William Gurney Benham
|William Gurney Benham|
Gurney Benham c. 1916
|Born||16 February 1859|
Colchester, Essex, England
|Died||13 May 1944 (aged 85)|
Colchester, Essex, England
Early life and family
William Benham was born on 16 February 1859 to Edward Benham, a printer, and Mary Carr. He was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School until 1873 and then at Colchester Royal Grammar School, a school about which he has written, of whose old boys' society he was later President and which still has a building named after him. In 1904 he married Ethel Hervey Elwes and had three children: Edith Tayspill Benham (1905-1955), Hervey William Gurney Benham (1910-1987) and Maura Elwes Mary Benham (1912-1995).
His first job was as a journalist in Wiltshire in 1881. In 1884 he took over the family printing business and began his 59-year editorship of the Essex County Standard. From 1892 to 1929 he edited the newspaper jointly with his brother, Charles Edwin Benham. A "conscientious as well as an excellent scholar", he is now mainly known through his many publications, many of which are transcriptions of official documents from mediaeval times, particularly those related to his home town of Colchester. He also compiled a number of books of quotations, leading a reviewer in the Journal of Education to comment after his death, "it is remarkable that one man — Sir William Gurney Benham — was able to collect and arrange some fifty thousand quotations and proverbs". For ten years he was also editor of the Essex Review.
In addition, Gurney Benham was mayor of Colchester three times, for the years 1892/93, 1908/09 and 1933/34, in 1933 was appointed to the honour of High Steward of Colchester and was knighted in 1935 in recognition of his public service. He remained editor of the Standard until 1943, and was a director of the Colchester Gas Company for over forty years, being chairman until his resignation on grounds of ill health the day before his death.
Death and legacy
Benham died on 13 May 1944. Gurney Benham Close, a street in Colchester is named after him.
- Playing Cards: The History and Secrets of the Pack
- Book of Quotations, Proverbs and Household Words (1924, reprinted 1929)
- Dictionary of Quotations. 1948 .
- Prose quotations: classified under prose-headings, and fully indexed. London: Cassell. 1926.
- A Short History of Playing Cards
- Benham's New Book of Quotations
- The oath book; or, Red parchment book of Colchester
- "Birthdays". The Independent. 16 February 1996. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- "Obituary". Gas Journal. 243/4. 1944.
- "Obituary list: The Late Sir Gurney Benham". The Colcestrian. Colchester Royal Grammar School. July 1944. pp. 30–1.
- School, Merchant Taylors'; Merchant Taylors' School (London, England) (1923). Merchant Taylors' School register, 1851-1920. p. 70.
- Partridge, Eric (1986). Dictionary of Catch Phrases. London: Routledge. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-415-05916-9.
- A P Baggs; Beryl Board; Philip Crummy; Claude Dove; Shirley Durgan; N R Goose; R B Pugh; Pamela Studd; C C Thornton (1994). Janet Cooper, C R Elrington, eds. Social and cultural institutions. A History of the County of Essex (The Borough of Colchester). 9. pp. 298–303. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- "Benham's Book of Quotations: Proverbs and Household Words [review]". The Journal of Education. 81: 56. 1949.
- "The Antiquaries Journal". The Antiquaries Journal. 24/5. 1944.
- "Colchester Borough Mayors since 1836". Colchester Borough Council. 9 July 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- Partridge, Eric (1986). Dictionary of Catch Phrases. London: Routledge. Abbreviations. ISBN 978-0-415-05916-9.
- The oath book; or, Red parchment book of Colchester on Archive.org (1907).