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The History of the Giles Family

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Dr. William Henderson
1784 - 1870
This page is not connected to the boys' maternal ancestry, but to their paternal line (placed here as the Paton website has run out of space!).
Dr. William Henderson was Calum's and Jamie's sixth great uncle, the brother of their five times great grandfather Andrew Henderson, and a remarkable man. He resided in Perth, Scotland, throughout his life in the 19th century, where he worked as both a physician and as a Kirk Session elder within the established Church of Scotland for over fifty years. This is his  story, as gathered from many various sources discovered during my research, including several remarkable accounts and poems written by William himself.

"In my estimation, a long line of ancestry entitles no man to trample
on his brother, nor does a high sounding title give its possessor a right
to wound the heart, which vibrates with the finer feelings of a common
humanity, merely because accident has cast his lot in an elevated station
of life, which he degrades by his vices, and in doing so prostrates the
gifts of Providence, and makes them the means of wounding the peace
and ruining the prospects of thousands, who though below him in station
are nevertheless immeasurably raised above him in talent, in virtue, and
proper feeling. Whether in prince or in peasant a genuine heart elicits
from me the response of a brother."
William Henderson - Byegone Days; or, Sketches Illustrative of the
Manners and Customs of the Scottish Peasantry Seventy Years
Ago" (by an Octogenerian), published 1870.

Dr. William Henderson was born in Kinclaven, Perthshire, on January 25th 1784, and christened a day later:
Henderson - William son to Peter Henderson & Janet Bruce in Airntully was born on the 25 & bapized the 26 Jan 1784
As a child William was raised at Airdrum farm in the far north of Airntully, a fact confirmed by the kirk session records of Kinclaven parish shortly after his death in 1870 (see later).

William Henderson's signature

In 1806, William started to train to become a physician, it is believed at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, graduating from there in 1809. He then attended the University of St. Andrew's to get his doctorate, and achieved this in 1810, becoming William Henderson M.D.

What had driven William to a career in medicine was an ailment that had afflicted him greatly as a young child in Kinclaven, and in his early adult life. William suffered chronic indigestion, and he believed that a career in meicine could help him to try and find something that would help relieve his pain. He eventually created a mixture which he patented as Henderson's Stomachic Elixir, from which he subsequently went on to earn a vast fortune, it being so successfully taken up in Britain and the United States of America. The following advertisement in the London Times, of February 2nd 1832, describes the product:


Dr. Henderson's Stomachic Vegetable Elixir

Having suffered severely from stomach complaints, Dr. Henderson was led to turn his attention to the study of the subject. To the use of this medicine, when all others had failed, he and many others are indebted for complete exemption from pain, and restoration to health. To those whose bowels are habitually slow, and require the occasional use of laxatives, and for general family use, it has a decided advantage over all other medicines, inasmuch as it is safe, pleasant to the taste, and will appease the stomach when nothing else will rest upon it, and never loses its powers: the same quality always producing the same effect. It may also be mixed with food or drink of any kind, without oppressing the stomach, or losing the salutary effect on the bowels. It has been tried in every possible variety of stomach complaint, and found uniformly beneficial. Prepared by Dr. Henderson, Perth, whose name is subscribed in red ink on each outside label, and sold by Messrs. Butler, chemists, Cheapside, corner of St. Paul's, London: Prince's Street, Edinburgh: Sackville Street, Dublin: and their agents in the country: in half-pint bottles at 2s. 9d. and pints 4s. 6d.

How Henderson came to concoct this mixture is recalled in the introduction to the second edition of his book "Plain Rules for Improving the Health of the Delicate, Preserving the Health of the Strong and Prolonging the Life of All", published in 1856 (p.xvii - xx):
The sufferings which I endured from indigestion in early life, turned my attention to the study of medicine; and notwithstanding the advantages I thus possessed, so imperfectly were these complaints then understood, that it was only when they had reached the second stage, and began to react on the stomach, that an accidental discovery led me to a knowledge of their true origin.
Fifty years ago, when I was studying medicine, almost all the pains which were felt in the several parts of the human body were thought to have been occasioned by inflammation in the several tissues. Such having been the conclusion as to the cause, the remedy was obvious, and the lancet was freely used on all occasions when pain was the prevailing symptom. When free depletion failed to give relief, mercury wa shad recourse to, with the intention of changing the action in the affected part. Such were the remedies in almost universal use for combating the symptoms now known to proceed from indigestion. From the suffering I had all my life-time endured, and then laboured under, it may well be supposed that I submitted to the established treatment cheerfully, and passed through the ordeal heroically. It is true, I lost strength daily, but by and bye, my stomach gave me less uneasiness, and gradually, from loathing every kind of food, my appetite became voracious.

Now that my stomach gave me but little trouble, I thought all was right; but I did not then understand the cause, nor had I observed the curious fact that has been so often familiar to me, that when the irritation proceeding from indigestion passes from the stomach and its immediate appendages, and settles down on some special organ of the body, the annoyance in the stomach, for a time at least, passes from that viscous to the organ that has now become the seat of the disease. This constitutes what I term the second stage of indigestion.

My complaint was now looked upon by the best authorities as organic, and I was directed to have it treated accordingly. The excrutiating torture which I endured from the diseased action in the parts, and the treatment to which I was subjected, was such as makes me, even at this distance of time, tremble to think of.

After a few weeks, the irritability of stomach became again so great, that it would retain neither food nor medicine.

I now, almost in despair, began a course of experiments to endeavour to compound an aperient that would rest on the stomach, and, if possible, restore the natural action of the bowels. After innumerable failures, I at length succeeded in compounding that aperient, from the use of which, I, and many thousands of my suffering brethren, have derived so much benefit.

No one could have been more surprised than I was at the effect of this medicine: as the bowels resumed their natural functions, my stomach gradually became soothed, the irritation in the lower portion of the bowels slowly subsided, and I began to enjoy life again. The continued use of this medicine, combined with some gentle tonics, in three months restored me to comfortable health, which, as far as these complaints are concerned, I continue to enjoy.

It was by pondering over, and reasoning from these facts, that I first arrived at the full conviction, that all the endless ills which flow from indigestion have their origin in im,purity of the blood, - from the sluggish and vitiated manner in which the digestive organs supply the material for that pabulum of life. Once satisfied of this fact, it has been the business of my professional life to follow it up; and this has been the main cause of my success in the treatment of these complaints. This important fact is daily gaining ground, from the rapid progress which chemical science is making, and the scarcely less brilliant light the microscope has thrown on the physiology of the human body.


On August 31st 1812, William married a lady by the name of Margaret Morison (christened 1 MAY 1785, Perth), daughter of merchant James Morison and Janet Blair. The old parish register for Perth's Middle Church parish recorded the wedding:

August 1812


Perth the Twenty ninth day of August One thousand eight hundred and twelve years ________________ Contracted


Dr. William Henderson Physician in the Middle Church Parish of Perth and Miss Margaret Morrison in Saint Pauls Church Parish of Perth Daughter to the Deceased Mr James Morrison late Merchant in Perth__________ Elder John Duncan.


The Persons before named were regularly Proclaimed and Married the Thirty first day of August said year by the Reverend Mr William Aird Thomson Minister of the Middle Church Parish Perth.

The marriage was also noted in The Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany (Vol. 74, p.727):

At Perth, William Henderson M.D. to Margaret, daughter of the late Mr. James Morison, merchant

Margaret was something of an artist, and it is evident from William's will that he had profound love for her, and a deep appreciation for her artistic abilities.

On March 15th 1818, William was nominated to be appointed as a kirk elder of the East Church parish of Perth, as noted in the Kirk Session records (NAS:CH2/585/1/62-3):

The Session were unaninmously of opinion that an Additional number of Elders were now necessary and resolved to adopt measures to supply the deficiency. The Moderator reported that he had requested and obtained the consent of the following persons to accept of the office of Eldership in the Parish to witt Messrs Adam Anderson Thomas Whitson John Matthew Merchant James Brodie Merchant William Ahmore and Dr. Henderson.


The Session therefore Did and hereby Do Nominate Appoint and Elect these persons to be Elders of the East Church Parish of Perth; and appoint public intimation thereof to be made from the Pulpit immediately after Divine Service this afternoon and the return of the Edict to be called for at two o’clock afternoon of Sabbath the Twenty ninth day of March current that if any of this Congregation shall have any thing to object to the life and conversation of the forenamed persons why they should not be Ordained Elders of this Church and Parish they may come forward and substantiate the same with Certification that if no such objection be then made, the Session will proceed to their ordination immediately after divine Service on the said Twenty ninth Current in the General Session House.


Two weeks later, the session confirmed his appointment (NAS:CH2/585/1/62-3):

The Minutes of the fifteenth day of March current relative to the Election of additional Elders in this Parish being Read the Moderator reported that he had served the Edict of Messrs Anderson Whitson Mathew Brodie Ashmore and Dr Henderson in due form and the return of the Edict being this day called for, and none appearing to object to the life and conversation of the foresaid persons The Session unanimously that they now be Ordained and admitted Elders of this Church and Parish.


They were accordingly Ordained by solemn Prayer to the office of Elders in presence of the Session; & having received the right hand of fellowship from the members present their names were added to the Roll.


As an elder, William had to sit with the Kirk Session in adjudication on disciplinary matters from time to time. His first appearance in such a hearing was on July 19th 1818, when he sat in judgment on the case of Grizzel Allan, who had brought forth a child in fornication and had accused unmarried weaver William Taylor of being the father. The panel, including William, decided to seek further proof of Allan’s allegations towards Taylor. On the 28th the Elders satisfied themselves that she was telling the truth..

As an elder, William was also a trustee of the King James VI Hospital, a charitable institution set up on behalf of the poor in 1569. As such, he was recorded on several instances within the chartularies of the King James VI Hospital, of which he was a trustee, and possible a practising doctor prior to its closure to in-patients in 1812. On September 14th 1818, William was noted as one of the witnesses on a Precept of Clare Constat granted by the Hospital in favour of Sir David Moncrieff, Baronet, concerning the lands of Saint Magdalene confirmed in his favour. On August 17th, William also witnessed a Contract of Feu drawn up between the Hospital and Mrs Anne Hair or White, wife of John White, residing in Perth, over lots 44, 45 and 46 of the Hospital Gardens.

