Manuscript Collection MS COLL 00746 - Colonel Benjamin Aylett Branfill Papers

Identity area

Reference code

CA OTUTF MS COLL 00746

Title

Colonel Benjamin Aylett Branfill Papers

Date(s)

  • 1846-1930 (Creation)

Level of description

Manuscript Collection

Extent and medium

12 boxes (3 meters)

Context area

Name of creator

(1828-1899)

Biographical history

Colonel Benjamin Aylett Branfill was an artist, remembered especially for his enormous founding contributions and pioneering influence to the art scene in the late nineteenth century in Nelson, New Zealand. He was a well-known illustrator and was published in T.L Wilson’s History and Topography of Upminster (1880). He was born on 26 February 1828 to Champion and Anne (nee Hammond) Branfill in Upminster, England. Benjamin was the fourth child of eight. He spent his childhood at Upminster Hall, a fifteenth-century Estate home that had been the ancestral home of his family since 1685. He was educated at Forest School in Walthamstow. Within the span of a year, between 1843 and 1844, Benjamin
would lose both his brother, Egerton, and his father of illness. On the 5 April 1846, at the age of 18, he joined the 10th Royal Hussars Cavalry regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own) at the rank of Cornet, but quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant by 1847. He traveled to India with the regiment in 1846 and then to the Crimea in 1855. Upon returning to England in June 1856, he married Mary Anna Miers on 1 July 1857 at Cheltenham and they had 8 children: Champion Edward (b. 1858), Capel Aylett (b. 1859), Mary Leigh (b. 1860), Ethel Aylett (b. 1862), Helen Hammond (b. 1863), Egerton Brydges (b. 1864, d. 1866), Francis Lisle (b. 1865), and Benjamin (b. 1871). On 6 May 1859, he was assigned Deputy
Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) in Ireland and lived in Dublin until 1864. From 1864 to 1881, he traveled widely, making trips to Gibraltar, Cape Town, and Mauritius, as well as having extended postings in Bermuda (May 1873- March 1874) and India (1875-1876). He retired as a Lieutenant-Colonel in October 1877. He inherited Upminster Hall in 1873 and resided there with his family after his retirement. In 1881, he immigrated to New Zealand and settled in Nelson. Once there, he became an art instructor
and critic for the Bishopdale Sketching Club. In New Zealand, Branfill’s life focused primarily on art, religious study, music, horticulture and photography. He died 4 January 1899 at the age of 70.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Purchase, 2016

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Contains the journals of Col. Benjamin Aylett Branfill, as well as sketchbooks and assorted papers including correspondence, photographs, and newspaper clippings. Also includes photography albums and genealogical information collected by his descendants, specifically the family of his daughter Helen Hammond de Caux.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access

Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form: https://fisher.library.utoronto.ca/stack-retrieval-form

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Language of material

  • English

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