fore, Sr, it Will Bee very neadfull of your
Being heare as sone as you Can, or send Us Word, for hee Doth as good as saye, that Wee have nothing to do thare.
So having no more at present to trobell you With, I Reste, your faithfull sarvant to Comand to My Power.
Mr Brenton and Mr Willboure And Samll Willson, thay Dowe all Consente to What I have [written] consarning your
coming Up to ye Iland, And [are] All very Desierus of youre Coming.
Rhode Island Historical Society collection Vol. 3
John Porter and Horod Long were called to court several times between 1666 and 1668 to answer charges of
cohabitation and living in way of incontinency. Full details are found on the "More Information" page. Both of them pled
illness, but at last Porter appeared to defend himself, and as Horod's attorney. They were found not guilty. Perhaps
they married after Margaret Porter's death, for the name Horad Porter is found on several of Porter's deeds between
John Porter on Wikipedia
"Reconstructing Sarah (Odding) Sherman" ~ Patricia Law Hatcher ~ The American Genealogist Vol. 73:80
The Coggeshall Family in America ~ Charles P. Coggeshall, Thelwell R. Coggeshall ~ 1930
Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island ~ John O. Austin ~ 1887
The Great Migration Begins ~ Robert C. Anderson ~ 1995
Rhode Island colonial records
Rhode Island Land Evidence
Rhode Island Court of Trials records
Rhode Island Historical Society collection Vol. 3