Porteous, John pôr´tēəs [key], d. 1736, British soldier. He was captain of the Edinburgh town guard at the execution (1736) of Andrew Wilson, a smuggler. When the crowd, which was sympathetic to Wilson, rioted, the guard fired into it, killing eight or nine persons. Porteous was tried and sentenced to death, but his execution was postponed. On Sept. 7, 1736, an indignant mob took him from prison and hanged him, a crime for which no one was brought to justice despite the efforts of the government. Incidents of the Porteous riot are used by Sir Walter Scott in The Heart of Midlothian.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies