Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/192

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Of the liberal theology advocated by Henry Montgomery, Scott Porter was the ablest exponent. His later theological controversies were internal to his own denomination. He led a secession from the Antrim presbytery (of which he had been clerk from 7 May 1834), and founded (21 Feb. 1862) the northern presbytery of Antrim, with the purpose of emphasising a recognition of the authority of Christ and of divine revelation (the two presbyteries were reunited on 7 Nov. 1894). On the same grounds he withdrew, with a large majority, from the local ‘unitarian society,’ and formed (December 1876) the ‘Ulster unitarian christian association.’ Yet in biblical science he was by no means conservative; the publications of Colenso he welcomed as sound in principle, and followed Priestley in maintaining the presence of an unhistorical element in the initial chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke.

Personally he was a man of broad and genial nature, of strong feelings easily roused, capable of passion, but incapable of malice; in society a most genial and warm-hearted companion, rich in anecdote, fond of music, and capable of singing a good song. His somewhat gaunt figure was dignified by a striking countenance, mellowed in old age, and graced with a profusion of snow-white hair and beard. He preached for the last time (at Larne, co. Antrim) on 18 Aug. 1878, and died, after long illness, at his residence, Lennox Vale, Belfast, on 5 July 1880; he was buried on 8 July in the Borough cemetery, Belfast, where an Irish cross of black marble is erected to his memory. A memorial tablet is in his church. His portrait, painted (1873) by Ebenezer Crawford, has been engraved (1880); there are two earlier engraved likenesses of him. He married, on 8 Oct. 1833, Margaret (d. 7 April 1879, aged 66), eldest daughter of Andrew Marshall, M.D.; his eldest son, Andrew Marshall Porter, was master of the rolls in Ireland from 1883 to 1906.

A list of his thirty-eight publications, including single sermons, is appended to his ‘Memorial.’ Of these the most important are: 1. ‘Authentic Report of the Discussion on the Unitarian Controversy,’ &c., Belfast, 1834, 8vo; reached a fourth edition. 2. ‘Twelve Lectures in Illustration … of Unitarianism,’ &c., Belfast, 1841, 8vo; 2nd edit., London, 1853, 8vo. 3. ‘Principles of Textual Criticism, with their application to the Old and New Testaments,’ &c., 1848, 8vo. 4. ‘Servetus and Calvin: Three Lectures,’ &c., 1854, 8vo (contains the best historical account of Servetus, to date). 5. ‘Bible Revision: Three Lectures,’ &c., 1857, 8vo. 6. ‘Lectures on the Doctrine of Atonement,’ &c., 1860, 8vo. 7. ‘The National System and the National Board,’ &c., 1864, 8vo (anon.). 8. ‘Is the “National” or the “Denominational” System of Education the best?’ &c., 1868, 8vo. 9. ‘The Fourth Gospel is the Gospel according to John,’ &c., 1876, 8vo. He contributed to the ‘Bible Christian’ (which for a time he edited), ‘Irish Unitarian Magazine,’ ‘Christian Reformer,’ ‘Christian Unitarian,’ ‘Ulster Journal of Archæology,’ and other periodicals.

William Porter (1805–1880), younger brother of the above, was born at Artikelly, near Newtownlimavady, on 15 Sept. 1805. He served his time with John Classon, ironfounder and timber merchant of Dublin, brother of his father's second wife, but subsequently studied law in Dublin and London, and was called to the Irish bar at Michaelmas 1831. In January 1839 he was appointed attorney-general at the Cape of Good Hope, an office which he filled with great distinction till 31 Aug. 1865. On his retirement full salary for life was voted to him by special resolution of the house of assembly; he devoted the larger half of it to the endowment of the university of the Cape of Good Hope, of which he was elected the first chancellor in 1873. On 30 Nov. 1872 he was made companion of the order of St. Michael and St. George. He declined a knighthood, and refused several judgeships, including a chief-justiceship at the Cape; he declined also the post of prime minister at the Cape. Returning to Ireland in 1873, he lived with his elder brother, and died, unmarried, at Lennox Vale, Belfast, on 13 July 1880; he was buried at the Borough cemetery, Belfast, on 16 July. Among his literary contributions are twelve remarkable articles on ‘preachers and preaching’ in the ‘Bible Christian,’ 1834–1835. His published speeches were often of singular beauty; an extract from one of them is given in Sir Theodore Martin's ‘Life of the Prince Consort,’ v. 234.

Classon Emmett Porter (1814–1885), half-brother of the above, born at Artikelly in 1814, was the eldest son of William Porter by his second wife, Eliza, daughter of John Classon of Dublin. He was educated (1828–1834) at Manchester College, York, and ordained (2 July 1834) by Antrim presbytery as minister of the first presbyterian church, Larne, co. Antrim, a charge which he held till his death, though he retired from active duty in July 1875. He died at his residence, Ballygally Castle, co. Antrim, on 27 May 1885, and was buried in the parish churchyard of Cairncastle, co. Antrim. He left a widow and several sons. Latterly he disused his second name. His contributions to Irish