Sir Benjamin Benjamin
|42nd Mayor of Melbourne|
|Preceded by||William Cain|
|Succeeded by||Matthew Lang|
|Member of the Victorian Parliament
for Melbourne Province
|Preceded by||Sir James Lorimer|
|Succeeded by||Robert Reid|
2 September 1834|
London, United Kingdom
|Died||7 March 1905
Early life and education
Benjamin was born in London on 2 September 1834 to Moses Benjamin and Catherine Benjamin, née Moses. His family left for Australia in 1843 on a boat named London. He was educated in a school run by the Reverend William Jarrett, a Congregational Church minister.
After leaving school he joined M. Benjamin & Sons, his father's import and export business. In 1864 he and his brother-in-law Edward Cohen went into business together. He retired from active involvement in business in 1878.
In 1870 he was elected to the Melbourne City Council in the Albert ward, becoming an Alderman in 1881 and Mayor between 1887 and 1889. He was the second Jewish Mayor of Melbourne, with his brother-in-law Edward Cohen preceding him by over twenty years. He became the first Melbourne Mayor and first Jewish Australian to receive a knighthood when he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1889.
In 1888 as Mayor of Melbourne Benjamin welcomed the Russian ship Rynda and Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia who was visiting the Australian colonies in a goodwill mission in light of tensions between Britain and Russia.
Imperial Banking Co.
His tenure as a Member of the Legislative Council was brought to a close after he was declared bankrupt when the Imperial Banking Co. collapsed. He had offered personal guarantees on the bank's finances. A subsequent court investigation cleared him but his reputation was reduced and he left public life.
Death and legacy
Benjamin died at his home "Canally" at the corner of George and Powlett Streets in East Melbourne on 7 March 1905. He was survived by his wife Fanny, née Cohen, (c. 1839 – 18 February 1912) and 13 of his 16 children. Lady Benjamin was a sister of Justice Cohen of Sydney.
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This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Joseph Jacobs and Goodman Lipkind (1901–1906). "Benjamin, Sir Benjamin". In Singer, Isidore; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.