Papers : 1764-1862.
|Call Number:||MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .P6J6P3|
|Creator:||Porteous, John, d.1799.|
|Description:||6 microfilm textual records (8 Series) ; 35 mm|
John Porteous, trader and merchant, emigrated to America from Perth, Scotland around 1764. He engaged in the fur trade at Detroit and Michilimackinac in the partnership of Duncan, Stirling and Porteous (John Duncan and James Stirling), and later was associated with James Phyn and Alexander Ellice at Schenectady, New York. In Detroit, his duties included selling sterling, buying furs, extending credit and collecting debts. Before the start of the American Revolution, Porteous had become established as a merchant in Montreal. During the Revolution he was one of the owners of the British privateer, Vengeance. He resided with other Loyalists in New York after the city had been occupied by the British, and carried on a business in association with Phyn & Ellice (major provisioners of the British army) until the evacuation in 1783 when he returned to Scotland. Later he emigrated to Nova Scotia to try a venture in the fishing industry out of Bear Island (Digby area), but in 1788 or 1789 he returned to New York and settled at Little Falls in the Mohawk Valley where he operated a flour mill and a trading business and also represented the interests of Alexander Ellice, his former partner. In 1790 he was naturalized, and died at Little Falls in 1799. Robert Hamilton, (1753-1809) came from Scotland in the late 1770s to work in the fur trade industry west of the Great Lakes in association with Alexander Ellice from London. In 1780 he formed a partnership with Richard Cartwright at Niagara to supply goods to the British army and the Indian Department, build storehouses at Chippewa and Queenston, and later to transport goods across the province; this relationship with Cartwright lasted until 1790. In 1786, he became the agent to the military for the purchase of flour to the Niagara garrison, the only main market for local produce, having virtual control. With the backing of major Montreal trading companies, he, with George Forsyth and others, won the contract to transport military goods through the portage at Niagara, in 1791. When Cartwright died at Queenston, he had become a very successful businessman. John Richardson (1754-1831) came to be apprenticed in 1774 in the firm of his uncle, James Phyn, called Phyn, Ellice & Co. which engaged in the fur trade and general merchandise and whose North American company was based out of Schenectady, New York. Due to the American Revolution, the company moved its supply house to London and its North American base to Montreal. During the war, Richardson worked for John Porteous, and by 1780 had established a shop at Charlestown (Charleston) in association with Porteous and Phyn, Ellice and Co. After the war, he was employed again with Phyn, Ellice and Co. in New York and Schenectady; 1787 was sent to Montreal to help his cousin John Forsyth reorganise Robert Ellice & Co., the successor to Alexander Ellice & Co., whose business ventures included the Montreal southwest fur trade. In 1790 he was made a partner in the newly named Forsyth, Richardson & Co.
The bulk of the collection contains correspondence and papers documenting the business activities and relationships of John Porteous, as it relates to commerce and trade, with a focus on the time of the changeover to British rule in Canada, through the American Revolution, and into the decade thereafter. The commercial transactions encompassed New York, Montreal and Detroit and touched on points beyond. The bulk of the collection contains legal documents,various financial documents and business correspondence relating to all facets of the commercial enterprises, as well as Porteous' letter book of his short time at Nova Scotia post-war; and to a much lesser extent, personal correspondence relating, briefly within, the situations of colleagues, and to the Porteous family post-war, with some poems and lyrics. The documents shed light on the network of commercial relationships and into the complex commercial system that developed and adapted over time, necessitated by events and trade laws. The main topics relate to trade, within North America and with Britain, such as for example in South Carolina during the American Revolution, and in the fur trade; maritime matters: privateering and prizes, shipping, transportation such as canals and the Western Inland Lock Navigation Co.; commerce and commercial or mercantile companies; merchants or businessmen; and the military - United States Civil War bounties. Arrangement: There are 8 sections of material; the different sections are not mutually exclusive. Most of the sections are paginated. Detailed Contents The collection is arranged in the following series: Reel 1. 1. A Portion of the Papers of John Porteous, 1764-79, 1792-99, (pp. 1-139); consulted by R. H. Fleming and cited in his published study on the firm Phyn, Ellice and Company, which is included at the start of the material. The bulk are business in nature: the correspondence is mostly directed to Porteous from fellow colleagues, legal agreements show the development of companies, and financial paperwork gives insight into the intricacies of the mercantile industry, its commercial networks and the administrative costs of doing business.
|Originals:||The original records are held by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo, New York.|
|Archival Ref. No.:||Library and Archives Canada also holds a microfilm copy of this collection: MG23, GIII7|
A brief table of contents has been microfilmed at the beginning of each reel. A listing of documents is found preceding the following sections, and includes minimally the data for type of documents, correspondents, and dates: Fur Trade; Old Ship Papers; Niagara Hold-Over; Porteous Papers, Folders 1 and 2; and Porteous Papers, Miscellaneous. The Fur Trade Papers and Old Ship Papers also include a brief content note; Porteous Papers, Folder 1 is arranged alphabetically by author and correspondence includes the main subject term. These are available in print in the Loyalist red binders.
|Electronic Finding Aid Record:||
John Porteous Papers. vol. 1.pdf
John Porteous Papers vol. 2.pdf