Benjamin James

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Benjamin James Ferdinando Part 1

By:  David J Ferdinando

Acknowledgements:  City of Kingston, Melbourne Australia

Benjamin James Ferdinando was born on the 10th October 1852 at 18, George Street, Bethnal Green.  His parents were Benjamin Ferdinando and Emma Walker.  As a young man he lived for eight years on the European Continent.  He spoke French as well as German.  During his time in Europe he met and married Marion, also English, studying art.  they were married in Paris.  They emigrated to Australia in 1887 settling first in Adelaide.  Two years later they moved to Melbourne and from 1893 until his death in 1922, lived in Hampton.

Benjamin travelled each day by train from Hampton, a small seaside village, to his office in Melbourne.  He became involved in local activities and in 1897 he was the Chairman of Directors of the Sandringham House Company.  He was an active member of the Sandringham Progress League  and its President in 1901. 

At various times, Benjamin held office in Sporting bodies including the Sandringham Rifle Club and the Hampton Bathing and Life Saving Club.  He was, for 19 years, the Treasurer of the Victorian Artists' Society, most probably through Marion's interest.

However, it is as a leading force in the 20th Century Sandringham Severance Movement that Benjamin is remembered.

In 1904, Benjamin was elected to the Moorabbin Shire Council.  His fellow Councillors were all against separation and whose antagonism for his support for severance he had to fight over the years.  This movement, started in 1884, was a struggle by the inhabitants of the West Riding to be separated from the Moorabbin Shire.  The area proposed to be severed was residential and its ratepayers had different interests from those in the East and North Riding who were dominated by Market Gardeners.

The sixth and final Petition to the State Government in 1917 was successful and the Borough of Sandringham was created.  Benjamin was elected as a Councillor and was the Borough's first Mayor.

To read the whole story click on the link from the City of Kingston's Historical Web Site.

Benjamin died on the 1st June 1922.  The following are taken from "The Southern Cross" Newspaper:

Saturday, June 3, 1922.

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Veteran Councillor Passes.

Cr. Ferdinando's Death.

Deep regret was expressed throughout the Brighton, Sandringham and Black Rock districts when it became known that Cr. B. J. Ferdinando had died at his home, Mill Street, Hampton, a 7 O'clock on Thursday evening.

Born in London 65 years ago, the deceased gentleman came to Australia in 1887.  He landed in Adelaide, where he stayed two years, then came on to Melbourne, where he was engaged in business as an accountant.  For 19 years he was Treasurer of the Victorian Artists' Society.  He was also a member of the Board of Management of the Queen's Memorial Infectious Diseases Hospital, as representative of the group of municipalities extending from Prahran to Hastings.  The deceased gentleman was a member of the Shire Council of Moorabbin for 12 years and was President in 1914.  For about six years he was captain of the first rifle club formed in Sandringham.

Among other positions filled at one time or another by Cr. Ferdinando were President of the Sandringham Bowling Club, President of the Hampton Bathing and Life Saving Club and President or Vice-President of the various sporting clubs in the district.

The now deceased councillor took an active part in the movement for the separation of Sandringham from Moorabbin.  When that became an accomplished fact Cr. Ferdinando was elected one of the representatives of the Hampton Ward.  He was also the first Mayor of Sandringham.  He filled that office so successfully that he was paid the compliment of Mayoral re-election in the following year.  Term after term he was sent back to Sandringham Council without opposition.

In his council work Cr. Ferdinando earned the respect and confidence of all his colleagues.  He was assiduous in his attention to the wants of the Hampton Ward and in attendance at council meetings.  Never unduly assertive and always courteous in his demeanour to his fellow councillors.  Cr. Ferdinando's views on matters relating to the welfare of the district were always listened to attentively and recorded respect.   He was a staunch supporter of  his ward colleague, Cr. Hartsman in the necessity for careful and economical financing on the part of the Council.  His loss will be keenly felt by the whole of the district.

Matter for sympathetic reflection lies in the fact that Cr. Ferdinando was planning to visit England during this present year.

Cr. Ferdinando leaves a widow, but no family.  Mrs. Ferdinando was for many years well and favourably known in artists' circles.  Her paintings had been exhibited from time to time by the Victorian Artists' Society, of which she had been a member for a number of years.

From "The Southern Cross" Newspaper

June 10, 1922

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Cr. Ferdinando's Death

Expression of Regret.

The remains of Cr. B. J. Ferdinando, who died at Mill Street, Hampton, on Thursday week were interred in the Church of England portion of the Cheltenham Cemetery on the following Saturday morning.  The service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev. Bramshaw, of the Church of England, Hampton.  Included in the large assemblage were - Mr. F. H. Francis, M.H.R., Mr. O. R. Snowball, M.I.A., Cr. H. B. Grace (Mayor) and other Sandringham councillors and representative citizens.

