Whitworth Porter

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Whitworth Porter (1827–1892) was an English Major General of the Royal Engineers, known also as a historical writer. [1]

Royal Engineers corps of the British Army

The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army.



The second son of Henry Porter, of Winslade House, South Devon, he was born at Winslade, near Exeter, on 25 September 1827; his mother was Rose Aylmer, youngest daughter of Sir Henry Russell, 1st Baronet. Porter entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich on 14 November 1842, obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on 18 December 1845, and was promoted first lieutenant on 1 April 1846. [2] [3]

Devon County of England

Devon, also known as Devonshire, is a county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is part of South West England, bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north east, and Dorset to the east. The city of Exeter is the county town. The county includes the districts of East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, and West Devon. Plymouth and Torbay are each geographically part of Devon, but are administered as unitary authorities. Combined as a ceremonial county, Devon's area is 6,707 km2 and its population is about 1.1 million.

Winslade human settlement in United Kingdom

Winslade is a hamlet and civil parish in the Basingstoke and Deane district of Hampshire, England. It lies 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Basingstoke, just off the A339 road. The hamlet covers an area of 712 acres (288 ha) and has an average elevation of 550 feet (170 m). Its nearest railway station is Basingstoke, 4.2 miles (6.8 km) north of the hamlet. The parish of Winslade contains the vast Hackwood Park, an 89-acre (36 ha) Grade I listed Royal deer park. According to the 2011 census, Winslade had a population of 224.

Exeter City in the south west of England

Exeter is a cathedral city in Devon, England, with a population of 129,800. The city is located on the River Exe approximately 36 miles (58 km) northeast of Plymouth and 65 miles (105 km) southwest of Bristol. It is the county town of Devon, and the base of Devon County Council. Also situated in Exeter are two campuses of the University of Exeter - Streatham Campus and St Luke's Campus.

After passing through the usual course of professional instruction at Chatham, Porter embarked for Dominica in the West Indies on 13 December 1847, having married the preceding October. He returned home from Dominica in March 1850, and was stationed at Limerick. He was promoted second captain on 3 January 1855. On 20 December 1853 he embarked for Malta, but in February 1855 was sent on active service to the Crimean War. He served in the trenches at the siege of Sebastopol until June. For his services he received the war medal, with clasp for Sebastopol, the Turkish medal, and the fifth class of the Order of Medjidie; and on 2 November 1855 he was promoted brevet-major. After serving at home for 18 months, he returned to Malta in December 1856. On 2 April 1859 Porter was promoted first captain in the Royal Engineers, and returned to England. [2]

Chatham, Kent town in Kent, England, United Kingdom

Chatham is one of the Medway towns located within the Medway unitary authority, in North Kent, in South East England.

Dominica country in the Caribbean

Dominica, officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island country in the West Indies. The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is part of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The island is located near Guadeloupe to the northwest and Martinique to the south-southeast. Its area is 750 km2 (290 sq mi), and the highest point is Morne Diablotins, at 1,447 m (4,747 ft) in elevation. The population was 71,293 at the 2011 census. The Commonwealth of Dominica is one of the Caribbean's few republics.

Limerick City in Munster, Ireland

Limerick is a city in County Limerick, Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. Limerick City and County Council is the local authority for the city. The city lies on the River Shannon, with the historic core of the city located on King's Island, which is bounded by the Shannon and the Abbey River. Limerick is also located at the head of the Shannon Estuary where the river widens before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 94,192, Limerick is the third most populous urban area in the state, and the fourth most populous city on the island of Ireland.

Porter was employed at the War Office under the inspector-general of fortifications from April 1859 until September 1862 in connection with the defence of the United Kingdom. he was the designer of Picklecombe Fort, as part of the defences of Devonport Dockyard. He served on the jury for the military division of the 1862 International Exhibition in London, was instructor in fortification at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst from 1862 to 1868, was promoted brevet lieutenant-colonel on 23 August 1866, and promoted regimental lieutenant-colonel on 14 December 1868. [2]

War Office department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army

The War Office was a Department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army between 1857 and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence. It was equivalent to the Admiralty, responsible for the Royal Navy, and the Air Ministry, which oversaw the Royal Air Force. The name "War Office" is also given to the former home of the department, the War Office building, located at the junction of Horse Guards Avenue and Whitehall in central London.

