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See also: Ron Forsyth 2019, 'John Henderson, no. 1623' , reprinted from Fremantle Shipping News, 2 August.

John Henderson

John Henderson, of Shetland origin, was born in Edinburgh. He broke into and entered a pawnbroker's shop in Leith and was sentenced to 14 years transportation. He arrived in Fremantle in 1853 on the Dudbrook. Gaining his ticket of leave in 1854, he began work as a sailmaker in the Commisariat. He was joined by his wife, Anne, and children Laurence and Marion, in 1857, tho she died in 1860. By that time, Henderson was the keeper of a boarding-house in Mouat Street which he called 'Auld Reekie' in memory of his native Edinburgh. Writing in 1919, Hitchcock remembered the establishment (see below). Henderson also had built a shop and residence on the corner of Pakenham and Collie Street, where the Oceanic Hotel building is now. He was an active member of the Working Men's Association, and provided a reading room for members on his premses. The building was also utilised for three years as a meeting-place for the Fremantle Town Trust, as Ewers records: "Originally the Town Trust had met in the Court House, but when in May 1866 the government resident, Mr Charles Simmonds, requested them to find other accommodation, they met for three years in Mr Henderson’s room at the back of the Customs House." He himself was elected in 1871 'to a committee' (Forsyth) of the Town Trust. (He is not shown by Ewers as a full member.)

Henderson gained his Certificate of Freedom in 1863 and shortly afterwards was married again, by the Congregationalist Rev. Joseph Johnston, with Emma Barton.

He conducted a pawnbroking business, and due to the lack of specie he had penny tokens minted (as did Alfred Davies) in Melbourne. They showed an image of the premises and the motto TANDEM MOVETUR - 'at last she moves', as proposed by Governor Weld.

John Henderson's daughter Marion married harbour master George Forsyth.

Inspector of Nuisances and Supervisor of Works

Hitchcock 1929: 88:
With the steady growth and increasing importance of the town, the democratic spirit of the citizens began to manifest itself in a demand for municipal government, and on February 27, 1867, a meeting of ratepayers was held in the Oddfellows' Hall in William Street for the purpose of electing a chairman and councillors. The following representative citizens were present at that meeting:-
Messrs. J. G. Slade, R.M. (chairman); E. Newman, W. D. Moore, W. S. Pearse, Captain W. D. Jackson, E. Solomon, W. E. Marmion, E. H. Higham, W. Jose, H. M. Lefroy, Joseph Doonan, James Herbert, John Chester, J. J. Harwood, George Armstrong, John Henderson, W. Leach, Henry Albert, George Thompson, J. H. Duffield, D. B. Francisco, W. Hayes, George Curedale, and a number of others. ...
Hitchcock 1929: 89:
First Council Meeting
On March 10, 1871, the newly-constituted body held its first meeting: at John Thomas' Albert Hotel (since rebuilt and renamed the Commercial Hotel). At that meeting it was resolved, on the motion of W. E. Marmion seconded by W. Hayes, that George Thompson be appointed clerk and collector at the remuneration of 6 per cent. on all moneys collected exclusive of fines. A letter from John Henderson was read applying for the position of Inspector of Nuisances and Supervisor of Works. After some discussion it was proposed by G. Pearse and seconded by H. Dixon, that the person to be appointed be paid £50 per annum for his services. As an amendment, L. A. Manning proposed and W. Hayes seconded that the sum of £40 be paid to the person appointed to the office of Supervisor, Inspector of Nuisances and Inspector of Weights and Measures, and the amendment was carried. It was decided to call for applications by advertisement for the position.

Hitchcock 1919:
On portion of the site of Strelitz’s Buildings there stood an old two-storied house with gable ends, and next to it was a first-class boarding house conducted by Mr. John Henderson, under the sign of ‘Auld Reekie’. ...
Starting from Collie-street [going along Pakenham Street], the first building on the right was the shop of a one-legged shoemaker named W. Hurst. In those days shoemakers’ shops were fairly numerous, as boots were all handmade and none were imported, and as numbers of convicts were taught the trade whilst in prison, they could start in business on their own account upon their release, as practically no capital was required. This shop, together with an adjoining shop and residence which were afterwards erected by Mr. John Henderson, was in later years converted into a colonial wine and beer house under the sign of the ‘Welsh Harp’, which was kept by Mr. E. Tonkin, and the site of which is now occupied by the Oceanic Hotel.

Erickson (online):
HENDERSON, John. (Indistinguishable)
Possibly 2 or 3 different men involved.
Fremantle Commissariat sailmaker 1860.
Employed 10 T/L men 1864-1870 including 5 cooks, a hostler etc at Fremantle, Perth & Mason's Landing.
Dep. 12 .5 .1865 per Sea Ripple (SA Reg).
Gingin farmer 1867
Fremantle boardinghouse keeper. 1864 who employed 10 T/L men including an ostler & 3 cooks.
Canning - Mason's landing 1868-1870.
Fremantle, pawnbroker, 1877 signed a petition regarding discrimination against expirees.
Married 15.12.1863 Emma BARTON.

HENDERSON, John. b. 1818 (expiree). arr. 10.2.1853 per Dudbrook, wife & 2 chd. followed per City of Bristol 8.8.1857, m. Anne b. 1817. d. ?15.6.1860 (Frem). Chd. Lawrence b. 1844, Marion b. 1846. ?Commissariat sailmaker, Fremantle in 1860. ?Frem. Pawnbroker 1877. signed a petition .

References and Links

Forsyth, Ron 2019, 'John Henderson, no. 1623' , Fremantle Shipping News, 2 August. Forsyth is a descendant of John Henderson. In 2021 he privately published a book of convict stories called Shades of the Past: Some Colourful Western Australian Convicts. The third chapter is an account of the life of John Henderson.

Forsyth, Ron 2021, Shades of the Past: Some Colourful Western Australian Convicts, privately published: 21-39.



Hitchcock 1919.

Hitchcock 1929.

Garry Gillard | New: 13 April, 2021 | Now: 10 October, 2023