Benjamin Wylie Prowse

Benjamin Wylie PROWSE

Name: Benjamin Wylie Prowse

Date of Birth: 9 April 1888

Birth Location:  Adelong, New South Wales, Australia

Also Known As: Ben

Age at Burial: 73 years

Date of Death: 16 February 1962

Death Location: St. John of God Hospital, Bunbury, Western Australia

Date of Burial: 19 February 1962

Denomination: Congregational & Presbyterian

Row/Grave: Row 4 Grave #36

Grave Transcription:



1888 -1962


Father: James Prowse.  Born 7 November 1836, Penzance, Cornwall, England.  Died 12 February 1904, Adelong, New South Wales, Australia

Mother: Mary Ann Wiley.  Born 30 January 1844, Enniskillen, Country of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.  Died 7 August 1922, Adelong, New South Wales, Australia.

Grandparents (father):

William Prowse.  Born 15 February 1796, Sancreed, Cornwall, England.  Died 11 July 1862, Gulval, Cornwall, England

Honor Jelbart.  Born 1806 Madron, Cornwall, England.  Died 30 March 1878, Gulval, Cornwall, England.

Grandparents (mother):

Joseph Wiley.  Born 1809, Ireland.  Died 1864, Ireland

Mary Ann Crain.  Born 2 September 1813, Ireland.  Died 1908, Ireland


James Irwin Prowse.  Born 7 April 1865, at “Jessamine Cottage”, Adelong, NSW.  Died 18 May 1954, Adelong, NSW.  Married Caroline Jane Huggins in 1886.

William George Prowse.  Born 4 June 1866, at “Jessamine Cottage”, Adelong, NSW.  Died 6 February 1946, Wagga Wagga, NSW.  Married Letitia Treweek in 1886.

Richard Prowse.  Born 3 Jan 1868, at “Jessamine Cottage”, Adelong NSW.  Died 4 April 1942, Adelong, NSW.  Married Frances Purcell in 1892.

Joseph Charles Prowse.  Born 25 August 1869, Gundagai, NSW.  Died 6 February 1951, Chatswood, NSW.  Married May Hayes in 1894

John Henry Prowse.  Born 16 June 1871, Adelong, NSW.  Died 20 May 1944, Donnybrook, Western Australia. Married Edith Jane McNeilance in 1896. Married Jean Murdoch 1941

Robert Matthew Prowse.  Born 9 February 1873, Adelong, NSW.  Died 19 July 1940, Bondi, NSW.  Married Ethel Amy Sandon in 1905.

Alice Prowse. Born/Died 17 August 1874, Adelong, NSW.

Albert Edward Cornwall Prowse.  Born 22 September 1875, Adelong.  Died 8 April 1944, Doodlakine, Western Australia.  Married Maud Helena Grace Quarmby in 1899.

Mary Ann Giles Prowse.  Born 30 July 1877, Adelong, NSW.   Died 20 September 1962, Sydney, NSW.  Married Frederick Carter in 1910.

Matilda Adelaide Prowse.  Born 27 July 1879, Adelong, NSW.  Died 16 Jan 1958, Strathfield Railway Station, Cremated at the Rookwood Crematorium, Memorial tablet on parents’ headstone.  Did not marry.

Honor Madeline Prowse.  Born 31 August 1881, Adelong, NSW.  Died 5 July 1960, Tumut, NSW.   Married John Purcell 1900.

Sarah Jane Prowse.  Born 15 January 1884, Adelong, NSW.  Died 5 September 1965, Noraville, NSW.  Married David William Burgess in 1911.

Nannie Mabel Prowse.  Born 27 February 1886, Adelong, NSW.  Died 29 April 1974, Perth, Western Australia.  Married Albert Victor Moore in 1916.

Florence Caroline Letitia Prowse.  Born 13 May 1890, Adelong, NSW.  Died 4 May 1980, Ashfield, NSW.  Married Sydney Arthur Bailey in 1918.

Spouse: FIRST MARRIAGE – 4 January 1911 – Perth, Western Australia

Ruby Massey born 1889 in Coburg, Victoria.  Died November 1965 in Perth, Western Australia. Daughter of William Massey and Martha Pickworth.


Raymond Wylie Prowse.  Born 10 September 1911, Quindalup, Western Australia.  Died 9 Septmeber 1973, Buried Boyanup Cemetery.  Married Dorothy Gwendolen Scott -21 Jan 1935

Kenneth Irvine Prowse.  Born 8 July 1916, Capel, Western Australia.  Died 28 April 1962, Western Australia.  Married Winifred Norton 14 March 1939

Allan William Prowse. Born 3 June 1918, Capel, Western Australia.  Died November 1988, Western Australia. Married Rhona Murdoch 18 June 1941.

