Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Notice of Settlement of the Estate of Alexander Henderson of Pelham in 1805

Research has uncovered a brief notice of the settlement of the estate of Alexander Henderson of Pelham published in the June 5, 1805 issue of the New-York Spectator. The brief notice reads as follows:


HAVING any demands against the estate of Alexander Henderson, Esq. of the town of Pelham, in the conuty [sic] of West-Chester, deceased, are requested to present their accounts for settlement, and those indebted to make immediate payment to ROBERT ROSS, Acting Executor.

East Chester, May 1, 1805.

may 11 Sp1m*"

Source: All Persons, New-York Spectator, Jun. 5, 1805, p. 4.

Alexander Henderson once owned the island later known as Hunter's Island in the Town of Pelham. Fanciful legends have arisen regarding Henderson. Indeed, Lockwood Barr wrote much about him in his popular history of the Town of Pelham published in 1946. Excerpted below are portions of Barr's work relating to Alexander Henderson.

"The first conveyance of the Island [Hunter's Island] found in the office of the County Clerk of Westchester, is a deed dated January 17, 1797, transferring an Island ". . . commonly called Appleby's. . ." from John Blagge to Alexander Henderson. A map of the Town of Pelham, dated February 28, 1798, shows the Island as Henderson's.

The earliest reference to Alexander Henderson, being in New Rochelle, is in an original parchment deed now in the New York Historical Society files, dated February 1, 1794, from Nicholas H. Bogart, Farmer of New Rochelle to Alexander Henderson, Merchant of New York City, for a tract of 40 acres adjoining the Boston Road, the lands of Jacob Abramse, Newberry Davenport, and Tho. Huntington--which, of course, was not the Island, but a tract on the mainland.

Here is another early reference to Alexander Henderson. On April 28, 1795 the vestry of Trinity Church appointed Trustees to superintend the erection of an Academy upon the lands of the Church. Among them were Alexander Henderson, Philip Lee, Isaac Roosevelt, Herman LeRoy. The Rector was Rev. Theodosius Bartow, whose daughter, Theodosia, married Aaron Burr. A stock company to operate the school was incorporated April 13, 1826, and among the directors were John Hunter and Herman LeRoy, Jr.

Alexander Henderson, a bachelor, was born 1757 in Charleston, S. C., educated as a physician and surgeon in Scotland, and served as a surgeon with the British Army in India, according to Scharf's History of Westchester. While in India--so the romantic story goes-- Henderson was called upon by a great Rajah to administer to one of his favorite wives who was seriously ill. Henderson worked such an amazing cure, that the Rajah paid him some fabulous sum. As further evidence of his gratitude, the Rajah presented Henderson with his favorite daughter, then but a child, as a future bride-to-be. Proof that Henderson was in India is to be found in his will. Capt. James Hague, an old sea dog, who commanded his own ship in the East Indies trade, then resided in Pelham. Henderson is said to have commissioned Capt. Hague to bring the young lady to Pelham on one of his trips. The young lady, however, refused to make the voyage. Henderson adopted her brother named him William, and reared him as his own son. That is the romantic story as related by Scharf.

Alexander Henderson died December 26, 1804 and is buried in the old French Cemetery, Division and Union Streets, now part of Trinity Church Cemetery, New Rochelle. By his side lies the son, William, who died in 1812, aged 25 years, according to his tombstone inscription. [Tombstone inscription--old French Cemetery, Division and Union Streets, New Rochelle, N. Y.: "In Memory of Alexander Bampfield Henderson a native of Charleston, S. C. but late of the Town of Pel ham and County of Westchester, departed this life 26 Dec. 1804 aged forty-seven years. In Memory of William Henderson who departed this life Jan. (or June) 19, 1812, in the 25th year of his life."]

William Henderson, the son, bequeathed money to build a Town Hall in New Rochelle, but due to litigation in settling his estate the Town did not get the gift until 1828 when a settlement was made for $3,550. The Town Hall stood where the present City Hall is, but the building is now at No. 10 Lawton Street, New Rochelle. At a Town Meeting on March 27, 1855, money was voted to put up an iron fence enclosing graves of William and Alexander Henderson."

Source: Barr, Lockwood, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as the Lordshipp & Manour of Pelham Also The Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams, pp. 91-93 (The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946).

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