~An interesting perspective from 2002~

By Harry H. Hendon

[Submitted 6 August 1998 by Harry H. Hendon (hhhendon@compuserve.com).]

NOTE: Harry wrote this article a year before our British ancestry was confirmed.........


Roger Nixon inspired me to try to think of a logical history of our ancestor. Roger neither created nor endorsed the result. I am indebted to him for causing it to be done.

Harry Hendon, He12285891, Saratoga, California, July, 1998.

[Numbers in brackets, for example [1], refer to the footnotes at the end of the document.]

I am reporting on only a beginning of a search for our forebear, the parent of Richard and Josias, whom I have dubbed He1[1]. I hope someday to find documentation of him or her. My sources for the following notes are:

    Grace = Grace Hendon Chancey, He12223311, deceased, my fifth cousin. Her book, The Hendons from Gunpowder River, is the most complete history of the Hendons in America we have available.

    John = John Franklin Hendon, He12285B1, deceased, my second cousin. In 1963, he commissioned Walter J. G. Verco, a member of the College of Arms in London, to search for He1. Verco searched the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury for wills and other registrations for the name Hendon and "sounds likes" such as Henden, Hinton, etc.

    Geoff = Geoff Nicholson, a professional genealogist for Northumberland and Co. Durham. E-mail address: geoff@genic.demon.co.uk.

    Roger = Roger Nixon, a professional genealogist specializing in U.K. apprenticeships and pre-1700 histories. E-mail address: rogernixon@compuserve.com.

So far as we now know, the first Hendons to be documented in the new world are Richard and Josias, in Baltimore County, around 1700. Josias was indentured to Nicholas Rogers, Richard was free. It is likely they were brothers. There was also a woman, Mary Hendon, whose relationship to Richard and Josias is unknown. It is widely believed the Hendon brothers came from England, possibly by way of Ireland. I have come to believe, however, that they were born in the Western Hemisphere, probably in Maryland.

From records found by Grace, we know Josias inherited from Rogers some cooper's tools, clothing, and a horse. Rogers' will was written in 1717. Josias married Hannah Robinson in 1722. By the time of his death in 1738, he had acquired considerable property in Baltimore County, some of which probably came from Hannah's dowry. His first land grant was received in 1722. Since he had to be a free man to apply for land, and since Hannah was born in 1702, he was likely born around 1696. Richard owned land nearby.

Hannah's stepfather was James Isham, about 15 years her senior. Isham and Josias were good friends apparently. Josias named his second son Isham and the given name Isham was used by several generations of Hendons.

How Richard and Josias came here is unknown but there are a number of stories of their immigration. Following are the four I have seen most often given. All have problems.

Story no. 1. Three Hendon brothers started to America from England by different ships in case of shipwreck. One ship wrecked in Ireland and that brother returned to England. The other two arrived safely in America.

This may be a true story, but not likely about Richard and Josias. So far, I have been unable to discover any record of a Hendon being aboard a ship from England or Ireland prior to 1729. Geoff found, in The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776, that Susan Hendon, wife of Lewis, of Middlesex, was sentenced to transportation February 1729. I presume her crime was theft. I find it amusing that a recent "Hendon Genealogy" which was widely touted to us Hendons offered a record all the way back to our "ancestor", Susan, in 1729.

Story no. 2. The last Earl of Hendon had two sons. The younger, Wight, ran away to settle in America. Wight had two sons. One of those sons was Isham Hendon, Jr.

I have found no Earl of Hendon ever to have existed. Further, we know that Isham Jr. was in fact Josias's grandson.

Story no. 3. The Hendon immigrants were from Hendon, near London. They came to Baltimore via Ireland on the ship, "Mary E".

There was no Baltimore port until 1717. "Mary E" is not a complete name of a ship. Roger was unable to find a ship registration containing the words "Mary E". Nor was he able to find any record of a Hendon immigrant prior to 1725.

I think there is a reasonable probability that the Hendons came from Middlesex based simply on demographics. There are more Hendons in Middlesex than other counties.

I believe the name Hendon comes from "high dune". This led me to try to find Hendon records in the town of Hendon, now incorporated into the city of Sunderland on the northeast coast of England. Geoff was unable to find any Hendon family records in the area and Hendon is not a popular name there now. I found a list of pilots registered to the Port of Sunderland in the period 1797-1831. Of the 93 pilots listed, eight lived in New Hendon. But none was named Hendon.

Story no. 4. The two brothers were descendants of a titled Kentish man, John Henden,[2] who was knighted in 1663 and given the Hendon coat of arms familiar to us all. John's son had the name Hendon and the coat of arms is now listed as Hendon. The story said the brothers fled to America to avoid service in the Royal Navy after their uncle was killed in service.

This story that the Hendons were titled led John to commission research of the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Walter Verco found about two hundred Hendon and "sounds like Hendon" records. John and Verco chose nine of these for further followup, but the results were inconclusive and it is unlikely that any of the individuals are related to us.

It is possible that Josias and Richard are great-grandsons of John of Kent but very, very unlikely. First, around 1700, there was no known conscription. Even if there were, a ten-year-old as Josias would have been was not subject to conscription. And, if they were titled Hendons, a commission would likely have been available to Richard. It is equally unlikely that we are entitled to the Hendon coat of arms.

At this point in time, in possession of no new facts, I can only add to the stories of our beginnings. I propose a fifth story. It is pure speculation but at least it is in accord with the known facts. Story no. 5 follows:

Story no. 5. The Hendon brothers were born to a poor farmer family in the area of what became Baltimore. As was common in those days, a parent contracted one or both boys into indentured servitude for a period from about their tenth to twenty-first birthdays. They were illiterate and, as time proved, were resourceful, respected, and relatively successful. Richard, the elder, inherited the family land as was the custom then. Josias, even though trained to be a cooper by his master, became a landowner by virtue of his wife's dowry.

It is not unreasonable to believe that Mary was the mother of Richard and Josias. She was widowed, and during her remaining lifetime Richard farmed the family land, eventually inheriting it. The name of the parcel, "Hendons Hope", is consistent with a name given by a settler beginning a life in the new world. My mother's line began in the Western Hemisphere when a young woman in Ireland became pregnant out of wedlock, immigrated, and bore the first (and later, the second) Allgood. I can't fit such a story to Mary unless her sire were a wealthy man who could provide the land. But who would farm it? So I believe Mary was the relict of a legitimate marriage which produced the brothers. My favored explanation at this time is that the father was shanghaied in Britain, jumped ship in the West Indies or America, worked hard, and the rest is history. To attempt to confirm this theory, I think the next step should be to enlist the help of professional researchers to search records of immigration to North America and the West Indies in the period 1650-1700.

[1] I am using the serial number scheme used by some genealogists. He1 indicates the first of the Hendon line. He12 is the second child of He1. The scheme is unambiguous so long as the order of children is accepted. I am using the order of children in Bill Hendon's HENMAS2.FTW. I have made one change. That is to use alphanumeric numbers (1 through 9, and then A for 10, B for 11, C for 12, and so on to Z for 26), so that up to 35 children can be accommodated. For instance, John Franklin Hendon, He12285B1, is the first child of the eleventh child of the fifth child, etc. Kinship can be determined from anyone's serial number. Art Hendon, He12527842A1, is my sixth cousin since our numbers meet at He12, Josias. We are sixth cousins, twice removed, because Art is two more generations away from Josias than I am.

[2] The Henden spelling is consistent with Kentish words and could come from "high clearing".