History.—Algoa Bay was discovered by Bartholomew Diaz in 1488, and was by him named Bahia da Roca, probably with reference to the rocky islet in the bay, on which he is stated to have erected a cross (St Croix Island). After the middle of the 16th century the bay was called by the Portuguese Bahia da Lagoa, whence its modern designation. In 1754 the Dutch settlements at the Cape were extended eastwards as far as Algoa Bay. The convenience of reaching the eastern district by boat was then recognized and advantage taken of the roadstead sheltered by Cape Recife. In 1799, during the first occupation of Cape Colony by the British, Colonel (afterwards General Sir John) Vandeleur, to guard the road stead, built a small fort on the hill west of the Baaken’s River. It was named Fort Frederick in honour of the then duke of York, and is still preserved. A few houses grew up round the fort, and in 1820 besides the military there was a civilian population at Fort Frederick of about 35 persons. In April of that year arrived in the bay the first of some 4000 British immigrants, who settled in the eastern district of the colony (See Cape Colony: History). Under the supervision of Sir Rufane Donkin, acting governor of the Cape, a town was laid out at the base of the hills. In 1836 it was made a free warehousing port, and in 1837 the capital of a small adjacent district. To overcome the difficulty of landing from the roadstead a breakwater was built at the mouth of the Baakens River in 1856, but it had to be removed in 1869, as it caused a serious accumulation of sand. The prosperity which followed the construction of railways to the interior earned for the port the designation of “the Liverpool of South Africa.” Railway work was begun in 1873 and Port Elizabeth is now in direct communication with all other parts of South Africa. At the same period (1873) the building of the existing jetties was undertaken. Port Elizabeth has possessed municipal government since 1836. Its predominant British character is shown by the fact that not until 1909 was the foundation stone laid of the first Dutch Reformed Church in the town.
Porteous, John (d. 1736), captain of the city guard of Edinburgh, whose name is associated with the celebrated riots of 1736, was the son of Stephen Porteous, an Edinburgh tailor. Having served in the army, he was employed in 1715 to drill the city guard for the defence of Edinburgh in anticipation of a Jacobite rising, and was promoted later to the command of the force. In 1736 a smuggler named Wilson, who had won popularity by helping a companion to escape from the Tolbooth prison, was hanged; and, some slight disturbance occurring at the execution, the city guard fired on the mob, killing a few and wounding a considerable number of persons. Porteous, who was said to have fired at the people with his own hand, was brought to trial and sentenced to death. The granting of a reprieve was hotly resented by the people of Edinburgh, and on the night of the 7th of September 1736 an armed body of men in disguise broke into the prison, seized Porteous, and hanged him on a signpost in the street. It was said that persons of high position were concerned in the crime; but although the government offered rewards for the apprehension of the perpetrators, and although General Moyle wrote to the duke of Newcastle that the criminals were “well-known by many of the inhabitants of the town,” no one was ever convicted of participation in the murder. The sympathies of the people, and even, it is said, of the clergy, throughout Scotland, were so unmistakably on the side of the rioters that the original stringency of the bill introduced into parliament for the punishment of the city of Edinburgh had to be reduced to the levying of a fine of £2000 for Porteous’s widow, and the disqualification of the provost for holding any public office. The incident of the Porteous riots was used by Sir Walter Scott in The Heart of Midlothian.
See Sir Daniel Wilson, Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time (2 vols. Edinburgh, 1848); State Trials, vol. xvii.; William Coxe, Memoirs of the Life of Sir R. Walpole (4 vols. London, 1816); Alexander Carlyle, Autobiography (Edinburgh, 1860), which gives the account of an eye-witness of the execution of Wilson; pamphlets (2 vols. in British Museum) containing The Life and Death of Captain John Porteous, and other papers relating to the subject; W. E. H. Lecky, History of England in the Eighteenth Century, ii. 324, note (7 vols., London, 1892). See also Scott's notes to The Heart of Midlothian.
Porter, Benjamin Curtis (1843– ), American artist, was born at Melrose, Massachusetts, on the 27th of August 1843. He was a pupil of A. H. Bicknell and of the Paris schools, and was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design, New York, in 1878, and a full academician in 1880. He is best known as a painter of portraits.
Porter, David (1780–1843), American naval officer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 1st of February 1780. His father, David, and his uncle, Samuel, commanded American ships in the War of Independence. In 1796 he accompanied his father to the West Indies; on a second and on a third voyage he was impressed on British vessels, from which, however, he escaped. He became a midshipman in the United States Navy in April 1798; served on the “Constellation” (Captain Thomas Truxton) and was midshipman of the foretop when the “Constellation” defeated the “Insurgente”; was promoted lieutenant in October 1799, and was in four successful actions with French ships in this year. In 1803, during the war with Tripoli, he was first lieutenant of the “Philadelphia” when that vessel grounded, was taken prisoner, and was not released until June 1805. He was commissioned master commandant in April 1806; in 1807–1810 served about New Orleans, where he captured several French privateers, and in 1812 was promoted captain. He commanded the frigate “Essex” in her famous voyage in 1812–1814. In the Atlantic he captured seven brigs, one ship, on the 13th of August 1812, the sloop “Alert,” the first British war vessel taken in the War of 1812. Without orders from his superiors he then (February 1813) rounded Cape Horn, the harbours of the east coast of South America being closed to him. In the South Pacific he captured many British whalers (the British losses were estimated at £500,000), and on his own authority took formal possession (November 1813) of Nukahivah, the largest of the Marquesas Islands; the United States, however, never asserted any claim to the island, which in 1842, with the other Marquesas, was annexed by France. During most of February and March 1814 he was blockaded by the British frigates “Cherub” and “Phoebe” in the harbour of Valparaiso, and on the 28th of March was defeated by these vessels, which seem to have violated the neutrality of the port. He was released on parole, and sailed for New York on the “Essex, Jr., ” a small vessel which he had captured from the British, and which accompanied the “Essex.” At Sandy Hook he was detained by the captain of the British ship-of-war “Saturn” (who declared that Porter's parole was no longer effective), but escaped in a small boat. He was a member of the new board of naval commissioners from 1815 until 1823, when he commanded a squadron sent to the West Indies to suppress piracy. One of his officers, who landed at Fajardo (or Foxardo), Porto Rico, in pursuit of a pirate, was imprisoned by the Spanish authorities on the charge of piracy. Porter, without reporting the incident or awaiting instructions, forced the authorities to apologize. He was recalled (December 1824), was court-martialled, and was suspended for six months. In August 1826 he resigned his commission, and until 1829 was commander-in-chief of the Mexican navy, then fighting Spain; in payment for his services he received government land in Tehuantepec, where he hoped to promote an inter-oceanic canal. President Andrew Jackson appointed him consul-general to Algiers in 1830, and in 1831 created for him the post of chargé d’affaires at Constantinople, where in 1841 he became minister. He died in Pera on the 3rd of March 1843.
He wrote a Journal of a Cruise made to the Pacific Ocean in the U.S. Frigate “Essex” in 1812–13–14 (2 vols., 1815; 2nd ed., 1822), and Constantinople and its Environs (2 vols., 1835), a valuable guide-book. See the Memoir of Commodore David Porter (Albany, New York, 1875), by his son, Admiral David D. Porter.
Porter, David Dixon (1813–1891), American naval officer, son of Captain David Porter, was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, on the 8th of June 1813. His first voyage, with his father
- While he was in New Orleans he adopted David Farragut, who later served with him on the “Essex.”