Benn was born in County Cork, Ireland. He was the third son of the Reverend J. W. Benn, Church of Ireland rector of Carrigaline and Douglas, and his wife Maria (née Hamilton). He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and then joined Price & Pierce Ltd, a leading timber firm. He later became a director and then chairman.
In 1885 he married Frances Charlotte Bridges, with whom he had two children.
In 1900, he was elected to Greenwich Borough Council and served as mayor from 1901 to 1902. He was a founder member of the Metropolitan Water Board in 1903. He was a Municipal Reform Party member of London County Council representing Greenwich from 1907 to 1910. At the 1906 general election he was chosen by the Tariff Reform faction in the Conservative Party to stand against Lord Hugh Cecil the sitting Conservative MP for Greenwich who was in favour of free trade. While Benn succeeded in beating Cecil, the split in the Conservative vote allowed Richard Stephens Jackson of the Liberal Party to take the seat. At the next general election in January 1910 he was the sole Conservative candidate in the constituency and was elected to parliament. In parliament, he was a leading opponent of Irish Home Rule. A long-time member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he saw active service in the First World War, commanding a flotilla of raiders along the Belgian coast. He took part in the Zeebrugge Raid and the Ostend Raids. He rose to the rank of Captain, was Mentioned in Despatches three times, received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1917, and was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1918. He also received the French Croix de Guerre in 1918. For many years, he was chairman of the seamen's Dreadnought Hospital in Greenwich, and became its president in 1949.
Benn was created a baronet in the 1920 Birthday Honours for his political services. He retired from parliament at the 1922 election. Benn was once again a member of the London County Council from 1937 to 1946. He served on the Thames Conservancy Board from 1937 to 1946, and was a director of the Port of London Authority from its foundation in 1909 until February 1961, when he was 97. He remained active in business in the City of London until his death at the age of 98.
- "Obituary: Captain Sir Ion Hamilton Benn. Public Life And The City". The Times. 14 August 1961. p. 13.
- "BENN, Captain Sir Ion Hamilton". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. http://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/article/oupww/whowaswho/U55123. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
- "The General Election". The Times. 16 January 1906. p. 10.
- "Deaths". The Times. 14 August 1961. p. 1.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Sir Ion Benn
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Richard Stephens Jackson
|Member of Parliament for Greenwich
January 1910 – 1922
George Hopwood Hume
|Baronetage of the United Kingdom|
Patrick Ion Hamilton Benn
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