Richard Henderson

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Richard Henderson

Birthplace: Hanover, Virginia, United States
Death: Died in Hendersonville, Granville, North Carolina, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Major Samuel Henderson and Elizabeth Henderson
Husband of Elizabeth Henderson
Father of Frances McCay; Richard Henderson; Archibald Henderson; Elizabeth Henderson; Leonard Henderson and 3 others
Brother of Mary Mitchell; Nathaniel Henderson; Betty "Libby" Beckham (Henderson); Ann Williams (Henderson); Susanna Searcy and 7 others

Occupation: Judge of N.C.; Colonel of Militia in the Amerian Revolution; president of Transylvania Company
Managed by: Mike Mahaffie
Last Updated:

About Richard Henderson DAR # A 054801 for NC

Richard Henderson (1734–1785) was an American pioneer and merchant who attempted to create a colony called Transylvania just as the American Revolutionary War was starting.

Richard Henderson, founder of the Transylvania Company and of Nashville, Tennessee, was born in Hanover County, Virginia, on April 20, 1735. Raised on the frontier in Granville County, North Carolina, far from any school, he was educated by private tutors. Under his father Samuel Henderson, the sheriff of the county, he served as a constable and deputy sheriff. After studying law in the office of John Williams he was admitted to the bar. On March 1, 1768, he was appointed associate justice of the colony’s Superior Court. Henderson served on the bench during the height of Regulator violence in the backcountry. He managed to escape out a back door of the courthouse in Hillsborough when Regulators attacked it in September 1770. In November 1770, Regulators burned his home near Williamsborough.

Through his work, Richard Henderson came to know Daniel Boone. As early as 1764, Boone acted as an agent for Henderson’s land company, Richard Henderson & Company, securing land in parts of Kentucky and Tennessee. To devote his attention to the development of western lands, Henderson retired from the bench in 1773 and organized the Louisa Company, later known as the Transylvania Company. In a March 1775 treaty signing at Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River, the Transylvania Company purchased from the Cherokee the land lying between the Kentucky and Cumberland rivers. Henderson then traveled into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap and established the colony of Transylvania with the settlement of Boonesborough on the Kentucky River. Neither Virginia nor North Carolina nor the Continental Congress would recognize Transylvania’s attempts to become the fourteenth colony. Without federal recognition, the Transylvania Company eventually lost control of the land. Henderson continued to engage in land speculation and, in 1779-1780, he led a group of settlers into the Cumberland Valley in Tennessee and founded French Lick, better known today as Nashville.

When he was not busy settling land in the west, back east Richard Henderson was a supporter of the American cause in the Revolution. He returned to the bench for a brief time in 1778, served on the state’s Board of War, and was a militia colonel. In 1781 he was elected as Granville County’s representative to the state legislature. Henderson died at age of forty-nine on January 30, 1785, and was buried on his farm at “Ashland” near Williamsboro in present-day Vance County.

References: Dumas Malone, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, VIII, 530 William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 105—sketch by Mark F. Miller

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Richard Henderson's Timeline

April 20, 1735
Hanover, Virginia, United States
Age 26
Province of Virginia
December 28, 1763
Age 28
Granville, North Carolina
Age 28
Granville County, Province of North Carolina
July 1766
Age 31
Granville Co. NC
August 7, 1768
Age 33
Granville Co. NC
August 30, 1770
Age 35
Granville Co. NC
October 6, 1772
Age 37
Granville Co. NC
Age 42
Granville Co. NC
January 30, 1785
Age 49
Hendersonville, Granville, North Carolina, USA