Surname Saturday: Henderson of Massachusetts, possibly arrived 1718 with Boyd from N. Ireland

One of the great things about genealogy is that you can leave a part of your research alone for years then come back to it and start discovering new things as if it were completely new territory. A family that previously seemed devoid of further secrets to reveal can spring forth anew as if you’ve never even heard of them before.

Right now, the Henderson family is one such family that seems to be revealing new and exciting possibilities. For at least a decade I have known a rough sketch of the Hendersons that traces them back to about 1720-1740 in Massachusetts that can be verified and another 50 years back into Northern Ireland and Scotland that has been roughly related to me but that I haven’t been able to verify.

William Henderson was reputed to be born in County Down, Ireland, about 1718 to John Henderson. I can’t say I have complete confidence in this information, but it has been related to me. Nevertheless, William Henderson did marry Sarah Smith 13 Mar., 1740 in Woburn, MA. This couple them proceeded to move to Lunenburg, MA, and have a large family, all of whom are nicely recorded in the Worcester County, MA, records. The descendants of William include at least two Revolutionary War soldiers, a scoundrel, a rascal, several gunsmiths, and a plethora of extremely reputable and upright Hendersons (who tend to live to the age of Methuselah).

Being an amateur genealogist with neither the time nor the resources to travel to Massachusetts or Ireland or Scotland to explore the various rumors, possibilities, theories and anecdotes that have been passed down to me, I haven’t held out much hope of getting very much further with this line. However, in looking lately, I am starting to think a breakthrough is not only possible but likely.

It turns out that in 1890 a Reverend Perry, History Professor at Williams College of Williamstown, MA, lectured on the Scotch-Irish in New England, and he actually brought up the Hendersons in the exact town in the exact time that my Hendersons were there. He also indicated that they had come over in 1718 with Boyd, which again corresponds exactly to the year with unsubstantiated information I have received but have not been able to verify or find any basis for whatsoever.

Further investigation of this Scotch-Irish migration shows in fact only one Henderson family was recorded as signing the 1718 petition which Boyd carried with him in coming to Boston. This was James Henderson, however, not my John or John’s reputed father, also believed to be John.

Nevertheless, I’m excited.

Yes, it’s possible that someone in the past just latched on to this Scotch-Irish migration as the one with no basis in fact, and I have been the unfortunate recipient of bad information. However, my Hendersons have few (or no other) likely paths to migration to Massachusetts during this time. Besides, I have faith in my family as well, and I believe that the information passed to me through family is right whether I can point to records to prove it or not (but I’m still looking for those records!)

Anyway, like many of my family posts lately, this is more anecdotal than fact. This is what I’ve been up to in my limited time devoted to my own genealogy.  Wish me luck as I continue to explore this first of the Scotch-Irish mass migrations to Massachusetts for my Hendersons.


About glamberson

I am an amateur genealogist and a professional technologist, having experience in both areas that goes back to the 1980s (at least). My genealogical interests really began in 1979 when my grandfather died. Computers & technology have been primary interests since the early 1980s. My first personal computer was an Apple IIe bought shortly after they first became available.
This entry was posted in Geneabloggers Themes, Genealogy, Henderson, History, Surname and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Surname Saturday: Henderson of Massachusetts, possibly arrived 1718 with Boyd from N. Ireland

  1. Heather Rojo says:

    Very interesting! My blog is from Londonderry, and I’ve posted stories about the Boyd’s and other Scots Irish families who arrived in Boston and then dispersed to Maine, Nutfield, Worcester and beyond. I’ve posted lots of other resources you might find interesting or useful. Good luck!

  2. Steve Siter says:

    I live just outside of Worcester in Worcester County, MA. If I can be of any help, please let me know. You and I communicated briefly a year or so ago regarding my g-g-g-grand mother Lydia Henderson (c. 1794 – c. 1830) m. John L. Brewster (c. 1795 – 1868). Their children; John A. (1820 – 1889), Minerva (1821 – 1904), Daniel L. (1823- 1909) and George W. (1824 – 1848). Lydia’s parents and John L. Brewster’s parents remain a “brick wall”. Steve

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