Alexander Henry (gunsmith)

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Alexander Henry
File:Alexander Henry portrait in Museum of Edinburgh.JPG
Photo held by The City of Edinburgh Council Museums & Galleries; Museum of Edinburgh’, donated by Charles Henry Brown
inscription "The First Scottish Volunteer March 1859"
Born Alexander Henry
4 June 1818
Died 27 January 1894
Cause of death Concussion of Brain together with Pneumonia
Resting place Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Rifle and shotgun maker
Known for Martini–Henry rifle

Alexander Henry (1818-1894) was a Scottish gun maker, based in Edinburgh, and designer of the Henry rifling and barrel used in the Martini–Henry rifle.[1]

He submitted a rifle to the competition organised by the British government for a replacement to their existing Snider–Enfield service weapon. Ironically, his breech action and barrel were both judged to be the best (and won the prizes) but the War Office did not adopt its action, preferring that of von Martini, but did adopt its seven-grooved barrel rifling scheme. The resulting Martini-Henry rifle is named for von Martini and himself.

Henry is a fascinating character – from a number of personal tragedies in his family, to some disastrous other business ventures, but he also was the "First Volunteer" – the first signatory to the creation of the Queen’s Edinburgh Rifle Volunteers, a JP, freemason and Edinburgh town councillor.

In 1872 he was appointed "gun and rifle manufacturer to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales".

He and his wife Isabella had nine children : Eliza Mackay, Jemima Janet, James Alexander (accidentally shot and killed by his father in 1860, aged 12), William Orchardson (died aged 2), Isabella, a stillborn child, Alexander (Alick), Alice Mills (died aged 1) and John Chave Luxmore Henry. When Alexander Henry died, he left the business to Alick and John.

His grave is in Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh


  1. Walter, John (2006). Rifles of the World. Krause Publications. pp. 118, 173. ISBN 978-0-89689-241-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>