Clan Henderson

Clan Henderson

The Clan Henderson (Clann Eanruig) is a Scottish clan with members living throughout the world. The clan rose to prominence in Glen Coe with branches in Fife, the Borders, Caithness and the Shetland Islands. The clan chief is Alistair Donald Henderson of Fordell.




The Hendersons claim descent from the Pictish prince Big Henry, son of King Nechtan (Eanruig Mor mac Righ Nechtan), who in 1011 came to Kinlochleven in Lochaber, just north of Glen Coe.[1] His male descendants took the name mac Eanruig, ("son of Henry"), which would later be anglicised as McHenry, Henryson, Henderson and so on. Over time, the descendants of other prominent Henrys took the same name, and eventually these families coalesced into a single clan identity. They lived at Callert, on the north shore of Loch Leven, until they were evicted by Clan Cameron in the fifteenth century.[1] In 1511 the lands of Fordell in Fife were given to Clan Henderson by King James IV.

In Caithness, another group of Hendersons were septs of the Clan Gunn. Another family grouping arose in Liddesdale and Ewesdale, being one of the smaller families of Border Reivers. The Scots makar, Robert Henryson, one of the earliest historical figures bearing the clan name, may have hailed from Fife. He certainly lived there in the decades prior to the royal grant of lands.

17th and 18th centuries

The Hendersons were known for their size and strength and became the personal body guards of the chief of the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe. This meant they were among the victims of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. After the massacre, many Hendersons emigrated to other parts of the British Isles and the New World. This process was further stimulated by the Highland Clearances from 1746 to 1822.

In the New World

Patrick Henry of Virginia urged armed revolution with his cry "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Ulster-born physician James McHenry served as George Washington's Secretary of War. (The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America, depicts the British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry near Baltimore in 1814.) Hendersons loyal to the British Crown played important roles in the British settlement of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.


The Chief of Clan Henderson is Alistair Donald Henderson of Fordell, an environmental engineer specialising in air pollution control who lives in Brisbane, Australia. The Chief is recognized by Lord Lyon, King of Arms, and is a member of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.


Septs and surname variations of the Clan Henderson include:

Gaelic variations:

  • MacEanrig / Eanrig
  • MacEnrig / Enrig
  • MacIanruig / Ianruig
  • MacIanrig / Ianrig
  • MacInrig / Inrig
  • MacCanruig / Canruig
  • MacCanrig / Canrig

Anglicised variations:

  • (Mac) Anrig / Andrig / An(d)rigson
  • (Mac) Enrig / Endrig / Endrigson
  • (Mac) Henrig / Hendrig / Hendrigson
  • (Mac) Kenrig / Kendrig / Kendrigson
  • (Mac) Kanrig / Kandrig / Kandrigson
  • (Mac) Canrig / Candrig / Candrigson
  • (Mac) Anri(c)k / Andri(c)k / An(d)ri(c)kson
  • (Mac) Enri(c)k / Endri(c)k / En(d)ri(c)kson
  • (Mac) Henri(c)k / Hendri(c)k / Hen(d)ri(c)kson
  • (Mac) Kenri(c)k / Kendri(c)k / Ken(d)ri(c)kson
  • (Mac) Kanri(c)k / Kandri(c)k / Kan(d)ri(c)kson
  • (Mac) Canri(c)k / CanrCandri(c)k / Can(d)ri(c)kson
  • (Mac) Anry / Andry / An(d)ryson
  • (Mac) Henry / Hendry / Hen(d)ryson
  • (Mac) Kenry / Kendry / Ken(d)ryson
  • (Mac) Anrie / Andrie / An(d)rieson
  • (Mac) Henrie / Hendrie / Hen(d)rieson
  • (Mac) Kenrie / Kendrie / Ken(d)rieson
  • (Mac) Anree / Andree / An(d)reeson
  • (Mac) Henree / Hendree / Hen(d)reeson
  • (Mac) Kenree / Kendree / Ken(d)reeson
  • End(h)erson
  • Henderson
  • Hendron
  • Henders
  • Henerson

among others.

The surname spelling variations arose from regional pronunciation differences, and sometimes perversely creative spelling. Some individuals used multiple surname spellings, and sometimes different surname forms. For example, a traveling Henderson might use the surname MacEanruig in the Scottish Highlands, Henderson in the Lowlands, McHenry in Ulster, and Henry in England.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Adam, Frank; Innes, Thomas (2004), The Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 1934, Kessinger Publishing, p. 148, ISBN 9781417980765, 

Further reading

External links

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