Back to Fiona's Finding Service
Back to Index | Previous page | Next page


The estate of Stemster is in the parish of Bower.

The traditional account of the Caithness Hendersons is that they are descended from Henry Gunn, a younger son of George Gunn, who was chief of the clan in the fifteenth century. After the slaughter of their chief and several of his sons in a combat with the Keiths, a family difference led to Henry separating himself from his surviving brothers, and settling in the lowlands of Caithness. In 1594 we find mention of a champion of the clan Gunn, named Donald Mac-William Mac-Hendric, who may have had something to say in the matter of the Henderson patronymic; but the popular account is, as has been said, that they are the descendants of Henry Gunn.

I. DONALD HENDERSON, who was in Stemster in 1680, had two sons: -

  1. David, who is said to have settled in Zetland
  2. Alexander
II. In the year 1700 ALEXANDER HENDERSON got a general disposition of moveables from his father (who appears to have been in easy circumstances), and in 1706 he resided in Lochside. He married Anna or Agnes Murray, sister-german of Ranald Murray, in Bowertower. In 1726 he was tacksman of Stemster, and in 1736 he became tenant of Gerston, where he resided till his death in 1743.

He had an only son and four, if not five, daughters: -

  1. David
  1. Christian, who married, in 1726, Francis Swanson, son of William Swanson in Stemster, who became tenant of Gerston in 1751 or 1752, and whose descendants were the tenants till 1872
  2. Margaret, who married Adam Henderson, son of Benjamin Henderson in Achalibster, from whom are descended the family of Hendersons, sometime in Clyth
  3. Anne, who married Donald Henderson, second laird of Westerdale
  4. Barbara, the youngest daughter, who married, in 1751, Alexander Sinclair, the last laird of Dun, being his second wife. She had no issue
  5. There seems to have been in 1754 another daughter named Elizabeth, who was apparently then unmarried
III. DAVID HENDERSON occupied the farm of Gerston for some time after 1748, and in 1750 he purchased Stemster from Sir Benjamin Sinclair for 21,500 merks. He married Cecilia, daughter of William Honyman of Gremsay, another of whose daughters was married to Taylor of Thura, and a third daughter to the Reverend Mr. Nicolson of Shebster.

The Honymans claim to be descended, in the female line, from Robert Stewart, first Earl of Orkney, natural son of James V, whose grand-daughter, Mary, was married to Stewart of Gremsay. Their only daughter and heiress, Mary, married Andrew Honyman, who was Bishop of Orkney from 1664 to 1676; and the Bishop was grandfather of William Honyman of Gremsay, Bishop Honyrnan was a son of David Honyman of Pitcairchney, and he had a brother, George, who was minister of Stromness ("Fasti Eccles. Scot".) in 1672. The Bishop "did many good and charitable deeds", including the slating and repairing of the church of Sandwick, and died in 1676.

David Henderson of Stemster had four sons and three daughters: -

  1. William
  2. Alexander, his successor
  3. Patrick, who died in Demerara
  4. John, who died in Jamaica
  1. Mary, who married the Reverend Robert Gunn, minister of Latheron
  2. Anne, who married, in 1779, the Reverend William Gunn, minister of Golspie from 1776 to 1785, when he died. She lived until 1841
  3. Margaret, who died unmarried, in 1864, aged ninety-seven
IV. ALEXANDER HENDERSON OF STEMSTER was in early life for a short time in the Royal Navy. He married Margaret, daughter of William Duthie of Alduthie, and he had five sons and four daughters: -
  1. David, his successor, retired from the army as captain in 1816
  2. Alexander Davidson, who was in the Indian Army, and was drowned in the Persian Gulf
  3. William Honyman, C.B., who was a post-captain in the Royal Navy, and died in November 1855. He married Elizabeth, widow of Lord James Townshend, K. C.H. He had no issue
  4. James, of Bilbster and Rosebank, Wick, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Kenneth McLeay of Newmore, and has issue, two sons and four daughters, and who died 1879, aged eighty-one
  5. Patrick, who was major in the Indian Army, and died in 1873 unmarried
  1. Margaret, who died in 1879 unmarried
  2. Mary, who married Charles Chalmers of Monkshill, Esq., advocate, Aberdeen, and had issue
  3. Johanna, died 1880, unmarried
  4. Cecilia
V. DAVID HENDERSON OF STEMSTER married Marjory, eldest daughter of Colonel Benjamin Williamson of Banniskirk. He died in 1859, and had three sons and four daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Alexander Henderson, now of Stemster, who married Susan, daughter of Allan McFarlane, Esq., and his wife, Margaret, daughter of John Horne, Esq. of Stirkoke, and has issue.

The family of Stemster is connected through Mrs. Marjory Williamson with the families of Sutherlands of Langwell and Forse and Sinclairs of Southdun and Ulbster.

Back to Fiona's Finding Service
Back to Index | Previous page | Next page