Recorded in several spellings forms including Portus, Porteous, Portriss and Portress, this is arguably an Anglo-Scottish surname, but of pre medieval French origins. Introduced into England after the Norman Invasion of 1066, it derives either from the word "portus" which described someone who lived in the lodge at the entrance to a castle or manor house, from the words "port", meaning gateway or entrance, and "hous", a house, or though less likely, the name may have originated as a nickname for a hard-working man.In this case the origination is from the Old French word "porteour", and describes a porter, one who carried loads. The name is first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), whilst Robertus de Porterhouse appears in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire, in 1379. The name is widespread in Scotland, where it first appears in 1443, when one John Pertus was recorded as owning lands in Fife, whilst on November 7th 1597, Agnes Porteous and John Gray were married at Edinburgh. Recordings in England include Robert Portres who married Elizabeth Bamsler at St John's Hackney, on July 8th 1599, and Ane Portriss who married Timothye Weaver at St James Clerkenwell, on June 6th 1667.The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Portehors. This was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls" register during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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