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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/191

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Porter
Porter
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    cated to Thomas, second and last lord Windsor. The second volume, prepared for the press by Francis Hull, O.S.B., seems never to have been published.
  1. ‘The Life of St. Edward, King and Confessor,’ sine loco, 1710, 8vo. A new edition, ‘revised and corrected by a priest’ (i.e. C. J. Bowen), appeared at London, 1868, 12mo.

[Downside Review, iii. 252, vi. 133; Oliver's Cornwall, p. 521; Weldon's Chronological Notes, p. 168.]

T. C.

PORTER, JOHN SCOTT (1801–1880), Irish biblical scholar and unitarian divine, eldest son of William Porter (1774–1843), by his first wife, Mary, daughter of Charles Scott, was born at Newtownlimavady, co. Derry, on 31 Dec. 1801. His father, who was presbyterian minister of Newtownlimavady from 1799 till his death, held the clerkship of the general synod of Ulster from 6 Nov. 1816 to 29 June 1830; he joined the remonstrants under Henry Montgomery, LL.D. [q. v.], was elected the first moderator of the remonstrant synod of Ulster on 25 May 1830, and held its clerkship from 6 Sept. 1831 till his death. Scott Porter, after passing through schools at Dirtagh and Londonderry, was admitted as a student for the ministry under the care of Strabane presbytery. He took his arts course at the Belfast ‘academical institution’ in 1817–19 and 1821–3, acting in the interim as tutor in a private family in co. Kilkenny. He received silver medals for mathematics, natural philosophy, and for ‘speaking Greek extempore.’ In 1823–5 he studied Hebrew and divinity under Thomas Dix Hincks, LL.D. [q. v.], and Samuel Hanna, D.D. [q. v.] He was licensed in October 1825 by Bangor presbytery without subscription. On 1 Jan. 1826 he received a unanimous call from the presbyterian congregation in Carter Lane, Doctors' Commons, London, and was ordained there on 2 March, in succession to John Hoppus [q. v.] His views were Arian, and he became the editor (1826–8) of an Arian monthly, the ‘Christian Moderator;’ but he was in friendly relations with Thomas Belsham [q. v.], the leader of the Priestley school of opinion, and acted as a pall-bearer at Belsham's funeral in 1829. He kept a school at Rosoman House, Islington, in conjunction with David Davidson, minister at the Old Jewry; his scholars called him ‘the lion;’ among his pupils was Dion Boucicault the dramatist (who then spelled his name Boursiquot). In January 1829 he declined a call to the second presbyterian church of Belfast, to which his cousin, John Porter (1800–1874), was appointed. He accepted a call (11 Sept. 1831) to the first presbyterian church of Belfast, and was installed on 2 Feb. 1832 by Antrim presbytery as successor to William Bruce (1757–1841) [q. v.], and colleague to William Bruce (1790–1868) [q. v.] His ministry at Belfast was one of high reputation and success, both as a pastor and a polemic. His pulpit and platform appeals were marked by a masculine eloquence, and, though very uncompromising in his opinions, his straightforward advocacy of them won the respect and even the friendship of opponents. He had not been long in Belfast when he engaged in a public discussion (14–17 April 1834) on the unitarian controversy with Daniel Bagot (d. 9 June 1891), afterwards dean of Dromore; the arguments on both sides were issued in a joint publication; Porter's friends made him a presentation of nearly 1,000l.

From 1832 he had lectured on biblical subjects to divinity students, and on 10 July 1838 he was appointed, in conjunction with Henry Montgomery, professor of theology to the ‘association of Irish non-subscribing presbyterians,’ his departments being biblical criticism and dogmatics. The chair was endowed by government in 1847 with a salary of 150l. On 16 July 1851 he was appointed in addition (without increase of salary) professor of Hebrew and cognate languages. For many years he taught classics to private pupils. In 1848 he published his contribution to textual criticism, on the lines of Griesbach and Hug; noted by Gregory and Abbot (Prolegomena to Tischendorf's Nov. Test., 1884, p. 269) as the indication of an improved era in British textual studies. A useful feature of the work was its series of coloured plates, draughted by Porter himself, and exhibiting specimens of codices in facsimile. He contributed revised translations of Kings, Chronicles, Ezekiel, and Daniel to an edition of ‘The Holy Scriptures of the Old Covenant’ issued by Longmans, 1859–1862, 8vo. A later fruit of his academic work was his defence (1876) of the authenticity of St. John's Gospel.

Among public measures he was an early and consistent supporter of the Irish system of ‘national’ education, and an organiser of the ‘Ulster national education association.’ Though a recipient of ‘regium donum,’ he welcomed the policy of disestablishment. In politics, as such, he took no part, but was always to the front in local schemes of philanthropy and culture. He had collected an enormous library, and was well read in a wide range of literature. His linguistic attainments were both extensive and accurate; he was greatly interested in efforts to preserve the Irish language.