Henry Usborne                         

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.

Henry circa 1820
click to enlarge

To see a painting of their children
click here

Phoebe Anne.
Her father Sir Joseph Birch was created Baronet for 30 yrs service to the Whig Government. 
Henry, 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 world. 
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 1822) to 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.
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Between 1811 and 1839 Usborne, Benson & Co (merchants) had offices at 2 & 4. Broad St. London. 
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 ventures discussed. 
He had a house in Bakers St, London in 1812. 
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.

Heyden Hall , Norfolk  

The Coach House at 
     Branches Park.       
In 1803 Henry had a short-lived illegitimate son by the "illiterate wife of a sergeant stationed in the town".
He 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 Fashion".  
In 1816 he bought a 45.000 acre sporting estate known as the Seigneury of the Rivière-de-la-Madeleine. 
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Henry & Phoebe's  
coats of arms

 on the funeral
 hatchment in
Cowlinge  church
Will available on line. Ref 11/1946
Henry's will 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 furniture." and 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 wharves in 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".