On March 28th 1819, the Kirk Session decided to divide their parish into districts, allocating each district to an Elder. At the meeting William agreed to take on the Superintendance of the first District, which comprised of Necessity, Cherrybank, Pittheavles, Woodlands, Oakbank, Athol Bank, Cornhill, Needless and Earlsdykes.

As one of the town's handful of physicians, William had a quite extraordinary career in Perth. One of the earliest known problems with which he had to contend was an epidemic of smallpox in Perth in early 1819. Just prior to the epidemic a vaccine for the disease had been discovered. As some of the inhabitants of Perth had been vaccinated, and others not, it provided William with a good opportunity to compare the effects of the disease between the two groups. He subsequently published his results in an article called "Reported Cases of Small-pox, being the First Appearance of a Disease Epidemic after Discovery of a Vaccine". The article has still to be sourced, but another account of what happened was written by William on June 11th 1819 to Dr. John Thomson, M.D.F.R.S.E., Surgeon to the Forces and Professor of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, which was later published in a book in 1824 entitled "An Account of the Varioloid Epidemic which has Lately Prevailed in Edinburgh and Other Parts of Scotland". From this we learn that in Perth and its immediate surroundings some 108 people caught small-pox, of whom thirty seven contracted the disease after having been vaccinated, one of whom died.  Of the 56 individuals who had not been vaccinated, some 15 died, almost one in four. Having studied the two groups at close quarters, William concluded that not only was the effects of smallpox much less severe in those who had been vaccinated, but that chickpen-pox, small-pox and horn-pox must also have a common origin, as the spread of the various forms during the epidemic seemed to be linked. William also goes into details about how the epridemic in Perth started, with its origin traced to a house in South Street, "a few days after an itinerant woman, having a child with small-pox on its body, had lodged there". The child being allowed to play with other children in the area had passed on the contagion, and servants who had subsequently contracted it had retired to different parts of the town to convalesce, thereby spreading the disease further.  

In 1820, William gained some notoriety as being the doctor who successfully delivered one of the first babies in Scotland to ever survive birth by a casarean section. Although the procedure had been known to have been carried out elsewhere in Scotland prior to this, only a handful of children had been known to survive the procedure. The pregant mother was 30 year old Elizabeth Miller, spouse of David Low, and the following account from the Perth Courier of October 5th 1820 describes what happened:

The Caesarean operation was performed here on Saturday last, by Dr Henderson, in presence of six of his professional brethren. The patient being much deformed, and in a reduced habit of body, survived the operation only about 24 hours. The child, a fine girl, is doing extremely well. We understand that this is about the 24th time this operation has been performed in Great Britain, and that only one or two have survived it. Of the 24 children, only 11 have been brought into the world alive. Much praise is due to the medical gentlemen who assisted in this distressing case, two of them having constantly attended by turns on the patient, during the whole time she was alive. 


And from the internet, a further description has also been found of the case, giving more detail on Elizabeth's tragic situation and the extent of her disability:

Despite being severely debilitated and confined to bed for some years with increasing skeletal deformities, she became pregnant, and in due course laboured unsuccessfully for about 102 hours. An elective caesarean section was performed, but she died some hours later, though her daughter survived and was appropriately christened Caesar Anna. This represents one of the earliest cases in which the caesarean operation was performed where the full obstetric history was carefully recorded by the obstetrician involved, Dr. Henderson of Perth. The case was clearly considered important, and in 1836 engravings of this pelvis were used to illustrate Professor Hamilton's "Practical Observations of Various Subjects Related to Midwifery". Such cases are now of great rarity in the developed world.

William carefully recorded the progress of this particular case and in 1821 had the case published in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, under the title of "A Case of Caesarean Section where the Child was Saved". (Ed. Med. and Surg. Jour., vol. xvii.p.105 - the article has still to be sourced.)

In the King James VI Hospital Chartulary from 1805 to 1831, William is again recorded on October 12th 1822 as a witness to a Contract of Resignation granted in favour of the same Anne Haig or White with regard to Lots 42 and 43 of the Hospital Gardens (p. 287). On January 5th 1824, William again appears as a witness to a Contract of Feu in favour of James Pitcairn, wood merchant in Perth, who had purchased Lots 12 and 13 of the Hospital Gardens, whilst on the 17th he witnessed a Contract of Feu in favour of James Miller junior, a mason in Perth, who had purchased Lots 10 and 11. In the following month, on February 20th 1824, William again appears as a witness, this time in a similar Contract of Feu in favour of Alexander Craig of Woodend, who had purchased Lot 84 of the Hospital Gardens (p.296).

On June 25th 1825, William, in his capacity as one of the elders at the East Parish Church of Perth, recorded the contractual arrangements for the wedding of Ann Paton and Alexander MacKay. Ann was Calum's and Jamie's great great great great great great aunt, daughter of William Paton and Christian Hay, their great great great great great grandparents.

On May 12th 1826, William witnessed a Charter of Confirmation in favour of Patrick Robertson Esquire of Middlebridge, after his having purchased property on Methven Street (KJVI Chartulary 1805-1831, p.387).  In a Charter of Resignation granted by the Hospital in favour of Peter Brown, dated July 20th 1826, we then have the first recording of William as having lived at Rose Terrace, where he resided until his death in 1870. The charter shows that William leased part of the house from Brown, who was infeft to the Hospital as one of its vassals on the old lands of Blackfriars, for which the managers were now feudal superiors, charging Brown 2 10s feu duty annually at Whitsunday. The house in which William lived was described as being on Lot 3 of the land of the south division of Rose Terrace, and bounded by Lot 2 of the south division of Rose Terrace on the south; by Lot 4 on the north; by the Miln Lead running from Balhousie to Perth on the east; and by the east wall of the Printing House, erected on the back ground of the lot feued to Robert Morrison, at that point used as a school (KJVI Chartulary 1805-1831 p.395). On May 24th 1832, William was again confirmed as a resident in Rose Terrace when Peter Brown disponed of his property to David Lowson, town clerk of Arbroath, in a Charter of Confirmation (KJVI Chartulary 1831-1919, p.45).

On July 7th 1828 William penned a poem entitled 'Flights of Fancy':
Hope, like the Queen of fairy land,
Often waves her magic wand,
And raises scenes so bright, so fair,
That fancy loves to linger there.
But, as the sun shower passing by,
Raises you splendid arch in the sky;
Or like you ship, with her lofty train,
Ploughing, in state, the mighty main;
Or like the storm, when it passes by,
Speaking in awful majesty;
Or like the tear that dims the eye,
When touched with tender sympathy;
Or like the dew-drop on the rose,
Its opening beauties to disclose;
Or like the spider's web when hung,
Sparkling in the morning sun;
Or like the sound of golden string
Touched by zepher's gentle wing;
Or like the darts from beauty's eye,
That strikes the heart with extacy;
Or like the lily, when it rears
Its head towards the floating spheres;
Or like the dew-drop, sprkling bright
On tender blade in morning light;
Or like the violet's perfume rare,
Loading with sweets the balmy air;
Or like the lady of my love,
Sporting coyly through the grove;
Or like the notes of minstrel bright,
Swelling through the shades of night;
Or like the sun when he gilds the trees,
While sinking in the western seas;
Or like the smoke, when it towers on high,
In majestic columns to the sky;
Or like the moon, when calm and meek,
She's seen in the calm lake's bosom deep;
Or like the blast of hunter's horn,
Or like the flush of dawning morn,
Or like the smile from beauty won,
Or like the eclipsing of the sun,
Or like a pilgrim passing by,
Or like a meteor in the sky,
Or like the lightning or the thunder,
Or like a three-days passing wonder,
Or like a phantom, like a flower;
Like the close of beauties power;
Or like the clacking of a mill.
Or like the time we fain to kill.
The sun-shower's past, th' illusion flown;
The storm has ceased, the ship is gone;
The tender tear of sympathy,
Like the dew-drop on the rose is dry.
The spider's web doth shapeless hing,
By the blow which broke the golden string;
The eye which sparkled with beauty bright,
Like the lily has ceased to respond to light.
The dew-drop and the violet prove
As fickle as my lady's love;
The minstrel's notes which cheered anon,
Are with the sun now sunk and gone.
The smoky pillars, late so plain,
Like the moon in the lake are sought in vain;
The horn has blown, the stag is killed;
The cloud's dispersed, the day reveal'd.
The smile from beauty's face is gone;
The eclipse has passed, the sun has shone.
The pilgrim, like the meteor's past,
The lightning with the thunder's hushed.
The image, like the phantom's flown,
The flower, like beuty's power is gone;
The mill has stopt, the time has sped,
Like the illusions of the fancy fled.
July 7, 1828
In August 1828 William had an accident, the details of which are not known. Whilst recovering however, he penned the following lines, showing how much he relied on, and how grateful he was to, his wife Margaret during his recovery:
Sweet are the bonds of wedded love,
When soul with soul takes part;
But sweeter far when sorrow's dart
Stick, quivering with the heart.
It's not when fortunes smoothest
That woman's worth is known;
It's not when health id purest
That her tenderest love is shown.
It's when sorrow hardest presses,
And when faithless friends depart,
That her gently soft carresses
Steal sorrow from the heart.
It's when with pain each sinew quivers,
On affliction's thorny bed,
As she like an angel hovers
Round man's devoted head.
Oh! it's not when the heart is lightest,
But when every joy has gone,
That woman's love burns brightest,
That woman's worth is known.

Perhaps the biggest crisis that William faced in his role as a physician in Perth was the cholera epidemic of 1832, which killed hundreds of the town's citizens:

Cholera.- In 1832, the Asiatic cholera visited Perth, as it did many other towns in Britain. As in the visitation of the plague, the most effectual means that could be devised were adopted by the continued authorities to avert or mitigate the malady. A meeting of the the influential classes of the community was called. The meeting divided the town and suburbs into sections. To each of these a certain number of persosn was appointed, with authority to remove nuisances, and cause the house which required it to be thoroughly cleansed and purified. A temporary hospital was fitted up to receive patients; and competent medical officers were appointed to attend and take charge of them. A soup-kitchen was established, from which the poor of the place were supplied daily with broth and bread. The consequence of these precautionary measures was most beneficial. To them may be justly ascribed, under Heaven, the comparatively small number of cases that occurred. The deaths were 147. It is proper to mention, that, through the liberality of certain noblemen and gentlemen in the county, and of the inhabitants of the parish, no legal assessment was resorted to. The sum collected and expended was L.2091, 4s. 5d. (p.37).


