Born May 14th.1778 at Great Amwell.
Lived at Heyden Hall, Norfolk, Branches Park, Suffolk
and Portland Place, London
Married August 10th.1816 to Phoebe Anne,
daughter of Sir J. Birch Bart. M.P of The Hasles, Lancs.
Phoebe born March 6th 1787 at Liverpool.
Henry died July 23rd.1840 at Ryde, IoW.
Buried at Cowlinge, Suffolk. Memorial Inscription.
Phoebe died in Torquay October 20th 1875 aged 93.
Phoebe buried Cowlinge. Memorial Inscription.
was a timber merchant in partnership with his elder brother,
John. They traded as
Usborne & Co. The firm is first recorded (circa 1799) in
Riga, Latvia, supplying masts and oak to the navy. In the first
years of 1800's there was a huge expansion of demand by the navy
engendered by the war with France.
Henry established a pioneering branch in Quebec
city in 1801. By 1804 timber
supply for the navy was in crisis. Supplies from New England had been cut off by the War of Independence. Napoleon's
stranglehold on Baltic ports between 1807-1812 led to the
doubling of timber prices. It cost twice as much to import from Canada but
this was more than made up by the high taxes and naval blockades
in the Baltic. Henry was ideally placed to profit from the
shortage. They employed sub-contractors like Peter
Paterson who denuded the shores of Lake Champlain and the Thousand
Islands of their fine oak. Patterson was
to harness the power of the Montmorency falls thereby
establishing the largest sawmill operation of its time in the
The company built several ships. A ship of 348 tons called the Anna Maria
(after John's wife?) was built in 1804. In that year they were
filling 20 ships a year with timber for England.
In 1809 Henry, now a very wealthy man, returned to live in
England but continued to manage his Canadian interests from
London. In 1818 the firm negotiated an exclusive contract (till
supply Canadian timber to the British Navy. The partnership
with Patterson was dissolved in 1823 when Patterson
took over Henry's timber interests in Canada.
He was one of the first directors of the Canada
Company which was set up in 1824 to clear a million acres of forest (The Huron Tract) adjacent to Lake Huron in Canada and
develop settlements. Usborne
Township was named after him. The company was dissolved in 1953.
on image above to find out more
Between 1811 and 1839 Usborne, Benson & Co (merchants) had offices at 2 & 4. Broad St.
Henry and his brother Thomas were in partnership with
Thomas Starling Benson. (Thomas withdrew from the partnership in
1825). In 1830 The company invested in an
enterprise in Swansea, South
Wales smelting copper from ore and recovering copper from slag.
In 1823 he was deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk and High Sheriff .
In 1837 Henry was a director and shareholder of the Northern
and Eastern Railway.
He became a member of the prestigious Canada
Club, a London based dining club for wealthy returned
merchants where friendships were cemented and prospective
He had a house in Bakers St, London in
He lived at Heyden hall in
Norfolk in 1816 (as a tenant?) and then bought the Branches
Park Estate in Suffolk in 1820. In 1834 he was leasing a "mansion house" in Portland Place,
London where he kept several horses and carriages.
Henry had a short-lived illegitimate son by the "illiterate
wife of a sergeant stationed in the town".
bought a "handsomely appointed house with cellars well
stocked, and stables filled, entering horses in the Quebec
Races. Among his possessions were a Pipe of the Best Brazil Madeira that has been 7 years in Canada,
. . . excellent fowling pieces, and a pair of Pocket
Pistols". By late 1808 he was parading around town in “a
curricle with a Harness Compleat of the latest
1816 he bought a 45.000 acre sporting estate known as the
Seigneury of the Rivière-de-la-Madeleine.
read more from Canadian
on line. Ref 11/1946
Henry'swill was drawn up while he was living in Queen Ann
Street, London and proved on May 19th 1841. He left £20,000
in trust for his daughters at 21. He refers to: "my plate, linen, glass, china, books,
pictures and prints, wines, carriages and horses and also all my
to "my capital mansion house and estate called Branches Park
in the county of Suffolk with the garden, pleasure ground, offices and
buildings...... my farms, lands etc. situate in the county of Suffolk
and Cambridge..... my leasehold house in Portland Place, also my wharvesin Canada, north America". Property to be divided
between Poebe Ann, his daughters and "brother in law, Sir Thomas
Birch of The Hasles, in the County Palatine of Lancaster".