Partner Lucy Tait, buried together
Lambeth Palace, Lambeth, Londra SE1 7JU, Regno Unito
Ludwell, Waterbury Hill, Haywards Heath RH17, Regno Unito
Treemans, Treemans Rd, Haywards Heath RH17, Regno Unito
St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Addington Village Rd, Croydon CR0 5AS, Regno Unito
Mary Benson (née Sidgwick; 1841–1918) was an English hostess of the Victorian era. She was the wife of Revd. Edward Benson, who during their marriage became Archbishop of Canterbury. Their children included several prolific authors and contributors to cultural life. During her marriage, she was involved with Lucy Tait (11 February 1856 – 5 December 1938), daughter of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop of Canterbury deferred to his wife Minnie Benson’s wish that her female lover move into the home also occupied by their many children. Benson was described by Gladstone, the British Prime Minister, as the 'cleverest woman in Europe'. She had an affair with composer Ethel Smyth.
The sexual aspect of Minnie Benson's relationship with Lucy Tait caused her considerable feelings of guilt and, in 1878, she wrote in her diary: Once more and with shame O Lord, grant that all carnal affections may die in me, and that all things belonging to the spirit may love and grow in me. Lord, look down on Lucy and me, and bring to pass the union we have both so blindly, each in our own region of mistake, continually desidered. Benson composed the record of her love for Lucy Tait as if in the gloom of a deserted confessional, but the fact that the diary survived suggests that she had a wider audience in mind.
Mary Sidgwick was born in Britain in 1841, at Skipton, Yorkshire, the only daughter of Rev. William Sidgwick of Skipton, Yorkshire, who was a headmaster, and his wife, Mary (née Crofts), whose parents were the Rev. William Crofts, B.D., vicar of North Grimston, and Miss Carr of Bolton Abbey, who were married at York in 1804. She was the youngest of six children, and was nicknamed Minnie. Among her older brothers was the philosopher, Henry Sidgwick.
She and Edward White Benson were married on 23 June 1859 at Rugby, Warwickshire, by Frederick Temple.
Between 1860 and 1871 they had six children. Their daughter, Margaret Benson was an artist, author and amateur Egyptologist. Nellie Benson was a social worker. Their fifth child was the novelist, E. F. Benson, best remembered for the Mapp and Lucia novels. Another son was A. C. Benson, the author of the lyrics to Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory" and master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Their sixth and youngest child, Robert Hugh Benson, became a priest in the Church of England before converting to Roman Catholicism and writing many popular novels.
After her husband's death in 1896 Mary set up household with Lucy Tait, daughter of the previous archbishop of Canterbury, Archibald Campbell Tait, who had first moved in with the Bensons in 1889.
She died on 15 June 1918 in East Sussex. Tait and Benson are buried at St Mary's Church, Addington, Surrey, with their respective families.
Mary, with her husband Edward, had six children.
There were no grandchildren.
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