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Clan Henderson

Clan Henderson is a Scottish chiefly family


There are three separate origins of this name. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 166</ref> The family group who are the present chiefs are a lowland family originally associated with the Borders and later with the lands of Fordell, in Fife. The second group of Hendersons were from Glencoe, in the Highlands. They took the English version of their name from the Gaelic Maceanruig, and claimed Pictish descent. They were associated with Clan MacDonald of Glencoe.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>

Finally there were a third group of Hendersons in the far north who are a sept of Clan Gunn. There is no obvious connection between the Caithness family, who are also called Mackendricks, and the Glencoe or Fordell families. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>

Henderson of Fordell

This family seem to be simply the 'sons of Henry' and there is a variant, Henryson. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref> They were classed as a riding clan in the Borders. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref> In about 1374 William Henderson (d.1395) was chamberlain of Lochmaben Castle. He was driven from his lands for accepting a pension from the King of England.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>

From Dumfriesshire the family spread to Liddlesdale but do not appear in the 1594 list of border clans named by Parliament for suppression.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>

In the fifteenth century James Henderson, a member of the Dumfriesshire group, became Lord Advocate around 1494, during the reign of James IV. He gained the lands of Fordell in Fife and built a fortified mansion.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref> The present chiefs are descended from James Henderson of Fordell.

Fordell Castle

Alexander Henderson

Perhaps the most prominent of the Hendersons of Fordell was Alexander Henderson (1583-1646) Educated at the University of St. Andrews he became a Professor of Philosophy and later minister of the parish of Leuchars. Violently opposed to the attempts of Charles I to re-introduce bishops to Scotland he travelled to Edinburgh and presented a petition against the new prayer book, as it had not been sanctioned by the General Assembly. Later, Henderson and Johnston of Warriston drafted the National Covenant, which was signed by thousands in Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>

When the General Assembly met in Glasgow in 1638 they unanimously elected Henderson as moderator. He was in the forefront of church affairs and therefore of politics throughout the troubled reign of Charles I, and was also responsible for drafting the Solemn League and Covenant in 1643.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>

When the king surrendered himself to the protection of the Scottish army in 1646, it was for Henderson that he sent to discuss a reconciliation with his disaffected subjects. Henderson met the king in an attempt to persuade him to accede to the Church's demands. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref> He failed, and the attempt damaged his own health to such an extent that he died in August 1646. He is buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, the scene of his greatest triumph and site of a monument to his memory.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>

From 1664 to 1833 the Hendersons of Fordell were Baronets. After the Hendersons left Fordell Castle at the end of the nineteenth century, many of their family portraits made their way to the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref>


John Henderson, who traced his ancestry to Sir John Henderson, 5th of Fordell, emigrated to Australia in 1839. He acquired land in the Illawarra district and then married Margaret Dunsmore in 1843. <ref>http://www.clanhendersonsociety.org/ancestoral-henderson-regions/</ref> The Hendersons became ex-patriot nobility. Their descendant, Dr. John Henderson successfully petitioned the Lord Lyon for recognition during the twentieth century.<ref>http://www.clanhendersonsociety.org/ancestoral-henderson-regions/</ref> <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 166</ref> There had been no chief for over 150 years. <ref>http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/Henderson/clan.html</ref>



The current chief is Alisdair Donald Henderson of Fordell, who succeeded in 2004. He lives with his son and daughter in Brisbane, Australia and is a member of various learned societies as well as the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. <ref>http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/Henderson/clan.html</ref>