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genealogy of the Bird and Musgrove families
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Alick Cole Benson (1879 - 1931)

Alick Benson was born into an upper class family, went to St Paul's School and worked in a lunatic asylum before dying, aged just 51, on a golf course.

Alick was born in Farningham, Kent on 12th December 1879.  He was the elder of 3 children.  Alick's (on the right in the photo) early childhood was spent living at The Mount, Sparepenny Lane, Farningham, Kent with his brother Hugh (1882) and sister Marjorie (1884). It was an afluent family with 5 servants.

Their comfortable life must have changed dramatically when his father, William Cole BENSON, left him, his mother, Marion Eliza BENSON, and siblings around 1884 and emigrated to South Africa.

Aged 11, on the 1891 census, Alick was a "visitor" living away from home at 3 High Street, Brasted with a wine merchant, Frederick Clark. 

According to my Uncle Tony’s autobiography, "Although she regarded herself as very hard done by and impoverished, my grandmother had been provided, after the separation, with an income sufficient to maintain a house in the Cromwell Road, with three or four resident servants, and to send her two sons to St. Paul’s School." There is evidence that Alick was at St Paul's in 1893 and "Left in Sc. viii. A., April 1897 Trooper in Paget's Horse".  I have not been able to find any evidence of Alick going to the Boer War apart from this, although there are records for three "A.Benson" who conceivably could be him.

Anyway, by the time of the 1901 census, Alick (21) was safely back in Fulham living with his "widowed" mother (54) living at 49 Kensington Hall Gardens. He was described as an "articled pupil to analist".  However, perhaps due to having less funds, they had no live in servants !

The 1911 census shows he was "staff" working as a "Gentleman Companion" at the
Ticehurst House Private Lunatic Asylum.  This asylum was on a grandiose 500 acre estate and, apparantly, attracted affluent clientele, including aristocratic and prominent society figures.

Whether Alick volunteered or was called up for WW1, I haven't discovered.  The only reference to him is in the London Gazette in February 1915 when he was promoted to temporary Second Lieutenant in The Army Service Corps.  No medal card or service record has yet been found. 

Alick married Ada Gertrude MARCHETTI on 23rd December 1926 at St Barnabas Church, Kensington. He was 47 years old, a bachelor, and described as an “Engineer” living at Bickenhall Mansions, Gloucester Place, W1. His brother in law, my grandfather, Percy BIRD, was a witness.  Ada is described as a widow, aged 44, previously living at 12 Pembroke Studios, Pembroke Gardens, W8 and her father was Charles Augustus PASBACH, a “Gentleman”. Charles was described as a German “Naturalised British Subject” on the 1891 census. She was born in Holborn.

His mother died in 1929 and appointed "Lieutenant Colonel Alick ...." as Executor of her Will.  He shared an estate of £1,223 equally with his brother and sister (about £58k in todays terms).   

Less than 5 years after the marriage, on 3rd April 1931, Alick died, and his death certificate says he died at Golf Links, Worplesdon Hill, Woking, aged 51. His occupation was described as a “Motor Engineer” of 21 Earls Terrace, Kensington, W8. Ada was the informant of the same address. The cause of death was “angina pectoris” – a heart attack.  Probate was granted to his widow to whom Alick left everything and his estate was recorded as being worth £1,364 (£83k today using RPI index).

I have visions of him enjoying a round of golf on the heath and heather at Worplesdon Golf Course and suddenly having the heart attack which killed him. I have contacted the Club but they told me he was not listed as a member and they have no historical record of the incident. However, that is not to say he wasn’t playing as a guest of a member, which is now, I like to think, the most likely scenario.


Linked toAlick Cole Benson; Ada Gertrude Pasbach

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