As a part of the Medical Board for Perth during the crisis, William was one of the few physicians who understood why the disease was communicating so easily through the populace, and was therefore able to put in place measures that helped to defeat its transmission, thereby ending the epidemic.

On April 21st 1833, William was appointed the Ruling Elder of the East Church parish (NAS:CH2/585/1/186):

The Session proceeded to the Election of a Ruling Elder to represent them in the Meetings of the Reverend Presbytery of Perth and Synod of the bounds that shall happen during the current half year when Dr. William Henderson Physician in Perth and one of their number was unanimously chosen and they accordingly Did and hereby Do Nominate and appoint the said Dr. William Henderson a Member of the said Presbytery and Synod of Perth and Stirling and they require him to attend the several Meetings of the same and there to Vote judge and Determine in all matters that may come before them to the glory of God and the good of his Church and to report his diligence therein and they appoint the Clerk to furnish the said Dr. William Henderson with an Extract of his Commission.


Two days later, William was also elected as the interim clerk for the parish (NAS:CH2/585/1/186). On October 26th 1835, he was then recorded in the Kirk Session minutes as having been instructed to interview an Alexander Bennet, who was ill at home, with regard to a case involving a woman called Janet Clunie (NAS:CH2/585/1/284). On April 25th 1841, he was again chosen as Ruling Elder, and the commission was attested three days later (NAS:CH2/585/1/353-354):

Dr. William Henderson’s Commission attested


There was laid before the Session a Commission by the Town Council of Perth in favour of Dr. William Henderson one of the Members of this Session to be Elder for this Burgh in the ensuing General Assembly of this Church and to which Commission the Attestation of the Session is required.


After considering the same the Session Did and hereby Do certify and declare that Dr. William Henderson Ruling Elder and Member of the said Session is bona fide an Acting Elder of their Congregation. And the Session authorised the Moderator to attest the said Commission. Which he did in their presence accordingly.


The Sederunt closed with prayer.


Just three weeks later, in November 1835, William was fortunate to be able to witness one of the greatest celestial events in his lifetime, the re-appearance of Halley's Comet. So moved was he by the spectacle that he took his quill to paper and composed a poem in its honour:

Say, mighty stranger, where thou 'st strayed,
Since Halley's eye thy course surveyed,
When Science bade her favoured son
Proclaim the days and years to run,
Before again thou should 'st return
To greet the orbs that round thee burn.
What suns, what spheres hast thou past by?
What forms? Inhabitants have they?
Less to believe, would God restrain
Who mighty works makes none in vain.
Does moral stain their minds defile?
Or are they pure and holy still?
Art thou a cloud as floats in day,
As vain philosophy would say?
Or mass of fire, which seers foretold
Our orb and us would now enfold,
Nor leave behind a single trace
Of Adam's frail and sinful race.
That silly seers deceived may be
Is proved, for see thee onward flee,
Through poundless space to whence thou came,
Say yet again, what art thou then?
Germ of new world, as some suppose,
By almighty power prepared for those
Who by the flat of his will
May yet be formed that orb to fill!
Thy matter, form, or use to say,
No mortal creature ever may;
But for that law which souls compel
In mortal tenements to dwell,
How on with thee I'd like to stray,
And see the wonders in thy way!
Alas! my enumbered spirit still
Must wait its great Creator's will.
Farewell, dread stranger to our eyes,
No terrors has thou to the wise;
Though what thou art I may not say,
Resolved 'twill be some other day,
For ere again thy cold pale face
Shall look upon the human race,
All now who watch thee passing by,
In silent slumbering grave shall lie,
And a new race shall welcome thee,
While my freed spirit mounts on high.
It may be, that the Almighty will
Shall guid the spirit onward still,
From sphere to sphere through the endless space,
Its knowledge, goodness to increase,
And what's now hid shall then bight shine
In beauty, majesty, divine!
But first to thee, or other spot
In God's creation, amtters not;
Assured that if His holy will
I strive in meekness to fulfil,
Each future hour, each future rod,
Shall bring me nearer still to God.
The poem provides an insight into the scientific ideas that were beginning to replace the previous centries' held superstitious beliefs about the comet, and also gives us a glimpse of William's own deeply held religious beliefs.
In 1839, William witnessed a shipwreck, and a desperate attempt to rescue people on the stricken vessel which ended in failure. It is not known where the ship ran aground, but William appears to have been in attendance in his capacity as a doctor, and as usual, he recorded his impressions of what happened on that tragic day in verse:
What shriek was that which fell on mine ear?
What wail of sad and hapless despair?
Was 't the moaning of the mighty deep,
From its bosom now hushed, though the storm be asleep;
Or the moans of that branch from you aged tree riven,
As it waves aloft in the winds of heaven?
Ah! no, see you female who bends in the blast
How her bosom heaves as each throe were the last.
What fixes her gaze on the troubled wave,
As it lashes the shore with its ceaseless lave?
Alas! 'tis the brave and manly form
Of her William, who yester-night braved the storm;
To save from yon wreck her perishing crew,
As aghast they stood with death in their view.
Twice to the billows his bosom he gave,
And twice from their power did he rescue and save;
Still from the blank came the dreadful wail
Of despair, as it sighed through the raging gale.
Though exhausted, yet firm as a pillar he stood,
Unharmed by the storm, unscathed by the flood.
His eye sought the wreck, then to heave was raised,
While those on the crowd intent on him gazed;
As again he plunged in the brinny wave,
To perish, or yon wretched sufferer to save;
Every eye was bent on his manly form,
As he dashed through the waves, and weathered the storm.
Through the fading ray of evening light,
Each eye was starined to its utmost sight;
Till he reached the wreck; when one's shroek so shrill
Came back on the storm, and all was still.
Long sought they the beech in the darkness of even,
Illumin'd anon by the flashing levin;
But all in vain.
Ah! who shall tell her so late a bride,
Of him engulphed in the ruthless tide?
How she knew I never could understand,
Nor saw her; till statue like on the sand
She stood by her husband's body there;
Cold, death-like, the image of hopeless despair.
They lifted the body, and bore it along,
She followed, unconscious amid the throng,
Nor a sigh, a groan, a tear from the eye,
relieved her heart from its agony.
She saw her William's body out laid,
And the trappings of death around it spread;
Then she locked her hand in that of the dead,
Nor could she be torn away from the bed.
Oh! break not the sapling thus bent by the blast,
Snap not the cord thus strained to the last,
Until time shall gently fan with his wings,
Her spirit to repose, and relieve life's springs;
Then religion shall point with her hallowed rod.
Her way to peace, her way to God.
August 5th, 1839.
As well as writing poems for himself, William also wrote corresponded with two learned colleagues in verse, with the three assuming various names de pluma. A Professor Gillespie corresponded as Apollo, a Professor Anderson as Philosoph and William as Galen. The identities of Gillespie and Anderson have still to be worked out, but the following is the first poem that has been discovered by William to the other two:
I got your letter dread Apollo,
And lovely lines on height and hollow;
It glads my heart, I'm fain to see
Nae curses now on Amulree.
I'm almost frightened at myself,
A weary powerless feeble elf,
That I in rhyme should dare to write,
Or feckless thoughts try to indite.
To one who tunes his lyre still,
On great Apollo's loftiest hill;
Wer't not that fools while time shall run,
Will hold up candles to the sun.
But now to rid me of all pain,
When shall we three meet again;
When autumn, barns, and faulds have filled,
When winter's frost the earth has chilled.
When spring sets buds upon the trees,
And genial sun brings forth the bees,
When Zephyr melts the mountain snaw,
When lambies on their mammies caw.
When heath-cock spread his bridal bed,
When April fools have a' been made,
When May flies skim the lochs aboon,
And fishes rise to gulp them down.
Or maybe June, when balmier skies
Brings finer air, and sweeter flies;
In lowland hall, and highland glen,
We three shall surely meet again.
O'er loch, o'er stream, o'er mountail still,
Our rods we'll cast, our creels we'll fill;
Again shall stories, wit, and wine,
Our hearts delight, our souls refine.
We'll tread on hills where fairies dwell,
Whom youthful poets loves so well;
We'll live in hope again to see
Another day at Amulree.
And now that I have said my say,
And upon a thaveless trashy lay,
As sure as autumn leaves are falling,
I rest your faithful servant Galen.
P.S. - Now potent high and mighty man,
With critics eye pray do not scan;
Nor thought nor study e're came here,
But rattled off but dread or fear.
5th October, 1839.
Apollo, aka Professor Gillespie, replied to this poem with one of his own, asking William for a bottle of medicine. From the reply of Galen, written on October 30th, it would appear that the medicine Apollo was after was none other than the stomachic elixir that had brought William such notoriety:
A bottle! askest thou, great Apollo?
Would it had been a dozen,
That I might show the love I bear
To my immortal cousin.
So, gods like men have stomachs gross
Which sometimes cause such wailing,
As makes them crave assistance
From some poor mortal Galen.
But, gods forbid! that such high powers
Were e'er so mean and callous,
As drug themselves with senna, salts,
Jalap, rue or aloes.
No, by great Jove's dread thunderbolt
I swear, and valiant Hector,
To save such degradation,
I've made for them a nectar.
The herbs I cull from Helicon,
The flowers from Hybla's bill,
And in Chemia's best alembic,
Ambrosia sweet distil.
When Bacchus bids you to a feast,
And lures you through his ordeal,
To Somnus ere you make your bow,
Be sure and taste the cordial.
And when Phoebus lifts his head
And peeps in through the glasses,
You'll find your brain serene and clear,
For dallying wi' the lasses,* 
Should Comus court your company,
And set such things before you,
As tempt your palate to excess,
Till sadness sore comes o'er you:
When Nox her sable curtain draws,
And Nature seeks repose,
Just lift the ambrosia to your lips
And quietly take your doze:
And soon the effects of overcharge
It gently will slip down,
And make the stomach's whirligigs
All sweetly play in tune.
Should Incubus sit on your breast,
When you have done no sin,
'Tis time to look into your state,
For something's wrong within:
When Venus hangs her silvery gem
Low sparkling in the west,
The nectar says aye be sure to taste,
Before you gae to rest.
When crabbed thoughts disturb your mind,
And study wears you out,
Till brain and stomach feeble grow,
The last would need a clout:
Just try the nectar once again,
For nights a few in number,
As faithfully as you seek Jove
To guard you through your slumber.
Hygea's rosy face shall then
Put on its sweetest smile:
She'll free you o' your heavy load,
And lighten a' your toil.
And now, a god even though you be,
Since sometimes you are ailing,
When eased of a' your weary pains,
Whiles think on faithful GALEN.
Perth, 30th October, 1839.

