Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Henderson, John (1780-1867)

1413298Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 25 — Henderson, John (1780-1867)1891Gordon Goodwin

HENDERSON, JOHN (1780–1867), philanthropist, born in Borrowstounness, Linlithgowshire, in 1780, was a son of Robert Henderson, merchant and shipowner in that town. With an elder brother, Robert, he started in business as a drysalter in Glasgow, and subsequently as an East India merchant in London. In May 1842 Robert was drowned, and the business was carried on by Henderson in partnership with several of his nephews. From 1827 Henderson spent a large portion of his income in promoting evangelical Christianity. During the last twenty years of his life he is computed to have contributed to religious and charitable schemes from 30,000l. to 40,000l. a year. The maintenance of the Scottish sabbath as a day of strict cessation from labour and the furtherance of missions in India and on the continent specially engrossed his efforts. He maintained several religious newspapers, and on one occasion spent 4,000l. in sending a copy of a publication to all the railway servants in the kingdom in the hope of convincing them of the sinfulness of Sabbath labour. He purchased to a large extent the stock of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway and divided it among friends whom he knew would oppose the running of Sunday trains. Railway travelling on Sunday between Glasgow and Edinburgh was interrupted until the amalgamation with the North British Company placed Henderson and his supporters in a minority. He gave an annual prize to the university of Glasgow for the best essay on the Decalogue. He bought and maintained a number of mission churches in Glasgow, and built the Religious Institution rooms in St. George's Place, and the mission premises for the united presbyterian church in Virginia Street. Though himself connected with the united presbyterians, and contributing largely to their extension in London, he helped every religious movement with which he felt any sympathy. Mainly through his instrumentality the Evangelical Alliance was established. The only public office that he held in Glasgow was that of chairman of the Royal Exchange. He died at Park, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, on 1 May 1867. He married in 1843 a daughter of John M'Fie of Edinburgh, who survived him without issue.

[Glasgow Daily Herald, 2 May 1867, p. 2, col. 3; Gent. Mag. 1867, pt. ii. 115.]

G. G.