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Mortimer Stanley Porter, son of Richard S. Porter and Betsey Cornwall, was born in New Britain, Connecticut, a city in Hartford County, in the Hartford metro area, on October 24, 1831; the son of Richard S. Porter and Betsy P. Cornwall. When only sixteen years of age Porter set sail on his first ship.   At one time, according to the General Navy Register, Porter was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland from the state of Connecticut  and remained in Navy service until his resignation on June 27, 1865. His resignation however was rejected, and he was instead given a two weeks leave, after which they would honor his resignation and discharge would be approved; providing they had no further use of his services.

At the age of twenty-one Porter became Captain of a ship owned by a Manchester firm involved in trade in the West Indies. In 1861 Captain Porter resigned his position and was commissioned Ensign on Admiral Farragut’s Flagship of the West Gulf Squadron, the “Hartford”, during the American Civil War. At the end of the war he was offered the rank of Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, but declined it, returning to the Merchant Marine service.   Porter served as Acting Ensign from March 1, 1864 until October 21, 1865 aboard the USS “Albatross” in the Union Navy in operations near Port Hudson, Louisiana, at Grand Gulf in Mississippi, in the area around Georgetown, South Carolina, at Plaquemine, Louisiana and off the mouth of the Rio Grande River in Texas.

He is listed as Acting Ensign in the “Official General Navy Register”; being Honorably discharged on October 11, 1865. The U.S. Navy Register lists Porter in two places; the 1865 edition covers the year ending January 1, 1865 and lists Porter as serving on the “Albatross” and the 1866 edition lists him as being honorably discharged on October 21, 1865.   Mortimer Porter met and married Jane Bartholomew, who traveled with him on voyages after the end of the American Civil War; until she died unexpectedly off the coast of Ceylon on May 9, 1867.  

After he became Master of the U.S. vessel “American”, he became Master of the American ship “Arracan” on which Captain Porter suffered a stroke, apoplexy, while in port at Sandridge, Port Melbourne on February 1, 1872.   The “Arracan” and Captain Porter had first arrived at Port Melbourne on Thursday, December 29, 1871. The December publication of the Melbourne “Argus” stated:


“She  was  an  American  bottom  and  had  left  Soderham  on  1 August with a cargo of deals,  Elsinore on 13 August and  passed  Doal on 27 August. Captain Porter reported having experienced  light winds and fine weather for the greater part of the voyage, although in about 6 (degrees) North latitude the foremast got sprung during a heavy Squall.”


The publication “Age”, dated Saturday, January 20, 1872, published in its obituary a one liner relating to Porter’s death which stated:

“On the 18th January, suddenly, at Sandridge, aboard the ship Arracan, Captain Mortimer S. Porter, aged thirty-eight years.”

Upon his death the “Argus” again ran a notice relating to Porter, on Monday, January 22, 1872:

“The flags of  the  ship in the bay were  lowered  to  half-mast  on Saturday and yesterday as a mark of respect to  the  memory of  Captain Mortimer Porter of  the  American  ship  “Arracan”.  Captain  Porter  died  somewhat suddenly on Friday last and his funeral yesterday was attended by many of the Captains of  vessels in port”.

Mortimer Stanley Porter died at Melbourne, Victoria on January 19, 1872 and was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery

Church Records recorded; Porter, Mortimer Stanley, Alphonso Cornwall, Frederic Whittlesey & Issac; children of Richard S. & Betsey P, bp., April 15, 1838, Granby First Congregational Church, Vol. 4, p. 85.


Bureau of Navigation, Letter dated November, 2, 1865

 Chris Henricus, Records, U.S. Consulate

 Connecticut Historical Society Museum, Sharon Yusba Steinberg

 Connecticut State Library, History and Genealogy Unit

 General Navy Register

 Granby First Congregational Church Records

 Michael J. Crawford, Head, Early History Branch, Dept of Navy, Naval Historical Center

 New Britain Public Library

 Peter Deuchar, Records, U.S. Consulate

 Salmon Brook Historical Society

 “The Argus”, news publication, Dec. 29, 1871

 U.S. Consulate Dispatches, Melbourne; Victoria State Library

 U.S. Official Naval Archives

Royal Australian Historical Society Library


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