Know Your Neighbours – Lieutenant Thomas Moor Benson

Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Museum N1548

Thomas Moore Benson was born in Port Hope, Ontario on November 25th, 1833, son of Thomas Benson (1804-1857) and Alicia Maria Lowe (1805-1877). He had three siblings: Mary Benson (1829-1908); Anne Maria Benson (1830-1906); and James Binley Benson (1832-1876). Thomas Benson married Mary Edith McCaul in April 1866. McCaul was the daughter of Rex John McCaul who was the President of the University College in Toronto. Mary Edith died in December 1870. Benson later remarried Laura Abigail Fuller, daughter of Bishop Fuller of Niagara, on June 25th, 1874, with whom he had 4 daughters.

Benson began his legal career by winning 3 scholarships in law. He studied in the offices of Sir Adam Wilson and Mr. Justice Paterson. He was called to the bar in 1859 and began a practice in Port Hope. In 1871, 1876 and 1881 he had been elected a Bencher of the Law Society. He was also part of the Queen’s Counsel and served his country by actively enrolling companies of volunteers at Port Hope at the time of the Trent affair in 1861. He also held a commission of a company of infantry then raised, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, M.P. His company served as a provisional battalion in the 1866 Fenian Raids. On September 19th, 1882, Benson was appointed Deputy Judge of the County Court of the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham. He also became junior judge of the same court and local judge of the high Court of Justice of Ontario on November 3rd, 1882. On November 8th, 1887 he became senior judge of the United Counties. Benson served as a trustee and member of the Council of Wycliffe College, Toronto and was a Director of Bishop Ridley College in St. Catharines and began that position in the first year Ridley opened. He was also a member of the Port Hope High school Board for over 40 years. In 1883 he was elected by the Diocesan Synod as a lay member of the Chapter of St. Alban’s Cathedral in Toronto.
Thomas Moore Benson died on Wednesday, December 15th, 1915 in Port Hope, Ontario at age 83. His funeral service was preached by Reverend J.A. Elliott.


The St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, located next to Lock 3 of the historic Welland Canal, is a leading local history museum and community gathering place, engaging visitors and building relationships with partners, while demonstrating curatorial leadership and innovative programming and exhibits. The St. Catharines Museum is dedicated to engaging visitors in the celebration of our local stories and the cultural identity and history of the City. We are a community resource that interprets, exhibits, researches, acquires, and preserves material culture and stories of St. Catharines.


  1. I have just discovered your blogs and have enjoyed the ones I have read.
    Unfortunately, the photograph is not of Thomas Moore Benson. You have mixed him up with another Thomas Benson. The man in the photograph was born in St. Catharines in 1860, the son of Senator James Rea Benson and Marianne Ingersoll. He had seven siblings, three brothers and four sisters. They were Charles Ingersoll Benson, James Benson, Anna Maria Benson, Mary Hamilton Benson, Sarah Caroline Benson, Major General Sir Frederick William Benson and Susan Jane Elizabeth Benson.
    Thomas Benson married Agnes Pearce Merritt in 1887 and they had two children.
    I believe he was a Lieutenant at the time of the photograph. He was eventually promoted to Major-General.
    Major-General Thomas Benson was stationed in Halifax in 1917 at the time of the Halifax explosion. He was General Officer Commanding in the Maritime Provinces.
    He retired to Victoria, B.C., in 1918 and died there in 1920.
    His wife died in Victoria in 1945. They are buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery, St. Catharines.
    Thomas Moore Benson’s father Thomas Benson was the brother of James Rea Benson, father of the Thomas Benson in the photograph.

    • Thank you for your comment Jocelyn – we’re so glad you’re enjoying the blog! This particular photo (and the information about it) actually came from the Ontario Archives, so we’ve contacted them for additional information about the image.

      • Thank your for your reply. I have copied most of the pictures in the Benson Fonds at the Archives of Ontario. I am attaching the reverse of the picture that you have used. I will send you a picture of Thomas Moore Benson, also from the Archives of Ontario, in another email.


      • Attached is a photograph of Thomas Moore Benson. Thomas Moore Benson Photo: Ewing, Toronto Archives of Ontario, Benson Fonds F507-1-1-0-105


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