On Tuesday morning, in the Sandringham Police Court, Cr. C. A. Hartsman, speaking on behalf of the Bench, said that Cr. Ferdinando had always been attentive to his Court duties.  From a municipal point of view he was the "father" of Sandringham being one of its oldest public men.  No man could be more respected.  The whole community had suffered a great loss by Cr. Ferdinando's death.

Mr. Ramsay, representing the legal profession, said that the deceased gentleman, during his term as a Justice of the Peace had exercised a beneficial influence.  Cr. Ferdinando too, had set himself a high standard as a citizen and had always lived up to his ideals.

Mr. Duggan (Clerk of Courts), Senior-Constable Tucker, for the Police, and Mr. W. Turner, on behalf of the "Southern Cross" expressed their deep regret at the death of a worthy citizen and an old and true friend,

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Letter of Condolence

Deep regret at the death of Cr. Ferdinando was expressed by  members of the Infectious Disease Hospital at their meeting on Wednesday.  The Secretary (Mr. A. A. Marsden) reported that he attended the funeral on behalf of the Board, and that a Letter of Condolence had been sent to Mrs. Ferdinando.  The late councillor was a member of the original Board constituted in 1914 and was Chairman in 1917 & 1918.  He was also Chairman of the finance committee from 1919 to 1921.

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Colleagues Deep Appreciation

When Sandringham District Council met on Thursday afternoon councillors expressed deep regret at the death of their colleague.  They then placed on record their deep appreciation of his long and valuable services to the district.  Councillors stood in silence for some moments as a mark of respect to the memory of their old friend.

Cr., H, B, Grace (Mayor) said that it was with deep regret that he had to refer to the recent demise of their esteemed colleague, Cr. B. J. Ferdinando.  That gentleman was practically the originator of the Town of Sandringham and of its Council.  They all keenly felt and deplored his loss.  Cr. Hartsman said that it was with deepest regret that he rose to move a resolution in regard to Cr. Ferdinando's death.  Their late esteemed friend was the "father" of the municipality.  Not by any claim of his own, but by long and valuable services he had rendered to the Town of Sandringham.   They deeply regretted the loss.  They recognised that no man, even the greatest, was indispensable.  Yet, for a long time, they would miss Cr. Ferdinando from among them.  It would be difficult to find a man adequately to fill his now vacant chair.  Not only the Council but the whole of the ratepayers would feel Cr. Ferdinando's loss.  He would move "That this Council place on the record of its minutes its appreciation of the valuable services rendered by Cr. Ferdinando to this municipality; and that a letter of condolence be sent to Mrs. Ferdinando, assuring her that the Council sympathised with her in the great loss she had sustained.

Cr. Hartsman went on to say Cr. Ferdinando had first represented the West Riding of the Shire of Moorabin for many years, and the Hampton Ward ever since the inception of the Sandringham Council.  Many of his intimate friends had, owing to his failing health, urged Cr. Ferdinando to retire from public life.  Their old friend's duty, as he saw it, was however to remain in the service of the district.  If Cr. Ferdinando had had any voice in the matter he would have elected to end his days in that service.

Cr. Knott, who seconded the motion, said he found it difficult to adequately express his regret at the death of their old friend and colleague.  Cr. Ferdinando had been of the very greatest service to the community generally.  He had great knowledge of all municipal matters.  Part of his work was the creation of the Town of Sandringham.   It was his firm adherence to the Severance question that had mainly resulted in their becoming a separate municipality.

Cr. Bock, who spoke with emotion, said that Cr. Ferdinando's face would be sorely missed from the Council table.  They had always looked up to their old colleague with the deepest respect and most perfect confidence.  his feelings would allow him to say no more.

Cr. Gibbs said he desired to add his tribute to the work done for the district by Cr. Ferdinando.  He was a man whom they could always go with confidence for guidance and advice on oftimes keenly debatable matters.  While their old colleague was at the Council table they all felt they could not go far wrong.  No man in the municipality had performed his duties more fearlessly, honestly and fully.  On the Bench too, the same attention to duty had characterised him.  The Council had suffered a tremendous loss - one it would be hard to make good.

Cr. Chisholm said that Cr. Ferdinando had worked whole-souledly for the welfare and progress of the district for many years.  His thorough knowledge  of the Local Government Act had proved most valuable.  Cr. Ferdinando's loss would be felt for a long time to come.  Apart from his Council duties, their old colleague had played the part of a man.  His position was seldom attained by a public man.  The sympathy of the whole of the town would go out to Mrs. Ferdinando.

Cr. Wiseman said that Cr. Ferdinando's loss would be very felt very keenly by the whole community.  Their old colleague had always had hosts of friends.  He personally, as one young in Council matters, had always looked to Cr. Ferdinando for assistance, and had always been readily and courteously given the advice and help he needed.

The Motion was carried in silence.  Then the Council was adjourned until Thursday, June 22.

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A lasting memorial was set up to Benjamin James in the form of a Memorial Garden.   "B. J. Ferdinando Gardens" Underneath the inscription are the following:   "Hampton Life Saving Club" and "Friends of Hampton Foreshore".

David J Ferdinando

January 2001

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