Henderson Trustees


Henderson's Trustees were the owners of the property on which Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms were built in Sauchiehall Street. They were formally known as 'The Trustees of the Will of John Henderson', of Studley Priory, in Oxfordshire. Henderson was a Glasgwegian linen, shirt and hosiery manufacturer who died in 1893. 1

Henderson was of humble origins: born in Cumbernauld, he was the son of an ambitious ironworker who eventually became a bank manager. 2 In the 1850s, he went into partnership with William Tillie, and their firm became the first to introduce sewing machines and mass-mechanisation into the Londonderry linen industry. 3 By Henderson's retirement in 1880, 4 Tillie & Henderson were established wholesale shirt, corset and underclothing makers, with a warehouse in Miller Street, Glasgow. 5

As his second wife, 6 Henderson married Jessie Turner (1841–1920), daughter of a prosperous tenant dairy-farmer from Dunoon, c. 1874, and they had three children. 7 In 1877, he purchased Studley Priory, near Oxford, formerly the seat of the wealthy Croke dynasty. 8 He made a will in 1891, under which he appointed a corporate committee, or body of trustees, to administer his estate after his death. 9 Creating such a trust would fulfil both the Settled Lands (1882–90) and Law of Property (1881) Acts, and was common practice among 'landed proprietors' – and by now, Henderson was an exceptionally rich man. Because his children were minors, it was also prudent to make provision for their future guidance in financial matters.

The Trustees appointed in 1891 were his wife, Jessie Henderson; John Thomson of Woodperry; Herbert John Parsons of Elsfield; and George Edward Baker of Magdalen College, all in Oxfordshire, there always being a quorum of four trustees. Jessie Henderson had the life use of the Studley estates in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and on her death one of their two sons was to become trustee in her stead. Before he died, Henderson revoked Baker as trustee, and appointed instead James Howard Gwyther, a director of the City of London Bank. On his death at Studley in April 1893, Henderson's gross estate was valued at £133,513. 10

Among the assets of the Henderson Trust were businesses, farms, shares, and a city-centre block known as Kensington Place in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. When the street was originally developed in the 1850s, each terrace was given an aristocratic designation – 'Wellington' , 'Clarence', etc. – with Kensington Place running from West Campbell Street to Mains Street. 11 The latter, called after the Dunbartonshire estate of the landowner's Douglas ancestors, was later renamed Blythswood Street, and was for a time home to the Mackintoshes. 12 The site had originally been part of sections (or feus) 48 and 49 on the original sale plan of the Campbell family's Blythswood estate, on which much of central Glasgow is built. 13 From before 1857, different portions of the ground had been split into building plots and sold and subdivided, being used as security in loans, mortgages and other financial transactions. 14 In May 1882, John Henderson purchased five lots of ground (some of which seem to have been wrongly described as being 'in Jubilee or Wellington Place') 15 He used the ground as a surety, or guarantee, for borrowing £27,000 from a Greenock shipowner, although the Scottish property registers do not tell us what he did with the money. 16 One of the first things the Trustees did in 1893 was to pay off this large loan, which meant that they regained legal control of their valuable asset. 17

The Trustees eventually included the Hendersons' sons, Robert Ronald (1876–1932), an army officer who became an Oxfordshire MP in the 1920s; and Turner (born c. 1877), although the day-to-day administration was undertaken by lawyers in Glasgow and elsewhere. The records of the development of the Willow Tea Rooms site are now part of the Studley Priory Estate archive in the Oxfordshire Record Office. 18


1: 1893, Henderson, John, Extracted Copy of Probate of Will, SC70/6/51, pp. 255–77, Non-Scottish Court, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 14 May 2012].

2: Robert Henderson, Census, 1841, Parish: Old Monkland; ED: 9A; Page: 13; Line: 1130; 1851, Parish: Old Monkland; ED: 10; Page: 1; Line: 17; Roll: CSSCT1851_171; 1861, Parish: Old Monkland; ED: 3; Page: 1; Line: 1; Roll: CSSCT1861_118, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 26 May 2012].

3: Edinburgh Gazette, 2 September 1853, pp. 689–90; The Times, 5 December 1922, p. 12B; Advertisement, Belfast News-Letter, 9 June 1854; Trade Report, Belfast News-Letter, 27 December 1895.

4: Administrative History, Studley Estate Archive Collection 1572-1945, Cat. No. E26, online catalogue, Oxfordshire History Centre, www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/oxfordshire-history-centre-collections [accessed 26 May 2012].

5: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1875–80.

6: First marriage, 1853 to Catherine A. Brown, Glasgow Herald, 9 September 1853, p. 5; O. P. R. Marriages, Henderson-Brown 1853, 622/00 0210 0237, Barony; Henderson, Statutory Deaths 1871, 500/00 0132, at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 26 May 2012].

7: Glasgow Herald, 22 April 1874, p. 8A; 10 March 1879, p. 11C; Henderson, Census England 1881, Horton cum Studley, Class: RG11; Piece: 1496; Folio: 109; Page: 7; GSU roll: 1341362, at www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 26 May 2012].

8: Purchase price receipt, E26/1/L/14; Studley Sale Catalogue, E26/1/E3/2; Croke-Henderson Purchase Agreement, October 1877, E26/1/1D/74, all Studley Estate Archive, www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/oxfordshire-history-centre-collections [accessed 26 May 2012].

9: 1893, Henderson, John, Extracted Copy of Probate of Will, SC70/6/51, pp. 255–77, Non-Scottish Court, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 14 May 2012].

10: 1893, Henderson, John, Extracted Copy of Probate of Will, SC70/6/51, pp. 255–77, Non-Scottish Court, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 14 May 2012].

11: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1850–80.

12: Hugh McIntosh, Origin and History of Glasgow Streets, Glasgow: James Hedderwick, 1902, unpaginated,www.gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/minstr/minstr05.htm [accessed 26 May 2012].

13: Sasine Abridgements, Glasgow 1857, Nos 3150, 3160.

14: Sasine Abridgements, Glasgow 1865, Nos 285–6, 1077–9, 1293; 1875, Nos 19,466, 19,475; 1877, 6,732; 1882, Nos 4335–7, 4352–3, 4819, 4913–5.

15: Sasine Abridgements, Glasgow 1882, Nos 4352; wrong description also e.g. 1882, No 4335; 1875, Nos 19,466, 19,475.

16: Sasine Abridgements, Glasgow 1882, No. 4353.

17: Sasine Abridgements, Glasgow, 1893, No. 3795, dated 15 November 1893.

18: Studley Estate Archives Catalogue, www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/oxfordshire-history-centre-collections [accessed 26 May 2012].