Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

John Alfrey Porter (1824–1882)

A great deal of surprise and regret was caused yesterday morning by the announcement that Mr. John Alfrey Porter, the prothonotary of the Supreme Court, had suddenly expired. Mr. Porter was at his office in Lonsdale-street west all day on Wednesday, and left at the usual hour in the best of health and spirits. He also appeared to be perfectly well on retiring to bed at his house in Albert-street on Wednesday night, but did not appear at the breakfast-table yesterday morning. An inmate of his household went up to his room to ascertain if anything was wrong, and found him dead in bed. There were no signs of struggling having taken place about the bed, or anything to indicate that the deceased had suffered any pain, excepting that the hands were clenched. Immediately the discovery was made Dr. Brownless was sent for, and found that death had occurred some hours previously. Later in the day Dr. Brownless made a postmortem examination, and then ascertained that death had resulted from disease of the heart and brain. There had been nothing in Mr. Porter's appearance to lead any of his relatives or friends to suppose that he was ailing in any respect. Indeed, he was a man of very robust constitution, and had never had a day's illness during the course of his life.

Mr. Porter was a native of Penang, a British island in the Straits of Malacca, but his parents removed to Sydney while he was still a child, and he was educated in that city. His father was for some years the principal member of the firm of George Porter and Co., of Castlereagh-street, Sydney, merchants, and afterwards came to Melbourne, and carried on business here as a merchant. Mr. J. A. Porter entered into the public service on the 1st January, 1842, as a clerk in the deputy registrar's office, and at the time of his death was the oldest public servant in this colony. The department into which he entered was the same as the one he died in, but it was then called the office of the deputy registrar for Port Phillip. Mr. Porter rose gradually in the service until he became chief clerk, and on the 23th January, 1853, after Port Phillip had become separated from New South Wales, was made prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Victoria, an office which he held uninterruptedly to the time of his death. He was also an attorney of the Supreme Court, having been admitted in 1850, before the separation from New South Wales, and was Registrar of the Admiralty Court. At the time of his death he was possessed of considerable means, being the owner of a large city property, of which St. George's Hall formed a part. Mr. Porter has left a widow and a son and daughter grown up. He was 59 years of age, and if he had lived a little longer would have been entitled to a handsome retiring pension. An inquest will probably be held on the remains to-day.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • death notice, Weekly Times (Melbourne), 16 September 1882, p 15

Citation details

'Porter, John Alfrey (1824–1882)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


28 July, 1824
Bengal, Bangladesh


14 September, 1882 (aged 58)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.