- H. Stephen Porterabt 1743 -
- W. Mary Hartabt 1750/55 -
m. 14 June 1774
Facts and Events
Fide: Alexander Ewing (1676-1738) by Jim McMichaels
Marriage: Mary Hart 14 Jun 1774 in PA. based on from Linn & Egle, Marriage Information from Pennsylvania Marriages prior to 1790, Volume II of the 2nd Series, p. 198.)
Dau of John Hart based on the information contained in the will of Robert Porter,
Robert Porter is believed to be the son of Stephen; His will written 21 August 1804 indicate sister Margaret Aurelia Porter, and mentions grandfather John Hart
On 27 December 1773, Stephen Porter of Octoraro Hundred purchased 100 acres of land called STEELS from James Gillespie and his wife, Elizabeth, as recorded in Cecil County, Maryland Deed Book 13 page 354.
Quoting "History of Cecil County, Maryland" by George Johnston, pages 356-60,
“Stephen Porter, a lawyer of some distinction, and the father of Margaret Aurelia Porter, a maiden lady that many persons of middle age will recollect as a person of extraordinarily strong intellectual ability, lived at Porter’s Bridge, on the Octoraro Creek, in 1784, and sometime previous to the harvest of that year employed one Thomas Dunn, who seems to have been a large and powerful man, but a person of bad repute and somewhat of a bully withal. The depositions of several witnesses, taken before the jury of inquest, show that Dunn, who had left the employ of Porter sometime before, returned to the neighborhood, on the 6th of July, ostensibly to settle with Porter, who owed him a trifling balance, but really it would seem for the purpose and with the intention of provoking a quarrel with him. Dunn met one Stephen Herd, who lived in Lancaster County, and was an entire stranger to him, on the road, near Captain William Ewing’s, a neighbor of Porter’s, and asked him to accompany him to Ewing’s, for the purpose of acting as an arbitrator in adjusting the dispute between Porter and himself. The parties pledged themselves to abide by the award which was made by the arbitrators, but soon after it was disclosed, Dunn flew into a passion and began to abuse Porter and malign his wife, and finally spit in Porter’s face. Those present used their best endeavors to quiet the enraged bully, but without avail. After enduring Dunn’s abuse for some time, Porter, accompanied by Benjamin Brearley, a miller, who occupied a house not far from Porter’s mill, started to go to their homes. Dunn followed them, notwithstanding they besought him to desist and take another road. Brearley and Dunn stopped at the house of the former, where Dunn had some clothes which Brearley was desirous he should take away with him, while Porter continued on to his own dwelling, and procured an old bayonet, and hastening back towards Brearley’s house, encountered Dunn, who stooped down, as the witness who saw him testified, to pick up a stone, whereupon Porter stabbed him, from the effect of which he almost instantly expired.
“The next day, Samuel Maffit, who was then one of the coroners of the county, empanneled jury of inquest, consisting of eighteen of the good and lawful men of the county, who, after hearing the testimony, rendered a verdict that the said Porter ‘then & there feloniously killed & murdered the said Dunn,’ and Porter was straightway incarcerated in the little stone jail in Charlestown. By common law the property of those convicted of capital offences was forfeited to the State. The coroner therefore returned an inventory of all and singular the lands and tenements, rights, and chattles of Stephen Porter, as appraised by Patrick Ewing, Samuel Scott, John Crawford, and James Egan. The inventory is as follows: One plantation of two hundred acres of land together with one merchant mill, £700; one mare, one horse and two colts, £20; three cow, £9; two small hogs, £1 5s.; six or eight sheep, £2 5s.; sundries, household furniture, £50; total, £782 10s.; whereupon Porter, who was a lawyer, conveyed his property to his wife and one of his friends, in order, if possible, to secure it for the benefit of the former.
“Some time after Porter was imprisoned, some of his friends provided themselves with a fleet-footed horse and visited the jail, taking with them a supply of whiskey, with which they succeeded in making the jailer drunk, and getting up a sham-fight, kicked Porter, who had been informed of the effort they intended to make in his behalf, out of the door. Porter lost no time in mounting the horse, and made good his escape to the Octoraro hills, and bidding good-by to his friends, proceeded across the Alleghany Mountains to Washington County, Pennsylvania, then a frontier settlement, where he is said to have betrayed himself by the knowledge he exhibited of the law, during a discussion he engaged in with some others in a public house.
“The papers in the case show that Porter had a hearing before two of the justices of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania, on the 6th of October, he having been arrested on suspicion of having murdered a man in Cecil County, and that he confessed the murder and narrated the attending circumstances and manner of his escape, all of which are briefly set forth in one of the papers. This paper is a most extraordinary legal document, and seems to have been given to the persons in whose custody Porter was, to enable them to conduct him safely on his way towards this county; for on the 13th of October, he had another hearing before Robert Galbraith, a justice of the peace of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, who gave the posse in whose custody he was, a somewhat similar, though more sensible document, in which the facts of the murder and escape are set forth, and they are commanded to deliver the prisoner to the sheriff of Franklin County, in order that he might be safely conveyed to the sheriff of Cecil County, which was done in due time, and early in the next December a commission was issued by the governor to five of the justices of the county, authorizing and commanding them to hold a special term of court for his trial. It is worthy of remark, that this special commission was sent to Joseph Gilpin, who was designated as presiding justice, and that he notified the others and designated Baruch Williams as a suitable person to act as clerk. The court met at Charlestown on the 7th of December, 1784, and Timothy Kirk being unable to attend, the other justices, John Leach Knight, Stephen Hyland, and John Dockery Thompson, opened the court and proceeded to business. The next day the grand jury returned a true bill against Porter for murder, and on the following day he was arraigned and the same day convicted of manslaughter, the verdict of the jury being ‘not guilty of murder, as specified in the indictment, but guilty of manslaughter.’ The court thereupon ordered that the prisoner enter security for his appearance on Friday, the 16th, to hear their judgment, and he was recognized in the sum of £500 for his appearance from day to day until the court would pass judgment, Patrick Ewing becoming his surety in that sum. The tardiness of the court in passing judgment probably gave offence to some of the friends of Dunn. At all events, George Cather and John Robinson were tried and convicted of insulting the court and jury sometime during the trial. The nature of the insult is not stated, but inasmuch as several witnesses were examined, it is probable that it consisted in using disrespectful language in reference to the manner of conducting the trial. They were each sentenced to pay a trifling fine and the costs, in default of the payment of which they were sent to jail. The record does not state whether the court met and adjourned from day to day until the 16th, but upon that day it rendered judgment ‘that the prisoner be discharged, the statute not being extended.’
“The indictment under which Porter was convicted contained two counts, one of which was for murder, under the common law; the other one was for manslaughter, under the statute of James I., chapter I., section 8; which was made on account of the frequent quarrels and stabbings with daggers between the Scotch and English, and which was of a temporary nature, and was not in force in Maryland at that time, it not having been extended thereto, as stated in the judgment of the court, by the action of the State convention which, in 1776, had adopted the common law of England, and extended certain parts of the statute law of that country to the State of Maryland.
“During a period of ten or twelve years, just after the close of the Revolutionary war, three other persons met with violent deaths at Porter’s Bridge and in that immediate vicinity.”
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