Hellier family

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Benjamin Hellier, (c.1825-1888; e.m. 1846), WM theological teacher, was born at Wick St. Lawrence, near Bristol. He was trained at Richmond College and in 1847 became Assistant Tutor at Didsbury College. All but six years of his active ministry were spent in ministerial training: as Biblical and Classical Tutor at Richmond, 1857-1868 (where he and William F. Moulton became close friends), and at Headingley College, 1868-1876, where men like Henry Lunn, W. Morley Punshon and E.H. Sugden came under his influence. From 1876 to 1887 he was Governor at Headingley. As Chairman of the Leeds District from 1886 he initiated a District Extension Fund. He gave the Fernley Lecture in 1884 on The Universal Mission of the Church of Christ. Among his other publications was a sermon on 'The Gospel and Science' (1865). He died on 8 March 1888.

His older son, John Benjamin Hellier (1853-1924), was a pioneer of the Leeds Medical School. He received his medical education at the Leeds School of Medicine and University College Hospital, London. With an interest in obstetrics he was appointed physician to the Leeds Maternity Hospital, from 1889 was a physician at the Hospital for Women and Children, and from 1899 Obstetrics Physician at Leeds General Infirmary. He was Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at Yorkshire College (later the University of Leeds) from 1908. He retired in 1919 and died on 7 November 1924. His son Dr. F.F. Hellier was also on the staff of the Leeds General Infirmary.

One of Benjamin's three daughters, Anna Maria Hellier wrote, among other things, Workers Together, a booklet on Women's Work. She and her brother John edited their father's memorial volume.

Benjamin's grand-daughter Agatha Gay Hellier (1897-1980) served as an educational missionary in SouthIndia from 1923 to 1951, first at the Girls' High School, Royapettah, and then as Principal of the newly established Elementary Teacher Training School, Gnanodhaya, St. Thomas's Mount. She was a gifted watercolourist and her collection of paintings of Indian scenes, originally in the Mission House, Marylebone Road, is now deposited at the Wesley Centre, Oxford Brookes University.


'My ten years' association with him at Richmond College involved fellowship as intimate as can exist between colleagues… As I look back, the chief impression made on me is of a character of wonderful unity and singleness of aim… I do not remember to have observed in him a single trace of self-seeking….

'In his own studies he was keenly sensible of the limitations imposed on him by his physical constitution. During the whole period of my association with him, though usually he might appear a strong man, he was incapable of severe and protracted work. He had trained himself to do thoroughly that which he was able to attempt, and without a murmur to leave undone many things towards which he felt a strong attraction. But for the disabilities of which I have spoken, it cannot be doubted that he would have made many valuable contributions to sacred literature.'

W.F. Moulton, Introduction to Benjamin Hellier: his life and teaching … edited by his children (1889) pp.xvi-xix

'Headingley College, Leeds, in 1881 was one of the happiest places in England. The Governor, Benjamin Hellier, in the opinion of all the students, was the best and wisest Governor of any of the four colleges - Handsworth, Didsbury, Richmond and Headingley. Stories more or less apocryphal were told of other colleges where the Governors were reported to treat their students as boys in many respects. We were honoured by our Governor's confidence, a confidence which we repaid by our honour and reverence for him.'

Henry Lunn, Chapters from my Life(1918) p. 28

'He was a robust, kindly personality. He knew the hearts of his young men. He was a wise adviser. His conceptions of ministerial work were notably sagacious… He also had a fund of humour, which he drew upon with immense advantage to his students.'

Dinsdale T. Young, Stars of Retrospect (1920) p.37

'There was a wonderful unity and singleness of aim about him. When duty was ascertained, then without talk or question, obedience followed. That what was right must be done at once was the axiom of his life. G.G. Findlay spoke of his rare lucidity of mind. Obscurity was his special aversion. "Always make sure of your facts" was his constant dictum. He wouild never attempt to teach anything that he did not himself understand. In manner he was somewhat phlegmatic, deliberate, abstracted, blunt - even quaint - in speech. "His mind moved slowly," says George Fletcher, "but there was a certain massiveness about him, with a touch of dry humour." '

Frank H. Cumbers (ed.), Richmond College 1843-1943 (1944) p.102

  • Methodist Recorder, 18 March 1888, 24 April 1980
  • Benjamin Hellier: his life and teaching. A biographical sketch, with extracts from his letters, sermons, and addresses. Edited by his children [Anna Maria Hellier and John B. Hellier] (1889)
  • A.N. Shimmin, The University of Leeds: the first half-century (Leeds, 1954)
  • S.T. Anning, The General Infirmary at Leeds, 2 vols (1966)