Porter


Exept for some Porters in Dublin this name in Ireland is exclusive to Ulster.  It is most common in counties Antrim, Down, Derry and Armagh.  It can be of English or Scottish origin.

Porter is an occupational name and though it can derive from the Old French porteur, meaning a 'carrier of burdens', its main derivation is from the Old French portier, a 'porter' or 'doorkeeper'.  In medieval times the office of porter was one of the most important in castle and monastery and came with lands and privileges.  The word was in Scotland gaelicised as portair, which had the extra meaning of 'ferryman'.

The name is one of the most common in every kind of Irish record since the thirteenth century, but most in Ulster will be of post-Plantation origin.  The most famous of the name in Ulster was a Presbyterian minister, the Revd James Porter, 1753-98, of Greyabbey, Co. Down.  He was a United Irishman and a series of letters he published under the title Billy Bluff and Squire Firebrand drew the attention of the government.  He was tried on the false evidence of an informer and hanged at Greyabbey within sight of his home and church.

 

GLOSSARY

Clan From the Gaelic clann which means literally 'children'.
Mac- From the Gaelic mac, meaning 'son'
O' From the Gaelic , meaning 'grandson', 'grandchild' or 'descendant'; N is the femine form of , meaning 'daughter' or 'descendant'
Plantation (Ulster) The redistribution of escheated lands after the defeat of the Ulster Gaelic lords and the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607.  Only counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, Fermanagh and Cavan were actually 'planted', portions of land there being distributed to English and Scottish families on their lands and for the building of bawns.
Sept A family group of shared ancestry living in the same locality
Undertakers Powerful English or Scottish landowners who undertook the plantation of British settlers on the lands they were granted.
Gaelic This word in Ireland has no relation to Scotland.  As a noun it is used to denote the Irish language, as an adjective to denote native Irish as opposed to Norman or English origin.
Erenagh From the Irish Gaelic airchinneach, meaning 'hereditary steward of church lands'.  A family would hold the ecclesiastical office and the right to the church or monastery lands, the incumbent at any one time being the erenagh.