Port, John (DNB00)

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PORT, Sir JOHN (1480?–1541), judge, was born about 1480 at Chester, where his ancestors had been merchants for some generations; his father, Henry, was mayor of Chester in 1486, and his mother was a daughter of Robert Barrow, also a mayor of Chester. John studied law in the Middle Temple, where he was reader in 1509, Lent reader and treasurer in 1515, and governor in 1520. In 1504 he was one of the commissioners appointed to raise a subsidy in Derbyshire; on 2 June 1509 he was made king's solicitor, and on 26 Nov. signed a proclamation as member of the privy council (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, 1509–1514, No. 702); in the same year he was ‘keeper of the king's books’ (ib.), and in 1511 clerk of the wardrobe. Before 1512 he was appointed attorney to the earldom of Chester, and in that year appears as one of the commissioners selected to inquire into the extortions of the masters of the mint. In 1515 and most succeeding years he served on the commission for the peace in Derbyshire. In 1517 he was ‘clerk of exchange in the Tower,’ and in 1522 was made serjeant-at-law. He acquired an extensive practice as an advocate, and early in 1525 was raised to a judgeship in the king's bench and knighted; in February of that year he was on the commission for gaol delivery at York, and in June went on the northern circuit as justice of assize; he was also a member of Princess Mary's council. In 1535 he was placed on the commission of oyer and terminer for Middlesex to try Fisher and More, and in the following year was similarly employed with regard to Anne Boleyn. He died before November 1541, having been twice married; his two wives were Margery, daughter of Sir Edward Trafford of Trafford, Lancashire, and Joan, daughter and coheir of John Fitzherbert, uncle of Sir Anthony Fitzherbert [q. v.], and widow of John Pole of Radburn. By the latter marriage he acquired the manor of Etwall, Derbyshire, and had a son, Sir John.

Port took a prominent part in the transactions relating to the foundation of Brasenose College, Oxford; he gave to it a garden lying on the south side of the college, and completed John Williamson's bequest of 200l. ‘to provide stipends for two sufficient and able persons to read and teach openly in the hall, the one philosophy, the other humanity;’ the stipend was 4l. a year, but the limitation to the descendants of Williamson and Port was abolished by the university commission of 1854.

The son, Sir John (d. 1557), with whom the father has been confused, was educated at Brasenose, where he was the first lecturer or scholar on his father's foundation. He was knighted at the coronation of Edward VI, sat in the first parliament of Mary as knight of the shire for Derbyshire, and served as sheriff for that county in 1554. He died on 6 June 1557, having married, first, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Gifford, and secondly, Dorothy, daughter of Sir Anthony Fitzherbert. By his first wife he had three daughters, who married respectively Sir Thomas Gerard of Bryn, Shropshire, ancestor of the baronets of that name, George Hastings, fourth earl of Huntingdon, and Sir Thomas Stanhope, ancestor of the earls of Chesterfield. By his will he left bequests for the foundation of a hospital at Etwall and a school at Repton, which has since become one of the great public schools of England; he also confirmed and augmented his father's grants to Brasenose College, Oxford.

[Letters and Papers of Hen. VIII, ed. Brewer and Gairdner, passim; Rot. Parl. vi. 539; Rymer's Fœdera, ed. 1745; Dugdale's Origin. Jurid. pp. 163, 170, and Chronica Series, pp. 79, 81, 82; Foss's Judges of England, v. 228–30; Churton's Lives of the Founders of Brasenose, pp. 271, 283, 412, 446–50; Notitia Cestriensis, ii. 262, 349, and Lanc. and Ches. Wills, i. 28 (Chetham Soc.); Strype's Works, Index; Nichols's Leicestershire, p. 853; Sandford's Genealogical Hist. p. 442; Collins's Peerage, iii. 96, 309; Bigsby's Repton, pp. xii. 103, 106, 160, where the younger Sir John's will is printed in full; Statutes of the Colleges of Oxford, 1853; Miscell. Genealog. et Herald. 2nd ser. ii. 54; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. xii. 302–3; information kindly supplied by the Rev. Albert Watson, formerly principal of Brasenose.]

A. F. P.