William continued to be as inventive with other cases as he did his approach to his indigestion and the caesarean operation. The following article, from the Lancet in 1841, gives a particular example:

By W. Henderson, M.D., Perth
On the 1st of June, 1840, a gentleman consulted me under the following circumastances. About four years ago, he first felt a more frequent desire than usual to void urine, accompanied with more or less pain, and followed with frequent slight mucus discahrge from the urethra. He was then in London, and the medical gentleman whom he consulted treated the complaint as gonorrhoeal. He shortly after that left London, but, impressed with the idea of the alleged nature of his disease, he continued to take all sorts of medicines, known and secret, without any abatement of his sufferings.
When I first saw him, he felt an almost constant desire to empty the bladder, often passing only a few drops of urine at a time, accompanied with much pain  and pressure; occasional severe lancinating pains at the neck of the bladder, which extended throughout the urethra, and were most distressing at the point of the penis; priapisms and emissions during sleep, followed with extreme heat and pain; constant mucus discharge from the urethra; bowels confined; much uneasiness in passing the faeces; a sensation as if some hard substance were pressing from within against the verge of the anus, which no effort to empty the bowel could remove. Sitting for any length of time on a hard seat causes a deep-seated, heavy pain at the neck of the bladder; heat and excoflation at the verge of the anus on taking even moderate exercise on foot, and he cannot ride on horseback at all from the pain it occasions.
On introducing a catheter, to ascertain whether stricture existed, the instrument passed freely until it reached the prostate gland, where there was obstruction and much pain in passing it into the bladder. I then examined the gland with the finger through the rectum; it was much enlarged, and painful on pressure.
The ordinary means, viz. aperients, iodine, leeches, and counter-irritants on the perineum, were persevered with for four weeks, with scarcely any alleviation of the pateient's sufferings, and no progress whatever made in reducing the size of the gland.

Henderson's terror device!!! (as shown in The Lancet)

While pondering on this most distressing case, it occurred to me , that if I could manage to apply leeches upon the gland, through the rectum, they might have a good effect. Accordingly, I had a tube made of tin, a quarter of an inch wide at one end, and half an ich wide at the other end, bent into the form here represented (see diag, right). I then cut down the wide end of the tube about a third part of an inch, two-thirds of its diameter, in front, corresponding with the bend, leaving the projection behind as a handle to enable me to guide the other end accurately, and keep it steady after it had been properly applied. Having just had the bowel freely emptied, I cautiously introduced the tube, so directed, that by pushing it up in a straight line, its mouth must pass over the centre of the right lobe (the tenderest part) of the gland. As the tube advanced, I made gentle lateral pressure with its projecting point, at the distance of about every line, until the patient experienced a sensation somewhat similar to that felt when the point of the finger was pressed against the most sensible part of the gland. I then secured the tube gently, but steadily, with the left hand, and with the right hand introduced a leech into it, which, I was not a little pleased to find, took readily. When this leech dropped off, I changed the position of the tube, so as to place the mouth of it over the left lobe of the gland, and then introduced another leech, which also took readily.
When the tube was withdrawn the blood accumulated in th rectum, and brought on a desire to evacuate the bowel; this was frequently the case, but, from the feculent matter with which it was mixed, the exact quantity could not be ascertained, but it was considerable. This application of the leeches was followed with great relief to the patient; the priapisms and emissions by which he had been so long harassed and weakened entirely ceased, and all his other symptoms were much mitigated. The aperients and iodine were continued. A week after the leeches were again applied, and acted equally well. After this, the pressure on the sphincter ani, and desire to empty the bowel, were scarcely at all experienced; and the mucus discharge from the urethra altogether disappeared. The only uneasiness which he now felt was the heat and lancinating pains in the gland and urethra, particularly at the point of the penis, wheich were occasionally a little troublesome. Two days after the last application of the leeches, I examined the gland with the finger, through the rectum; it was now greatly reduced in size, and pressure upon it gave very little uneasiness. Six days afterwards, the heat and pains in the gland and urethra being still occasionally felt, and attempt was again made to apply the leeches as formerly, which failed. When the tube was withdrawn the cause of the failure was manifest, the introduced end of it being quite filled up with feculent matter. Something had occurred to prevent the patient from taking his aperient at the usual time, and his bowels had not been properly relieved. A similar occurrence was guarded against on the following day, when the leeches acted well. The relief which the patient experienced was now so complete , that, except continuing the aperients and iodine, nothing more was done for two weeks, when I again examined the gland. It had now decreased to about the natural size, but pressure on the right lobe still gave a little uneasiness. On this part one leech was again applied, which acted well.
At the end of other two weeks, I again examined the gland, through the rectum, and a perceptible degree of tenderness still remaining when pressure was made upon the right lobe, one leech was once more applied upon it, which after a little manoeuvring, acted well.
From that time the patient has continued well, and was some time ago married to a lady to whom he had long been attached.
So far as I know, this is the first time that leeches have been used in the manner above pointed out for disease of the prostate gland; and if , in the hands of other gentlemen, this mode of applying them shall prove as beneficial as it has been in mine, it will, in an practical point of view, be an improvement of no small value; for it is well known to the profession, that there are few structures in the human body which occasion more trouble and anxiety to the medical attendant, or which are more painfully harassing to the patient, than the prostate gland when in a diseased state.
In thus applying leeches, the most essential requisite is to have the rectum well emptied of all feculent matter immediately prior to their application; for if this should be neglected, the operator will be foiled in his endeavours to make them take.
Another point which requires attention is, the close application of the mouth of the tube to the parietes of the rectum over the diseased portion of the gland; because if this be not acrefully attended to, the leech may pass through the tube into the bowel. This actually happened in the above case, and occasioned some anxiety to myself, and much alarm to the patient; but, fortunately, no unpleasant consequences followed, for in about eight minutes after its passage through the tube, the leech made its escape through the sphincter ani.
The tube should be cautiously introduced with its mouth directed over that portion of the gland on which the leech is wished to be put, when lateral pressure should be made with the end of the tube against the gland, to ascertain the most sensitive point. This can be easily found by pushing the tube either a little higher up, or drawing it a little lower down in the rectum, and making lateral pressure at the distance of every line, until the patient experience a sensation somewhat similar to that produced when pressure made with the point of the finger is made upon the gland. Having found this spot, the tube is then to be held steadily with the left hand, and a leech introduced into it with the right hand, when, if the rectum have been properly emptied beforehand, it will be found to take readily. When the first leech drops off, if another be wished to be applied, the mouth of the tube should then be moved a little round either to the right or left, as the case may require, so as to make a fresh wound, and another applied in the same manner. If the heat of the tube cause the leech to become refractory, by pushing the corner of a towel into the tube so as to force the leech up to its duty, I invariably succeeded in making it take.
This practice is rational, free from danger, and, with a little address, easily executed, and, in this case, has been eminently beneficial.
Should any of my professional brethren do me the honour to repeat this experiment, I should esteem it a special favour if they would take the trouble to communicate the degree of success which may attend it, either through the pages of THE LANCET, or to me personally by letter.
Perth, Dec. 2, 1840.

The claim that William had come up with the technique of using leeches in this way for the first time was challenged by surgeon Dr. William Craig, based in Ayr, in the May 22nd editon of 1841:

SIR: - I am glad to have it in my power to corroboratethe statement made by Dr. Henderson of Perth, in the LANCET for Jan 30th. of the good effects of leeches applied to the prostate gland through the rectum. I may state, however, that this kind of treatment is not perfectly new, and Dr. Henderson is not the first who recommends it, although from his method of applying leeches in the situation it is evident that he deserves the credit of originality in so far as he seems to have had no assistance from the mode described by M. Begin who gives in the "Dictionnaire de Medicine et Chirurgie Pratique" and account of a method of applying leeches to the prostate through the rectum.

The article then continues to give a description of the Frenchman's technique with the leeches.

In 1841, the Perth census records that William was living at Rose Terrace (N3), and that he was a physician. Also present in the house were his wife Margaret, who is noted as being born in Perthhsire, and his female servant, Jannet McKinly (GROS:1841/387).

At approximately the same time as the 1841 census was taken, William was also to take up the role of ruling elder at the East Church parish in Perth, as noted in the session minutes (CH2/585/1/353 & 354):

Dr. William Henderson chosen Ruling Elder

The Session then proceeded to Elect an Elder to represent them in the Presbytery of Perth and Synod of the bounds for the current half year when Dr. William Henderson, one of their number, was unaminaously chosen, and the Session Did and hereby Do elect and appoint him accordingly and instruct the Clerk to furnish him with his Commission in the usual form.

In the following year William was again appointed by the session as elder for the Town Council at the next General Assembly (NAS: CH2/585/1/366):

28th April 1842 


Dr. Henderson’s Commission as Elder for Town Council attested


There was produced a Commission from the Town Council of Perth appointing Dr. William Henderson one of this Session as their Elder to the next General Assembly for the attestation of the session, which was done by the Moderator in presence of the Session accordingly.


The Moderator and Clerk also Signed a Certificate that Dr. Henderson is an acting Elder as prescribed by Act of Assembly 1840.


From the "Presbyterian Review and Journal" of 1842, we get an understanding of William's role at the General Assembly as one of the representatives for the Synod of Perth and Stirling. The book outlines the business at the Assembly and gives the voting record for each delegate there. Of the eight votes listed, William participated in five. On Mr Cunningham's motion that Patronage was a grievance that was the main cause of the Kirk's present grievances, William rejected the notion, and was outvoted, the results being 216 votes for and 147 against. On the motion laid down by Dr. Thomas Chalmers to adopt the Claim of Right, William again voted against, voting instead to declare the act on calls "null and void, and approve the law of the church as recognised and sanctioned by the law of the state as to the settlement of presentees". Again he was in the minority of 110 votes, with 241 siding with Chalmers. On an issue to do with a Mr. Smith induction into Kilmarnock, William voted to proceed - again, in the minority with 73 other delegates, with 150 others voting instead with Cunningham's stance that it was "not for edification to settle Mr. Smith". On the case of the refusal of a Certificate for a Mr. Monro by the Edinburgh Presbytery, William voted that the matter should be dealt with locally by Dalkeith Presbytery, but was again outvoted 88 to 181. Finally, on an issue to do with a petition from the parish of Rhynie, William voted that it should be referred to a Commission - again, outvoted 63 to 155.


