Return to Subscriber listings and search...

Alexander Henderson Esquire

Alexander Henderson was a well-known, highly respected, philanthropic businessman who distinguished himself in the jute trade and in public life in Dundee. He was a model employer and generous benefactor to many charitable enterprises.

Subscription value in 1863:


Relative to inflation up to 2024:


Relative to income compared to 2024:


Click Image to Enlarge

Personal details and history

Full name

Alexander Henderson

Date of birth


Place of birth

Prestonholm,[1] Cockpen, Midlothian[1][2]



Marital status


Name of spouse

Mary Ann Sinclair[4][5]


7 daughters and 3 sons[3] - Agnes: Helen: Mary Ann: William: Isabella: Louisa: Annie: Alexander Sinclair: Margaret M: Charles Frederick:

Home address

29[6] Baltic Street[7]

4 Constitution Terrace[8]


West Park[9]
Perth Road

Age at death:

83 years[2]

Place of death:

West Park, Dundee[2]

Date of death:



Western Cemetery, Perth Road, Dundee - West Wall[10]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Free Church of Scotland - member of Free St Paul's Church,[11] later McCheyne Memorial United Free Church[3][11] Alexander Henderson became an Elder and Member of the Kirk Session of McCheyne United Free Church[11]

Political affiliation

Liberal Unionist[3]

Clubs / societies

The Texas Land & Cattle Company Ltd - a Director:[12] The Seamen's Friends' Society - a member:[13] Dundee and Lochee Mission to the Outdoor Blind - a Director:[11]

Public offices

Dean of Guild:[3][11] Chamber of Commerce - President:[3][11] Dundee Royal Infirmary - a Director:[11]

Related subscribers

Subscriber 74 – Reverend James Ewing – became father in law to Alexander Henderson’s daughter, Agnes Henderson

Career and worklife


Flax/Jute spinner & manufacturer[8]



Place of work

1 Royal Exchange Place, Dundee[8]

Work address

South Dudhope Works[15][8]

Career to date:

Alexander Henderson was listed in the 1841 census as having been a clerk.[7] An obituary account suggested that he had served his apprenticeship at Ward Mills with Messrs Brown[11] and that in 1842, began business on his own account.[11] However, that information is slightly at odds with the fact that he and his father had formed a business, styled 'William Henderson & Son,' and, by 1845, they had taken over South Dudhope Mill from William Boyack and his father in law, Peter Davie, the firm of 'Davie & Boyack' having been sequestered in September of 1844.[16] At the time of his death in 1847, William Henderson, Alexander's father, was stated as having a half share in the firm of 'William Henderson & Son.'[17] From that point, Alexander Henderson took over the ownership and operation of South Dudhope Mill.[14]

More information

Alexander Henderson was born to William Henderson and his wife, Helen Chalmers, at Prestonholm, Cockpen, Midlothian, in 1819.[1] It seems likely that William Henderson was employed in the flax yarn industry at Prestonholm, where a large spinning mill for flax and hemp was situated, on the estate of the Earl of Dalhousie.[18]

All of Alexander’s siblings were born in Cockpen apart from his youngest brother, William Boyack Henderson, who was born in Dundee in 1832. It would seem likely therefore, that the Henderson family arrived in Dundee between the years 1829 (sister Christina born Cockpen 1829) and the year of William’s birth, 1832.[19]

Perhaps another noteworthy indicator was William’s full name – William Boyack Henderson – William Boyack having been the name of the previous co-owner of South Dudhope Mill, West Henderson’s Wynd, Dundee.

Between the years 1832 and the 1841, William Henderson would appear to have been an employee as a flax mill manager[7] and had not yet assumed ownership of the mill at South Dudhope. William Boyack may have been his employer at that time, given his youngest son’s name. The Dundee Directory of 1834 listed William as ‘flaxspinning superintendent,’[20] again indicating his rank as an employee, as opposed to that as an employer.

Having taken over ownership of South Dudhope Mill around 1844, William and his son Alexander entered into a co-partnership which ceased a few years later, on his father’s death in 1847.[17]

South Dudhope Mill was established in 1818[21] and was first owned by Peter Davie and his son in law, William Boyack, who operated as ‘Davie & Boyack.’[21]

It comprised ‘a 2 1/2  storey mill and storehouses with winding and warping above.’[21] Apparently, there were no changes to the mill after 1846.[21] This was the year that ‘William Henderson & Son’ established their manufacturing works in neighbouring Smellie’s Lane.[21] In 1864, the factory was of 3 storeys, containing 85 power looms to the rear.[21] It was reported to have 2 engines producing 50 hp, with its 85 power looms providing employment for 460 workers.[22] By 1865 it was heavily altered, with the rear demolished and supplied with a new roof.[21]

Eventually, Alexander Henderson was to become the Senior Partner in the Firm of ‘Alexander Henderson & Sons,’ the proprietors of one of the best equipped spinning and weaving factories within Dundee.[11]

It was reported that he himself, had been;

‘a prominent figure in the Cowgate for more than half a century, having been one of a group of young men who, in the 40s and early 50s laid the foundation of the jute trade and developed it by their untiring energy and industry,’[11]

Obituaries for Alexander Henderson painted a picture of a charitable and beneficent character, described as having been;

‘one of the kindliest of our captains of industry, one of the most helpful of citizens and one who was ever ready to lend unostentatious aid in any good movement. Alexander Henderson was one of the truly good men whose influence tells in all the departments of social life.[23]

The company of ‘Messrs Alexander Henderson & Sons,’ eventually became a subsidiary of ‘Low Brothers & Co (Dundee) Ltd,’ and was included in that company’s amalgamation with ‘Don Brothers, Buist & Co Ltd,’ in 1960.[24]



  1. Old Parish Registers. Cockpen. (1819). 676/ 20 237. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1903). 282/1 229. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Dundee Year Book, 1903-04. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  4. Statutory Registers. Edinburgh. Calton & Bonnington. (1858). 685/ 6 24. ScotlandsPeople website.
  5. Census Returns. Dundee. Liff & Benvie. (1901). 282/1 35/16. ScotlandsPeople website.
  6. Scottish Post office Directories. Dundee, 1845. p.40. National Library of Scotland website.
  7. Census Returns. Dundee. (1841). 282/ 109 1. ScotlandsPeople website.
  8. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.132. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  9. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1867-68. pDundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  10. Dundee Courier. 30 July 1903. p.7. British Newspaper Archive website.
  11. Dundee Evening Post. 27 July 1903. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
  12. Dundee Advertiser. 16 February 1883. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
  13. Dundee Courier. 18 June 1889. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  14. Centenary Souvenir. 1836-1936. Dundee Chamber of Commerce. p.47.
  15. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1861-62. p.151. National Library of Scotland website.
  16. Sheffield Independent. 18 September 1841. p.7. British Newspaper Archive website.
  17. Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1847). SC45/ 31/ 8. ScotlandsPeople website.
  18. Ordnance Survey Name Books. Midlothian, 1852-1853. Volume 35. OS1/ 11/ 35/ 24. ScotlandsPlaces website.
  19. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1832). 282/ 170/ 99. ScotlandsPeople website.
  20. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1834. p.22. National Library of Scotland website.
  21. Watson, Mark. Jute and Flax Mills in. Dundee. (1990). Taypost. Hutton Press Ltd. pp.205-206.
  22. Warden, Alexander J. The Linen Trade, Ancient and Modern. London. Longman. p.656.
  23. Dundee Evening Telegraph. 27 July 1903. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
  24. University of Dundee Archives.

The information above about Alexander Henderson has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.