John Henderson, 5th of Fordell

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Colonel Sir John Henderson
5th of Fordell
Born (1605-11-03)3 November 1605
Fordel, Fife
Died 11 March 1650(1650-03-11) (aged 44)
Denmark, or Fife
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Soldier

John Henderson (1605–1650), 5th of Fordell was born 3 November 1605[1] in Fordel, Fife[2] He was a distinguished soldier, taken prisoner when commanding at the African Coast,[2] ransomed, and later fought on the side of the Royalists in the Civil War when Henderson was invested as a Knight by King Charles I.

Civil War[edit]

Henderson assisted Sir John Digby, the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, to seize Newark on behalf of Charles I in late 1642[3] The Earl of Newcastle then made him Governor of Newark.[4] During his time in Newark, Henderson lived and worked in The Governor's House[5] In February 1643, Henderson led a sortie from the town that successfully repulsed Major-General Thomas Ballard's force of 6,000 Parliamentarians.[6] This led to suspicions that Ballard had colluded with the Royalists.

In March 1643, a large force of Royalists from Newark commanded by Sir Charles Cavendish and Henderson marched into Lincolnshire and captured the town of Grantham in a surprise attack.[6]

On 9 October 1643 the Eastern Association army (under the command of the Earl of Manchester, Oliver Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax) marched from Boston to Bolingbroke Castle. Sir William Widdrington put together a scratch force, which included Henderson's Royalist cavalry, in an attempt to relieve the castle. Two days later, the Earl of Manchester routed Henderson's Royalist cavalry at the Battle of Winceby.[4]

By the end of October 1645 Henderson's liaisons between Charles I and the King of Denmark were known to Parliament[7] as Charles became increasingly desperate in his attempt to obtain aid.[8]

After "his health and means had been exhausted by his long imprisonment" he was allowed to retire to Denmark.[2] Sources agree that he died on the 11 March 1650, but differ over the place (Denmark[2] or Fife[9]).


His parents were Sir John Henderson, 4th of Fordell and Agnes Balfour.[10] He married Margaret Menteith, daughter of Alexander Menteith and granddaughter of William Menteith of Randiford, 11th and Last of Kerse, on 7 February 1625.[9] and together they raised ten children:

  1. Jean Henderson (married Thomas Bruce of Blairhall, son of Robert Bruce and Catherine Preston, on 27 April 1748)[9]
  2. Sir John Henderson of Fordell, 1st Baronet (d. 26 Jan 1683), created in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia on 15 July 1664.[9]
  3. Francis Henderson (killed in action, without issue, having gained the rank of Officer in the service of the French service).[9]
  4. George Henderson d. 1659 (killed in action, without issue, in The Netherlands).[9]
  5. Margaret Henderson (married Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitreavie, 3rd Bt. on 9 June 1653, then went on to marry Peter Hay of Maughton).[9]
  6. Elizabeth Henderson (married Alexander Mercer of Kinnaird on 9 May 1656, then went on to marry Sir Robert Cunningham, Bt. on 14 May 1660 and later married Sir William Denholme of Westshield on 7 July 1679).[9]
  7. Bethia Henderson (married John Roberton of Earnock [11] on 5 March 1662, then went on to marry Alexander Hamilton, 2nd of Dalzell, son of James Hamilton, 1st of Dalzell and Beatrice Fleming).[9]
  8. Anna Henderson (married Hon. Archibald Stuart, son of James Stuart, 4th Earl of Moray and Lady Margaret Home, in 1669, then went on to marry Walter Denholme, son of Walter Denholme of Westshield).[9]
  9. William Henderson b. c 1628, d. 21 Jul 1676[9]
  10. James Henderson b. c 1630, d. 2 May 1675 (a supporter of King Charles II, married Margaret Scott)[9]


  1. ^ "John Henderson". Retrieved 10 April 2012. Born: 3 Nov 1605, Fordel, Fifeshire, Scotland. Marriage: Margaret Menteith. Died: 11 Mar 1650, Fordel, Fifeshire, Scotland at age 44. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dalrymple, William. "In Zanzibar". San Francisco: Travel Intelligence. Retrieved 10 April 2012. Sir John Henderson of Fordel, travelling in his youth through several parts of Asia and Africa from ye year 1618 to ye year 1628, was delivered into slavery by a Barbarian in Zanquebar on the coast of Africa. There a princess of that countrie falling in love with him, even to the renouncing of her religion and country, contrived the means of both their escape and getting aboard a ship trading up ye red sea landed at Alexandria where she died, whose picture John Henderson caused take with her black maid after their own country habit. From ye original picture at Oterston by W Frier, 1731." 
  3. ^ "English Civil War - Newark besieged". Historia - A collection of coins with their historical context. Retrieved 10 April 2012. Sir John Digby, the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, had seized Newark on behalf of Charles I in late 1642. He was assisted by Sir John Henderson, a Scottish soldier, who it was felt would bring military expertise to the Royalists cause. Henderson was appointed Governor of Newark. 
  4. ^ a b Ramscars, John. "Chronology of the First Civil War 1643". Wargames Forum. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Bennett, Martyn (20 July 2008). "Structural - Standing buildings". The English Civil War. Nottingham: Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire. Retrieved 10 April 2012. The Governor’s House, Newark: this building was where the governors of the town lived and worked Colonel Sir John Henderson 1642-3, Colonel Sir Richard Byron, 1643-4, Colonel Sir Richard Willys 1644-5 and Colonel John Lord Belasyse, 1645-6. 
  6. ^ a b Plant, David (14 February 2006). "1643: Civil War in Lincolnshire". Military History - First Civil War. British Civil Wars and Commonwealth website. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Great Britain House of Commons (31 October 1645) [1645]. Correspondence with Denmark. Journals of the House of Commons. 4. London, United Kingdom: HMSO. p. 328. Retrieved 10 April 2012.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  8. ^ Smith, Geoffrey (1 Jan 2011). Royalist Agents, Conspirators and Spies: Their Role in the British Civil Wars, 1640-1660. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 66. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. 2 (107th edition, 3 volumes ed.). Wilmington, Delaware, USA: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd. p. 1865. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. 1 (107th edition, 3 volumes ed.). Wilmington, Delaware, USA: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd. p. 1294. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Nesbitt, Alexander. "A system of Heraldry". Retrieved 2013-04-23.