1893 text

Charles Porter “was the son of a prebend[ary] in Norwich, and a ‘prentice boy in the city in the rebellious times. When the committee house was blown up, he was very active in that rising, and after the soldiers came and dispersed the rout, he, as a rat among joint stools, shifted to and fro among the shambles, and had forty pistols shot at him by the troopers that rode after him to kill him [24th April, 1648]. In that distress he had the presence of mind to catch up a little child that, during the rout, was frighted, and stood crying in the streets, and, unobserved by the troopers, ran away with it. The people opened a way for him, saying, ‘ Make room for the poor child.’ Thus he got off, and while search was made for him in the market-place, got into the Yarmouth ferry, and at Yarmouth took ship and went to Holland … In Holland he trailed a pike, and was in several actions as a common soldier. At length he kept a cavalier eating-house; but, his customers being needy, he soon broke, and came for England, and being a genteel youth, was taken in among the chancery clerks, and got to be under a master … His industry was great; and he had an acquired dexterity and skill in the forms of the court; and although he was a bon companion, and followed much the bottle, yet he made such dispatches as satisfied his clients, especially the clerks, who knew where to find him. His person was florid, and speech prompt and articulate. But his vices, in the way of women and the bottle, were so ungoverned, as brought him to a morsel … When the Lord Keeper North had the Seal, who from an early acquaintance had a kindness for him which was well known, and also that he was well heard, as they call it, business flowed in to him very fast, and yet he could scarce keep himself at liberty to follow his business … At the Revolution, when his interest fell from, and his debts began to fall upon him, he was at his wits’ end … His character for fidelity, loyalty, and facetious conversation was without exception” — Roger North’s Lives of the Norths (Lord Keeper Guilford), ed. Jessopp, vol. i., pp. 381-2. He was originally made Lord Chancellor of Ireland in the reign of James II., during the viceroyalty of Lord Clarendon, 1686, when he was knighted. “He was,” says Burnet, “a man of ready wit, and being poor was thought a person fit to be made a tool of. When Clarendon was recalled, Porter was also displaced, and Fitton was made chancellor, a man who knew no other law than the king’s pleasure” (“Own Time”). Sir Charles Porter was again made Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1690, and in this same year he acted as one of the Lords Justices. This note of Lord Braybrooke’s is retained and added to, but the reference may after all be to another Charles Porter. See vol. iii., p. 122, and vol. vi., p. 98.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

1 Annotation

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

Sir Charles Porter, kt 1686 (1631-1696). Solicitor-General to the Duke of York 1660; Lord Chancelor of Ireland 1686-7, 1690-6. He was dissipated and drunken and 'had the good fortune to be loved by everybody'(North)

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