Picklecombe Fort

Fort Picklecombe stands on the extreme south eastern coast of Cornwall, a couple of miles west of the city of Plymouth. The fort has been a residential complex since the early 1970s but has a history dating back 150 years.

1862 International Exhibition Worlds Fair held in London

The International of 1862, or Great London Exposition, was a world's fair. It was held from 1 May to 1 November 1862, beside the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, South Kensington, London, England, on a site that now houses museums including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum (London).

In March 1870 Porter was again sent to Malta, where, as executive officer under the commanding royal engineer, he supervised the construction of the defences of the new dockyard. While at Malta he was employed on the eclipse expedition to Sicily in 1872, and he designed and erected observatories at Catania and Syracuse. He was promoted brevet-colonel on 14 December 1873. [2]

Catania Comune in Sicily, Italy

Catania is the second largest city of Sicily after Palermo located on the east coast facing the Ionian Sea. It is the capital of the Metropolitan City of Catania, one of the ten biggest cities in Italy, and the seventh largest metropolitan area in Italy. The population of the city proper is 320,000 while the population of the city's metropolitan area, Metropolitan City of Catania, stood at 1,116,168 inhabitants.

Syracuse, Sicily Comune in Sicily, Italy

Syracuse is a historic city on the island of Sicily, the capital of the Italian province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times, when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world. Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, next to the Gulf of Syracuse beside the Ionian Sea.

In February 1874 Porter was appointed commanding Royal Engineer at Barbados; he remained there for two years, returning to England in April 1876, and was stationed for a time at Chatham. He was commanding Royal Engineer of the western district, and stationed at Plymouth from 1877 till 1 October 1881, when he retired from the service on a pension, with the honorary rank of major-general. After retirement he interested himself in charitable works connected with the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and was chairman of the metropolitan district of the St. John's Ambulance Association. [2]

Barbados country in the Caribbean

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America. It is 34 kilometres in length and up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 km (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, Barbados is east of the Windwards, part of the Lesser Antilles, roughly at 13°N of the equator. It is about 168 km (104 mi) east of both the countries of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 180 km (110 mi) south-east of Martinique and 400 km (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.

Plymouth City and Unitary authority in England

Plymouth is a port city situated on the south coast of Devon, England, approximately 37 miles (60 km) south-west of Exeter and 190 miles (310 km) west-south-west of London. Enclosing the city are the mouths of the river Plym and river Tamar, which are naturally incorporated into Plymouth Sound to form a boundary with Cornwall.

Porter died on 27 May 1892, and was buried at St. Michael's Church, York Town, now in Camberley, Surrey, of which he had been churchwarden for many years. He had contributed towards its enlargement, and had carved the ornamental foliage on the chancel screen. [2]


Rorke's Drift Post, illustration from Whitworth Porter's History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, vol. II Rorke's.Drift.Post.jpg
Rorke's Drift Post, illustration from Whitworth Porter's History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, vol. II

Porter published Life in the Trenches before Sebastopol, London, 1856. It was followed by A History of the Knights of Malta (2 vols. London, 1858); which he revised for an edition in 1883, and also abridged. His major work of later life was History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, which was published in two volumes in 1889. One of his last acts was to present the copyright of the work to the Corps. [2] A continuation was added, through 11 volumes. [4]


Porter married in London, on 25 October 1847, Annie Shirley da Costa, by whom he had two children: Catherine, who married Captain Crosse; and Reginald da Costa, a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers who died in accident in 1882. Porter erected a reredos at St. Michael's Church, York Town, to the memory of Reginald. [2]

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  1. Falkner, James (rev.) (2004). "Porter, Whitworth (1827–1892)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22581.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Porter, Whitworth"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. Falkner, James. "Porter, Whitworth". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22581.
  4. "Institution of Royal Engineers (InstRE)". Articles. Royal Engineers Museum. Retrieved 19 November 2010.


Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Porter, Whitworth". Dictionary of National Biography . 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.