In an overgrown corner of Belfast’s City Cemetery stands a bold and intricately carved Celtic cross which marks the grave of the Rev John Scott Porter.

Son of a prominent Presbyterian minister and brother to two more he was part of a significant dynasty. This week’s Reflection looks at the life and work of John Scott Porter.

Rev John Scott Porter (1801-1880) – click on the video above (available from 8.00 am on Sunday, 8th May).

Educated at the Belfast Academical Institution he commenced his ministry at Carter Lane Chapel, London (which became Unity Chapel, Islington), where he became a prominent proponent of the Arian group within English Presbyterianism, editing the Christian Moderator. He returned to Belfast, to the First Presbyterian Church, in 1831.

John Scott Porter c.1845 by Richard Rothwell (Ulster Museum/National Musuems Northern Ireland)

In the video we reflect on his career as a theologian, controversialist, Biblical scholar and Unitarian. Other members of his family are buried with him including his brother William, one time attorney general at the Cape Colony, who brought in a franchise that was inclusive of all races.

What can we learn from reflecting on the impressive Celtic cross that marks his grave? An eloquent Victorian statement of piety and memory, for decades long forgotten, yet still making a statement about his beliefs and his ministry.

2 thoughts on “Rev John Scott Porter (1801-1880)

  1. I have just discovered that Rev John Scott Porter is my great, great, great grandfather through direct line and how very thrilled I am to discover your website and the wonderful explanation of the non subscribing Presbyterianism movement. Interestingly, my line of relatives have always been believers, but no ministers, I’m an active member of Victoria Baptist church , Eastbourne having had an eclectic upbringing of Church of England and a Roman Catholic schooling. I was always made to think! My maternal grandmother, Esmee Preston was his great granddaughter and a strict Presbyterian. We are descended from John Scott Porters eldest daughter, Isabella.
    Thank you so much for the wonderful web page. It has been so illuminating and I now feel I must go to Belfast both to Rosemary Street and the cemetery.
    With kind regards and God’s blessing. Anna Ingham

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great Anna. I’m glad you like the post and delighted to meet a direct descendent of John Scott Porter. You have a very rich collection of ancestors through him. I am hoping to do a video on his cousin and near namesake, John Porter, soon.


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