Benjamin Russell Hanby (July 22, 1833 – March 16, 1867), also given as Benjamin Russel Hanby, was an American composer, educator, and pastor who wrote approximately 80 songs. The most famous of his compositions are "Darling Nelly Gray", the Christmas songs "Up on the House Top", "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas", and the hymn "Who Is He In Yonder Stall?".
Hanby was born near Rushville, Ohio. He moved to Westerville, Ohio in 1849, at the age of sixteen, to enroll at Otterbein University. He was involved in the Underground Railroad with his father, Bishop William Hanby.
Hanby composed "Darling Nelly Gray" in 1856 in what is now a state historical site, the Hanby House, located at 160 West Main Street in Westerville, adjacent to the campus of Otterbein University. After graduation in 1858, Hanby briefly taught school and then became a minister in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. In 1860, he became principal of Seven Mile Academy in Seven Mile, Ohio.
In 1864, he was minister of a church in New Paris, Ohio, but by Christmas 1864, Ben was no longer working as a pastor, but operating a singing school in New Paris. He composed "Up On The Housetop" as a Christmas sing-along. It was originally titled Santa Claus. The following year, Chicago publisher George Frederick Root published "Up On The Housetop" and brought Hanby to Chicago to pursue other publishing ventures.
- Benjamin Russel Hanby, Ohio Composer-Educator, 1833–1867 (1987); C. B. Galbreath, Song Writers of Ohio, in 14 Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications 180 (1905).
- William Osborne, Music in Ohio 421 (2004); Galbreath, supra, at 183.
- "Benjamin Russel Hanby", Hanby House
- Benjamin Hanby at www.britannica.com
- Benjamin Hanby at www.ohiohistorycentral.org
- Hanby House information from the General Commission on Archives and History
- Free scores by Benjamin Hanby at the International Music Score Library Project
- Benjamin Hanby at Find a Grave