Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Ernest Benn

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Sir Ernest Benn (c1876-1954) son of John Williams Benn

1954 Obituary [1]

SIR ERNEST BENN, whose death occurred at Oxted Surrey, on Sunday, January 17th, was well known to many engineers by his long career in trade and technical publishing, and by his enthusiasm for the work of the Society of Individualists. Sir Ernest, who was seventy-eight, was the second baronet.

He was educated at the City Central Foundation School in London, and as a youth entered the office of the 'Cabinet Maker', which had been started by his father. Sir Ernest has said himself that he certainly began in a blind alley, with no definite duties except to do what he was told, with no training, and with few prospects except such as he could find for himself! Nevertheless, for more than fifty years Sir Ernest applied his energy and his ability to the development of the publishing business which bears his name, and to many other activities concerned with economic and social affairs. He was an able writer, as is revealed by such books as 'Confessions of a Capitalist' and 'Happier Days', and a number of others on economic, political and industrial matters which came from his pen.

Sir Ernest was a founder member and a past president of the Society of Individualists, a society which frequently provided a platform for the exposition of his conviction that the main cause of the majority of our troubles is the mania for invoking public action, for taking money which would be productive and useful if left in private hands, and rendering it sterile and useless in the dead hand of the state machine."

As well as being a Freeman of the City of London, Sir Ernest was High Sheriff of the County of London in 1932.

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