P. Henderson & Co. was a shipping company in Glasgow founded by Patrick Henderson, when he and his brothers bought their first ship the Peter Senn.
Patrick died in 1841 and the company was continued by his brother George Henderson. The firm started trading to New Zealand in 1854 with sailing ships carrying Scottish emigrants and the Royal Mail.
In 1860, there being little cargo from New Zealand to Scotland, P. Henderson & Co. started to call at Burma with a regular service. This trade grew so quickly that in 1864, in order to raise further capital, several new partners came in to form the Albion Shipping Co. as ship owners. The vessels were managed by P. Henderson & Co. and the Albion Shipping Co. became the dominant British company in the New Zealand trade, and holders of the mail contract.
In 1869 the Suez Canal was opened, making steamships more economic on the Glagow to Burma route, so in 1870 P. Henderson & Co. began a steamship service between Glasgow, Liverpool and Burma.
In 1874 the British & Burmese Steam Navigation Co. (BBSN) was formed to increase the capital and spread the risk of the Burmese side of the business as it grew from the era of sailing ships into more expensive and much larger steamships. BBSN took over the fleet of steamships on the Burma route, and appointed P. Henderson & Co. as managing agents.
In 1882 Albion Shipping Co. merged with Shaw, Savill & Co. to form Shaw, Savill & Albion Co. Ltd.
After the merger, P. Henderson & Co. remained as managers and loading brokers for the new company in Glasgow.
In the 1920s and 30s, P. Henderson had a number of new ships built, however nine were lost to enemy action in the Second World War.
In 1947 Elder Dempster Lines chartered P. Henderson’s fleet and took over the company in 1952. Under Elder Dempster, modernisation of the P. Henderson fleet continued, with new motor ships being delivered until at least 1961.
In 1965 Ocean Steamship Co. acquired control of the Elder Dempster group. By 1970 all stock had been transferred to Elder Dempster and the Henderson name disappeared from the shipping trade.