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James Henderson (1821-1903)

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James Henderson (1821-1903)


1903 Obituary [1]

JAMES HENDERSON, born in Aberdeen in 1821, a descendant of Hendersons of Hallyards, Perthshire, was the son of the late Lieutenant-Colonel George Henderson, Royal Engineers. His father, as well as his uncle, Admiral Robert Henderson, served with distinction, the former under Wellington, the latter under Nelson.

The subject of this notice began his professional career at an early age as a pupil under the late Edward Dixon, Resident Engineer on the London division of the London and South Western Railway.

In 1839 he became himself Resident Engineer on a portion of the line, under the direction of Joseph Locke, Past-President.

Later in that year he proceeded with a party of Royal Engineers under Captain (subsequently General) E. C. Frome, to South Australia, where he was engaged in extensive surveys, notably of Lake Alexandrina and the north-west bend of the River Murray, in the course of which he endured considerable hardship and privation.

In 1841 he was transferred to the Department of Public Works, and ten years later, on the death of his elder brother, he returned to England with his wife and two sons. He had in the meantime married a daughter of the late Mr. C. B. Newenham, High Sheriff of South Australia.

His father’s large interest in Cornish mines induced Mr. Henderson to settle in Truro as a Mining Engineer and Surveyor. Fresh from the healthy surroundings of his life in Australia, he brought to his new work a fund of vigour and vitality which carried him through the dangers and discomforts of the early mining days, when Government Mine Inspectors were unknown and little or no care was paid to the preservation of life or limb. With a powerful physique and robust health, Mr. Henderson carried on his arduous life beyond the usual limits. Seventy years and more still found him as keen as ever, going through a long day’s work underground, climbing ladders and breathing vitiated air with impunity. In the evening he would be found working out his trigonometrical observations, and the next day plotting and draughting his work, with hand and eye as steady as in the early Australian days.

In November, 1902, Mr. Henderson was honoured by the City Council of Truro (though not a member of the Council himself) with the invitation to accept the office of Mayor, in view of the approaching dedication of the nave of the cathedral, and entered on his new and unaccustomed duties with energy and vigour.

He died at his residence, Dalvenie, Truro, on the 13th April, 1903, in his eighty-second year.

At the International Exhibition of 1862 Mr. Henderson was awarded a bronze medal for mining plans. In 1868 he received the bronze medal of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society for a plan of the Botallack Mine, and a silver medal in 1869 for an improved dial, while in later years he was the inventor of the surveying instrument known as "Henderson’s rapid traverser," which is much used in the dense forests of West Africa. As a Captain of Volunteers, he devoted himself with great energy to military duties, and was well known as a marksman. He organised the Truro Volunteer Fire Brigade, and commanded it for twelve years.

Mr. Henderson was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th February, 1855, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 27th November, 1877. In 1858 he was awarded a Telford Medal for a Paper on "The methods generally adopted in Cornwall, in Dressing Tin and Copper Ores."


1903 Obituary [2]



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