Our family has always had a love for the ocean, from the calm before the storm, to the waves crashing upon the shore, to the tranquility of the open waters. It’s almost like a pull, a pull from deep within our souls.
Just to sit and listen as the ocean waters ripple and meets the land, has to one of life’s greatest beauty’s. Without a shadow of a doubt, it calms your soul, leaving your troubles far behind.
So when I found many strong connections with the open waters in our family’s history, I knew that love was written in our DNA.
Both my maternal 3rd Great Grandfathers, John O’Connor and Isaac Porter, dedicated their lives to the ocean and of course, my 2nd Great Grandad, John Cornelius O’Connor, found his peace and tranquility upon his boat Allanha, and my Uncle Kevan Townsend and my cousin, Kelly and her beautiful family have spent their lives on the water.
It’s very soothing to know that my family still have the passions of our ancestors, that even all these years later, those passions live on.
Today I’m going to share with you the life of one of my maternal 3rd Great Grandfathers, Isaac Porter. Though his life was shorter than most, he definitely filled his pages of his book of life well, many of those years spent by the sea.
Isaac Porter was born on January 13th 1834, to Andrew Porter and Maria Porter nee Croad.
He was born at Freshwater, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
Isaac was christened on the 2nd March 1834 at the medieval Church, All Saints’ Church, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
All Saints’ Church, is one of the oldest churches on the Island and was listed in the Domesday survey of 1086.
Over the next few years, Isaac and his sister Mary Ann, welcomed 2 Sisters into their family.
Jane Porter was born about late 1835 to January 1836 at Freshwater, she was baptised on the 29th January 1836 at All Saints’ Church, Freshwater.
And his sister Charlotte Porter was born on the 10th April 1839 at, Longhalves, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
Charlotte was baptised on the 14th April 1839 at, All Saints’ Church, Freshwater.
Sadly Isaac never got to see Charlotte grow up, as she died in the days of May 1839.
Isaac and him family laid Charlotte to rest on the 2nd June 1839, at All Saints’ Church, Freshwater.
The 1841 census, shows Isaac residing at Colwell Bay, Freshwater, Hampshire, with his Father Andrew, Mother Maria and his sisters, Mary and Jane.
Andrew was working as a Agricultural Labourer.
Just 4 short years later, Andrews Mother Maria, died on the 24th, February 1845, at Colwell Bay, Freshwater.
She was only 35 years old.
Maria died from, Disease of the heart.
Maria’s Sister in-law Jane Croad nee Taylor, was in attendance and registered Maria’s death with an X, on the 25th February 1845.
Isaac and his family buried Maria on the 28th February 1845 at, All Saints’ Church, Freshwater.
The 1851 census shows Isaac, his Father Andrew and Sisters, Mary Ann and Jane, residing at Colwell Bay, Freshwater.
Isaac was working as a Labourer and his father was a Farm Labourer.
From Isaac’s Military records which I purchased from the National Archives, Isaac enrolled with the Royal Navy on the 19th February 1854. He served 3 years and 18 days as an ordinary Seaman, aboard the, HMS Caesar, a 90 gun screw-propelled 2nd rate ship.
On 17th June 1857 he joined the “HMS Cumberland” as an able seaman. He served on the Cumberland, a 70 gun 3rd rate ship, until 17th August 1859. His conduct was recorded as very good.
4 days later, on the 21st August 1859, Isaac married Jane Gibbs, daughter of Henry Gibbs and Jane Gibbs nee Chinery. They married at, The Baptist Chapel of Newport. I assume this was at, The Church of St. John the Baptist, as I can not find any information on, The Baptist Chapel, Newport.
Isaac’s was a 25 year old bachelor, his profession was a Seaman R.N, HMS Cumberland and was residing in Freshwater. Isaac’s Father Andrew, was working as an Agricultural Labourer.
Jane Gibbs was 23 years old, a spinster from Freshwater. Her Father Henry Gibbs occupation was given as a Pilot.
William Hayman and Jane Porter were their witnesses.
On 2nd September 1859, Isaac joined the crew of “HMS Arrogant” as an able seaman. He served on the Arrogant, a wood screw frigate, until 6 December 1862, being promoted to Leading Seaman, in March 1861. His conduct is recorded as very good.
The evening of the 1861 census, Isaac was aboard the HMS Arrogant, a Royal Navy vessel. He was serving as a Leading Seaman.
On 7 December 1862 to the 16th January 1863, Isaac served on HMS Victory, which by this time was out of active service, and moored in Portsmouth harbour being used as a depot ship.
During his short time on the Victory, Isaac and Jane’s first child was born. A son, whom they called William Isaac Porter. He was born on the, 12th December 1863 at, Cromarty, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland.
On 17th January 1963, Isaac joined the Coastguard as a boatman. He remained a coastguard until he was invalided out on 5th November 1880. His character was described as exemplary.
Isaac and Janes, first daughter was born on the, 13th January 1866 at Portland, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
They named her Jane Maria Porter.
