Traditional Porteous Coat-of-Arms


Concentrations of families bearing the Porteous name can still be found in many areas where members the family are historically known to have settled, in England, Ireland, Canada, the US and Australasia.

In Scotland, the name is still well-known and appears with regularity amongst the inhabitants of Peeblesshire, Dumfriesshire, Lanarkshire, Midlothian and Roxburghshire – and not surprisingly, is common also in the two main cities of Scotland – Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In Ireland, there are to this day a large number of members of the family bearing the Porteus spelling in and around Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in the province of Ulster. Many of these are thought to be originally descended from John Porteus, who emigrated from Scotland to County Fermanagh about 1630.

As emigration to Canada and the original thirteen colonies of the US increased in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some Porteous families settled in Virginia, and an even larger number in the provinces around the St Lawrence River, on both sides of the border between Canada and what was to become the USA. Consequently, we see to this day concentrations in New York state and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario provinces – but clearly with the increase in modern transportation and communication the family has now spread far and wide, with groups in Montana, Indiana, Kentucky and California, amongst other states in the US, and as far west as British Columbia in Canada.

Known concentrations include variant spellings such as the Portice family in Michigan, known to be descended from George H Porteus who emigrated from Northern Ireland to Pickford Township, Chippewa in 1861 – and the Portteus family, who live in and around Indiana, having emigrated from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and tracing their descent from David Portteus, born 1797 in Enniskillen.

Emigration to the furthest corners of the British Commonwealth increased during the eighteenth century, and many families – including the Porteous family – settled in Australia and New Zealand, a flow which continued until the 1960s as a result of the assisted passage scheme for new immigrants. Consequently, clusters of family members can be found in the main cities of both countries, as well as in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In England, there are clusters in the north-east, not far from the border with Scotland, in Cumberland, Northumberland and County Durham, especially around Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Middlesbrough – one of the obvious places of settlement for families moving from the Scottish Borders.

A later movement southwards led to a concentration of Porteous, Porteus, Portas and Portis in and around York, the North Riding of Yorkshire, and especially Lincolnshire, where there are major concentrations. Further research is expected to produce enough information for us to include a map showing these clusters.

But Porteous families can now been found almost anywhere, so widespread has been the movement and migration of family members. In the late eighteenth century Porteous familes were living in St Helena and Jamaica and, more recently, families have been recorded as far apart as Argentina, Ghana and Czechoslovakia. The alterations in spelling of the name in certain periods and in certain geographical locations may give a clue as to how the dispersal of the family came about, but much more work remains to be done.

Note: For the purpose of this research, when discussing the Porteous/Porteus family, I am including members of families bearing variant spellings, such as Portteus, Porteouss, Porteious, Portieous, Portious, Portiss, Portice, Portes, Portess, Portis, Portas, Pertus, Portus, Porteuse, Poythress and Porthouse, and others.

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