He was born in Poole, England, the son of Francis Lester, who was a merchant and also served as mayor of Poole, and the grandson of William Taverner. His father was involved in the Newfoundland fish trade and Lester went to Newfoundland around 1737, working for another merchant from Poole involved in the fishery. He married his cousin Susannah Taverner around 1750. After the death of his employers, he entered the fish trade on his own, partnering with his brother Isaac. His operations were based in the area of Trinity. During the 1760s, he began building a large brick house there, now preserved as the Lester-Garland house. In 1762, he was forced to temporarily surrender Trinity to the French. Lester continued to return to Newfoundland for the fishing season until 1776. After that, he continued to manage operations from England and his business continued to expand until he owned a fleet of almost 30 ships. Lester was also involved in the trade in seals.
In England, he lobbied for the exclusion of the Americans from the fish trade. He also opposed the concession of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon to France. Lester served as mayor of Poole in 1779 and from 1781 to 1783 and was a member of parliament representing Poole from 1790 to 1796.
After his death in Poole in 1802, his son-in-law George Garland, who had married Lester's daughter Amy, took over the operation of the business which Lester had established.
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
- Benjamin Lester - Borough of Poole
- Restoration of Lester-Garland House
|Parliament of Great Britain|
William Morton Pitt
Michael Angelo Taylor
|Member of Parliament for Poole
With: Hon. Charles Stuart 1790–91
Michael Angelo Taylor 1791–96
Hon. Charles Stuart