Gelling, Benjamin

Benjamin Richard Gelling was born in Victoria in 1863, his father being a native of the Isle of Man and his mother of Belfast, Ireland. In 1889 Benjamin married Margaret McArthur, aged 23 years, at Nowra. They had three sons and two daughters between 1890 and 1901. Benjamin joined Tillock and Co., merchants, of the Haymarket, Sydney as an invoice clerk when he was 18 years old and after seven years with them he began work with the Mutual Life Association at a salary of £200 per annum. In 1908 when that company merged with the Citizens Assurance to become the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co., Benjamin Gelling was appointed General Manager.

The Gellings lived in Arncliffe until about 1893-1895 when they moved to Beecroft. Benjamin was soon involved in the life of St John’s Church of England, being one of the early trustees; he was also choirmaster and organist. He was Secretary and later President of the Progress Association and on the committee of the Kennedya Tennis Club. He and his family lived in ‘Beresleigh’ in Hannah Street, formerly William Coward’s home.[1]

In 1899 Benjamin Gelling was farewelled by Beecroft friends prior to his departure for England and
presented with a silver mounted ebony walking stick and a book, ‘The Harmonium Museum’ from the choir of St John’s Church. Margaret Gelling and their four children returned to Arncliffe whilst Benjamin was overseas. He joined them there on his return, following which they settled in The Boulevard, Strathfield, where their youngest child Margaret was born in 1901. Benjamin became an alderman and was later Mayor of Strathfield from 1913 to 1915. He had a part interest in a sheep station in the Singleton district and on his retirement worked on it and also gave much of his time and experience to the board of the New South Wales Benevolent Society.[2]

Margaret Gelling died in 1932 and Benjamin in 1944.[3]


[1] Cumberland Argus, 17 July 1897, 2 May 1896, 13 March 1897, 1 August 1896.
[2] Cumberland Argus, 28 January 1899, 25 March 1899; Michael Jones, Oasis in the West —
Strathfield’s First One Hundred Years,
North Sydney, 1985.
[3] Information from Mrs Judy Tugwell of Beecroft.