"Son of Henry" is a name which is found in various forms all over Europe. In Scotland, it was originally "Henryson" but Henderson was easier to say and has become the norm. The surname Hendry is of course from the same roots.
While the name can be found all across the country, there were a number of main branches. In Dumfries, William Henrison became chamberlain of Lochmaben Castle> (a possible birthplace of Robert the Bruce) around 1374. He later received a pension from the king of England when he was driven from his lands in the area. A descendant, James Henderson, became Lord Advocate in 1494 and established himself with a fortified mansion in the lands of Fordell near Dalgety in Fife in 1511. Later, one of Mary Queen of Scot's > ladies-in-waiting married George Henderson of Fordell. The Lowland Henderson chiefs were designated "Henderson of Fordell". A prominent Henderson of Fordell was Alexander, who became a minister in Fife. He was violently opposed to the new prayer book foisted on the Church of Scotland by King Charles I in 1637. His denouncement of the book resulted in him drafting (along with Johnston of Warriston) the National Covenant which was signed by thousands in Greyfriar's Churchyard> in Edinburgh. Henderson later became Moderator of the Church of Scotland and is buried in Greyfriar's. Although Fordell Castle is no longer in Henderson hands, it was restored this century by the late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, a colourful Solicitor General for Scotland.
The southern Hendersons spread eastwards from Dumfries to Liddesdale, although they never became one of the great Border families.In 1594, when the Scottish Parliament listed the Border families who were accused of being outlaws and "Border Rievers", Henderson was not included.
In the 15th century, Henry Gunn in Caithness in the far north of Scotland, fell out with other members of the family. He is thought to have been the founder of a family named Henderson in that area.
In the Glencoe area, a sept of the MacDonalds Anglicised their Gaelic name "MacEanruig" and formed another distinct enclave of Hendersons. They claimed to have been descended from "Big Henry, son of King Nechtan" a Pictish monarch of around 706AD. A more verifiable descent is from a Dugal MacEanruig who lived around 1340.
There was a John filius Henry in Aberdeen in the early part of the 14th century who became a burgess (freeman of the city) and in 1370, James Henrisson, a merchant in Aberdeen, is recorded complaining about the English wrecking one of his ships.
Thomas Henderson from Dundee was originally a lawyer but became an astronomer in the 19th century and was appointed as the first Astronomer Royal in Scotland.
The Henderson clan motto is "Sola virtus nobilitat" which means "Virtue alone enobles".
Hendrie, Hendry, MacHendrie and MacHendry surnames are regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the MacNaughton clan. Henderson itself is a member of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.
Henderson was the 27th most frequent surname at the General Register Office> in 1995.
There are Henderson clan Web sites here> and here>.
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