Charles Cooper Henderson was born in Abbey House, Chertsey, Surrey to John Henderson and Georgiana Jane (born Keate). His maternal grandfather was George Keate and his elder brother was John Henderson, the antiquary and benefactor of the British Museum. He was sent to Winchester School and then studied to be a lawyer. His father was an amateur artist and patron and his mother had exhibited four of her paintings in 1791.
Henderson was estranged from his father after he married a young girl called Charlotte By in 1828. They were to have nine children together and seven of these were boys. Their children were Charles Cooper (the younger), John Keate Shepard, Charlotte (the younger), Kennart Gregg, Robert, Mary, Roderick William, George By and Henry Cooper Henderson. They all lived out of their infancy but Robert died whilst still a child. Henderson had just two paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy, both in the 1840s.
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