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John Benn (1821–1895)

The announcement of the death of Mr. John Benn, for many years a prominent figure in the mercantile life of Melbourne, will be received with very deep regret. Mr. Benn who has been ailing for a considerable time past, was unwell last week, but came to Melbourne specially for the purpose of attending the meeting of the Metropolitan Bus Company, of which he has been chairman since its creation, and there is very little doubt but that this unfortunate step cost him his life. On Monday, however, he was well enough to preside at the meeting of another company, of which he was chairman, and on Friday his medical advisers, Mr O’Hara and Dr Maudsley, found a marked improvement in his condition, but he suffered a relapse during the night, and died at 4 o clock on Saturday morning.

Mr Benn, whose father was a North of England farmer, was born at Bootle, Cumberland, in 1821, and after receiving a business training in a mercantile house in Liverpool came to Melbourne in 1849, and for some years was in partnership with Mr Charles Heep. He returned to England in 1855, but came back immediately to Melbourne, and in the early part of 1856 became a partner in the well known firm of Grice, Sumner, and Co, with which he was connected up to the time of his death. Always an active business man he was associated with many public companies, and his integrity and tact led to his being elected to the presidency of many of these concerns. He was chairman of the old Melbourne Gas Company, and on the amalgamation held the same position in the present company. He also presided over the directorate of the Trustees, Executors, and Agency Company, the Agency, Land, and Finance Company of Australasia, the Commercial Union Insurance Company, and was on the board of the Union Bank, and several kindred institutions. His interest in squatting pursuits was scarcely less keen and one of his few hobbies was the breeding of shorthorn cattle at Coolart, Westernport, where he had established a seaside home that included many of the features of a model farm. Amongst the pastoral properties in which Mr Benn was interested are Bagilborie Station. on the Namoi River, New South Wales, and Monavale, in the Waikato district of New Zealand. He had no aspiration to figure in public life, either Parliamentary or municipal. Mr Benn married Miss Walker, who survives him but had no children, his nearest relatives in Australia being the Messrs Grice, with whom he was distantly connected.

The remains of Mr Benn will be interred in the Melbourne General Cemetery today, the funeral leaving his late residence, Waratah, Clendon road, Toorak, at 2 p.m.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Argus (Melbourne), 12 February 1895, p 5

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Citation details

'Benn, John (1821–1895)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

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