Benson Parsick WALL (1865-1940)
Benson Parsick Wall (1865-1940), known as Ben, was the uncle of Mela Brown Constable (the fiancée of Cyril Sladden).
Benson Wall was born on 14th August 1865 at Lucknow, India, the fifth of seven children of Joseph Wall and his wife, Madeline (née Dalby). He was given the unusual middle name of Parsick after the maiden name of his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Parsick, who had married Gabriel Dalby in 1834. Ben’s father, a schoolmaster at La Martinière College, Lucknow, was from Cheltenham originally, but moved to India in the 1850s where he married 15-year-old Madeline Dalby in Benares. Joseph was one of seven staff at the school who was awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal in 1858 for his parts in the defence of Lucknow from 29th June to 22nd November 1857.
Ben was aged only four when his father died; his mother remarried when Ben was ten years old.
On 4th February 1889 at Jhansi, Bengal, Ben married Jessie Margaret Wilson. They had two daughters, both born in India: Jessie Irene (1890-1953) known as Irene and Maud Amy Margaret (1891-1959).
Ben was an engineer, elected to the Institution of Civil Engineers on 6th February 1894; he lived and worked in various places in his working career. In 1893 he was at 27 Goldington Avenue, Bedford; in 1894 he lived at Compton Lodge, Walton-on-Thames; in 1896, his address was W Watson & Co, Bombay. Whilst in India he was gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the Infantry of the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. In 1903 he was back at Goldington Avenue, Bedford. By 1904 he lived at Seymour Avenue, Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa, but was back in England by the start of the First World War.
Ben Wall acted as a kind of guardian to his nieces and nephews, the children of his sister, Clara. With Mela, he provided her with an allowance to enable her to start nursing in October 1914. He also advised his sister, Clara, whether or not it was prudent for her to return to France in 1914. After the death of Cecil, he offered to act as executor of his will as none had been appointed, and sent money to Wilfred in Malta after he had been wounded.
The Walls were living at Compton Lodge, Walton-on-Thames, in 1914-1915 with Ben, who now worked for Lever Brothers, intermittently spending time overseas, primarily the Congo. A letter of 7th April 1915 reveals that the Walls took in some Belgian refugees to their home; they were the widow and two young children of a man who had worked for Ben in the Congo.
In October 1915, Ben suffered some kind of seizure. The doctor forbade Ben to return to the Congo, so Sir William Lever gave him an appointment at Headquarters in Liverpool. As a result, Ben and Jessie went to Lancashire in March 1916 and after a month or two moved into Kent House, 2 Columbia Road, Oxton, near Birkenhead. Mela stayed with the Walls for just under three months from March to June 1917.
In 1919, the Walls moved to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. In both 1926 and 1936 they lived at Greet, Mottingham. In 1939 they lived at Old Nans, Adderbury Road, Oxford. Benson died on 10th February 1940 at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, as the result of an accident. A report in the Nottingham Evening Post of 6th March 1940 said:
Charges of dangerous driving and driving without due care and attention … following a fatal accident in Oxford on February 10th were dismissed by the city Bench yesterday.
Mr Maurice Cole, for the prosecution, said the victim of the accident was a 74-year-old man, Mr Benson Wall. Miss J I Wall, a daughter, said her father was almost blind in his left eye and deaf in the left ear. A witness said the old man, who was dodging about in the road, ran into the side of the motor van. The driver did his best to avoid the accident.
PC Skinner said Dearing made a statement in which he said that as he drove down Henley Avenue, the man walked out from behind a bus on the off side. He walked 20 feet into the road, and he sounded his horn. The man looked towards him and then started to go back to the footway. After going a few paces he changed his mind apparently and turned back to cross the road. The man then started to run into the side of his van.
Ben was described as of Temple Close, Iffley, at the time of death. He was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Oxford, three days after the accident.