Now in Prison

After many years of futile effort, Shirley thinks she has finally found an honorably person in my background: John Porterfield of Duchal, 1613-1690, my 8th grandfather. But I find a few things about him a little troubling. Not the least is this report from William M. Metcalfe’s The History of the County of Renfrew (311).

During the month following [May, 1683], many other residents in the county were summoned before the Court. Most of them were imprisoned for rebellion, reset of rebels, and other treasonable practices. Their imprisonment is not always a proof of their guilt. In many cases it is simply a proof that they were suspected by the Government or were in some way objectionable to it. Among them were John Porterfield of Duchal.

And then quoting from a letter to the King (315),

However, having other shires to come in to us, it was certainly fit to be peremptory with the first who were disobedient, amongst which number, now in prison, are Porterfield of Duchal and Maxwell of Pollok; so at least the King will be paid for his fines. I am sure all of them, of whom Greenock is one, ought not to go lightly out of the Government’s hand. This night all the witnesses against Duchal, for whom we sent out a party, are come in; and I hope by the next to give your Lordship a full account what is in that matter; for the fugitive himself is taken whom he harboured.

It’s very possible that being preemptively thrown in jail was perfectly honorable under the circumstances. I just need a little more information before I celebrate this dear ancestor’s honor.
You may recall that the last time she thought she had found such an honorable person in my background, it turned out that he had a little problem with a horse. The only real honor with this fellow was that in point of fact he was not my relative and neither was the horse.

2 thoughts on “Now in Prison”

  1. He was a ‘hero’. He favoured Scottish Protestantism over the King’s Catholicism when it was made a criminal offence. And his castle(?) was seen as a refuge for other sympathisers. Or so it seems.
    My six greats grandfather was Thomas, the Black Maguire from Fermanagh who was hanged by the English in the 1798 rebellion. He used to ride around the countryside on a big black horse with a big black cape rounding up the rebels…

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