Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Benny Farthing

Since I had luck recently to have been contacted by someone who I had wished to have find me I thought I might try the same trick with the Bennies.

Who be the Bennies? Bennies' from Heaven? No. Benny's from Lambeth (later of Islington).

The subject of my biographical ministrations, as my sole reader is aware is R.S.Smythe who appears in the 1841 London (Lambeth) Census with his mother and siblings. The masculine head of the house is John Benny, printer and at a later date, teacher. John's son John James Benny was to become head compositor or some such knight of Print-and-font at the City Press Room. He had a sister Priscilla Benny,whose unique name and impoverished spinster's end might be at this moment clinging to the twenty-fifth floor of some family historians brain. I want to know all about them.

They lived in 1841 at 17 Devonshire Street now Courtney Street. Elizabeth Smith, Robert's mother lived with them. Robert himself had became a printers apprentice, reader then journalist, tutored and inspired no doubt by John Benny whose destiny remains unknown. I know the Benny's are important and I half think Mary Benny, the lady of the house was Elizabeth Smith's sister (born in Hoxton when it was just some grass and a disinterested goat), or perhaps Elizabeth was sister to Mr. Benny. Elizabeth Smith had an annuity which had disappeared by the 1850s... So what was the source of such an income?  R.S.Smythe's pa-pah' was supposed to have been a Commercial Traveller which would hardly leave behind such fiscal residue unless he was selling small arms door to door. What happened to him? Was he a drunkard? Did he meet a Dickensian end and what sort of man was he? Who are these Benny's? 

And finally, Edward Smith, a relative of Robert's maybe an uncle was a school teacher (just like John Benny) of Crafers in South Australia. I have written to Crafers School begging for any information about their founder and even offering up same but received no reply which in light of humanities long burning lust for letting the silverware of letter-writing and other social graces tarnish into a dull lead like lustre, is no surprise.

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