Porteous family

From Academic Kids

The Porteous family are an ancient Scottish Borders family.

The earliest records for members of the Porteous family in Peeblesshire date back to the early part of the fifteenth century.

The earliest possible reference, according to Lord Lyon King of Arms in Edinburgh, is to a Guillaume Porteuse (later William Porteous), who arrived from Normandy c 1400 under the patronship of the wealthy Fraise family (later to become the Frasers). They had already settled in parts of lowland Scotland, having been granted lands by the King.

The early meaning of the name Porteuse (from the French) was indeed possibly of 'courier' or 'messenger'. But in Scotland, they turned their hand to other trades. In the days when the glens and hamlets of Tweeddale and, later, Annandale were much more densely populated than today, they seem to have pursued various occupations - from millers and blacksmiths to ministers of religion.

The home of the Porteous family for many hundreds of years was Hawkshaw in Peeblesshire. There is some doubt as to how long the family had held the ancestral family home, but it is certain that there a castle of sorts at Hawkshaw, probably built as no more than a small fortified keep, and intended as a watch tower where a signal fire could be lit to warn of approaching danger. A line of these so-called Peel towers was built in the 1430s across the Tweed valley from Berwick to its source, as a response to the dangers of invasion from the English borders. Hawkshaw was one of over two dozen of these in Peeblesshire alone.

During the eighteenth century there began a massive migration of families from Scotland, initially to England and Ireland - and eventually to the New World and the newly discovered countries of the British Empire.

The reasons for this were many - and changed considerably during the following three hundred years. The historical background was turbulent and Scotland saw many changes which led to emigration of large numbers of both Highland and Lowland families.

The Lowland Clearances (1760-1830), especially, resulted in a massive movement of poor Scots from the Lowlands to the growing industrial centres of Glasgow and northern England - to Newcastle, Liverpool and eventually to London and other large cities and ports. Families were tempted by the offer of employment in the fast growing industries which had burgeoned with the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the promise of a higher standard of living.

The subsequent depopulation of the Lowlands and The Scottish potato famine of 1836-37 added to those who chose to leave. And in vast numbers they did, from ports in every part of the British Isles - to seek better fortune on the other side of the Atlantic.

Some famous members of the family include:

See also

The Lowland Clearances

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