Porter Family Genealogy

   The 'Porter' surname is English and Scottish: it's an occupational name for the gatekeeper of a walled town or city, or the doorkeeper of a great house, castle, or monastery, from the Middle English term porter, meaning ‘doorkeeper’, or ‘gatekeeper’ (Old French portier). The office often came with accommodation, lands, and other privileges for the bearer, and in some cases was hereditary, especially in the case of a royal castle. On the coat of arms, the three bells represent the power to disperse evil. The family Coat of Arms is black with three silver church bells. The Crest is a portcullis. The family motto, "Et fide et virtute," translates as: "Both fidelity and virtue."
   The Porter surname was first found in Hampshire, where Hugh de Port was listed in the Domesday Book as a major land holder.
   Our family line can be traced back to SAMUEL PORTER (1567 - 1660) of Dorchester, Devonshire, England. Samuel apparently sailed to the United States as part of the great Puritan emigration. He married a woman named SARAH (1568 - 1599) and they had a son, JONATHAN PORTER (1602 - 1665) who married a woman named EUNICE.
   Jonathan is recorded as a church member on 05 Apr 1640 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, and on the second of June in 1641, Jonathan took the oath as a free man. He and Eunice had at least three daughters: Elizabeth Porter (1620 - 1670), Eunice Porter (1621 - 1661), and our ancestor, MARY PORTER (1625 - 1661).


  • ELIZABETH PORTER was born in 1620 in England. She married Edward M. Harnett (1620 - 1696) of St. Laurence, Thanet, Kent, England, and they had the following children: Hannah Johanna (b. 1648); Jonathan (b. 17 Nov 1650 in Salem); Eunice (b. 3 Sep 1654 in Salem); and Sarah (b. 1656 in Salem).
  • EUNICE PORTER was born in 1621 in Salem, Essex, MA. She married James Chichester (1628 - 29 Jan 1696) and they had the following children: James (b. 1654 in Salem); Elizabeth (b. 24 Mar 1654 in Suffolk, Livingston, NY, USA); David (b. 1658 in Huntington); James (b. 15 Sep 1668 in Huntington);and Johnathan (b. 1670 in Huntington). Eunice died in 1661 in Salem, Essex Co., MA, USA.
  • MARY PORTER (1625 - 1693). Family listed below.
  •    At the time, Salem was a great area for a child to be educated. The Puritan work ethic was the belief that hard work was an honor to God, which would lead to a prosperous reward. No less was expected of kids, and for the first time in history, free schooling was offered for all children. Knowledge of Scripture and divinity, for the Puritans, was essential. Puritan leaders did not bolster the knowledge of its ministry simply to perpetuate the level of power of the ruling elite. A continuing goal was to further education among the laity, and so ensure that not only were the right and righteous ideas and understandings being held and expressed, but that the expressions were in fact messages received by a comprehending audience. An Act passed in Massachusetts in 1647 required "that every town of one hundred families or more should provide free common and grammar school instruction." So unlike most of the branches in our family at this point in time, the Porters were probably educated.Puritans formed the first formal school in 1635, called the Roxbury Latin School. Children aged 6-8 attended a "Dame school" where the teacher, who was usually a widow, taught reading. "Ciphering" (math) and writing were low on the academic agenda. In 1639, the first American College was established; Harvard in Cambridge, supported by poor yeoman farmers, who "contributed their pecks of wheat" for the continued promise of a "literate ministry." (So it's kind of sad that only the children of millionaires can enter the school today.)
       Along with the schools, literature flourished, as well. In 1638, the first printing press arrived. By 1700, Boston became the second largest publishing center of the English Empire. The Puritans were the first to write books for children, and to discuss the difficulties in communicating with them. At a time when other Americans were physically blazing trails through the forests, the Puritans efforts in areas of study were advancing our country intellectually.
       Great pains were taken to warn their members and especially their children of the dangers of the world. The education of the next generation was important to further "purify" the church and perfect social living.
       But there was a downside to Puritanism, too: It wasn't any fun! Three English diversions were banned in their New England colonies; drama, religious music and erotic poetry. The first and last of these led to immorality. Music in worship created a "dreamy" state which was not conducive in listening to God. Since the people were not spending their time idly indulged in trivialities, they were left with two godly diversions.
       Reading of the Bible was necessary to living a pious life. It stimulated their corporate intellect by promoting discussions of literature. Greek classics of Cicero, Virgil, Terence and Ovid were taught, as well as poetry and Latin verse. They were encouraged to create their own poetry, always religious in content.
       Any deviations from the normal way of Puritan life met with strict disapproval and discipline. Since the church elders were also political leaders, any church infraction was also a social one. There was no margin for error -- and this proved to be the Puritans' downfall.

