Alexander Henderson Esquire
Alexander Henderson of 'Watson & Henderson' retailed fabrics, napery, millinery, clothing, and underclothing to a discerning clientele who expected to be up to date with the latest London styles and trends. His shop was located on the High Street in Dundee.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2023:
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Personal details and history
Date of birth
Place of birth
Mary Elizabeth (1864-1864): Patrick (1872): David (1874): Mary Elizabeth (1875): Helen Jobson (1876): Eliza Ramsay (1877): Alexander Livingstone (1878): Janet Jobson (1880): Agnes Carmichael (1881): Mabel (1883):
Age at death:
Place of death:
Date of death:
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Free Church of Scotland - Alexander Henderson's second marriage recorded according to the forms of the Free Church.
Clubs / societies
Career and worklife
Career to date:
1846-1860 - employed as a draper by Patrick Watson: 1860-1868 - assumed as a partner by Patrick Watson in the firm of 'Watson & Henderson': 1868- 1876 - entered co-partnery with James G Lowson in the firm of ' Henderson & Lowson': 1876- 1893 - traded as 'Henderson & Co':
Alexander Henderson was the son of Patrick Henderson, surgeon, and his wife, Elizabeth Livingstone. Born at Burntisland in 1831, the family was recorded in the 1841 census as having moved to Broughty Ferry, in the parish of Monifieth. By 1851, the family was listed in Fort Street, Broughty Ferry. Here, he was listed, aged 20, as a ‘Woolen Draper.’
By the age of 15 years, Alexander Henderson had entered into the draper’s trade by joining the employ of Patrick Watson around 1846. He remained with Mr Watson for around 14 years, before being assumed as a partner in 1860. Their firm was titled ‘Watson & Henderson.’
The 1860s was a busy and interesting decade for Alexander Henderson. As well as entering into a business partnership, Alexander Henderson also entered into married life.
Alexander Henderson first married Eliza Ramsay in 1863. She was the daughter of Reverend William Ramsay, parish minster at Alyth and the sister of Reverend James Ramsay who also became minister at Alyth. Although Eliza died at Strawberrybank, Dundee, the year after her marriage, her funeral was held in Alyth. She had also given birth to their first child, Mary Elizabeth, who, sadly, died at 2 months of age.
Judging by the number of advertisements in the local press, business for Alexander Henderson peaked during 1863-64 and again in 1866-67. April was usually a good month for trade, following Alexander Henderson’s return from London with ‘Novelties of the Season.’
The advertisements of the time offer a fascinating insight into the fashions of the day. They appeared in both the Dundee Courier and Advertiser. The clientele were, thanks to Alexander Henderson’s regular trips to the London markets, well on trend. The partners employed young male assistants on six monthly contracts and also offered a fitting and dress making service for ladies. Miss Burr was the Lady Superintendent. She quit her post in 1862 to set up a business in the Nethergate as a milliner and mantle-maker. In the mid 1860s, Miss Ross, who probably took her job, visited London to update the styles.
The firm of ‘Watson & Henderson’ was dissolved in 1868, on the retiral of partner, Patrick Watson. James Lowson was assumed as Alexander’s subsequent business partner, under the firm of ‘Henderson & Lowson.’ James Lowson had, for some years, occupied a prominent position in the management of the firm of ‘Watson & Henderson.‘
Having endured the deaths of his first wife and child, Alexander Henderson then began married life with his second wife, Helen Jobson, whom he married in 1871. Helen Jobson was the daughter of David Jobson, a wine merchant and an ex-Provost of Dundee. They produced a family of nine children between the years 1872-1883.
Within his business life, Alexander Henderson’s partner, James G Lowson, quit their co-partnery by the mid 1870s, forming his own business from 92 Nethergate, by 1876.
Thereafter, Henderson formed the business of ‘Henderson & Co.’ A disastrous fire in 1890 almost destroyed the shop, the interior having been completely gutted and the valuable stock totally destroyed. The salon, salesrooms and workrooms above were thankfully salvageable.
‘Henderson & Co’ continued to trade, from 65-66 High Street, until 1893.
Having been in the trade for over 50 years, Alexander Henderson finally relinquished his position and it was reported;
‘The old established drapery, dress and mantle-making, and silk mercer’s business, carried on for many years by Messrs Henderson & Co, High Street, Dundee has changed hands and will, after the New Year, be carried on under the firm of Messrs Walkinshaw & Robertson.’
Nineteen years after the cessation of his business, Alexander Henderson died at his home in Blairgowrie on 10 February 1912.
- Old Parish Registers. Burntisland. Births. (1831). 411/ 40 66. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Blairgowrie. Deaths. (1912). 335/4. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Kirriemuir. Marriages. (1863). 299/ 29. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 26 October 1864. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1861-62. pp.151 and 221. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. pp.132 and 198. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1867-68. pp.138 and 211. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1869-70. pp.143-144. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1871-72. pp.124-125. National Library of Scotland website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1881). 282/1 30/ 19. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Returns. Blairgowrie. (1891). 335/ 1 38. ScotlandsPeoplew website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1871). 282/ 3 196. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Montrose, Arbroath & Brechin Review. 16 February 1912. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Returns. Monifieth. (1841). 310/ 7/ 13. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Returns. Monifieth. (1851). 310/ 6 7. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1864). 282/2 764. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 5 March 1868. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 29 February 1868. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 11 February 1879. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1876-77. p.181. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Courier. 16 December 1890. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 2 December 1883. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 2 December 1893. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
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