James Stewart Henderson (1863-1933)

From Historical Hastings

Believed to have been born in Sydney, Australia, James Henderson was a financier who grew extremely wealthy as a result of a number of successful investments in the UK. He and his parents were in England, living in Hampstead in 1871[1]. His father died on the 7th of August 1875, leaving an estate of £45,000. Although not a resident of Hastings, living in Hampsted, London as an adult, he developed connections with various hospitals around the town.

His mother developed a relationship with an Italian, Luigi Meo (1853-1935)[2] and married him during 1884[3], although a source states that at the time of the marriage, she being twelve years his elder and he having been carrying on an affair with s Mrs Maria Whiteside since at least 1876 - this affair continuing until at least 1891 when Luigi was named as co-respondent in the Whiteside divorce petition and ordered to pay Mr. Whiteside's costs.[4]

During 1890, it is recorded that he and his mother arrived at the Queens Hotel[5] and were recorded as being there in the 1891 Census, with his mother stating that she was widowed. This visit to the town may be in connection with the completion of his house in Hastings, Abbotsford House, or alternatively to escape press interest in the divorce case where her, then, husband, Luigi was named. Whatever the reason, it is known his mother died in Abbotsford House during April of 1900, leaving her estate of £4000 to her son.[6]

He had a love of armour and militaria, developing a large collection, including a full-sized armoured horse with mounted knight. These, together with his favourite pets which had been stuffed when they died, and a collection of wind instruments were stored at his holiday home, Abbotsford House (now demolished, but now under the site of Henderson Close and adjoining streets). Although ill-health in the latter part of his life prevented him from visiting Abbotsford for some ten years, he maintained the staff of ten people to keep the property in good order.[7]

Following his death, he left an estate of over £410,000[8] with a number of specific bequests. One was that his long-serving secretary should maintain Abbotsford as a convalescent home for the needy of Hamptead. In addition, the Royal East Sussex Hospital and Eversfield Chest Hospital received bequests along with a large number of other charitable organisations.[7]

References & Notes

  1. UK Census Return 1871
  2. Ancestry Luigi Meo
  3. Marriage Registration Index 1884
  4. Ancestry Luigi Mio
  5. British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 6 September 1890 Pg. 0003
  6. UK Probate Calendar 1900
  7. a b British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 11 March 1933 Pg. 0012
  8. National Probate Calendar 1933