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Edmund Henderson

Lt-Colonel Sir Edmund Yeamans Walcott Henderson KCB (1821-1896) had a commission in the Royal Engineers, and was Comptroller-General of Convicts 1850-63, having arrived (as Captain Henderson RE) on board the barque Scindian, with the first convicts and members of the Enrolled Pensioner Force.

He designed the original parts of Fremantle Prison - notably the gatehouse - and the Asylum. The Knowle, now part of Fremantle Hospital, was designed by him and built as his family home.

His first wife, Mary Murphy,* whom he had married in 1848 in Halifax NS, died in Fremantle in 1855, having given birth to one son before the couple left England in 1849. (The son went on to a career in the Royal Navy.)

Henderson returned to England in 1856, where he married a second woman, Maria Hindle, in 1857, before returing to WA in 1858. They had six daughters.

After his return to England, he was Home Office Surveyor-General of Prisons from 1863 to 1869, and Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, head of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1869 to 1886.

henderson painting

This Romantic painting of Perth (Mt Eliza on the left, Point Belches on the right) was done about 1861 by Henderson, who was clearly an accomplished part-time painter. The photo of the painting, as exhibited in the 'Out of the West' show at the National Gallery in March 2012, was published in The Australian newspaper.


HENDERSON (Sir) Edmund Yeamans Walcott, b. 1821, d. 1896, son of Vice Admiral George H. & wife Frances, arr. 1.6.1850 per Scindian with wife & chd. bringing the first convicts for WA. Dep. 7.2.1863 per York with family. Comptroller General of Convicts in WA. m. 1st 1849 Mary b. 1826 d. 27.12.1855 (Frem), m. 2nd c.1856 Maria Elizabeth. Chd. D.E.B. (Lt. R.N. d. 1875 England), Mary Augusta Walcott b. 1858, Maud b. 71859, Isobel Grace b. 1861, dtr. b. 1862. Frem. 2 Town Lots 1864. Member of Exec. Council. Educ. Bruton Grammar School, Somerset & Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. Commemorated in brass plaque 1979 in Perth pavement for year 1862.

*There is an egregious 'typo' in Mary Henderson's gravestone (shown above) where the semi-literate engraver has carved 'Memompry' instead of 'Memory'.

hendersonReferences and Links

Birman, Wendy 1972, Bio in ADB.

Cygnet [Cyril Bryan], 'Scotland Yard. Founded by a Perth Official', West Australian 17 May 1934.

Campbell, Rob 2017, Henderson & Coy, Royal Engineers & the Convict Establishment Fremantle, WA, 1850-1872, School of Design, UWA.

Conole, Peter nd, Bio of Henderson at the WA Sappers and Miners site.

Conole, Peter & Diane Oldman, 'Edmund Henderson: Comptroller-General of WA Convicts', Western Ancestor, vol. 13, no. 5 March 2016.

Cullity, Olimpia 2016, 'Reform and punishment: Fremantle Prison, 1850 to 1891', Studies in Western Australian History, 31: 63-79.


Webb, David & David Warren 2005, 'Edmund Henderson, from Fremantle Prison to Scotland Yard', in Fremantle: Beyond the Round House, Longley, Fremantle: 80-81.

Wikipedia page

Entry for Henderson at the WA Sappers and Miners site (Diane Oldman).

Garry Gillard | New: 17 June, 2015 | Now: 6 March, 2024