HENDERSON, John (1752-1817), of Fordell, Fife.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



7 Feb. - 1 Sept. 1780
1780 - 1784
29 Mar. 1785 - 13 Mar. 1786
21 Mar. - 26 Apr. 1786
1806 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 8 Jan. 1752, 1st s. of Sir Robert Henderson, 4th Bt., by Isabella, da. of Archibald Stuart of Torrance, Lanark, wid. of George Mackenzie of Fairnie.  educ. St. Andrew’s Univ. 1764; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1771; adv. 1774.  m. May 1781, Anne Loudoun, da. of General James Robertson of Newbigging, Fife, 1da.  suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 19 Oct. 1781.

Offices Held

Provost of Inverkeithing 1791-1807.


A non-practising lawyer, of an ancient Fife family, Henderson began his chequered political career in 1776, under the auspices of his uncle Andrew Stuart and Henry Dundas, when he unsuccessfully contested Fife. In 1779 Henderson stood again, was defeated, but seated on petition. He voted with Administration, and was counted ‘pro’ in Robinson’s survey of 1780.

At the general election he was returned for Dysart Burghs, supported North until his fall, and followed him into opposition, voting against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries on 18 Feb. 1783. Divided in his loyalties between Dundas and Andrew Stuart, he was listed by Robinson in March 1783 among ‘Lord North’s connexions—doubtful’, voted with Dundas in May 1783 for Pitt’s reform motion, but remained absent in Scotland during the debates on Fox’s East India bill.

On the formation of the Pitt Administration Robinson and Dundas were first ‘hopeful’, then ‘very hopeful’, of winning him over, mainly through the influence of his father-in-law, General Robertson, who ‘on a hint’ from Dundas ‘advised him, at the period of the India bill, to leave his affairs in Scotland and come to London’. ‘On his arrival, when the voice even of a single Member was of consequence’, Robertson’s counsels prevailed,