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THE HENDERSONS OF ACHALIBSTER AND WESTERDALE

The farm of Achalibster is in the parish of Watten.
The farm of Westerdale is in the parish of Halkirk.
In 2002 Lower Westerdale was owned by John and Catherine Munro

From the middle of the seventeenth century to the early part of the eighteenth, we find various Hendersons - such as Hendersons, portioners of Brabsterdorran from 1642 to 1695; Hendersons in Wester Nottingham, and in Rumster and Rangag, on the estate of Forse, and wadsetters of Gersay in Watten from 1655 to 1738, supposed to be descended from the Hendersons of Brabsterdorran; Hendersons in Stemster, from 1680 downwards; and Hendersons in Sibster, afterwards in Achalibster and Westerdale, from 1660; and it is probable that they were all more or less related, although it may now be difficult to trace a common ancestry.

From Donald Henderson, who, when in Sibster, married Elizabeth Sinclair, daughter of Robert, fourth son of James Sinclair of Borlum and Thura, are descended the Hendersons of Achalibster and Westerdale. Donald Henderson was in Achalibster in 1660, and then got from the Earl of Caithness a wadset for a thousand merks of the twopenny-halfpenny lands of Westerdale, the halfpenny lands of Croft of Dale and Burn of Ulgrimbeg.

He had two sons and a daughter: -

  1. Robert
  2. David, first of Westerdale
  1. Janet, who is mentioned as "daughter of Donald Henderson in Achalibster and Elizabeth Sinclair". She married Adam Sutherland in Langwell, second son of William Sutherland of Langwell
I. ROBERT HENDERSON possessed in 1699 the twopenny lands of Westerdale, and in 1703 he is named as portioner of Dale. He married Anna Dunbar, an illegitimate daughter of Sir William Dunbar of Hempriggs, who, in 1701, granted to him and his wife and their first and second sons, William and Benjamin, a wadset of the twopence-halfpenny lands of Tormsdale. In 1718 Sir William Dunbar, as Justiciary Depute and Sheriff of Caithness, appointed him Procurator-Fiscal of the county. In so far as appears, his children were: -
  1. William in Achaldall, now called wadset lands of Westerdale, and in Tormsdale in 1725 and 1726, which he possessed as heir to his father in the wadset. He gave a lease of Tormsdale to his brother, Benjamin
  2. Benjamin
  1. Anna
Benjamin Henderson possessed Achalibster, and married in 1716 his cousin-german, Esther, daughter of of Adam Sutherland in Langwell, a grand-daughter of William Sutherland of Langwell. He died before 1739, leaving a son, Adam.

Lieutenant Adam Henderson in Achaldall or wadset lands, was in 1749 tacksman of Achinarras [parish of Halkirk]. In 1739 he married Margaret, daughter of Alexander Henderson in Stemster and Gerston, and had with her a tocher of one thousand merks, He had a son and two daughters: -

  1. Benjamin
  1. Esther, who lived with her mother for many years at Halkirk
  2. Janet, better known as "Miss Jenny", who died in Edinburgh at an advanced age
Benjamin Henderson was tacksman of Clyth, and married his relative, Elizabeth, daughter of James Sutherland of Swiney, a great-great-grand-daughter of William Sutherland of Langwell. He had four sons and six daughters: -
  1. John, who was drowned in Wick Bay along with his mother about 1806
  2. Adam, who went to the West Indies
  3. Dr. James, who occupied Clyth for many years, and down to 18-. He carried on a herring fishery extensively, and expended considerable sums on the harbour and farm of Clyth. Before settling in Clyth he was acting assistant-surgeon in the 3d Foot for some years, and afterwards he acquired considerable reputation in the north as a medical practitioner, A few years before his death, which took place at Glasgow on 11th April 1848, he took the degree of M.D. at the University of Edinburgh
  4. William was a gentleman of some literary acquirements, and was for many years engaged in various educational establishments in Scotland and England. Ultimately he went to Bombay as a teacher in one of the Church of Scotland schools. At the Disruption, in 1843, he joined the Free Church, but falling into bad health he returned to England, where he died unmarried about 1849 or 1850
Benjamin Henderson's daughters were Jean, Margaret, Anne, Elizabeth, Jessie, Alexis, and Benjamina, all of whom died unmarried. Alexis, his last surviving daughter, died at Barnstaple on 25th March 1874, and the family is now extinct.

II. DAVID HENDERSON, the second son, as is supposed, of Donald in Achalibster and wadset lands of Westerdale, got from Lord Glenorchy, in 1708, a charter of the sevenpenny and two farthing and an octo lands of Westerdale. He had a son, Donald.

Donald Henderson of Westerdale married Anne, daughter of Alexander Henderson in Stemster and Gerston. He had a son, Alexander.

Alexander Henderson married Janet Campbell of the Campbells in Ausdale, and had three sons and a daughter: -

  1. Donald, who married and left issue, but did not succeed to Westerdale
  2. William, who occupied during his lifetime Upper Westerdale, and died unmarried
  3. David of Westerdale, to which by some family arrangement he got a disposition from his grandfather. He occupied Ballintunich or Lower Westerdale, and died in 1860 unmarried
  1. Elizabeth, who married William Angus, Thurso, and left no issue

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