Bill Benyon

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William Benyon

Member of Parliament
for Buckingham
In office
18 June 1970 – 9 June 1983
Preceded byRobert Maxwell
Succeeded byGeorge Walden
Member of Parliament
for Milton Keynes
In office
9 June 1983 – 9 April 1992
Preceded byNew constituency
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born(1930-01-17)17 January 1930
Died2 May 2014(2014-05-02) (aged 84)
Political partyConservative

Sir William Richard Benyon DL (born Shelley; 17 January 1930 – 2 May 2014), usually known as Bill Benyon, was a British Conservative Party politician, Berkshire landowner and former High Sheriff.[1]


Benyon was the eldest of four sons of Vice-Admiral Richard Shelley (1892–1968) and his wife, Eve Alice Gascoyne-Cecil, the daughter of the Right Reverend Lord (Rupert Ernest) William Gascoyne-Cecil, Bishop of Exeter. William's father, (Richard, son of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Shelley, 9th Bt., by Marion Emma Benyon, daughter of Richard Fellowes Benyon),[2] changed his (and thus his son's)[citation needed] name from Shelley to Benyon in 1964 (deed poll) and 1967 (Royal Licence) after inheriting the Englefield estate from his second cousin, Sir Henry Benyon, 1st Bt., in 1959.

Benyon joined the Royal Navy aged 13 in 1943 and attended Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.[citation needed] He retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant in 1956 and became a member of The Castaways' Club soon thereafter. He was with Courtaulds Ltd until 1967.

Benyon joined the Conservative Monday Club prior to 1970, when he was elected as Member of Parliament for Buckingham at the 1970 general election, defeating the incumbent Robert Maxwell, and retained his seat at the next three elections. At the 1983 general election he stood instead in the new Milton Keynes constituency, where he was re-elected until he retired at the 1992 general election. Due to its increased population, the Milton Keynes seat was then divided into two new constituencies: Milton Keynes North East and Milton Keynes South West. This was the only division of a constituency at the 1992 general election.

Benyon never held government office, but was PPS to Paul Channon 1972–74 when he was Minister for Housing, then was an Opposition whip from 1974 to 1976. He served as a member of the University of Reading Council from 1967 to 2002, was a member of Berkshire County Council from 1964 to 1974, a Deputy Lieutenant from 1970, a Berkshire JP 1962–77, Vice Lord Lieutenant for Berkshire from 1994 (the year he was knighted), and High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1995. He was chairman of the Peabody Trust, 1992–1998, and of the Ernest Cook Trust from 1992. He was a member of Boodle's, Pratt's and Beefsteak London clubs.[3] He lived at Englefield House until the last few years of his life and was a director of the Englefield Charitable Trust. He died on 2 May 2014, at age 84.

In May 1993 Benyon was awarded an honorary degree by the Open University as Doctor of the University.[4]


Benyon married Elizabeth Hallifax in 1957. They had two sons, three daughters and 18 grandchildren, who all survived him. His elder son, Richard Benyon, has been the Conservative MP for Newbury since 2005.


Sir William's ancestors in three generations
Sir William Benyon, Kt (1994), DL (1970)
Vice-Admiral Richard Shelley, CB, CBE (recte Benyon, 1964) (1892–1968)
High Sheriff Bucks, 1958. (Succeeded his second cousin of Sir Henry Benyon, 1st & last Bt.)

Sir John Shelley, 9th Bt., TD, DL, JP

Rev. Sir Frederick Shelley, 8th Bt. (1809–1869)
Descended from Sir William Shelley, Kt, MP, JP, (1478/9-1549), a lawyer, of Michelgrove, Patching, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex, and related to recusants Sir Richard Shelley and Richard Shelley[5]

Charlotte Martha Hippisley (d.1893)
Daughter of the Rev. Henry Hippisley, of Lamborne Place and Sparsholt, Berks, by Anne daughter of Lock Rollinson of Chadlington.[6][7]

Marion Emma Benyon
First cousin of James Herbert Benyon

Richard Fellowes, MP, (recte Benyon, 1854) (1811–1897)
Son of William Henry Fellowes, MP, by Emma, daughter of Richard Benyon of Gidea Hall. Inherited most of the estates of his uncle Richard Benyon De Beauvoir, MP, DL, JP, of Englefield, De Beauvoir Town, the New River Company, Cranham Hall, North and South Ockendon (Essex), Newbury Park (Essex), Culford (Suffolk), and Downham (Essex). Distant kinsman of founder of Georgia, James Oglethorpe[8]

Elizabeth Mary Clutterbuck (1833–?)
Granddaughter of Robert Clutterbuck (1772–1831), JP, DL, FSA, of Watford. Her sister married William George Mount, MP

Eve Alice Gascoyne-Cecil

Rt. Rev. Lord William Cecil, Bishop of Exeter

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, KG, GCVO, PC
(1830–1903). Prime Minister

Georgina Alderson (1827–1899)
Daughter of Baron of the Exchequer and judge, Sir Edward Hall Alderson

Lady Florence Mary Bootle-Wilbraham

Edward Bootle-Wilbraham, 1st Earl of Lathom, GCB, PC

Lady Alice Villiers (c.1841–1897)
Daughter of George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon, KG, GCB, PC, Foreign Secretary & Lord Privy Seal


  1. ^ "Sir William Benyon – obituary". Telegraph. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  2. ^ Burke's Peerage
  3. ^ Debrett's People of Today, 2006
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a family of London mercers and aldermen. His [Sir William's] younger sister, Elizabeth Shelley, was abbess of St Mary's, Winchester, between 1527 and 1539. The Shelleys were rumoured to be the abbot of Waltham's bondmen of a manor near Ware, Hertfordshire, and in 1467 Sir William's grandfather John Shelley, soon to be sheriff of London, broke the head of a fellow mercer who had called him a churl. Although later generations would claim a more elevated pedigree, the origins of the Shelleys should be sought among the Hertfordshire peasantry (Christopher Whittick, in ODNB, 2013).
  6. ^
  7. ^ Burke's History of the Commoners, 1834
  8. ^ Oglethorpe's wife was daughter of Sir Benjamin Wright, 1st Bt

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Maxwell
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
Succeeded by
George Walden
New constituency Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished