Brindley Horatio, born in Kitty, Georgetown, is the second child of five boys born to Rosa and Samuel Benn. He attended St. James-the-Less Primary School (now F. E. Pollard), Kitty, and also briefly attended a Roman Catholic School in Queenstown. Brindley wrote his Junior and Senior Cambridge Examinations at the Central High School. He gained five subjects at Junior Cambridge - English Language, English History, Literature, Latin and French. He sat five subjects at Senior Cambridge but did not matriculate, since he did not pass Mathematics.
After finishing school, Brindley travelled to Kwakwani to work as a Clerk with the Bauxite Company. His parents were living in the mining community at the time and his father was a Senior Staff at the Reynolds Mining and Metals Company. His mother was a caterer and a boarder in the community where she became popular for her activity in social and community life. Samuel Benn died in Kwakwani in 1948 and was buried there. Rosa remained in the community until the early 1960s when she returned to Georgetown.
Brindley returned to Georgetown in the early 1940’s when the Bauxite Company started to scale down the workforce. He began teaching at a High School in Broad Street and briefly had his own school, Georgetown Secondary, which was located in Evans Street, behind Dolphin Government School. He operated the school for about three years.
Brindley, who was named after a Methodist Priest, the Revd J.B. Brindley, was a Chorister at St. James the Less Anglican Church with Choirmasters who included the late Claude Merriman. He later became Choir Master at the St. Sidwell’s Anglican Church around 1945 and served for about five years until the Choir was disbanded. The Choir competed successfully at several Choir Festivals and had become very popular with the public, especially with its Friday practice sessions. St. Sidwell’s Choir was the smallest at the time when it performed Stainer’s The Crucifixion and was noted for doing some of the most difficult choral pieces. The organist was the legendary Carl Welshman. Some members of Brindley’s Chorister group included the late broadcaster Matthew Allen, Senior Counsel Lloyd Joseph and Wittington Braithwaite.
After the Choir disbanded, Brindley went to teach Latin and French at Richard Ishmael’s Secondary School. He also organized a school choir which put on a Concert at the City Hall. He spent three years there.
On evening, during his teaching career, Brindley attended a Public meeting at Norton and John Streets, and listened to Dr. Cheddi Jagan who was criticizing what was happening in the Bauxite industry and in the colony generally. He was impressed by Dr. Jagan’s speech and joined the PPP the same night. He immediately became very involved in politics and as time progressed, got into conflict with his boss. The principal, Richard Ishmael, was also President of the Manpower Citizen’s Association, a union which represented sugar workers but was widely considered a ‘Company Union’.
Brindley subsequently left the school and became deeply involved in politics. He formed the Pioneer Youth League, which was the forerunner to the Progressive Youth Organization (PYO).
When the constitution was suspended in 1953, Brindley was detained and put under restriction orders in New Amsterdam, where he had gone to assess Party activity. He was ordered to report to the Police daily between 8 and 10 am except Sundays. His wife and three children commuted by train to NA regularly where he lived with his brother, Lancelot who worked as Driver Mechanic with PWD at Canje. After several raids by the army and the police on his brother’s home, it was decided that his wife and family would move to New Amsterdam where they established residence in 21 St. Magdelane Street. They lived there from 1954 to 1956 and the family increased by two with the birth of twins.
Upon his return to Georgetown in 1956, Brindley was elected Chairman of the People’s Progressive Party and Member of the Executive Committee. The Party contested the 1957 elections with Brindley as the representative of the Essequibo Islands and the Interior. That single constituency comprised the largest single landmass being contested in the country and he came up against the candidature of Mr. E. F. Corriea. He broke the long occupancy of the seat by Mr. Corriea when he won the elections.
Brindley was appointed Minister of Community Development and Education in 1957 and his office was across the road from the Parliament Building it was during that time that he organized the National History and Culture Week (1961-1964) under the theme ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’ which later independent Guyana’s motto.
After the 1961 General Elections, which the PPP also won, Brindley was appointed Minister of Agriculture. During this time he conceptualized and started the Guyana School Of Agriculture (1963). He oversaw the implementation of the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary Scheme (MMA), Boersarie Scheme, Tapacuma Scheme and the Black Bush Polder - all major drainage and irrigation schemes.
During the disturbances in the early 1960s, Benn was imprisoned by the British. During this period, the British successfully split the PPP along racial lines -- the originally nationalist and multi-ethnic PPP became the party that was allegedly the party of Indo-Guyanese, whereas most Afro-Guyanese joined the People's National Congress (PNC). Brindley Benn became the most prominent Afro-Guyanese to remain with the PPP, making a statement against the divide-and-rule tactics of colonialism. The PPP was removed from office in 1964 by the political machinations of British (see History of Guyana.) Several Ministers and other important persons were detained. Among them was Brindley Benn, who was detained at Sibley Hall, Mazaruni Prison for several months.
After his release in 1965, Brindley became disenchanted by the differences in opinion in the PPP. He moved away from the party to establish his own – the Working People's Vanguard Party(ML). The WPVP printed a weekly mimeographed account of social, economic and political affairs occurring locally and internationally. He was for a period strongly attracted to the Maoist vision of a peasant-led social revolution. In the late 1970s, he joined with Walter Rodney, Eusi Kwayana, Andaiye, Moses Baghwan and Rupert Roopnaraine, to form the Working People's Alliance. Discussions were held under the umbrella organization, Patriotic Coalition for Democracy (PCD) in the fight for free and fair elections in Guyana.
In 1992, with the return of democracy to Guyana, the PPP were returned to office by free and fair elections. Brindley accepted President Dr. Jagan’s offer to be on the PPP’s List of Candidates and won a seat in Parliament. He was later appointed Guyana’s High Commissioner to Canada, a position he held with distinction from 1993 to 1998.
Upon his return to Guyana, Brindley Benn served as Chairman of the Public Service Commission for three years. He was also a member of the Teaching Service Commission and the Police Service Commission.
Brindley is currently the Chairman of the Guyana Lotteries Commission and also serves on the Appeals Board of the Guyana Revenue Authority. He is also a member of the St. Paul’s Anglican Church at Plaisance and a member of its Men’s Guild.
Brindley and his wife Patricia celebrated their fifty-fourth (54th) wedding anniversary in December 2005. They have seven children, including fraternal twins, and eight grandchildren.