Isaac was working for the Coastguard Service.
Jane registered Her daughters birth on the 27th February 1866.
Baby Jane Maria was baptised at, Freshwater, on the 30th March 1866.
On the 16th September 1867 at, Alum Bay, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England, Isaac’s Wife Jane, gave birth to their second daughter.
They named her Ann Eliza Porter.
Isaac was still working as a Coastguard.
Jane registered Ann Eliza’s birth on the 16th October 1867.
Isaac and Jane, baptised Ann on the, 1st November 1867 at Freshwater.
Isaac and Jane, had their third Daughter, Elizabeth Grace Porter, on the 14th June 1896, at Alum Bay, Fresh water.
Isaac was working as a Coast Guard and he registered Elizabeth Grace, birth on the 13th July. 1868.
Elizabeth Grace was christened on the 25 July 1869 at Freshwater.
13 months and 5 days after , Elizabeth Grace Porter, Isaac’s 3rd Daughter passed away, she died, on the 19th July 1870, at Alums Bay, Freshwater, Isle of Weight. 😢
Isaac was working as a Coast Guardman.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read her cause of death.
ACCIDENTALLY SUFFOCATED BY FALLING INTO A PRIVY.
What an awful way to die. My heart weeps for her and her family.
Of all the hundreds of certificates I have brought over the years, little Elizabeth Grace Porters death certificate stays forever foremost in my mind. I just can’t come to terms with the fact this 13 month baby girl had suffocated in a excrement.
An inquest was held at the Needles hotel, Alum Bay by E.F.Blake, esq deputy coroner to enquire into her death.
The Jury without the least hesitation returned a verdict of
“Died from Suffocation”
Elizabeth Grace Porter was laid to rest on the 22nd July 1870, at Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire. Plot H5 788.
Her monument inspiration reads, Elizabeth Grace, fourth daughter of Isaac and Jane Porter, died July 19th 1870 aged 13/15 months.
The 1871 census shows Isaac residing at George Street, Bridge Road, Coastguard Buildings, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England, inhabiting 1 house, which he shared with his wife Jane and their children William, Jane and Ann.
Isaac was working as a Coastguard.
Coastguard records show that Isaac, was based in Yarmouth between 1st January 1873 and 9th November 1876. (See Isaac’s Naval records below)
Isaac’s Wife Jane, gave birth to Elizabeth Grace Gibbs Porter, my 2nd Great-Grandmother, on the 1st September 1871 at, The Coast Guard Station, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
Isaac was still working as a Coastguard.
He registered Elizabeth Grace Gibbs Porter’s birth on the 12th September 1871.
We believe Elizabeth was named after her sister Elizabeth Grace Porter. You can read all about her life story here.
Isaac and Jane baptised Elizabeth Grace Gibbs Porter, on the 21st September 1871, at Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England
Isaac and Jane welcomed their 5th Daughter into their family, better the months of April and June 1873, in the Calbourne.
They named her, Daisy Chenery Porter.
Daisy was baptised on the 29th September 1873 at Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England
Issac and Jane, welcome a second son, John Richard Porter into their growing family. He was born in the April to June Quarter 1875 in Calbourne, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
They baptised John Richard, on the 11th June 1875 at Freshwater, Isle of Wight.
From 10th November 1876 to 5th November 1880 Issac was based at Brook, Isle of Wight.
His 6th Daughter was born at the, Coastguard Cottage in Brook, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England, on the 11th May 1877.
They named her Mary Ethel Porter.
Isaac and Jane baptised Mary, on the 03 June 1877 at, St. Mary’s, Brook, Isle of Wight .
A few short years after, Isaac died on 10th January 1881, a few days short of his 47th birthday. His cause of death was from Morbus Cordis, Purpura and Dropsy.
Isaac died at, High Street, Freshwater.
Isaac’s occupation was given a Navy Pensioner.
Andrew Porter, Isaac’s Father was present at his death and registered it on the 11th January 1881.
Isaac was buried at Freshwater on the 14th January 1881.
Though Isaac’s life was short, it was full. There are even stories that he was a smuggler before he married Jane, and that he gave up his life of crime to be able to marry her.
Of course I do not know how true this story is but I believe it should be told.
How I go about clarifying it, I do not know but there has to be some amount of truth in the family’s storytelling. I just need to prove it somehow.🤞
What I find so fascinating about Isaac’s, Naval records documentation, is that they show that Isaac was about 5’7″ tall.
He had brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.
He had a crucifix tattooed on his left arm and a brig, sailor and union jack on his right arm. 🇬🇧
How fascinating is that.
It’s small details like these, that bring him to life, that give him depth and soul.
Here is Isaac’s Naval history.
I for one am extremely proud to call him family and I’m secretly hoping there is truth behind his devious smuggling.
I hope he’s somewhere floating on clouds on a pirate ship, causing mayhem while drinking rum. 🗺
Gone but not forgotten.
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