Porteous, William (DNB00)

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PORTEOUS, WILLIAM (1735–1812), Scottish divine, was the son of James Porteous, minister of Monivaird, Perthshire, by his wife, Marjory Faichney. He was born at Monivaird in 1735, and educated for the ministry. Receiving a license from the presbytery of Auchterarder on 13 Sept. 1757, he was presented by Lady Mary Cunninghame to the parish of Whitburn, Linlithgowshire, in November 1759. He was transferred on 27 April 1770 to the ministry of the Wynd Church, Glasgow. A man of strong character and an able preacher, he filled this important post with success. His congregation increased so rapidly that he had to abandon the parish church, which had been rebuilt in 1764, for the new St. George's Church in 1807. Porteous took a leading part for many years in the proceedings of the Glasgow presbytery, and of the church in the west generally. Strongly orthodox in his views, he resisted the smallest innovations. He defended his position with his pen, and did not spare his adversaries. He resolutely opposed the introduction of organs in 1807–8 (cf. The Organ Question: Statements by Dr. Ritchie and Dr. Porteous, for and against the use of the Organ in Public Worship, in the Proceedings of the Presbytery of Glasgow, 1807–8, with an introductory notice by Robert S. Candlish, Edinburgh, 1856). His attack on the associate synod, in his ‘New Light examined,’ provoked the withering sarcasm of James Peddie's ‘Defence.’ In the general assembly he took no prominent position. In November 1784 he was granted the degree of D.D. by Princetown College, New Jersey. He died on 12 Jan. 1812.

He married first, 26 June 1760, Grizel Lindsay (d. 1774), by whom he had two sons, James and George, and a daughter Elizabeth, afterwards wife of Robert Spears, merchant, of Glasgow. On 8 Aug. 1785 Porteous married Marion, daughter of the Rev. Charles Moore of Stirling. She died, without issue, on 4 March 1817.

[Hew Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ; Cleland's Annals of Glasgow, 1817; Story's Church of Scotland Past and Present; Candlish's Preface to The Organ Question, &c.]

E. G. H.