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Benjamin, David Samuel (1869–1943)

by Suzanne D. Rutland

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

David Samuel Benjamin (1869-1943), by Sam Hood

David Samuel Benjamin (1869-1943), by Sam Hood

State Library of New South Wales, Home and Away - 3861

David Samuel Benjamin (1869-1943), merchant and charity worker, was born on 10 April 1869 in Brisbane, eldest son of Maurice David Benjamin, merchant, and his wife Fanny, née Davis. He trained as an architect and practised briefly before moving to New South Wales about 1889. After varied experiences, he was a storekeeper at Junee when he married Ina Muriel Younie Russell on 11 October 1899 in Sydney. In 1903 he became manager of the well-established retail business of Sweet Brothers, drapers, of Newtown and North Sydney. Next year he acquired an interest in the business and in 1906 became managing director.

In 1907 Benjamin was elected a member of the Master Retailers' Association (Retail Traders' Association of New South Wales, 1921) and served on its council in 1907-36. As president in 1918-20 he helped to increase the membership and prestige of the association, and in 1919 founded the M.R.A. Journal in which he maintained a keen interest.

Benjamin worked for various philanthropic institutions in the city of Sydney. As a director of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1919-43 he contributed to the financial and administrative work of the hospital in many ways: he was honorary treasurer in 1924-25 and a member of the house committee; he instituted and organized an appeal for electric lighting in the hospital and was active in its Jubilee Fund campaign of 1923. Benjamin contributed liberally to other public appeals. From 1924 he served on the University Cancer Research Committee which by 1927 had raised over £120,000 for the University of Sydney. In 1919 he was vice-chairman of the influenza administration committee which controlled ambulances during the epidemic. In February 1920 he was appointed chairman of the New South Wales Ambulance Transport Service Board. He became a member of the executive of the St John Ambulance Association and in 1933 was admitted as an associate serving brother to the Order of St John of Jerusalem in recognition of his services.

Benjamin was also a trustee of the National Park, a councillor of the Employers' Federation of New South Wales, and a member of the State executive committee for the Commonwealth Peace Celebrations (1919). Prominent in the Jewish community, he served on the boards of the Great Synagogue (1921-23) and of the Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home (1917-21), and in 1923 was joint treasurer of the New South Wales Jewish War Memorial building fund. A chronic asthmatic, he died of heart failure on 1 December 1943 in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, who inherited his estate valued for probate at £18,694, and by one of their two sons.

Select Bibliography

  • Hebrew Standard of Australasia, 4 July 1919, 27 Aug 1936, 9 Dec 1943
  • Master Retailers Association, Journal, July, Sept 1919, July 1920, July 1936, Dec 1943
  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Annual Report, 1919, 1924-25, 1944 (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Annual Report, 1921-23 (Great Synagogue Office, Sydney).

Citation details

Suzanne D. Rutland, 'Benjamin, David Samuel (1869–1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/benjamin-david-samuel-5203/text8755, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 23 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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