Benjamin Taylor

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Historian.png This article is written by Brian Madden, Canterbury local historian and author. To make any suggestions for additions, please visit the Discussion Page for this article.

Portrait of Benjamin Taylor, 1901.
Benjamin Taylor was born on 16 December 1856 at George Street, Redfern, NSW. On 26 December 1877, he married Mary Jane Rayner, and they had a son, Benjamin Cope Taylor, born in 1879, and another son William John who died in infancy. Mary Jane died in 1882.

On 8 August 1881, Benjamin Taylor had leased John Wall’s 50 acres grant (then called “Ashford”) with right of purchase, which he exercised in 1890. The area was actually 55 acres (22 hectares) and extended from present-day Lakemba Street to north of Myee Street, and from a line between Haldon and Quigg Streets to a line between Croydon and Sproule Streets.

On 1 March 1883, Benjamin Taylor married his second wife, Lucy Annie Johnston, who was the granddaughter of the Reverend and Mrs Cross who were missionaries on an island in Fiji spelled Lakeba but pronounced Lakemba.

Anzac Day March along Haldon Street, Lakemba, featuring Benjamin Taylor's house, "Lakemba", on the left, 1921.
Mr Taylor named his property “Lakemba”, probably in 1883, because their son, William Jason Taylor was born, according to his birth certificate, at “Lakemba”, Belmore, on 13 February 1884. They had three more sons and a daughter.

When the railway from Sydenham to Belmore was extended to Bankstown in 1909, the railway station on Mr Taylor’s property was named Lakemba. The suburb which developed around the station was, of course, called Lakemba also.

After Lucy Annie died in 1904, Benjamin Taylor married her sister Augusta Kate, who died in 1931. They had no children.

Taylor’s house at the south western corner of Haldon Street and The Boulevarde was demolished for shops about 1920 or 1921.

Mr Taylor had a remarkable career in local government in Canterbury – he was an alderman from 1883 to 1888 (including Mayor in 1884-85), Town Clerk from 1888 to 1902, and alderman again from 1904 to 1911 (including Mayor in 1904-07).

Lakemba Uniting Church, during construction, featuring Benjamin Taylor's house, "Lakemba", in the background, ca 1920s. Courtesy Christine Menzies.
Mr Taylor was a staunch Methodist, and donated the land for the Methodist (now Uniting) Church on the south eastern corner of Haldon Street and The Boulevarde, drew the plans, raised the funds, supervised the building and actually did a lot of the work himself.

Mr Taylor died on 26 February 1929.

Brian Madden, 2014