The year 1842 was the last Assembly to be completed with the Church of Scotland as an intact body. In the following year, 1843, Thomas Chalmers led almost two thirds of the adherents of the church in a walk out from St. Andrews's in Edinburgh, in an event that would become known as the Disruption, where he formed the Free Church of Scotland. William remained with the established church. The main issue behind the split was the very issue that William had voted on the year before - patronage, or the right of the state to choose the minister of a congregation. It is not yet clear whether William was present at the Disruption, though despite being Ruling Elder in 1841, 1842, 1846 and 1847, the evidence so far seems to suggest that an elder called John Ross was nominated for 1843 (NAS:CH2/585/1/376). In the minutes for July 4th 1843, just three months after the event, William is, however, recorded as having been at a session meeting which had demanded the summons of James Dewar, one of his fellow elders, to appear before them for having signed the protest against the established church. Dewar was subsequently dismissed from the list of elders, having thrown in his lot with the new Free Church.

William's inventiveness with metal devices for solving medical problems in the areas where angels feared to tread continued in 1845, when he once again wrote about an invention designed to help a male patient clear out his blocked bowels! The Lancet article that he penned shortly after, "Intus-Susceptio Succesfully Treated by the Injection of Tepid Water Through the Rectum", published on August 19th 1845, is far too long to reproduce here completely, but the following paragraph gives an idea of the problem he was faced with, and how he overcame it:

(August) 5th.- Was called early in the morning; (patient) had passed a very restless night; the pains in side and back, and hiccough, which came on during the night are very distressing; has vomited two or three times. Repeat enema. Twelve o'clock, noon: enema was simply returned; stercoraceous vomiting. The symptoms were now so urgent, and the duffering and prostration so great, that I made him aware of the danger he was in, and the necessity of having recourse to more powerful means for relief. The patient eagerly declared his willingness to submit to anything,a nd begged of me to proceed. I then had a tin tube, thirty-four inches long and three-sixteenths wide, fitted into the nozle of a large enema syringe, and a short piece of wider tube soldered on the other end, and fitted to receive the pipe of a small funnel. Through this I injected tepid water into the bowels through the rectum. The tube with the funnel was thirty-seven inches and a half in length, and when raised upright, produced a pressure upon the bowels of a column of water that height. When a little more than the second quart of water had passed, and the patient was calling out to stop, or he should burst, I observed a shock in the tube, accompanied with a gurgling noise, and a quicker descent of the water through the funnel. I now withdrew the tube, and at the pateint's earnest desire had him lifted to the night-stool, when the water was speedily ejected mixed with liquid feculent matter, with complete remission of the pain. In about twenty minutes afterwards he had to be again lifted to the night-stool, whent he remainder of the water was thrown off, mixed with feculent matter as formerly.

Once more, William's radical treatment greatly eased the suffering of the male patient, but on the following day, it had to be applied again. This time, William poured in two quarts of water, and when the last of the water was finished, he took the rubber tube and blew into it with all the force he could exert, until the patient again complained that he felt a "boiling in his stomach" and that once more he felt he was going to burst! But, miracle upon miracles, it worked, and the patient was cured of his painful blockage!!

In the 1851 census, William was recorded at Rose Terrace as a 65 year old senior general practitioner, born in Kinclaven. Besides his occupation, in an addition to the entry is a word in brackets - Edin, short for Edinburgh. It is not known whether this means he was working in Edinburgh, or something else. Also listed is his wife, Margaret, 64 years old and from Kinclaven in Perthshire, as well as Margaret McKenzie, his servant, aged 32, and from Logierait in Perthshire (GROS:1851/387/3).

Margaret eventually died at 11.10pm on September 10th 1858, at the family home of 17 Rose Terrace. The cause was disease in the liver and heart, and dropsy, from which she had suffered for many years. Tragically, with William being the physician, it was he who had to certify her cause of death, and to inform the Perth registrar on the 14th. The following notice appeared in the Perth Courier of September 16th 1858 (p.2, col.4):
At his house 17, Rose Terrace, on the 10th instant, after a long and severe illness, which she bore with exemplary patience and Christian fortitude, MARGARET, aged 73 years, the beloved wife of Wm. Henderson M.D., physician.
Margaret was subsequently buried in Greyfriars Cemetery in Perth (GROS:1858/387/01/488). The headstone was recorded as follows:
Erected by William Henderson, M.D., Physician in Perth, in memory of Margaret Morison, his dearly beloved wife, who died 10th September, 1858. A woman of fine genius, high attainments, and the most amiable disposition, with whom he passed 46 years of uninterrupted happiness.
Life's troubles over her body here rests, till the resurrection of the just.
For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

The grave of Margaret (and later William) Henderson, Greyfriars Cemetery, Perth

The loss of Margaret hit William hard. To help express his sorrow he composed a poem in her memory, which was later published in 1870 in his book "Byegone Days; or, Sketches Illustrative of the Manners and Customs of the Scottish Peasantry seventy years ago". The poem was topped with an introductory note proclaiming that it was "Written under deep anguish of mind for the loss of as amiable and as loving a Wife as ever lay in man’s bosom – who died on the 10th September, 1858". The following are the words:

As on my sleepless pillow, I tossed till dawn of day

My restless spirit wandered, To regions far away.


I thought upon the past, On childhood’s early day

- Who nor care, nor thought, nor toil, Save some new device of play.


I thought upon the past, When the buoyancy of youth,

Aided by brilliant fancy, Mocked the austerity of truth;


When mild dilates of experience Taught the thorny path to shun,

Nor in pleasure’s luring ways With headless steps to run.


The interests of the adviser Not mine I then did scan;

So contentment dwelt not there; And I longed to be a man.


I thought upon the past, When passions wild and strong

Impelled their hapless victim Youth’s breakers fierce among –


On conscience’ keen upbraidings On every lapse to sin;

And oh! the dreadful picture That swelled my soul within.


I thought upon the season In which maturer years

Had brought with them experience Which caused both hopes and fears –


On the folly of mankind, Deceit and endless strife,

That estrangest man from man, And embitters human life.


Although contentment dwelt not there, I did boldy face the blast,

Sighing for time misspent, Grieving for errors past.


I thought upon the future – Hope spread her golden wing.

Nor could all my past experience Repress her buoyant spring;


And each distant object smiled As erst like the radiant morn,

Though of all these brilliant rays Possession found them shorn.


But contentment dwelt not here; Nor can earth, from pole to pole,

Renew that faded image, Once shadowed on the soul!


I thought upon the time When the one best gift of Heaven,

In man’s degraded state, By God to me was given –


A creature all affection; A mind beyond compare;

A smile for ever cheerful, That lightened every care;


A heart o’erflowing with kindness To every thing of life;

A brilliant lofty genius – A model of a wife.


O God of all perfection! To me may strength be given

To say; Thy will be done on earth As it is in Heaven!


O bend, O break this stubborn heart! So racked with grief and pain;

Lord, teach that what to me is loss To her’s eternal gain!


O fill me heart with love divine! To me that peace be given

Which stills the stormy sea of life, And lifts the soul to Heaven.


On, on thou troubled spirit, Fly past the gates of light

And leave this weary world Far distant in thy flight!


Still I thought upon the future  Till I found myself to be

An atom, ever floating On a boundless, endless sea!


A something inconceivable, That could not cease to be –

A disembodied spirit; Part of eternity!


Yet onward still I sped Through realms of endless space,

Creation’s varied works, With eager scan, to trace.


Enjoyment high was here; But whence the dread control

Can check the boundless inquiries Of man’s immortal soul?


And onward still I pressed, Till I reached the Throne most high,

Where the seraph veils his face From the bright effulgent ray.


Here love divine to man, In ample, endless store!

Here her I sought I found We’ll praise, and we’ll adore!



In the 1861 census, 76 year old William was recorded as a widower at 17 Rose Terrace, Perth, working as a "Physician consulting M. D. University of St. Andrews". Also present were his unmarried 30 year old niece, Eliza Henderson, born in Errol, and two servants: 40 year old cook Margaret McKenzie was again present, as was a 14 year old general servant Catherine Stewart, from Stanley in Perthshire. The census also tells us that the house had eight rooms with one or more windows (GROS:1861/386/3).

In the Medical Register for 1865, the earliest held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, the following biographical entry is recorded for William:

HENDERSON, WILLIAM, 17 Rose Terr. Perth - M.D.  St And 1810; L.M. Edin 1809; (Edin) Author of "Rep Cases of Small-pox, being first Appear. of Disease, epidem., after Discov. of Vaccin.,  with Remarks &c." 1819; "Brief Facts as to Effects of Intemper. om Phys. and Intellect. Powers of Man" 1830; "Plain Rules for Improv. Health, &c." 2nd edit 1865; Contrib. "Case of Caesar. Sect. where Child was saved, " Edin. Med. Journ. 1821; "Case of Amaurosis," Ibid. 1822; "History of Case of Spontaneous Rupture of Bowels, where Life was protracted under extraord. circumstances" Ibid. 1823; "New and Successful Method of treating Dis. of Prostate Gland, " Lancet 1841; "Treatm. of Intus-susception" Ibid. 1845.


In the Valuation Roll for Perth in 1865-66, William was noted as the proprietor of 17 Rose Street and as paying an annual rent of 30 (NAS: VR68/11/10).

On March 30th 1866, William must have been devastated to hear of the brutal murder of his niece Janet Rogers (nee Henderson), at his nephew William's farm in Forgandenny, Perthshire, Mount Stewart Farm. The event became headline news all over Scotland as The Mount Stewart Murder, and as The Bridge of Earn Murder. From several of the newspaper accounts of the atrocity it is stated that William junior had believed his sister was not to be found initially at the farm when he returned home from the market in Perth, because she may have been away to Perth responding to a letter from Dr. Henderson. From this we can deduce that such a letter was expected, and hence William senior must have arranged that when Janet visited her brother at his farm, she would also visit her uncle in Perth, just up the road. Her uncle was no doubt shocked at the sudden news of her death, and undoubtedly followed the developments of the investigation keenly, to the point of the trial of the main suspect, Crichton, in April 1867.

