Explore the Family Name Porter

The meaning of Porter

1. English and Scottish: occupational name for the gatekeeper of a walled town or city, or the doorkeeper of a great house, castle, or monastery, from Middle English and Older Scots porter(e), port(o)ur ‘doorkeeper, gatekeeper’ (Anglo-Norman French port(i)er, portur, Latin portarius). The office often came with accommodation, lands, and other privileges for the bearer, and in some cases was hereditary, especially in the case of a royal castle. The name has been established in Ireland since the 13th century. In North America, this surname has absorbed cognates and equivalents in other languages, for example German Pförtner (see Fortner) and Poertner. 2. English: occupational name for a man who carried loads for a living, especially one who used his own muscle power rather than a beast of burden or a wheeled vehicle. This sense is from Middle English port(o)ur, porter ‘porter, carrier of burdens’ (Anglo-Norman French portur, porteo(u)r). 3. Dutch: variant, mostly Americanized, of Poorter, status name for a freeman (burgher) of a town, Middle Dutch portere, modern Dutch poorter. Compare De Porter. 4. Jewish (Ashkenazic): adoption of the English or Dutch name (see above) in place of some original Ashkenazic surname of similar sound or meaning.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Porter in the United States?

Based on data from the Decennial U.S. Census, the surname Porter saw a slight decrease in popularity between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, Porter was ranked as the 148th most popular surname in the United States, but dropped to the 159th position by 2010, representing a 7.43% decrease. Despite this drop in rank, the actual count of individuals with the Porter surname increased by about 4% from 156,848 in 2000 to 163,054 in 2010. The overall proportion of individuals with the Porter surname per 100,000 people also decreased slightly from 58.14 in 2000 to 55.28 in 2010.

Proportion per 100k58.1455.28-4.92%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Porter

In terms of ethnic identity, the Decennial U.S. Census data shows variances for those bearing the Porter surname between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, 71.19% of individuals were identified as White, which decreased to 68.57% by 2010. The percentage of individuals identifying as Black increased slightly from 24.44% to 25.40%. Notably, there was a significant increase in the percentage of individuals identifying as Hispanic, from 1.58% to 2.45%, and those identifying with two or more races, from 1.62% to 2.31%. There was also a moderate increase in those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander, from 0.42% to 0.55%. However, the percentage of individuals identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native slightly decreased from 0.75% to 0.72%.

Two or More Races1.62%2.31%42.59%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.75%0.72%-4%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.42%0.55%30.95%

Porter ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Porter is British & Irish, which comprises 51.6% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (22.2%) and Scandinavian (3.8%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Nigerian, Italian, Ashkenazi Jewish, and Spanish & Portuguese.

Ready to learn more about your ancestry? Get the most comprehensive ancestry breakdown on the market by taking our DNA test. Shop 23andMe

British & Irish51.6%
French & German22.2%

Possible origins of the surname Porter

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Porter have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom83.30%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom83.10%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom83.00%
Merseyside, United Kingdom82.80%
Tyne And Wear, United Kingdom82.70%

What Porter haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Porter is R-CTS241, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-CTS241 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-L21 and R-Z156, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Morgan, Jones, Ford, Lewis, Phillips, James, Lloyd, Edwards, Shaw, Evans.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Porter surname are: T2b, H1, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

porterPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Porter have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Porter" Surname 40.3%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Porter" Surname 27.5%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Porter" Surname 22.8%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Porter" Surname 18.0%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Porter?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Porter are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%