Clan Henderson - Virtue Alone En-Nobels
Clan Henderson is a Scottish Clan originally from the Scottish Borders, the name meaning Son of Henry. However, the name also sprung up in Glencoe where the son of king Neachtain – known as Big Henry – formed his own sept. There is a third origin for the name of the Clan, this time coming from Caithness where Hendry was the son of a Chief of Clan Gunn who would go on to form his own sept. I’m quite fond of the Clan Henderson motto – Virtue Alone Ennobles.At the time of writing this blog, the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 has just been announced. This year’s recipient is Juan Manuel Santos who is awarded for his efforts to bring to an end Colombia’s long running civil war. This got me thinking about which Clans could boast about having a Nobel Laureate among their ranks. It is fortuitous then that I had Clan Henderson all lined up to go this week as Arthur Henderson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1934.
About the Nobel PrizeI can’t imagine there are many of my readers out there that aren’t familiar with what a Nobel Prize is, but for those of you who aren’t, I think we can afford ourselves a moment or two for a quick recap. The Nobel Prize was established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of some 355 separate inventions, most famously dynamite. How the inventor of dynamite came to establish the most famous set of humanitarian prizes in the world is a great story if not a little sad too. Alfred’s brother Ludvig – himself a very successful businessman and one of the world’s richest men - had recently died, however, a French newspaper got a little confused and claimed that it was Alfred who had died. The headline that the newspaper ran with was Merchant of Death is Dead. Alfred was understandably a little shaken by this and began to worry about how he would be remembered after his death. When Alfred died eight years later his will spelled out his plans for humanitarian prizes in five different fields: Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and of course Peace. Today there are six disciplines for which one can receive a Nobel Prize – Economics was added later – and the prize is somewhere in the region of £750,000.
Arthur HendersonFamiliarly known as Uncle Arthur, this astonishing Henderson has a list of achievement as long as your arm (especially if you are a Henderson – historically noted for their height, their arms must be pretty long). From fairly humble beginnings as the son of a domestic servant and a textile worker, Arthur would go on to become the leader of the Labour Party (not once but three separate times in three different decades). Henderson’s route to high office started with an apprenticeship in a factory making train parts, before going on to work as an iron-moulder. In this industrial setting, Henderson became involved in trade union politics and was eventually elected as an MP for Barnard Castle, a constituency in County Durham. In 1914, Henderson was elected to replace Ramsay MacDonald as the leader of the Labour party and then as part of the coalition government, was made President of the Board of Education – making him the first Labour Cabinet Minister. Henderson went on to have many successes in British politics, however, what I am interested in, and as I am writing you have to listen to me, is Henderson’s Nobel Peace Prize. Later in his political career, Henderson would go on to become very involved in trying to prevent the impending second war in Europe. To this end he worked with the World League of Peace and acted as chair of the Geneva Disarmament Conference which was based on the idea that, in the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “If all nations will agree wholly to eliminate from possession and use the weapons which make possible a successful attack, defenses automatically will become impregnable and the frontiers and independence of every nation will become secure.” Clearly the conference wasn’t successful but I can’t think of a Henderson who better lived up to the clan motto, Sola Virtus Nobilitat – Virtue Alone Ennobles. Speaking of conferences and meetings of minds, next year the Clan Henderson Society in the US are planning a foray across the pond to gather members from around the world. First, a march as part of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the 10th of August. Following this there will be a Clan Gathering at Glencoe (August 17th) and also at Fordell Castle (August 19th). This marks the first time in centuries that members of the Clan have been given the opportunity to look inside the castle which was the seat of the family in years gone by, the Clan society are planning a series of events to allow visitors the chance to fully explore their roots in this historic setting. The tour is already proving to be super popular among the members of the society - so far some sixty members are making the voyage - so, hopefully, we will be given the opportunity to meet lots of amazing North American Hendersons next year. If you are a member of Clan Henderson based here in the UK, feel free to check out the Clan Henderson Website for more details about their itinerary, it would be great if we can forge some links between Hendersons here in the UK and abroad. If you do plan to take part in the Clan gathering events next year, check out our selection of products in Clan Henderson tartans, to make sure you look your best and do the chief proud.
If you have any stories about Clan Henderson that you would like to share, or if perhaps you too have won a Nobel Prize and simply want to brag about it, feel free to drop me an email anytime - Jack