Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/199

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


PORTER, THOMAS (1636–1680), dramatist, born in 1636, fourth son of Endymion Porter [q. v.], began his career by abducting, on 24 Feb. 1655, Anne Blount, daughter of Mountjoy Blount, earl of Newport [q. v.] For this he was for a short time imprisoned, and the contract of marriage between Porter and the lady was declared null and void by the quarter sessions of Middlesex on 17 July following (Middlesex Records, iii. 237; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655, pp. 74, 577; Mercurius Politicus, p. 5164). Nevertheless, a valid marriage subsequently took place, as Porter had a son George by her (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. ii. 123). On 26 March of the same year Porter killed a soldier named Thomas Salkeld in Covent Garden, probably in a duel, and was consequently tried for murder. He pleaded guilty of manslaughter, was allowed benefit of clergy, and was sentenced to be burned in the hand (Mercurius Politicus, 22–9 March, 1655, p. 5228; Middlesex Records, iii. 233). On 28 July 1667 Porter had a duel with his friend, Sir Henry Bellasis, ‘worth remembering,’ says Pepys, who relates it at length, for ‘the silliness of the quarrel. Bellasis was mortally wounded, and Porter, who was also hurt, had to fly the kingdom’ (Pepys, Diary, 29 July 1667; Report on the MSS. of M. le Fleming, p. 52). Porter subsequently married Roberta Anne Colepeper, daughter of Sir Thomas Colepeper, knt., and died in 1680 (Fonblanque, Lives of the Lords Strangford, pp. 15, 83; Memoirs of Lady Fanshawe, p. 172).

He was the author of the following plays: 1. ‘The Villain,’ a tragedy, 4to, 1663, 1670, 1694. This play was acted at the Duke's Theatre in October 1662 for ten nights in succession to crowded houses (Genest, English Stage, i. 42, x. 246; Downes, Roscius Anglicanus, p. 23). Young Killigrew commended the play to Pepys ‘as if there never had been any such play come upon the stage,’ but Pepys was dissatisfied when he saw it, finding ‘though there was good singing and dancing, yet no fancy in the play’ (Diary, 20 Oct. 1662). Its success was chiefly owing to Sandford's performance of the part of Maligni (ib.; Langbaine, p. 407). The epilogue to this play was written by Sir William Davenant, and is printed in his works (ed. 1673, p. 440). 2. ‘The Carnival,’ a comedy, 4to, 1664; acted at the Theatre Royal (Genest, x. 248). 3. ‘A Witty Combat, or the Female Victor, written by T. P. Gent.,’ 4to, 1668. It is said on the title-page to have been ‘acted by persons of quality’ in the Whitsun week with great applause. Genest (i. 51) identifies it with the ‘German Princess’ which Pepys saw performed on 15 April 1664. 4. ‘The French Conjuror: a Comedy by T. P., acted at the Duke of York's Theatre,’ 4to, 1678. This was licensed on 2 Aug. 1677. The plot of the play is derived from two stories in the ‘Spanish Rogue, or the Life of Guzman de Alfarache’ (Genest, i. 210). The similarity of the initials is the only reason for attributing the last two plays to Porter.

[Biographia Dramatica, ed. 1782, i. 348; other authorities mentioned in this article.]

C. H. F.

PORTER, WALTER (1595?–1659), composer, was son of Henry Porter, who in 1600 graduated Bac. Mus. at Oxford, and in 1603 was musician of the sackbuts to James I. Walter, born about 1595 (Baptie), was on 5 Jan. 1616 sworn gentleman of the Chapel Royal, to await a vacancy among the tenor singers. On 1 Feb. 1617 he succeeded Peter Wright. In 1639 he was appointed master of the choristers of Westminster Abbey, Richard Portman being organist at the time. Among his patrons were John, lord Digby, first earl of Bristol, to whom he dedicated his ‘Ayres,’ and Sir Edward Spencer. Dismissed from his post during the rebellion, Porter was relieved by Edward Laurence, esq. (Wood). He was buried at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, on 30 Nov. 1659 (Grove).

Porter's printed works are: 1. ‘Madrigales and Ayres of two, three, foure, and five voyces, with the continued bass, with Toccatos, Sinfonias, and Ritornelles to them after the manner of consort musique. To be performed with the Harpsechord, Lutes, Theorbos, Basse-violl, two Violins or two Viols,’ 4to, printed by Wm. Stansby, 1632. The book contains twenty-six pieces, and is recommended to the ‘practitioner’ in these terms: ‘Before you censure, which I know you will, and they that understand least most sharply; let me intreate you to play and sing them true according to my meaning, or heare them done so; not, instead of singing, to howle or bawle them, and scrape, instead of playing, and perform them falsely, and say they are nought.’ A copy is in the Music School, Oxford. 2. ‘Ayres and Madrigals … with a thorough-bass base for the Organ or Theorbo-lute in the Italian way,’ 1639. Psalms and Anthems for two voices to the organ, first set, 1639 (Playford advertisement). 3. Second set, or ‘Mottets of two voices for treble or tenor and bass, to be performed to an Organ, Harpsycon, Lute, or Bass-viol,’ small folio, 1657 (Sacred Harmonic Cat.) Burney found the words of some of these were taken from George Sandys's ‘Paraphrase.’ 4. ‘Divine Hymns by W. Porter,’ advertised by Playford, 1664, perhaps the same as 5. ‘Psalms of Sir George