Labour Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Benyon, Edward (Ted) (1868–1947)

This entry is from Obituaries Australia

Mr. Edward Benyon, who was declared at the Diamond Jubilee Convention (1946) of the Australian Workers' Union to be the oldest living continuous member and presented with a gold watch suitably inscribed to mark the historic occasion, died recently in Townsville.

The late Mr. Benyon had held continuous membership tickets since July 21, 1889, when he took out his first ticket at St. George. All industrial documents and the old pioneer's A.W.U. tickets are now in the possession of the Mitchell Library, Sydney, an institution which holds practically every worthwhile historic link about Australian development.

At the funeral of the late Mr. Benyon, Northern District Secretary (Mr. T. B. Ryan) and Industrial Inspector Quilty acted as pallbearers.

For the benefit of those who may not have read the wonderful record established by the late Mr. Benyon, 'The Worker' again gives a brief summary of the facts that established him as the then oldest living continuous A.W.U. member.

In connection with the quest it was set out in the notices that any member who believed he was in a position to establish his claim to that high honour was asked to go through his tickets carefully and to communicate with the Editor of 'The Worker' giving details, and anyone who could prove his membership was invited to forward his tickets to 'The Worker' for inspection.

There were 48 entrants, and of these no fewer than nine claimed membership of the organisation since its foundation in 1886, but none of them was continuous from that date. Most of their early tickets had been lost or destroyed.

In the case of Mr. Benyon his record was better. Besides a membership ticket taken out every year since 1889 Mr. Benyon, who was 77 years of age at the time, also produced all his loyalties and levies, together with a certificate of membership of the New Australia Cooperation.

Mr. Benyon was the only member to produce continuous tickets for the whole period of his membership and, in addition, produced all his levies and loyalty tickets, together with his shearers' cook certificate issued by the Cobar Branch of the Amalgamated Shearers' Union in December, 1890, and a testimonial letter from the Secretary of the Queensland General Labourers' Union and the Queensland Shearers' Union thanking him for his services as cook, and stating that he and his mate had cooked to the satisfaction of the 250 men at the St. George camp, gratis, during the time they were on strike.

A very careful and exhaustive examination of the tickets of every claimant revealed that Mr. Benyon was the only one who fully complied with the conditions and was, in his opinion, entitled to be declared 'the oldest living continuous member' of the Australian Workers' Union.

In making a presentation to him of an inscribed gold watch the then president (Mr. Johnson) said on behalf of Convention and of the members of the Australian Workers' Union it afforded him the greatest of pleasure to make such presentation to Mr. Benyon for his true loyalty to the union over his many years of membership.

The watch, which he held in his hand, was inscribed:

"Australian Workers' Union Diamond Jubilee Convention,
1886-1946.
Presented to
Mr. E. Benyon,
Townsville,
The 'Oldest Living Continuous
Member' of the A.W.U.,
1889-1946."

The late Ted Benyon was born in Sydney in 1868, leaving there in 1886 to go cooking for shearers.

At the time of the Diamond Jubilee Convention he was cooking for pineapple growers on Magnetic Island (Queensland).

He sold papers, telling of the sinking of the Australia in Sydney Harbour and the burning of the Palace Exhibition in the Botanical Gardens. As a barefooted boy he worked in Bodel Bros.' sweets factory when Sir Henry Parkes introduced compulsory education.

When Cooper and Barclay's Circus went to Sydney with the first steam organ to reach Australia, it occupied the whole of Moore Park, and Mr. Benyon, who was then working in a flour mill in Goulburn Street, often found excuses to visit the circus.

Original Publication

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Benyon, Edward (Ted) (1868–1947)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/benyon-edward-ted-32941/text41033, accessed 29 November 2022.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012