William noted in a card for King James VI Hospital 1868-69

As a kirk elder, William was noted on a series of cards dated 1865-1866 to 1870 as an administrator and trustee of the King James VI Hospital in Perth. The card also states that he would have attended quarterly meetings in this capacity on the second Monday of every February, May, August and November.
In August 1868, William visited Greenfield, on the shores of Loch Garry near Invergarry, and again composed a poem in honour of the occasion:
Hail! Garry, queen of Scotia's glens,
For rivers, lakes, and lofty bens,
Where morn is hail'd with muir-cock's crow,
Which black-cock's answer far below -
Where wild deer sport among the hills,
And quench their thirst at crystal rills -
Where myrtles vie with heather bells.
To scent the air that sweeps the vales,
Which wynd 'mong mountains wreathed in shrouds
That tower above the fleecy clouds!
Where the eagle, soaring hig,
Tends her youthful progeny -
And hills on every side scarr'd deep,
Down which, in floods, fierce torrents sweep.
To stray through scenes so wild, so grand,
Delights me in this mountain land.
Far away from haunts of men,
Deep in yonder wooded glen,
Where the waters dash, unseen,
Down into that dark ravine,
Come at it, with a headlong leap,
Roaring o'er that giddy steep,
Where the fox retires to rest,
And wild birds build securetheir nest.
Spring builds here her greenest bower;
Summer opes her earliest flower;
The rainbow here, through vapoury spray,
Shows forth its splendour day by day
Through clouds which riseth ever,
O'er this ceaseless, struggling river,
That loud as ocean's wildest roars
O'er cliff and rock the water pours -
Thund'ring through the pools below,
Swift as arrows from the bow -
Splashing, dashing, silent never,
Headlong rolls the endless river.
Thus toss'd and troubled in their wake,
These waters now in quiet take
Their way to slumber in the lake.
Like them, when past life's thorny road,
May I find blissful peace with God.

In the Perth Valuation Roll for 1869 to 1870, it is noted that the rental value of William's house at Rose Terrace was 30 a year (A. K. Bell Library, Perth).

In 1870, William was entering the final year of his life, and it would seem that he was finally beginning to fear for his own mortality. As his age increased, it would appear that his religious devotion never wavered, as evident from a poem written just a few months before his death.
Two seeds fell on a clod of earth, the one
That of the luscious forbidden fruit,
The other that of the fiery Indian capsicum,
Both gifts to man, in sultry climes,
From God, who knows his wants,
And with a bounteous hand supplies them.
These seeds sank into their native earth,
And in their death seeking new life -
Warmed by the sun's life-giving rays-
Fanned by the balmy air wafted on zypher's wing -
Wet by the power of rosey morning dew,
These seeds struck out their tiny rutlets;
And each for itself, from this inert mass,
Selects the means of growth and sustenance
For perfecting fruits of qualities so opposite.
But how, or by what means, is this effected?
Aye, there's the mystery which mocks
Man's boasted power of intellect, and makes him stand aghast!
Nor shall he know until the promised
Heavenly body and expanding mind is given,
In yonder world where sin's dark cloud
Shall no longer dim God's gracious face;
Then, if it shall be for man's advantage,
It may please God no longer to conceal the mystery.
Till then, let us stand in silent awe
At God's omnipotent power and wisdom.
4th March, 1870.

On May 28th 1870, William, by now an elderly gentleman of 86 years of age, had a Deed of Settlement drawn up to be enacted in the event of his death. The details concerning his gifts to his family are of great interest, clearly indicating where his favourites lay in the family! It also gives a lot of detail on his domestic life - he had a servant for whom he had a great deal of respect; a favourite niece, Eliza, who actually lived with him and his wife for a time; a wife who was an accomplished artist; and an interest in the Jacobite pretenders who had caused the uprisings of the previous century - was he a secret admirer?! Of lasting importance, is his wish to have a fund set up in perpetuity for the betterment of male pensioners in the town who needed financial assistance.

The following is a transcription of the original will in its entirety:

I Doctor William Henderson Physician in Perth, Considering it to be my duty to settle my affairs in case of my death as well as for the love favour and affection which I bear to the persons afternamed as Beneficiaries under these presents and having full confidence in the ability and integrity of the persons afternamed as Trustees to execute the Trust hereby reposed in them hereby give, grant, assign and Dispone to and in favour of William Henderson residing at New Scone my nephew, Archibald MacDonald Merchant in Perth, The Reverend Andrew Anderson my Nephew and George Gray Junior writer in Perth and to the survivor or survivors of them who shall accept and to the heirs of such survivors and to such other person or persons as they may assume as Trustees in virtue of the powers aftercontained the major part accepting and surviving and resident in Scotland at the time being always a quorum as Trustees for the ends uses and purposes aftermentioned and their assignees, All and sundry Lands and Heritages goods and gear debts and sums of money and in general the whole means and estate heritable and moveable real & personal of whatever kind or nature or wheresoever situated the same may be presently belonging and addebted or which shall belong and be addebted to me at the time of my death with the whole vouchers and instructions writs titles and securities of and concerning my said whole Estate and Effects and all that has followed or may be competent to follow thereon But in trust always for the ends uses and purposes aftermentioned videlicetFirst, That my said Trustees shall from the first and readiest of my said means and Estate pay all my just and lawful debts deathbed and funeral expenses. Second. That my said Trustees shall thereafter dispose of as much of my property as may be required to realise the sum of Six Thousand pounds which sum is to form the foundation of an Institution hereafter mentioned to be called “Doctor William Henderson’s Mortification”. Third. That my Trustees shall at the first term of Whitsunday or Martinmas happening six months after my death make payment of the following legacies hereby bequeathed by me to the persons afternamed videlicet. To my nephew the foresaid William Henderson the sum of One Thousand Pounds. To my Brother Alexander Henderson the sum of Five hundred Pounds. To my Brother James Henderson the sum of Five hundred Pounds. To my nephew James Henderson son of the said Alexander Henderson the sum of Five hundred Pounds. To each of the Daughters of my said Brother Alexander the sum of One hundred Pounds. To my niece Isabella Henderson the sum of One hundred Pounds. To each of my nieces Janet and Isabella Fenwick Daughters of my late Sister Agnes the sum of Fifty Pounds and to their Brother Peter Fenwick Nineteen Guineas. To my niece Eliza Henderson wife of the said Archibald Macdonald who for many years resided with me in consideration of the unremitting attention and kindness I leave to her the sum of One thousand Pounds. And I further bequeath to the said Eliza Henderson all the furniture of the room which she used to occupy in my house and may be there at the time of my death. Also I leave and bequeath to the said Eliza Henderson the eight day clock standing in the lobby of my house, whole bed and table linen, one dozen of silver tea spoons, one half dozen silver table spoons, one half dozen silver dessert spoons, one silver dividing spoon, one pair of silver sugar tongs, two silver salt spoons together with my second service of tea plates. And I hereby bequeath and appoint my said Trustees to deliver the following works of art to my dear sister Mrs Jane Morrison or Gray videlicet three crayon portraits hanging in the room lately occupied by the said Eliza Henderson in my house. Also “Bolten Abbey” “Duke of Argyle” “Child feeding” and the following oil paintings videlicet “King James”, “King Charles” “John Knox” “George Buchanan” and the “Spanish Boy”. Also the chalk drawing of the “Winter’s Tale” and all the miniatures including an unfinished portrait of my late dear wife and oil of myself. Also Babyones Plates and all the drawings sketch books and drawing materials which were the works of and belonged to my late dear wife her sister. Further I hereby Legate and Bequeath to Christian Henderson or Finlay my niece the sum of One hundred Pounds including the jus mariti of her husband. And declaring that the same shall not be subject to arrestment by her or her husband’s creditors, but being purily alimentary shall be paid by my said Trustees to herself alone and in such partial payments and at such times as they may consider most for her advantage. And I bequeath to Annie her daughter the sum of One hundred Pounds upon the precise same conditions as the Legacy left to her mother. And I legate and bequeath to the sons of my niece Margaret Henderson the sum of nineteen Guineas each. To William Henderson McCash son of …. McCash Shoemaker in Errol, and to David Robertson formerly residing in Glasgow now in Canada nineteen Guineas each. To each of my Trustees I leave the sum of Ten pounds. To the City and County of Perth Infirmary I leave the sum of One hundred Pounds, to be funded to the Indigent Old Men’s Society in Perth the sum of nineteen Guineas and to the Fechney Institution the sum of Nineteen Guineas. But in the event of my paying one or more of these three last legacies during my life the same shall be held to be cancelled and revoked from the settlement. To Margaret Mackenzie my faithful servant provided she is in my service at the time of my death, I leave the sum of One hundred Pounds, together with the bed and bedding and all the furniture in the room in which she sleeps excepting always the china and stoneware therein, which legacy of One hundred Pounds and Articles aforesaid shall be paid and delivered to her free of legacy duty and expenses of discharge. To the aforesaid Reverend Andrew Anderson Licentiate of the United Presbyterian Church I leave the sum of Six hundred Pounds along with my gold watch and silver plate except in so far as the same be bequeathed to my niece Eliza Henderson as before mentioned. Also my diamond ring and all my books and manuscripts I leave to my Brother James Henderson, all my wearing apparel to Annie Rodger daughter of the deceased Janet Henderson or Rodger I leave the sum One hundred Pounds and to each of her sisters Fifty Pounds, to Alexander Mackenzie my nephew son of my sister Isabella the sum of nineteen Guineas, to Janet Fenwick for herself the sum of Fifty Pounds, and a further sum of Fifty Pounds to be applied by her for the benefit of her deceased sister Emily’s Orphan family. And Lastly to each of the five daughters of Peter Anderson at Gellyburn, Murthly, the sum of Fifty Pounds each. And all the above legacies in so far as not otherwise specially provided shall be payable by said Trustees to the said several Legatees at the first term of Whitsunday or Martinmas which may happen six months after my death. And for the purposes of the said Trust and the realrying of the foresaid sum of Six Thousand Pounds and payment of the said Legacies, I hereby give full power to my said Trustess and their foresaids to sell and dispose of the whole Estate heritable and moveable above conveyed either by Public Roup or private bargain and that at such prices and on such terms and conditions as they may think most advantageous to the Trust. And I hereby appoint my said Trustees and their foresaids after fully paying or providing for the payment of my said debts and expenses the money required for the aforesaid mortification and specific Legacies above bequeathed and any other Legacies which I may leave and bequeath by any writing under my hand, though neither holograph nor tested if sufficiently indicative of my intention together with the whole expenses incurred by my said Trustees in the execution of the Trust and winding up the same shall pay over whatever residue may then remain in their hands to the aforesaid Eliza Henderson wife of the said Archibald Macdonald and the Reverend Andrew Anderson whom I hereby appoint as my Residuary Legatees in the proportion of Three fifths to the former and Two fifths to the latter, And that so soon as it may be convenient for the said Trustees to wind up this Trust. And I hereby appoint my said Trustees and the acceptors or acceptor, survivors or survivor of them to be my Executors with power to give up Inventories of my personal estate and to confirm the same with all other powers belonging to the office of Executry including all others from that office. Further I hereby declare that my said Trustees shall have powers to nominate or assume into the Trust any person or persons they may think proper to act along with them as Trustee or Trustees. And I declare that the person or persons so appointed shall have the same powers and rights as Trustees as if they had been therein appointed by myself. And my said Trustees shall have it in their power to appoint one of themselves or any other persons they may think suitable to act as their Factor and Agent in managing the affairs entrusted to them by these presents and who shall receive a reasonable remuneration for his professional trouble and responsibility for whom they shall not be any further liable than that he is habit and repute responsible when so appointed. And it is hereby also declared that my said Trustees shall not be liable singuli in soliduus but each only for his actual intromissions. And I hereby revoke all former Settlements made and executed by me at any time heretofore Reserving always my own lifement of the whole estate and Effector heritable and moveable real and personal above conveyed with full power to me at any time during my life and even on deathbed to alter innovate or revoke these presents in whole or in part as I may see proper, dispensing with the delivery thereof. And declaring these presents to be good valid and effectual though found lying by me at the time of my death or in the custody of any other person for my behoof. Further as it is my intention to found a mortification for the benefit of a certain class of Indigent old men out of the Revenue which may accrue out of the Investment of the foresaid sum of Six thousand Pounds, I now hereby indicate generally the terms and conditions on which I would wish the same to be instituted and carried on in perpetuity videlicet First. The Institution to be called “Doctor William Henderson’s Mortification” and in the first instance placed under the management of my four Trustees before named in conjunction with the person whom they are to appoint as their Factor which Factor when so appointed and the person who may succeed him in that office shall always have co-ordinate powers with the Trustees but the Factor shall only be elected for a period of five years though eligible for re-election, Second, that the Board of management being this composed of five persons shall always continue to be so and upon the death or resignation of any one of the members those surviving shall immediately proceed to fill up the vacancy the majority of the Board in voting shall always be a quorum, and in the event of an equality of votes, the members standing at the top of the list for the time being shall have the casting vote, Third, That the foresaid capital sum of Six thousand Pounds shall be invested in good heritable security Debeulume Bonds of First Class Railway Companies or such other securities as may be approved of by the majority of the Board, but the Title Deeds shall only be taken in name of the Trustees for the time being and their successors in Office for behoof of the said Institution.  Fourth. That my object and intention being to give partial assistance to indigent old men I instruct the Board of management to elect as the first recipients of my County three male persons as annuitants thereon each to receive twenty pounds Sterling yearly payable half yearly in advance, four male persons to receive Fifteen pounds Sterling yearly as above and eight male persons to receive Ten pounds Sterling yearly as above commencing the said payments at the first term of Whitsunday or Martinmas happening twelve months from the date of my death subject to the provisions aftermentioned that the Board of management shall always have it in their power before filling up vacancies in any of the several classes of annuitants to satisfy themselves that the Revenue at the time is sufficient to admit of a re-election and if not to postpone a new election until it becomes so. Fifth. I reserve to myself the power of selecting the nominees for first appointment whether male or female and expect the Board of management to respect such a list as I may leave in my desk however informal if clearly indicative of my wish. Sixth. I hereby declare it to be my wish and intention that the persons eligible to these annuities shall be natives of and resident in the County of Perth shall not be under the age of Sixty years or good moral character and in such circumstances of life as would render the assistance of a small annuity to supplement their own means of advantage in procuring some of the comforts of life; Persons however who are receiving parochial relief unless of the name of Henderson shall not be eligible. Seventh. Applicants who can establish their relationship to me or of the surname of Henderson and otherwise qualified shall caeteris paribus be preferred to strangers and similar preference shall be given first to natives of my own Parish of Kinclaven where I was born and second persons resident in the East Church Parish of Perth, and third who reside in any of the other Parishes of Perth, all of these having been resident in their respective Parishes for a period of five years continuously. Eighth I hereby declare and direct that if any of the persons elected by the said Board of management shall be guilty of any act of immorality proved to their satisfaction such annuitants shall immediately and ipso facto lose all right to his annuity and forthwith be struck off the Annuitant Roll. Ninth. The said Board of management shall have power to make such regulations and bye laws as they deem proper with reference to their periodical meetings advertising for application and otherwise and the Trustees foresaid shall have full power to elect a duly qualified person to complete the board but for ______ years only, unless re-elected and to make him such remuneration for his responsibility and services as they may deem proper and reasonable. And I hereby consent to the Registration hereof in the Books of Council and Session or others for preservation. In Witness whereof I have subscribed these presents written on this and the six preceding pages by John Richardson Elder apprentice to George Gray Solicitor in Perth at Perth the twenty eighth day of May Eighteen Hundred and Seventy years before these Witnesses the said John Richardson Elder and John Duff Cameron also apprentice to the said George Gray


