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Henry Herdson (c1547 - 1560)



Birth and Parents

Henry Herdson was the son of Henry and Barbara Herdson,[1][2] and was most likely born in the City of London, England. A reasonable estimate for his year of birth is 1547. This is based on his eldest living brother, Thomas, being 13 years old at the time of their father's Inquisition Post Mortem in early 1556[3] and Henry being third in the list of sons given in his father's will.[1] It also assumes the sons were born about two years apart, with no daughters or deceased children in between those three sons. He was almost certainly born between 1545 and 1550, based on the will and his father's inquisition.[1][3]

His father, Henry Herdson was an Alderman of London,[4] and Master of the Worshipful Company of Skinners.[5] His mother, Barbara Watson, was the daughter of Edward Watson of Lyddington, Rutland.[6]

Death of Father and Inheritance

In late 1555, when Henry was still a child, his father died of a fever that swept through London.[7] Young Henry would have been present at his father's funeral, an elaborate affair attended by the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and the Masters of the Livery Companies.[8]

Under the terms of his father's will, Henry had one fifth of a two-thirds share of numerous properties in Kent, which he was to receive at the age of 21 years.[1] These comprised the manors of Newington Belhouse, Newington Fee, Newington Bertram, Tirlingham, Wolverton, Ackhanger, Swetton and Walton; and the castle, manor, hundred and park of Folkestone, and the site of Folkestone priory. He also inherited the same share of lands at Newington Bertram, Alkham, Wolverton, Ackhanger, Hawkinge, Walton, Folkestone, Haukam and Paddlesworth.[2] These properties were all within a few miles of Folkestone.

Custodianship of William Allen

The will also specified that William Allen was to be granted custody of young Henry.[1] By 1555, William Allen was a prominent citizen of London, having served two terms as Warden of the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers.[9] No doubt Henry's father chose William Allen in part because of his high standing within the Leathersellers' Company, which would enable him to advance Henry's career when the time came. In 1558, William became Master of the Leathersellers,[9] as well as Alderman for the ward of Bridge Without, on the south side of the Thames.[4] In all likelihood, his father's intent was for Henry to do an apprenticeship and follow William into the leatherselling business.

William Allen was required to bear the costs of bringing Henry up himself. But in return, he was granted the use of all the goods, chattels and debts that were to be inherited by Henry at the age of 21. Appropriate sureties were to be put in place against any loss during William's period of management.[1]

While it's possible that Henry went to live with William Allen, given his young age, it is more likely that he remained with his mother, living in the parish of St Dunstans in the East.

Death and Legacy

It would seem that in late 1560, one of the many infectious diseases that regularly swept through London in the sixteenth century afflicted the Herdson household. Younger brother Kenelm was the first to succumb, and was buried at St Dunstans in the East on 16 December 1560.[10] Henry was likely already showing symptoms by then, and died about two weeks later. He was also buried at St Dunstans in the East, on 31 December 1560.[11] He was no more than 15 years old and may have been as young as ten.

Upon his death, Henry's share of his father's property, goods and chattels reverted to three of his surviving brothers; Edward, John and Anthony (Thomas, the eldest, was also still living but as heir had been dealt with separately in the will).[1] This reversion was confirmed by the Chancery in a Pardon of Alienation dated 6 December 1561, which notes that "Henry the son [of Henry Herdson, Alderman] and Kenelm have lately died without issue".[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Henry Herdson, Alderman of London, will proved 10 January 1555/6, Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers, class PROB 11, piece 37: More (1554-1556), The National Archives, Kew, England; "England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858," database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 October 2019), Image 555 of 623 (subscription required). Transcription.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Public Record Office, Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office - Elizabeth - Volume 2 1560-1563, (London : His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1948), p. 372, 6 December 1561 Pardon of Alienation for Edward, John and Anthony Herdson; images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/ : accessed 2 November 2019).
  3. 3.0 3.1 H.W. Forsyth Howard (ed.), "Inquisitiones Post Mortem", The Genealogist, volume 18 page 185; digital images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org : accessed 29 October 2019).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Alfred P Beaven. "Chronological list of aldermen: 1501-1600," in The Aldermen of the City of London Temp. Henry III - 1912, (London: Corporation of the City of London, 1908), 20-47. British History Online, accessed November 2, 2019, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/london-aldermen/hen3-1912/pp20-47.
  5. Wadmore, James Foster, Some Account of the Worshipful Company of Skinners of London, Being the Guild of Fraternity of Corpus Christi, (London : Blades, East & Blades, 1902), p. 191; images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/ : accessed 2 November 2019).
  6. Lincoln wills: 1530 (July), in Lincoln Wills: Volume 3, 1530-1532, ed. C W Foster (London, 1930), pp. 13-30. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/lincoln-wills/vol3/pp13-30 [accessed 2 November 2019].
  7. Grafton, Richard, A Chronicle at Large (London : H. Denham, 1569), Volume 2, page 555; images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org : accessed 2 November 2019).
  8. 'Diary: 1555 (July - Dec)', in The Diary of Henry Machyn, Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London, 1550-1563, ed. J G Nichols (London, 1848), pp. 90-99. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/camden-record-soc/vol42/pp90-99 [accessed 2 November 2019].
  9. 9.0 9.1 Black, William Henry, History and Antiquities of the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers of the City of London, (London : 1871), p. 64; images, Google Books (https://books.google.com : accessed 3 November 2019).
  10. St Dunstan in the East Parish (City of London), Parish Register 1558-1653, Kenelms Hardson buried 16 December 1560; "London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812," database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 November 2019), Image 57 of 104 (subscription required); citing P69/DUN1/A/001/MS07857/001, London Metropolitan Archives.
  11. St Dunstan in the East Parish (City of London), Parish Register 1558-1653, Henry Hardson buried 31 December 1560; "London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812," database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 November 2019), Image 57 of 104 (subscription required); citing P69/DUN1/A/001/MS07857/001, London Metropolitan Archives.

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Thanks, I'm working my way through Read's biography. I am appreciating that he provides the sources for his facts! Although I do note that on page 9 Read says “...absolutely nothing is known of Hudson, prior to the 19th of April, 1607".

I agree with you that the Henry Herdson on this page (died 1560), son of Alderman Henry Herdson (died 1555), cannot be father of Henry Hudson, Navigator. Which therefore means that Henry Hudson Jr. cannot be the son of Henry the Alderman (died 1555).

posted by Nic Donnelly
You may wish to look at a Historical collection researched by the respected John M. Read A historical inquiry concerning Henry Hudson, his friends, relatives and early life, his connection with the Muscovy company and discovery of Delaware Bay. Your DOD precludes the man as being dead prior to the birth of the Explorer. This lineage has been a challenging quagmire for many. The fact that the explorer had a prior sailing knowledge fits with the Muscovy trading company.
posted by David Wilson