Frederick Wylie Prowse.  Born 21 September 1921, Capel, Western Australia.  Died 3 July 1959, Western Australia.  Married Iris Trigwell 1941

Mary Esther Muriel Prowse. Born 18 April 1924, Capel, Western Australia.  Died 9 April 2016, Western Australia.  Married James Graham 12 June 1945

Spouse:  SECOND MARRIAGE – 1936

Esme May Pidgeon. Born 1914, York, Western Australia.  Daughter of Henry Faversham Pidgeon and Mary Browning


Anne Marie Prowse.  Born March 1938.   Married Noel Geoffrey Ryan

Benjamin James Henry Prowse (Jim.) Born approx. 1940.  Married Colleen Julie Regan (Julie)

Occupation: Farmer

Military Service: N/A

Their Story

Benjamin Wylie Prowse was the fourteenth child of James and Mary Ann Prowse.  The youngest son in this large family, Ben was given the changed spelling of his mother’s maiden name.  He was born in 1888 and started life and school on the farm “Greenbank” which is in Adelong, New South Wales.

His Father James Prowse was born in Penzance and arrived with his brother John to Melbourne in 1857, where he occupied himself for a while goldmining in Kiandra, until he decided to move on towards Adelong which he had passed along the way. He once again took up goldmining with his brothers John and later Richard and became shareholders in the Prowse and Woodward mine, which was one of the best of the Old Reef Line, and they were all quite successful in their endeavours. James bought 5 blocks of land along the Adelong Creek, he built a house called Jessamine Cottage and on 6 April 1864 this is where he married Mary Ann Wiley who was from Ireland.

James and Mary lived in Adelong for quite some years and most of their children were born in Jessamine Cottage.  Which became a thriving farm that supported his growing family.  James has been described as a fine upstanding man, very clothes conscious.  On Market days he would not go down the street unless dress in top hat, frock coat and stripped trousers. He was also deeply religious man and his family worshipped in the Methodist Church. Mary who was only 20 years of age when she married James, grew into one of the most respected and beloved members of the community, ever ready to help where it was needed, very capable and “of unexampled rectitude”, as the Tumut and Adelong Times described her on her death.  After 14 years at Jessamine Cottage James sold his share in the mine which enabled him to purchase more land and he moved out to Greenbank farm in about 1874 and it stayed in the family through three more generations until it was sold in 1960.

Trove Article – James Prowse obituary – link

Trove Article – Mary Prowse obituary – link

Benjamin left Greenbank farm and finished his education at Rockdale College in Sydney, and at the age of 18 in 1906 he went of a trip to Western Australia to visit his relatives and this is where he stayed for the remainder of his life.

He first worked for a firm called F. H Faulding in Perth and later transferred to the Economic Stores.  After some years he decided to leave the city and he went share farming at Quindalup, near Yallingup in the Southwest of Western Australia. In 1910 he met Ruby Massey and they married in Perth on 4 Jan 1911.  The young couple set up house in Quindalup on Ruby’s fathers farm, where there first child Raymond was born on the 10 Sept 1911. They later moved to Perth for a short time, while Ben dabbled in cattle before making the final move to Capel.

Trove Article – Wedding Notice 1911 – link

In 1913 Ben and Ruby made the move to Capel where they family stayed.  Here is started dealing in dairy cattle which he held on leased properties about the township before he was able to acquire a property for himself.  As time when on, Ben acquired more land until he became one of the largest landholders and cattle breeders in the south-west.

Extract taken from “Just a Horse Ride Away” page 218 1920-1930

It was a time of success not only in commercial ventures but also in agricultural one.  At the Busselton Show, Capel farmers made almost a clean sweep of the stock prizes and diarymen reported their pastures so improved that butter production went up by 25%.  Ben Prowse attributed his success to the introduction of fine blood cattle.  Prowse’s Jersey stud flourished as did his Australian Illawarra Shorthorn (AIS) breed.  He continued to win blue ribbons and judge cattle at local and state shows.  During the war he had leased “Lexden Park” from the Maitlands, buying up good land on the Stirling as it became available – first the Smith’s then from the McCormacks and Bentleys.  He had an eye for developments in the diary industry and in the winter of that year demonstrated his success with strawberry cover.  Sown on wetlands it easily nourished five cows an acre (milking January to May).  Towards the end of the war, Ben was elected to the Road Board and was to serve for many years.

