Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Harrison, Benjamin (1771-1856)

HARRISON, BENJAMIN (1771–1856), treasurer of Guy's Hospital, fourth son of Benjamin Harrison (1734–1797), also treasurer of Guy's Hospital (who was second son of Sir Thomas Harrison (1700–1765), chamberlain of the city of London, see Gent. Mag. 1765, p. 46), was born at West Ham on 29 July 1771, lived for twelve years with his father at Guy's, and succeeded him in the treasurership in 1797. For fifty years he governed the hospital and managed its estates despotically without salary. One of Cruickshanks' caricatures depicts him as a king sitting on a throne with his subjects prostrating themselves abjectly before him. He introduced many improvements. In concert with Sir Astley Cooper [q. v.] he, in 1825, established Guy's as a complete medical school separate from St. Thomas's, with which it had always been allied. Harrison greatly resented an inquiry into the hospital administration which was made by the charity commissioners in 1837, but no abuses were discovered. He was F.R.S. and F.S.A., deputy-governor of the Hudson's Bay and South Sea Companies, and chairman of the Exchequer Loan Board. He was selected as one of the three appeal commissioners for the city of London on the first imposition of an income tax. He lived latterly at Clapham Common, being closely connected with the ‘Clapham sect,’ and died there on 18 May 1856, aged 84. He married in 1797 Mary, daughter of H. H. Le Pelly of Upton and Aveley, Essex, by whom he had three sons (the eldest, Benjamin [q. v.], becoming archdeacon of Maidstone), and six daughters, the eldest married to W. Cripps, M.P. for Cirencester 1841–8, sometime a lord of the treasury.

[Report of Charity Commissioners, 1837; Pedigree of Family of Harrison, edited by Wilfred J. Cripps, F.S.A., privately printed, 1881; information from Sir William Gull; Bettany and Wilks's forthcoming Biog. Hist. of Guy's Hospital.]

G. T. B.