Notebook:Porter Family in Old Chester County/Wills of Lancaster

Article Covers
Notebook:Porter Family
Old Chester County/Wills of Lancaster


Return to Old Chester|Explanation
The Tapestry
Families| Old Chester| Old Augusta| Germanna|
New River| SWVP| Cumberland| Carolina Cradle|
Porter Tapestry



From: User:Ben Porter. Formating and notes added by Q 20:50, 16 June 2009 (EDT)


I obtained copies of the originals of several wills recorded in Lancaster County, PA in hopes of finding the father of Patrick Porter. The wills were recorded for Robert (1745), John (1763), Samuel (1775), and James (1786), all of Drumore Township. I also obtained the will for a James Porter, of Cecil County (Octoraro Hundred), that was for some reason filed in Lancaster County (1778).

I had obtained the wills of John, Samuel, and James in hopes of linking them to the will of Robert (1745), but at least in the case of Samuel I know this is not true. Also, it is clear that Samuel Porter is not the father of Patrick Porter (=Susannah Walker), but is perhaps his brother.

A summary of each will follows.

ROBERT PORTER (of Drumore, will dated 1745)

The will of Robert Porter of Drumore (1745) bequeaths property to his wife Mary, and in the event of her remarriage, to his children Robert, John, James, Samuel, and Jannet. The will was witnessed by Robert's friends Andrew Gregg and William Richy. There was no mention of Robert's occupation or status.

SAMUEL PORTER (will dated 1775)

I will start with Samuel Porter of Drumore (will dated 1775). Samuel's occupation is noted [in the will itself] as "schoolmaster". So, I think we can safely assume that this Samuel and the "Samuel, schoolmaster of Drumore" who bought land in old Augusta County are the same person[1] He bequeathed property to son Jacob and daughter Elizabeth, and to brothers Alexander, Joseph, and relieved his brother Patrick of "bonds" (presumably debts) owed to Samuel. Here at last is a citation for Patrick, but we find it ironically not in his father's will, but in his brother's. [2]There is no mention of Samuel's wife. Given that he had only two children, she probably predeceased him, earlier in her child-bearing years.

Note that the brothers are listed in the order Alexander-Joseph-Patrick, which may be inferred to be birth order. Since this Samuel filed a will when Patrick was between 38 and 44 years of age (depending on whether you accept 1737 or 1731 as Patrick's birthdate), we might infer that Patrick is his younger brother (i.e., that Samuel followed Joseph).

The will identifies a James Patterson of Lancaster Co. as executor; his township was cited but is difficult to read, it appears to be Rapho, which is adjacent to Coleraine Township about 40 miles NW of Drumore. The will was witnessed by William Porter and Thomas Grier.

Because Samuel cites as brothers the names of men who are not listed as sons in Robert Porter's will (1745), Samuel is not the son of Robert.

JOHN PORTER (will dated 1763)

John was identified as a farmer of Drumore Township, Lancaster Co., PA. He bequeathed property to his wife Rebecca, sons Thomas and William, and daughter Violet (though this name is difficult to read and therefore uncertain), and to grandsons John Porter, John Price, and John Mitchel (Mitchell?), and another grandson John whose surname is illegible but may be Whitesides. We may presume that John had other daughters not mentioned in the will, unless Violet had multiple marriages. The executors of the will were Joseph and Samuel Morrison. The witnesses to the will were Thomas Whitesides and Samuel McConnel.

JAMES PORTER (of Drumore, will dated 1786)

James is identified as a yeoman of Drumore Township, Lancaster Co., PA.

He bequeathed property to his wife Mary, sons John, William, David, and Samuel, and daughters Jane, Margaret, and Janet.

The executors of the will were his sons John and David. The witnesses to the will were James Porter, Jr. (not his son, as the will explicitly defines John's sons) and WIlliam Ritchey, presumably the same William Ritchey who witnessed the will of Robert Porter (1745), above. The James Porter, Jr. mentioned here may be the son of James Porter of Octoraro Hundred, below, given the span of dates.

JAMES PORTER (of Octoraro Hundred, Cecil Co., MD, will dated 1778)

The will for James was filed in Lancaster County, PA. He mentions in the will not knowing if his property is in Pennsylvania or Maryland, so perhaps he assumed it was safer to file in PA since his property was on the east side of the Susquehana.

James bequeathed property to his wife Elonor, sons William, Andrew, Stephen, James, Samuel, and George, and daughters Elizabeth, Elonor, and Mary (Ewing), and to nephew James Porter Ewing. James' sons William and Stephen were executors. The will was witnessed by Nat Ramsey, Thomas Porter, and James Carruthers. Presumably, this Thomas Porter is the son of John Porter of Drumore, mentioned above.

The real property conveyed in this will to wife Elonor was on "the north side of the Great Road leading from William Ewings to my house and onwards to the extent of the trail". The real property conveyed to son WIlliam was situated "on or about Peach Bottom", consisting of houses, buildings, and the "presently unoccupied" sawmill, dam, and races, and also "all the advantages of the ferry". The residual lands were bequeathed to William and Andrew as tenants in common. Land on which James then lived (unidentified) was bequeathed to sons James and Samuel as joint tenants. Land which James had bought from Samuel Fulton was bequeathed to his son George, with restrictions. Lands owned by James Porter in Cumberland County were to be sold and the proceeds distributed to his children.

The relationship of these Porters is yet to be determined. My aim in researching these wills was to find a trail to Patrick Porter's antecedents. My working assumption at this point is that Samuel Porter of Drumore is Patrick's brother, and that Samuel and Patrick's father (possibly also a Samuel) was related to these other Porters, and was possibly a brother of Robert Porter, given the span of years covered by the wills. If one assumes that Robert Porter's children, in order, were John, James, Robert, Samuel, then Samuel could be Robert Sr's oldest brother. That could explain also the prevalence of Samuel as a forename among the other Porters (it is the most prevalent forename in this group). Samuel was also the most prevalent forename among the three generations of Porters starting with Patrick.

  1. This land was later sold for "Samuel Porter of Drumore Township" by John Mitchell. Mitchell was the soninlaw of a William Porter, and is presumed that William is somehow related to Samuel. William is not mentioned in Samuel's will of 1775, though three brothers of Samuel are mentioned. William was still alive at the time Samuel wrote his will, so it seems likely that the relationship is more complicated than being a brother.
  2. We know that Patrick Porter owed money to David Dryden of Borden's Grant. We know the debts (bonds) were due in 1772, because they remained unpaid in 1774 and are mentioned in David's will as part of a bequest. It would seem likely that the bond being paid off in Samuel's will for his brother Patrick, is the one owed to David Dryden. This is good circumstantial evidence that Person:Patrick Porter (1) (and not some other Patrick Porter is infact Samuel's brother.