(Signed) Wm Henderson John R Elder Witness, Jno D. Cameron Witness.


It was William's intention that one of the four Trustees to his proposed Mortification fund be his favoured nephew, William Henderson. In 1866, four years prior to the writing of his uncle's will, this nephew had been wrongfully accused of the murder of his sister at his farm in Forgandenny. Although he was cleared of the murder, the true culprit was never caught. But several months after his uncle, Dr. William Henderson, had recorded his will, something had changed in the relationship between the two and William senior changed the terms of his will by the addition of a codicil on June 6th 1870. Perhaps William had harboured some doubts about his nephew's innocence?  Or perhaps he had begun to be concerned by his nephew's mental state, which would ultimately see him committed to the Lunatic Asylum in Perth, where he would eventually pass away himself in 1890? For whetever the reason, William junior was to be replaced on the Board of the new Mortification, and his monetary gift was to be reduced by almost a half.


The following is the change that William made to his will:

I Doctor William Henderson before designed having since executing the foregoing Deed of Settlement seen cause for altering the same do now in virtue of the powers reserved by me Revoke and Recall the nomination of William Henderson my nephew to be one of my Trustees and Executors and in place of leaving him a Legacy of One thousand Pounds I hereby reduce the same to Six hundred Pounds and in room of the said William Henderson I hereby nominate and appoint Thomas Couper Manager of the Dundee Perth and London Shipping Company to be a Trustee and Executor giving granting and committing to him all the powers pertaining to these offices as the same were conferred on the said William Henderson and his colleagues by the aforesaid Deed of Settlement. Further I leave and bequeath to Alexander Campbell of the firm of MacDonald and Campbell Merchants in Perth the sum of nineteen Guineas as a small mark of my regard for his kindness to me. And the like sum of nineteen Guineas to Robert Christie Surgeon in Perth and having cancelled a bill for One hundred Pounds due to me by David Robertson formerly residing in Glasgow now in Canada and transmitted it to him, I hereby Revoke and Recall the legacy of nineteen Guineas left to him in my Deed of Settlement and with respect to various works of art bequeathed to Mrs Jane Morrison or Gray I hereby declare that all of these excepting the three crayon Portraits shall duly be retained by her in lifement and upon her death revert to my Trustees to be by them made over to the curators of the Perth Antiquarian Society and exhibited there to the public as evidence of the versatile genius of the artist. In witness whereof I have subscribed this codicil written upon this eighth page of the said Deed of Settlement by John Richardson Elder Apprentice to George Gray Solicitor in Perth at Perth the sixth day of June Eighteen hundred and seventy years before these witnesses the said John Richardson Elder and John Duff Cameron also Apprentice to the said George Gray

(Signed) Wm Henderson,  John R Elder Witness,  Jno D. Cameron Witness.


William died on October 13th 1870 at 11.50am, in his home of 17 Rose Terrace in Perth. The cause was a two month illness, as certified by the aforementioned Dr. Robert Christie. The informant to the Perth registrar two days later was William's nephew-in-law, Archibald McDonald, who lived at 18 Marshall Place (GROS:1870/387/00/0506). The following general; death notice was recorded in both the Perth Courier of October 18th 1870 (p.3 col.2) and the Perth Journal and Constitutional of October 20th 1870 (p.8):


At 17 Rose Terrace, Perth, on the 13th instant, Dr. William Henderson, in the 87th year of his age. Friends will please accept of this intimation.


Both papers expanded on this notice with full obituaries. In the Perth Courier, the following was recorded:



Our obituary again contains the name of an old and long and well-known citizen - Dr. Henderson. After a last illness of a few weeks' duration, Dr Henderson died on Thursday last, at the ripe age of eighty-seven. Till very lately the Doctor continued wonderfully hale; and took almost unabated interest in the current topics of the day. Although a very prominent citizen for many years, he never took any very prominent part in public affairs. He had very decided opinions, however, upon all public questions, and never hesitated, when called upon, to express them. In politics he was a tried and consistent liberal; and when able to do little more, he took his placein Mr Kinnaird's committee upon the occasion of the hon. gentleman's last public meeting with his constituents. In ecclesiastical matters he was a staunch adherent and supporter of the Church of Scotland, of which he was an elder, and discharged the duties of this office uninterruptedly for a period of upwards of fifty years. Some little time ago, on the completion of his fiftieth year as an elder, it was proposed by his colleagues in the session to take some public notice of this event, and make some public acknowledgement of his long-continued and highly valued services: but this the Doctor declined. Of his private walk and conversation, as a Christian gentleman it is not for us to speak further than to say that it was strictly consistent with his public profession. In his profession the Doctor stood well, and enjoyed a large practice. He acquired both fortune and fame by the preparation of a stomachic, which was, and we believe is, in universal use. Upon occasion of the first visitation of cholera to this city, he published a little work as to both personal and public sanitary considerations, which proved of much value. In 1831 he published a volume of Rules for the Improvement and Prolongation of Health, which met with such acceptance as to call for more than one edition. Our own columns have also been indebted to his pen. From time to time, we have had most interesting narratives of tours which were severally collected and published. He also contributed a series of Sketches of Scottish Life and Character, which were much appreciated, and on completion, were likewise published in the shape of a handsome foolscap octavo. His remains are to be interred to-day. Few contemporaries survive to lament his loss, but, notwithstanding, the decease of Dr Henderson will leave many blanks and cherished memories throughout the town.


