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Benson Henry Wyman, 1881 - 1918

Benson Wyman died of complications from influenza at Featherston Military Camp on 15 November 1918. He was aged 36. He is buried at Featherston Cemetery, Western Lake Road, Featherston.

Benson was born on 22 December 1881. His parents were Alice Mary and William Henry Wyman, both of whom had emigrated to New Zealand from Hertfordshire, England. Benson went to school at Auckland Grammar where he performed well academically. He matriculated at the end of 1898 and passed the Junior Civil Service examination, securing a cadetship in the Justice Department at Queenstown.

In Queenstown he played tennis and quickly became secretary and treasurer of the Queenstown Lawn Tennis Club. He was also a teacher at the St Peter's Church Sunday School. He left Queenstown in July 1900 to return to Auckland and was presented with a silver pencil by the Tennis Club and an illustrated prayer book by his fellow Sunday School teachers.

On his return to Auckland in mid-1900 Wyman was employed as a clerk at the Auckland Magistrate's Court. He enrolled with Auckland University College in 1901 and began studying for a degree in law. He continued to play tennis, for the Auckland Lawn Tennis Club and also represented the university in tennis at inter-university tournaments. He remained active in church matters and was involved with the St Mary's Men's Society.

Wyman was popular in his work at the Magistrate's Court and he was promoted to the role of assistant Clerk of Court in the Magistrate's, District and Supreme Courts at Wanganui in mid-1907. He joined the Wanganui Tennis Club. By the end of 1908 his study had paid off and he passed his final law professional examination. This brought him closer to his goal of legal practice and he resigned from his position at the Wanganui Supreme Court in January 1909 to move back to Auckland where he had found employment as managing clerk to Auckland barrister GW Basley.

He left Wanganui at the end of February. Shortly afterwards, on 8 April 1909, he was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court by Justice Sim on the motion of Allan Moody. At some time he parted company with GW Basley and established his own practice, practising from Auckland's Victoria Arcade.

Wyman began to appear in the Magistrate's Court after his admission but he still had his LLB to complete. He continued to study at Auckland University College, still playing tennis at inter-university tournament and actively participating in the West End Tennis Club.

He was also a keen fisherman, travelling north to fish for kingfish. He was a member of the Parnell Lodge of the Manchester Unity Oddfellows, and involved in the Auckland Camera Club.

Wyman appears to have been well-established and confident in his practice. A newspaper report on the first meeting presided over by Auckland's new official assignee WS Fisher noted that "Mr BH Wyman, solicitor for the bankrupt, extended a hearty welcome to Mr Fisher, and hoped he would be as successful here as he had been in other centres." He also acted as a judge for discussions held by the Auckland Law Students' Society.

Wyman graduated with LLB in 1913 and he was awarded an LLM in June 1916. He was appointed to an assistant lectureship in the Auckland University College Law School in 1913. This was a part-time position and he continued his legal practice, appearing frequently in the Magistrate's Court and Supreme Court. On 23 November 1916 he was sworn in as a notary public by Justice Hosking. Wyman resigned from his university lectureship in 1917.

He was balloted for military service and enlisted on 21 September 1917. He made arrangements for his practice to be looked after by Vulcan Lane solicitors Robinson and Robinson during his absence. On 7 March 1918 he reported for training and was posted to C Company of the New Zealand Medical Corps, arriving at Featherston Camp the next day. He was promoted to Temporary Corporal on 12 April.

Wyman was on leave from 30 July to 1 September and used that time to get married to Jennie Moore at Auckland on 7 August 1918. His wife later completed a Ph.D at Stanford University and was appointed Professor of Psychology and Education at the University of British Columbia in Canada. On his return to camp he was promoted to Temporary Quartermaster Sergeant on 11 October. Sometime after that, along with many other soldiers in the camps he came down with influenza. He was admitted to Palmerston North Hospital on 8 November and died from bronchial pneumonia as a result of influenza at 8:15pm on 15 November 1918. 

Three months after Wyman's death, his wife gave birth to a son, Victor Benson Wyman. 

Sources: Auckland Star, 18 December 1896, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 22 December 1898, page 3; Evening Post, 10 June 1899, page 4; Auckland Star, 22 December 1899, page 3; Lake Wakatip Mail, 29 September 1899, page 7; Lake Wakatip Mail, 13 July 1900, page 4; New Zealand Herald, 7 November 1901, page 3; New Zealand Herald, 31 May 1902, page 7; Auckland Star, 11 March 1905, page 7; New Zealand Herald, 7 April 1906, page 8; Auckland Star, 20 May 1907, page 5; Wanganui Herald, 3 December 1907, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 28 January 1908, page 6; Auckland Star, 21 December 1908, page 4; Wanganui Chronicle, 28 January 1909, page 4; Wanganui Chronicle, 1 March 1909, page 4; Wanganui Chronicle, 10 April 1909, page 4; New Zealand Herald, 14 September 1909, page 7; New Zealand Herald, 14 March 1910, page 7; New Zealand Herald, 4 November 1910, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 23 January 1913, page 8; Auckland Star, 27 February 1914, page 4; New Zealand Herald, 30 June 1914, page 5; New Zealand Herald, 3 June 1916, page 9; Auckland Star, 8 August 1916, page 4; New Zealand Herald, 13 March 1918, page 10; New Zealand Herald, 18 November 1918, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 30 March 1926, page 14; Brian Coote, Learned in the Law (Auckland University Press2009), page 7. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour.

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: geoff.adlam@lawsociety.org.nz

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Last updated on the 11th December 2014