Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Benson, John

BENSON, Sir JOHN (1812–1874), architect and engineer, was the only son of John Benson, of Collooney, in the county of Sligo. Having chosen the profession of architect, he at an early age gave proof of his ability in the restoration of Markree Castle, the seat of Mr. E. J. Cooper. In 1846 he was appointed county surveyor for the East Riding of Cork, in which capacity he carried out most satisfactorily the difficult task of superintending the relief works during the famine of 1847. In 1850 he was appointed engineer to the Cork harbour commissioners, and he was also architect to the Cork corporation. St. Patrick's bridge, the waterworks, and several piers and quays were constructed by him, besides churches and other public buildings in the city of Cork. But the work with which his name is most widely associated was the Great Industrial Exhibition building in Dublin, at the opening of which, in May 1853, he received the honour of knighthood from the lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Sir John was a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers. His death, which occurred on 17 Oct. 1874, was accelerated by overwork. His genial character made him as much beloved by his friends as his ability made him respected by the public. Sir John married, in 1849, Mary Clementina Pyne, daughter of John Smith, of the 56th regiment. There was no issue of the marriage.

[Times, 21 Oct. 1874; Illustrated London News, 31 Oct. 1874; Annual Register for 1874; Sproule's Irish Industrial Exhibition of 1853.]

G. V. B.