Biography:James Porteous

Find traditional instrumental music

James Porteous

 Given name:     James
 Middle name:     
 Family name:     Porteous
 Place of birth:     Lammonbie, Applegarth, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
 Place of death:     Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
 Year of birth:     1762
 Year of death:     1847
 Profile:     Composer, Musician
 Source of information:     

Biographical notes

"The Musical Miller" of Annandale, as he was a farmer and miller of Knockhill Mill, Hoddam, with a reputation as a violinist and composer. He spent a year in Edinburgh where he received musical instruction from Nathaniel Gow, and he was friendly with Niel Gow (Sr.). See his compositions "South of the Grampians" and "Parish of Dalmailing," published in his Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes , Edinburgh, about 1821, and "Miss Jane Johnston's Reel" and "Miss Dinwiddie's Reel" attributed to him in Cumbrian musician John Rook's manuscript collection. The volume was dedicated to Lady Jardine of Applegarth and contained his compositions, save one, which was composed by his son when aged 9. "Mysteriously, a second edition, published a year after the first, contains the same music but with an almost complete set of new titles, for which no explanation has so far been suggested. James Porteous made a speciality of writing silly, happy, little tunes about ghoulish subjects. He commemorated one Porteous who met a melodramatic end in “Old Spedlings Castle's Ghost's Dance” and also wrote the tune “Porteous Mob (The)” commemorating Captain John Porteous, who was the notoriously brutal commander of the Edinburgh Town Guard in 1736 and was lynched at the 'Porteous Riot' [1]"

He spent his last years in Thomas Street, Annan, where he died on July 17th, 1847, aged 85. "His great-grandfather was Dunty the Ghost of Spedling Tower, near Lockerbie" (?? ancestry site). See also Charles Gore's pocket biography of Porteous in Box and Fiddle [2].