       The devil was behind every evil deed. Constant watch needed to be kept in order to stay away from his clutches. Words of hell fire and brimstone flowed from the mouths of eloquent ministers as they warned of the persuasiveness of the devil's power. The sermons of Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan minister, show that delivery of these sermons became an art form. They were elegant, well formed, exegetical renditions of scriptures... with a healthy dose of fear woven throughout the fabric of the literary construction. Grammar children were quizzed on the material at school and at home. This constant subjection of the probability of an unseen danger led to one of the most infamous and tragic scandals in American history, and coined the phrase, "witch hunt."
       In 1688, four young girls in Salem accused a laundry woman of "bewitching" them. What could have been stopped progressed into a community tragedy. The young women enjoyed the attention this story afforded them, but no doubt were afraid that their lies would be found out. In an effort to further punctuate their story, they lapsed into prolonged convulsions.
       In order to understand what happened next, you need to know that at this point in history, the belief in witches was generally questioned by no one -- Puritan or otherwise -- "and even as late as the close of the seventeenth century hardly a scientist of repute in England but accepted certain phenomena as due to witchcraft." Cotton Mather, one of the Puritan leaders, wrote Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions (1689), which only made matters worse. This would prove the fire for the Salem Village witch trials, and the people became the tinder. Those who were accused of being "possessed by the devil" were forced to make confessions of their evil liaisons in order to protect their families and properties from harm (then killed). Those who denounced witchcraft (thereby calling the witnesses liars) were then accused themselves. By 1690, two hundred persons were in jail, fifty in prison and twenty executed (along with 2 dogs). 19 men and women were hanged to death on Gallows Hill, four died in prison, and one defiant man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death beneath a board and stones in a torturous attempt to obtain a confession.
       Fortunately, our ancestors had left the area by then -- and not by their own choice: When the Quaker religion spread to Massachusetts in the early 1650s, Jonathan Porter became a member -- and as a result he was fined and run out of town by the Puritans.
       The Porter left Salem for Huntington, Suffolk County, New York, in 1658 in the company of the Harnett, Chichester and Jarvis families, all Quaker adherents. An accurate date for their move to Huntington, Long Island can be established by a meeting held in Salem on the 31st of August in 1658, where "Edward Harnet, Taylor [tailor], beeinge now about to remove out of the town," apprentices Jeremiah, son of Alice Chichester.
       All four families are closely associated in early Long Island records, and all three of Jonathan and Eunice Porter's daughters married within that small group; Elizabeth married Edward Harnett, Jr., Eunice married James Chichester, and our ancestor, MARY, who wed STEPHEN JARVIS (1625 - 05 Aug 1693), who was born in England, possibly Stafford County, and sailed to America on the ship "Primrose." He arrived in Salem in1656. He and Mary were wed in Salem, but moved along with Jonathan and Eunice Porter to New York. Jonathan conveyed his estate at Salem to James Chichester, his son-in-law (by way of daughter Eunice), on the condition that he care for his widow, should she outlive him.