Diary cattle became Ben’s life and he exhibited Ayrshires, Jerseys, Friesians and Illawarra Shorthorns at a great many country Shows and well as the Perth Show.

In 1937 a book was published by W.H Colless called “Men Of Western Australia” Private Edition, Benjamin features in this book.  It states that he is a Diary Cattle Breeder, Capel, South West.  Born. Adelong NSW 1888, Educated Rockdale College, Sydney, Came to W. A 1906.  Son of the late J.J Prowse.  Recreations: Tennis, Golf and Billiards.  Worked in various concerns, and in 1913 started on his own account, cattle dealing and later acquired valuable property in Capel, where he established pedigreed Jersey stud and later shorthorns, which have won championships at Shows in W.A including the Royal Show.  Member of the Capel Road Board 17 years, Chairman 15 years.  President of the Wellington Agricultural Society six years.  Member of the Board of Directors of the South-West Co-operative Diary Farmers Limited two years.  President of the Capel Race Club.  Is on the list of the Royal Show Judges and officiates as judge at numerous country shows each year.  Also breeds a few thoroughbred horses.  (Plate 31).

It can be assured that Ben was a fluent public speaker with a ready wit and was very popular in the district.

Trove Article – 1938 Biographical Sketches of B. W Prowse – link

After having five children together who were raised in their home in Capel the marriage of Ben and Ruby deteriorated, and they were divorced in 1930.  Ruby moved to Perth with her youngest children.

Trove Article – 7 Dec 1930 – When Rural Man’s New “Bus” Caused a Final Bust- up – link

Trove Article – 3 Dec 1930 – Unhappy Marriages – link

Ruby passed on in 1965 and is interred beside her son in the Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.

In 1932 Miss Mona White sued Benjamin for breach of Promise and won her case. It was a very lengthy and highly publicized case even going as far as the High Court.  She alleged that Mr Prowse had promised to marry her once his divorce was settled, even purchasing her a ring.   (Please read a sample of the Trove articles for full story as told by each party)

Trove Article – Breach of Promise – Miss Mona White – link

Trove Article – Prowse tells his side of story. – link

In 1933 Benjamin announced his intention of contesting the election to fill the vacancy to the representation of the Southwest province of the legislative council.

Trove Article – Intention to contest – link

Trove Article – Western Mail – 7 November 1935 – Seen at the Show – Ben Prowse- President – Photo

In 1936 Benjamin aged 48 years married for a second time, his new wife being Esme May Pidgeon who was 22 years of age.  She was the daughter of Henry Faversham Pidgeon and Mary Browning, her mother had died when she was about one and she was raised by her father’s brother and wife.

Extract taken from “Just a Horse Ride Away” page 266.

Ben Prowse was now one of the biggest landowners in the district, and a lively member of the community, serving on various war-time committees.  Before 1939 he had bought “Avoco” from Layman’s estate and renamed it “Rivervale”.  It was to this lovely property, at the Stiling end of the Capel River that Ben brought his glamorous new bride Esme Pidgeon.  Here they set up house and , in time, raised their two children Ann and James.  Ben continued to buy, sell and judge catlle, though war-time restrictions limited the range of his operations.

Ben and Esme had two children Anne Marie and Benjamin James Henry.

Trove Article – Prowse + Pigeon Engagement – link

Several years prior to his death, Ben gave up active farming for health reasons. His A.I.S cattle were taken over by his son, Raymond and Ben devoted his retirement to his well-kept garden at Rivervale (Capel). After his death his youngest son Ben took over the running of the farm near Capel.

A few years before his death he took a trip with his son Kenneth to the Eastern States to visit relatives and to see the Sydney Show.  It was the only time Ben had returned to the State of his origin.

Ben died on 14 February 1962 and is buried at the Capel Cemetery.

Some time after Ben’s death in 1962, Esme remarried, but was then widowed for a second time.

Included below is a family photo supplied by Petrina Prowse – enhanced and colourised.  –

Photo taken 6 December 1899. Prowse Family

Standing:  Albert, Sarah, John, Matilda, Robert, Richard, Mary

Middle Row: Joseph, James, James snr, Mary, William

Front Row: Honor, Florence, Nannie, Benjamin


From Cornwall To The Colonies – A Prowse Chronicle 1760 -1990 by Irwin Prowse

Trove Articles

Information compiled by researcher Petrina Prowse (member of the CDCP team)

Links to other websites with additional information included in story.

If you are visiting this page and have further information that pertains to Benjamin Wylie Prowse that you would like to add, can you please contact the Capel District Cemeteries Project via the CONTACT US section at the bottom of the main page.

© Capel District Cemeteries Project 08/06/2021

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