And in the Perth Journal and Constitutional:



In the obituary of our paper to-day will be found recorded the death of Dr Wm. Henderson, which took place at his residence, Rose Terrace, on Thursday last week, at the ripe age of eighty-seven years. The doctor was a native of the parish of Kinclaven, and became a medical practitioner in Perth in 1806 - sixty-four years ago. He was no ordinary man, and many years ago he gave to the world his medicine known as the "Concentrated Stomachic Elixir," which has become one of the patent medicines now in universal use, both in this country and the United States of America. In 1855, Dr Henderson published a still popular work on the improvement of health. He was a staunch adherent of our National Church, and was an elder of the East Church and parish for upwards of half-a-century, but failing health obliged him to retire from so responsible an office a few years since. The Doctor was an old Whig in principle, and uniformly supported what is called "the Liberal side of politics," yet it cannot be doubted that he was a firm supporter of the British Constitution, both in Church and State.


William was subsequently buried in Greyfriars Cemetery alongside his wife on October 19th, at 2.00pm. The cost of the mort cloth was 26 pence, and the cost of the burial was one shilling and sixpence (A. K. Bell Burial Registers).


Five days after his burial, he Kirk Session (Middle Church) recorded the following tribute to him within its minutes (NAS:CH2/585/2/381):

At Perth the twenty fourth day of October Eighteen hundred and seventy


Which day the Kirk Session of the East Church met and was constituted by the Rev. Robert Milne M. A .Moderator pro tempore, sederunt with him Dr Barclay and Messrs Sidey Brown, Nells, Thomson, Grainger, Burns, Smart, Elders.


The Session of the East Church Perth at this their first meeting since the death of Dr William Henderson and before proceeding to business resolve thus to place on their records this brief tribute of respect to the memory of their departed brother. Dr Henderson had attained the ripe age of 87. For fifty years he had been an acting and an active Elder of the Church and by many years the Senior member of the Eldership in Perth. During this long period it was ever his anxious desire to perform the duties of his office. With the good hand of providence he was never once absent at the Seasons of Communion and thus for one hundred times did he on these occasions officiate as an elder. For many years he had the duty of allotting to his brother Elders the respective parts they had to fill at the table service. So long as health permitted him he took an active share in the management of the public institutions connected with the Church. On several occasions he was representative Elder in Presbytery Synod and General Assembly. In his professional life he was well and widely known for his contributions to the healing art. In the walks of literature and the advancement of the fine arts, he was not unknown. In his ordinary walk and conversation he was the humble follower of Christ. No words indeed can better express the even tenor of his Christian life than those of his favourite paraphrase which he often caused to be recited and sung to him on the closing scene of his deathbed.


“I’m not ashamed to own my Lord

Or to defend his cause.

Maintain the glory of his cross

And honour all his laws”


The Session direct that a copy of this part of this day’s Minute be transmitted to Mrs McDonald the niece of Dr. Henderson to be communicated to his other relatives.


Upon his death, the following inventory of William's possessions, totalling some 19,972, 8s and 10d, was recorded. In today's money, this amount would be worth approximately 1,200,000.

Inventory of the Personal Estate of William Henderson M. D. 1870


Inventory of the Personal Estate wheresoever situated of William Henderson M. D. of number seventeen Rose Terrace, Perth, who died there on the thirteenth day of October Eighteen hundred and Seventy.


I. Scotland.


1. Cash in the house__25

2. Household furniture, silver plate and other effects in the deceased’s House conform to Appraisement of Duncan McFarlane Licensed Appraiser__122, 2s and 8d.

3. Balance due the deceased on an account current with the Bank of Scotland at Perth__455, 11s and 3d.

Interest to date of death__3, 7 and 9d.

Interest to date of Inventory & Oath__4s and 6d

4. Debt due to the deceased upon the following Document Bond and Assignation in Security by David Robertson of Montreal Canada dated__200

Deduct one half thereof the estimated value of the debt being only of per 1__100

Interest nil.

5.Shares in the following public companies:

Standard Life Assurance Company Edinburgh Ninety Shares at Seventy three pounds__65

Dundee Perth and London Shipping Company Dundee One hundred and twenty shares at Thirty three pounds__3060

Perth Gas Light Company Forty A shares at Thirty Pounds__1200

Forty B. shares at five pounds__200

Perth Wheaten Bread Society Five shares at twenty three shillings__5, 15s

Note. The above are all estimated ann div.

6. Stock on the following Railway Companies:

Three Hundred Pounds Caledonian Railway Company Scottish North Eastern Five per cent preference Stock at One hundred and five pounds ten shillings__316, 10s

One hundred and forty pounds Caledonian Railway Company Scottish Central 4 per cent Preference Stock at Ninety eight Pounds two shillings__137, 18s

Seven hundred and fifty pounds of the Dundee Perth and Aberdeen Junction Railway Company at Sixty eight pounds ten shillings__513,15s

Five hundred pounds 4 per cent Perpetual preference Stock of the Scottish North Eastern Railway Company now Caledonian Railway Company at Ninety seven pounds fifteen shillings__488, 15s

Sixteen hundred Pounds of the Scottish Midland Railway Company now the Caledonian Railway Company at One hundred and forty pounds__2240

Nineteen hundred and eighty pounds of the Scottish Central Railway Company now the Caledonian Railway Company at One hundred and forty pounds__2772.

Note. The above are all estimated ann dividend.

7. Bank Stock

Ten shares of the Central Bank of Scotland now merged into the Bank of Scotland equal to Two hundred and eighty Pounds Stock of the latter at Two hundred & sixty five Pounds__743

Reversion from Central Bank at final winding up valued at 1

8. The following Cash Documents Dividend Warrants of Caledonian Railway Company

Due Thirteenth October Eighteen hundred and seventy__70, 2s and 11d

Due Thirteenth October Eighteen hundred and seventy__71,1s and 9d


Total__19,972, 8s and 10d



England and Ireland

No Estate


At Perth the thirty first day of October Eighteen hundred and seventy. In presence of William Murray One of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Perth Appeared Archibald McDonald one of the Executors of the deceased William Henderson M.D. of number seventeen Rose Terrace, Perth, foresaid who being solemnly sworn and examined Deponed that the said William Henderson died at number seventeen, Rose Terrace, Perth, on the Nineteenth day of October Eighteen hundred and seventy and the Deponent has entered upon the possession & management of the deceased’s Estate as Executor nominated by him along with the Reverend Andrew Anderson nephew to the deceased George Gray Junior, writer in Perth and Thomas Couper Manager of the Dundee Perth and London Shipping Company in a Trust Disposition and Deed of Settlement dated the twenty eighth day of May Eighteen hundred and seventy with codicil dated sixth day of June Eighteen hundred and seventy and Registered in the Sheriff Court Books of Perthshire the twenty first day of October same year, an extract whereof is now exhibited and signed by the Deponent and the said Justice of Peace of this date as relative hereto. That the Deponent does not know of any Testamentary Settlement or other writing relative to the disposal of the deceased’s Personal Estate or Effects or any part thereof other than his said Trust Disposition and Deed of Settlement. That the foregoing Inventory each page of which is signed by the Deponent and the said Justice of the Peace of this date as relative hereto, is a full and complete Inventory of the Personal Estate and Effects of the said deceased William Henderson wheresoever situated and belonging or due to him beneficially at the time of his death on so far as the same has come to the Deponent’s knowledge. That the value at this date of the said Personal Estate and Effects situated in the United Kingdom including the proceeds accrued  thereon down to this date is Eighteen thousand Pounds and under Twenty thousand Pounds Sterling. That Confirmation of the said Personal Estate is required in favour of the Deponent and the said Reverend Andrew Anderson George Gray Junior and Thomas Couper. All which is truth as the Deponent shall answer to God

(Signed) Archd. McDonald,  William M. Farney J.P.


Following his death, a transcript of the deed of mortification established by William in 1870 was copied into the kirk session minutes for Kinclaven parish (still retained by the parish), This includes the appended footnote, confirming that William had been raised at Airdrum farm in his childhood:

Dr William Henderson who executed the above deed was born in Airntully in 1785 & was the son of Peter Henderson Farmer of Airdrum. He was practically all his life a medical Doctor in the city of Perth & having been very successful in this way, thought it his duty to do something to help indigent old men & mortified accordingly the sum of 6000 for this purpose (as per the above deed).


Finally, in A. R. Urquhart's "Auld Perth", the following entry is placed for William in the Literature in Perth section, which includes the author giving William a bit of a ticking off!!!:

The frontispiece of Bygone Days

Henderson, William, M. D.


Plain Rules for Improving the Health of the Delicate, Preserving the Health of the Strong, and Prolonging the Life of All. 2nd edition (1st edition 1831). London, Simpkins, Marshall & Co.; Edinburgh, Maclayren & Stewart; Perth, James Dewar & Son. C. G. Sidey, Printer, Perth. 1856 [U.]


- (An Octogenerian).


Byegone Days; or, Sketches Illustrative of the Manners and Customs of the Scottish Peasantry seventy years ago. A few copies printed for the author's friends, as remembrances. With verses at the end. Pr. by Dewar, Mitchell, & Co. Height, 7" 1870. [A. W.]

(The incidents of this tale are founded on fact, but so mixed with fiction that the value of the book is seriously diminished. If Dr. Henderson had written his reminiscences, the result would have been preferable. He created a mortification for the benefit of the poor in Stanley and Perth, which is still administered.)


William's Mortification fund was duly set up, and continues to operate to this day, where it is still known as Dr. William Henderson's Mortification.