  • ELIZABETH JARVIS was born in 1651 in Salem, Massachusetts.
  • STEPHEN JARVIS, JR., was born in 1655 in Huntington, Long Island Co., NY. Children were: Stephen III (b. 2 Jun 1683); Abraham (b. 26 Apr 1685/86); Jebush and Epenetus (Eliphalet?) JARVIS.
  • JONATHAN JARVIS was born about 1657 in Huntington, NY. He signed a will on 25 Apr 1707. proved at New York 2 June 1709; recorded in Liber 7 p.533 of New York Wills. He died in 1709.
  • WILLIAM JARVIS was born about 1660 in Huntington, Long Island, NY. He died about 1741 in Huntington, Long Island, NY.
  • EDWIN JARVIS was born in 1661/62 in Huntington, Long Island, NY.
  • EUNICE JARVIS was born in 1662/63 in Huntington, Long Island, NY. She died on 25 Dec 1723. Family listed below.
  • THOMAS JARVIS was born in 1669. He died in 1732. He was a bricklayer.
  •    Many of the early settlers on Long Island were Quakers who had left New England to avoid persecution for their beliefs. On the 30th of November in 1666, New York Governor General Richard Nichols granted a patent for the Town of Huntington, which stretched "between the Sound and the ocean," and the Porter and Jarvis families settled there. They were active members of the Quaker community in Huntington, however religious intolerance continued, and the land was not ideal for farming, so most of the family moved to New Jersey -- except for Stephen and Mary. In fact, their family flourished, and their ancestors today are quite numerous -- we have a lot of "Jarvis" cousins.
       Their daughter and our ancestor, EUNICE JARVIS, married JOSEPH WOOD on the 15th of December in 1681. They had JOSEPH WOOD, JR., in Hempstead around that time. Joseph Jr. married MARGRIET (MARGARET) WOOD, from Jamaica, Long Island, Queens County, New York, at the close of the 1600's.
       Joseph Jr. and Margriet had JONATHAN WOOD, in Hempstead. Jonathan married JOHANNA CROMPTON and moved to Rockland County, New York, and had MARTHA WOOD, who met and married WILLIAM HAUSE.


    SAMUEL PORTER (1567 - 1660) married SARAH (1568 - 1599) and begat...

    JONATHAN PORTER (1602 - 1665), who married EUNICE (1610 - 1670) and begat...

    MARY PORTER (1625 - 1693), who married STEPHEN JARVIS (1625 - 05 Aug 1693) and begat...

    EUNICE JARVIS, who married JOSEPH WOOD in 1680 and begat...

    JOSEPH WOOD, JR. (1680 - ?) who married MARGRIET (MARGARET) WOOD and begat...

    JONATHAN WOOD (1720 - ?) who married JOHANNA CROMPTON (1725 - ?) and begat...

    MARTHA WOOD (1753 - 1822) who married WILLIAM HAUSE (1750 - 1818) and begat...

    JOHN HAUSE (1773 - 1844) who married ESTHER KETCHAM (1779 - 1853) and begat...

    AUGUSTUS HAUSE (1804 - 1875) who married JANE JONES (1802 - 1850) and begat...

    LABAN HAUSE (1831 - 1906) who married MELISSA SANDERSON (1839 - 1921) and begat...

    FRANK HAUSE (1867 - 1951) who married FLADELLA RAYMOND (1869 - 1961) and begat...

    CARLISLE HAUSE (1891 - 1972) who married MARJORIE MARCHANT (1892 - 1939) who begat...

    CARLETON MARCHANT HAUSE, SR. (1917 - 1983) who married JEANNE BRUNNER (1918 - 2000) and begat...

    CARLETON MARCHANT HAUSE, JR. (b. 1939) who married MARTHA WENK (b. 1940) and begat...

    JEFF (who married LORI ANN DOTSON), KATHY (who married HAL LARSEN), ERIC (who married MARY MOONSAMMY), and MICHELE HAUSE (who married JOHN SCOTT HOUSTON).

    Literature on the Porter Family:

  • Edward Culver, John Porter and Mary Estey: a Line of Descent from Two Puritans and a Salem Witch, with Allied Families by Marilyn V. Squires Mills
  • A Family History, William Porter, Jr. of Rockbridge County, Virginia (1740-1804) by Mary E. Porter.
  • Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1636-1686, 9 volumes (Salem 1911-1975): "Farmer John Porter," William Dodge, and Roger Haskell, all of Salem, were to view the highway at Lynn [June Term, 1660, EQC 2:218]. With Major William Hathorn and Jeffrey Massey, William Dodge was appointed a commissioner to bound out the thirds of Eunice, the widow of Jonathan Porter [November Term, 1660, EQC 2:256].
    William Dodge, John Porter and Mr. Edmond Batter were appointed administrators of the estate of Samuel Porter, November Term, 1659 [EQC 2:192].
  • New England Marriages Prior to 1700
    Publication: Genealogical Publishing Co, Baltimore MD, 1985
  • Early New England Settlers 1600s-1800s, Number: CD #504
    Publication: Genealogy.com
    Page: p233, The First Settlers of New England, Surnames O-P
    Page: p431, Guide to the Early Settlers of America, Surnames O-P
    Page: p452, History of New England 1630-1649, Vol. II, Appendix
  • The Puritans. Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson, editors. 1932, 1963.