PORTEUS, BEILBY: Church of England bishop; b. at York May 8, 1731; d. at Fulham (6 m. s.w. of St. Paul's, London) May 8, 1808. He received his preliminary education at York and at Ripon, and then entered Christ's College, Cambridge (B.A. and fellow, 1752; D.D., 1767); he was made deacon and priest, 1757, and in 1759 won the Seatonian prize for a poem on death; he became domestic chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury (Thomas Secker, q.v.) in 1762, from whom in 1765 he received the livings of Rucking and Wittersham, Kent, soon after exchanging them for Hunton, of which he became rector; he received a prebend in Peterborough, 1767, in 1769 became chaplain to the king, and in 1776 bishop of Chester, being translated in 1787 to the see of London. As preacher he was noted for marked ability and, directness; as bishop his excellencies were many. He encouraged the rising evangelicalism of the times, took great interest in fostering the comfort of the poorer clergy of his dioceses by securing funds for the increase of their emoluments and also by procuring the abolishment of the evil practise of making them sign bonds to resign when requested; he was deeply interested in the question of slavery and the welfare of negroes; he promoted the cause of the British and Foreign Bible Society, acting as its vice-president; and was efficient in preventing the abuse of religious holidays. He opposed the spread of the principles of the French Revolution and equally the doctrines of Paine's Age of Reason. He was himself possessed of ample means, and these he used generously in support of various of the interests noted above.
He was the author of many occasional sermons, as well as of volumes of sermons, e.g., Sermons on Several Subjects (London, 1784; 14th ed., 1813); also of Review of the Life and Character of Archbishop Secker (1770; twelve editions); The Beneficial Effects of Christianity on the Temporal Concerns of Mankind Proved from History and Facts (1804; 9th ed., 1836); Summary of the Principal Evidences for the Truth and Divine Origin of the Christian Revelation (1800; 15th ed., 1835); and Lectures on the Gospel of St. Matthew (2 vols., 1802; 17th ed., 1823). His Complete Works were often published (best ed., 6 vols., 1816; really not "complete").