Benjamin Henry

Benjamin Henry

Latrobe, Benjamin Henry (Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe), 1764-1820, American architect, b. Yorkshire, England. He is considered the first professional architect in the United States. Latrobe received his training both in architecture and in engineering in England and Germany and then practiced successfully in London. He came to the United States in 1796. He practiced there and in Richmond until 1799, when he went to Philadelphia. In 1803, President Jefferson appointed him surveyor of public buildings. Besides building residences in Washington, Philadelphia, and other cities, Latrobe did much monumental work and introduced Greek forms, an important element of the classic revival. His design (1799) for the Bank of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia was modeled after a Greek Ionic temple. This building and his Roman Catholic cathedral in Baltimore (1805-18)—the first cathedral built in the United States—make a group expressive of the best monumental architecture of the time. Other works are St. John's Church in Washington, D.C. (1816) and the penitentiary in Richmond, Va. (1797-1800). His design for "Sedgeley" (1800), a residence near Philadelphia, is supposed to be the first executed example of the Gothic revival in the country. After the burning of the Capitol he was engaged, from 1815 to 1817, in rebuilding it. Latrobe's son Henry had been sent to New Orleans to construct the city's waterworks after his father's design, but he died of yellow fever in 1817. In 1818, Latrobe sailed to New Orleans to complete the project, bringing his family overland in 1820. He too died of yellow fever. Latrobe's other sons were John H. B. Latrobe and Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1806-78, an engineer, b. Philadelphia. He served (1847-75) as chief engineer of the Baltimore & Ohio RR, laying out the line between Washington and Baltimore.

See Latrobe's diary of his trips to New Orleans and his stay there, Impressions respecting New Orleans (ed. by S. Wilson, Jr., 1951); study by T. Hamlin (1955).

Day, Benjamin Henry, 1810-89, American journalist. He learned the printer's trade in the office of the Springfield (Mass.) Republican and opened a printing office in New York City. Lack of work during a financial depression led him to begin publishing (1833) the New York Sun. The first edition consisted of four small pages; he wrote the paper and set the type without assistance. The price of the paper was 1¢; much less than other New York dailies at the time. The Sun was the first paper in the city to employ newsboys. By 1835, Day claimed a circulation of 19,360, the largest in the world, and in 1838 sold the Sun to his brother-in-law, Moses Yale Beach, for $40,000. In 1842, Day founded the monthly Brother Jonathan, which later became the first illustrated weekly in the United States.
Benjamin Henry Sheares (12 August 190712 May 1981) was the second President of Singapore.

Early life

Benjamin was born the second child of six children in Singapore to an Eurasian family with an English lineage. His father Edwin H Sheares, a technical supervisor of the Public Works Department, was born in England and raised in India. Edwin later migrated to Penang and married Singapore-born Lilian Gomez, of Chinese Singaporean and Spanish descent, and had six children - the first died in infancy. Life was hard for the Sheares family with the meagre pay that Edwin received from his post, but they were still happy.

The young Ben or Bennie as he was affectionately known, was a quiet boy who kept much to himself and loved to play at Pierce Reservoir, where his father worked. He had a close relationship with his sister Alice and often loved to play doctor with her. There was once when he made Alice swallow a one-cent coin as a medical “pill” in their game. Benjamin was six years old then and received a good hiding from his mother Lilian. Throughout his growing years, Benjamin showed ambition to become a doctor - a dream deemed almost impossible for someone who was Asian and came from a poor family in the early colonial days of Singapore. However, Alice continued to spirit him on with that dream, against his mother's wishes for her son to take up a job as a clerk and start helping out with the family bills as soon as he completed his Senior Cambridge Examinations (O-Level equivalent).

Sheares attended the Methodist Girls' School and then in 1918 went to Saint Andrew's School, Singapore. In in 1922, he transferred himself to study at the Raffles Institution, as the Institution was the only school equipped with scientific laboratories- making it an ideal place to further his ambition to become a doctor. In 1923, he enrolled into the King Edward VII College of Medicine Singapore to begin his medical training. But he knew too well that his family could not see him through the hefty school fees afforded by the College, and he won a generous scholarship offered by the Council of the Medical College with his exemplary academic performance. With this quantum, he was able to give $50 monthly to his mother for the support of his family.

He continued to excel in his studies and was awarded four medals by his College. Later, he passed his Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) final examinations with distinctions. Upon graduation and working as an obstetrician in the Kandang Kerbau Hospital and a professor at the University of Malaya he continued to support his family, and assumed full responsibility for his family when his father died in 1940. Dr. Sheares was also the first Chancellor of the National University of Singapore.


Benjamin Sheares became Singapore's second president on 2 January 1971. His mother was 91 years of age, when she learnt that he had become President of the Republic of Singapore. Just two weeks before she died, she had said God has blessed Bennie especially after the way he looked after us and me. He continued to serve faithfully and was well-loved by the people in Singapore, and held the office until his death in 1981. He was succeeded as President by C. V. Devan Nair, and buried in the Kranji State Cemetery.

The Benjamin Sheares Bridge is named after him, as is a student's residence hall, Sheares Hall, in the National University of Singapore. One of Sheares' main contributions to medicine was a technique to create an artificial vagina for those born without one. A modification of it is still used for sex change operations today.



– A biography of Dr. Benjamin Sheares written by his son, Dr. Joseph Sheares, noting the contributions of Dr. Sheares as an obstetrician, gynaecologist and President of Singapore, and offering an intimate insight into Dr. Sheares' life before and after taking public office.


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