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Porter, George (1622?-1683) (DNB00)

PORTER, GEORGE (1622?–1683), royalist, was the eldest son of Endymion Porter [q. v.] On 19 June 1641 Charles I recommended him to the Earl of Ormonde to be allowed to transport a regiment of a thousand of the disbanded soldiers of the Irish army for the service of Spain (Coxe, Hibernia Anglicana, iii. 71, App. p. 210). At the commencement of the civil war he appears to have served under Prince Rupert, and then became commissary-general of horse in the army of the Earl of Newcastle (Warburton, Prince Rupert, i. 507; Life of the Duke of Newcastle, ed. 1886, p. 165). In March 1644 Porter was engaged in fortifying Lincoln, and at the battle of Marston Moor, where he was wounded, he held the rank of major-general of Newcastle's foot (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. p. 435; Vicars, God's Ark, p. 277). The parliament sent him to the Tower, but, after lengthy negotiations, allowed him to be exchanged (Commons' Journals, iii. 658, 709, 711; Report on the Duke of Portland's MSS. i. 192–6). On his release Porter became lieutenant-general and commander of the horse in the army of Lord Goring, in the west of England. Over Goring he exercised an influence which was very harmful to the king's cause; he ‘fed his wild humour and debauch, and turned his wantonness into riot.’ At Ilminster on 9 July 1645 he suffered Goring's cavalry to be surprised and routed by Massey. Goring indignantly declared that he deserved ‘to be pistolled for his negligence or cowardice,’ and a few weeks later told Hyde that he suspected Porter of treachery as well as negligence, and was resolved to be quit of him (Carte, Original Letters, i. 131; Bulstrode, Memoirs, pp. 135, 137, 141). His final verdict was that ‘his brother-in-law was the best company, but the worst officer that ever served the king.’ Though Goring took no steps to deprive Porter of his command, the character of the latter was utterly discredited by a quarrel between him and Colonel Tuke, arising out of an intrigue about promotion (ib. pp. 137, 141–7). In November 1645 Porter obtained a pass from Fairfax, abandoned the king's cause, and went to London (Fonblanque, Lives of the Lords Strangford, p. 77). He made his peace by this treacherous desertion to the parliamentary cause, for the House of Commons at once remitted the fine of 1,000l. which the committee for compounding had imposed upon him, and passed an ordinance for his pardon (Commons' Journals, iv. 486, 522; Calendar of the Committee for Compounding, p. 1097).

Porter was extremely quarrelsome, although his courage was not above suspicion, and in 1646 and 1654 his intended duels were prevented by official intervention (Lords' Journals, viii. 318, 338; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1654, p. 437). In 1659 he was engaged in the plots for the restoration of Charles II, but was not trusted by the royalists (Clarendon State Papers, iii. 586). Nevertheless, after the king's return, he succeeded in obtaining the office of gentleman of the privy chamber to the queen-consort (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1664–5, p. 396; Ady, Life of Henrietta of Orleans, p. 215). He died in 1683.

Porter married Diana, daughter of George Goring, first earl of Norwich, and widow of Thomas Covert of Slaugham, Sussex, by whom he had three sons and five daughters. His daughter Mary married Philip Smyth, fourth viscount Strangford.

[See authorities for Porter, Endymion.]

C. H. F.