PORTER, David Dixon, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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PORTER, David Dixon (1813-1891). American admiral.
Letter Signed to William Glanville-Richards, evidently a genealogist, 4 pages 4to (traces of former mounting in the margin), Washington, D.C., 12 June 1889. Thanking Glanville-Richards for his Porter pedigree and coat of arms, admitting that he is, like many of his fellow countrymen, interested in his ancestry, and displaying a fine sense of humour.
'... There is a clergyman at Lexington Mass named Porter who wrote me that he has collected the names of 22000 Porters connected with me in one way or another and he was happy to say that none of them had ever been convicted of crime! I have known several of the name who deserved punishment. ...'
Porter's correspondent William U[rmston] S[earle] Glanville-Richards, a self-professed genealogist, has earned himself a place in the table of bibliogrphical notoriety. He offered to help the self-made merchant Joseph Leete to further his investigation of his family history, the first edition of which (The Family of Leete, edited by Charles Bridger and John Corbet Anderson) had appeared in 1881. When Richards passed on to Leete the apparent results of his studies at the British Museum in anticipation of the second edition (which eventually appeared in 1906), Leete sent them on to Anderson, who discovered that in order to further his case, or rather that of Leete's supposed antecedents, Richards had inserted fresh material into at least two British Museum manuscripts. The custodians of the Museum took action against Richards and he was convicted of malicious damage in 1891 and sentenced to two months in prison without hard labour. Despite his disgrace, and minus the 'Granville-' which he appears to have gratuitiously added to his surname, Richards persisted in his 'genealogical' work, and was commissioned by Sir Humphrey De Trafford to write The History of the De Traffords of Trafford, circa A.D. 1000-1893 (Plymouth, 1896). The account was of course suitably embelished and the family history pressed a little further back in time, even indeed to descent from Magna Carta Barons and relationship to Charlemagne.

Richards's story is admirably told by C.J. Wright in the 'British Library Journal', 1986, pages 76-85 The Man who Wrote on the Manuscripts in the British Museum.

Porter was the second American to attain the rank of Admiral after his heroic exploits during the American Civil War.
[No: 26512]

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