muirkirk in the hills of ayrshire - from the muirkirk enterprise group


Robert Porter
Canadian politician

Barbara Hinds (nee Porter) is endeavouring to discover more about her Muirkirk-born Great grandfather Port Porter.

In the registers of Muirkirk Parish Church, Robert Porter is recorded on 21st April 1833, as having been born to Andrew Porter and Mary (nee Dempster)

In the 1841 census Robert is 8 years old and living in Main Street, Muirkirk, with James Dempster, his wife Catherine and their children.   James and Catherine are both 53 years old (and therefore born around 1788) and it is guessed that they are Robert's grandparents. The marriage of a James Dempster to Catherine Shaw is recorded at Muirkirk on 17th June 1808.

In the 1851 census Robert is 18 years old and living at Airdsgreen, Muirkirk, with Alexander Johnston, his wife Mary and their son William.  Mary is 40 years old.  Robert is designated as Alexander's stepson.    William is 10 years old. Alexander is a farmer and Robert is indicated as a teacher.

It would seem that by the time of the 1841 census, Robert's father Andrew had died.  

The registers of Muirkirk Parish Church record Alexander Johnston and Mary Dempster being married at Muirkirk by Rev James Symington on 18th September 1839. Mary's location at the time of the 1941 census has not yet been identified but it would seem that she had just recently given birth to William.

Robert emigrated to Canada sometime in the 1850's. On arrival in Canada it is understood that he took the post of a schoolmaster. His half-brother William Johnstone also emigrated to Canada and, according to William's book "History of Perth County 1825-1902", this was in 1869.

Sometime after emigrating, Robert met, and in 1860 married, Rachel Storey (born 1844) from Ontario. In the 1881 Canadian Census the couple are shown living at Usborne, Huron South, Ontario and having a number of children.

 Name  Marital Status Gender Ethnic Origin Age Birthplace Occupation Religion
 Robert PORTER   M   Male   Scottish   48   Scotland   Farmer   C. Presbyterian 
 Rachel PORTER   M   Female   Scottish   37   Ontario      C. Presbyterian 
 Mary E PORTER      Female   Scottish   20   Ontario   Farmer   C. Presbyterian 
 William PORTER      Male   Scottish   18   Ontario      C. Presbyterian 
 Andrew PORTER      Male   Scottish   16   Ontario   Printer   C. Presbyterian 
 Walter PORTER      Male   Scottish   13   Ontario   Student   C. Presbyterian 
 Jane PORTER      Female   Scottish   11   Ontario   Student   C. Presbyterian 
 John PORTER      Male   Scottish   9   Ontario   Student   C. Presbyterian 
 Elizabeth PORTER      Female   Scottish   5   Ontario      C. Presbyterian 
 Agnes PORTER      Female   Scottish   2   Ontario      C. Presbyterian 
NOTE:- Charles PORTER, born at a later date, completed the family.

Robert was elected to Parliament in Canada in 1888.  At that time Robert was a farmer who was elected to the Canadian Parliament under the leadership of Canada's first Prime Minister, Glasgow-born Sir John A. MacDonald.

Robert subsequently became the postmaster in the town of Clinton, Ontario.

Robert died in 1901 in Clinton, Ontario.

Robert had a big family in Ontario but his decendents have only limited knowledge of his Scottish connection.

Any further information will be welcomed - please send it to