Sir Benjamin Truman (1699/1700 – 20 March 1780) was a notable English entrepreneur and brewer during the 18th century. He is notable for the expansion of the Truman Brewery in the Spitalfields area of east London.
Truman followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both named Joseph Truman. Joseph Truman the elder inherited the Lolsworth Field brewery, William Bucknall's Brewhouse, in 1694, and took his son into partnership in 1716 before dying in 1719. Benjamin Truman joined the firm in 1722, and proved himself a shrewd businessman:
- "On the birth of the Duchess of Brunswick, granddaughter of George II, in August 1737, the Prince of Wales ordered four loads of faggots and a number of tar barrels to be burnt before Carlton House to celebrate the event, and directed the brewer of his household to place four barrels of beer near the bonfire for the use of those who chose to partake of the beverage. The beer proved to be of inferior quality and the people threw it into each other's faces and the barrels into the fire. The prince remedied the matter on the following night by ordering a fresh quantity of beer from another brewer. This was supplied by Truman, who took care that it should be of the best, thus earning for himself considerable popularity".
Under Truman's management, the Black Eagle brewery increased substantially in prosperity and size, and Truman divided his time between the brewery's Directors' House and a home, Popes, in Hertfordshire.
Truman was knighted by George III on his accession in 1760 in recognition of his loyalty in contributing to the voluntary loans raised to carry on the various foreign wars. His portrait was painted by George Romney and Sir Thomas Gainsborough (c. 1773-1774); the latter has been part of the Tate Gallery collection since 1978.
Truman died on 20 March 1780, and left a daughter, his only child, whose two grandsons (Sir Benjamin's great-grandchildren), John Freeman Villebois and Henry Villebois, succeeded to his interest in the business.
Truman was buried in the Churchyard of St Mary's, Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire. Together with his memorial is that of his wife Dame Frances Truman who died 10 June 1766 aged 66 and James Truman Esq., died 11 November 1766 aged 42.
Truman's wife, Frances, was a matrilineal descendant of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and the mitochondrial DNA descent through which the remains of Richard III of England were identified in 2013 passes through her and their daughter, also Frances:
Truman's image was used on beer labels and in advertising until the 1970s, depicting him as a jolly fat man with a peg leg and the motto “There’s more hops in Ben Truman”.
- 'Industries: Brewing', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2: General; Ashford, East Bedfont with Hatton, Feltham, Hampton with Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton (1911), pp. 168-78. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=22171. Date accessed: 27 January 2007.
- 'The Black Eagle Brewery, Brick Lane', Survey of London: volume 27: Spitalfields and Mile End New Town (1957), pp. 116-122. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=50162. Date accessed: 26 February 2007.
- Tate Gallery
- Monumental Inscriptions of St Mary's Hertingfordbury by Hertfordshire Family History Society No. 30 dated 1989
- Turi E. King et al. (2014). "Figure 1: Genealogical links between Richard III and modern-day relatives who participated in this study.". Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/ncomms6631. Retrieved December 2, 2014.