Monday, April 16, 2012

Ernest Charles Benn

Ernest Charles Benn - I have identified this person through the census records, he was the only Ernest C Benn in Liverpool and was born in 1888 so he is of the right age.

He was born on the 29th May 1888 to William and Elizabeth Benn. His christening record for 13th March 1889 only shows his first name of Ernest. It shows that his father was a shipwright and they lived on Enid St.

baptism record, image source:

1891 Census - 35 Enid Street
William Benn, head, married, 38, Shipwright, born Liverpool
Elizabeth, wife, married, 37, no occupation, Launceston Cornwall
William T Benn, son, 15, pawnbroker assistant, Liverpool
Elizabeth S Benn, daughter, 9, Scholar, Liverpool
Harry Benn, son,5, Scholar, Liverpool *
Ernest C Benn, son, 3, no occupation, Liverpool
1891 census Image source:
1901 Census - 35 Enid Street (transcribed on as Bernn)
William Benn head, married, 58, carpenter shipwright, Liverpool
Elizabeth Benn, wife, married, 49, no occupation, Liverpool
Elizabeth S Benn, daughter, single, 18, no occupation, Liverpool
Henry Benn, son, 14, no occupation, Liverpool * this is Harry from the 1901 census
Ernest Chas Benn, son, single, 12, no occupation, Liverpool
Mabel Benn, daughter, single, 9, no occupation, Liverpool
Nellie Benn, daughter, single, 7, no occupation, Liverpool
1901 census Image source:

1911 Census - 36 Tavistock Street
Eliabeth Benn, head, widow, 55, housekeeper, own accont, at home,, Launceton (Plymouth) British (the information about number of children was filled in by mistake. It has been crossed out but still clearly shows that Elizabeth had 7 children, 2 of whom have died.)
Ernest Charles Benn, son, single, 22, Coal dealer, employer, Liverpool, British
Nellie Benn, daughter, single, 17, dress maker, worker, Liverpool
1911 census Image source:

So, I have him tracked down in civilian life, but his wartime experience seems to be more elusive.

The CWGC has one entry for E.Benn, click her to see this entry in the CWGC database. (opens in new window)

The collection of medal cards has one Ernest C Benn but his number and regiment do not match the CWGC E Benn, also the card does not record his death (although they don't always)


Again, my progress with this search has been made with the help of various members of WW1 board.

There was a marine death index for Benn, no first name, died 1918 whilst serving on the Olympic.

I checked the marine BMDs and found that this was Harry Benn, died 20th March 1918 on the Olympic of accidental drowning. His home address was 36 Tavistock Street - so he was the brother of our Ernest C Benn...

or was he?

I was pointed in the direction of a family grave in Toxteth Cemetery which bears the inscription

In loving memory of
our dear mother
Elizabeth BENN,
died 6th Jan. 1927, aged 72 years.
 Also Ernest BENN,
who was lost at sea 20th March 1918,
aged 28 years.
Also Margaret BENN,
died 26th Dec. 1911, aged 28 years.
*Peace, perfect peace.*
In loving memory of
 my dear husband
Harry BENN,
died 18th April 1931, aged 44 years.
*He giveth His beloved sleep.*

I found the inscription for the gravestone on the excellent database on this site:
and then got the further info below from this site:


28 years
42a Parkfield Road
31 December 1911
72 years
34 Dingle Lane Toxteth Park
10 January 1927
44 years
36 Tavistock Street Toxteth Park
23 April 1931
Margaret Ann
70 years
142 Vine Street Liverpool
21 September 1933

So, the record on the marine deaths register should be Ernest, not Harry? This would explain why he hasn't got a war grave if he was in the Mercantile Marine accidental drowning wouldn't have qualified even when he was on a troopship.

Checking the records shows that Harry Benn was married in 1910 to Margaret, widowed in 1911 (see the gravestone inscription) then served in the Mercantile Marine and survived the war. He remarried to Catherine Connelly in 1918 at which time his occupation was 'quartermaster' and he signed his name as both Henry and Harry.

I can only assume that the brother's records were mixed up when Ernest died, I have found a Mercantile Marine ID Card for Harry which has a photo of him (below) but I have yet to find one for Ernest.
Harry Benn, taken from his MM ID Card.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the hard work and dedication in setting up this blog.

Ernest C Benn was my late mother's great uncle and brother to her grand father Henry/ Harry Benn who died just before she was born. Florence Lillian Benn (1931 to 2010).

I have never seen a photo of Henry/ Harry Benn senior before. Thank you! This is very special.

Barbara X