Joseph Portrey, (born May Day 1815; e.m 1841; died October 1880) became a stalwart defender of Wesleyanism in an age when it was challenged by the Reformers. He spoke out and wrote boldly and controversially in defence of its constitution and in his book “Society Meetings in Wesleyan Methodism” (1874).
His daughter and his three sons were all named after significant Wesleyan figures: Susanna Wesley, Jabez Bunting, Richard Watson and Robert Newton. He died in October 1880 while Superintendent of the Shaftesbury Circuit and his body was brought back to Maidenhead for burial beside his eldest son at the High Street Methodist church, in what within a year was to become the family grave with the death of his wife Mary.
His oldest son, Richard Watson Portrey, born c.1849, was a close boyhood friend of Arthur H. Male. He died 1st April 1869, shortly after graduating BA. His father was persuaded to publish a memoir of him under the title “The Successful Student Early Crowned”. The second son, Jabez Bunting Portrey, born c.1851, had poor health and was advised to seek ‘the more genial climate of Australia’, where he died on 20 June 1882. The third son, Robert Newton Portrey, born 12 September 1856, entered the ministry in 1877, and spent three years in France preparing for missionary work in Haiti, but died of yellow fever on 8 December 1882, only three months after arriving there in 1882.