Benjamin Chaffey was born in Thorncombe, Dorset, in 1830 the son of Benjamin Chaffey Snr (1805-1849) and Susan née Trenchard (1799-1830). Benjamin Snr was listed in the 1841 poll book for Thorncombe as being the owner-occupier of a house, land and factory known as Sprake's Factory in Thorncombe.
In the 1851 census Benjamin was listed as a 'general factor' in a small shop in Castle Street, Keinton Mandeville. He was aged just 21 and was living there with his 22-year old sister listed simply as ST Chaffey (but actually Susan Trenchard Chaffey) and acting as his housekeeper, together with an assistant in the shop and a house servant. In the 1861 census Benjamin was listed as living in Commercial Buildings, Middle Street with a young house servant. He was aged 31, unmarried and gave his occupation as a wool merchant.
Benjamin was a Freemason, initiated into the Lodge of Brotherly Love in Yeovil on 30 December 1857.
In the autumn of 1863 Benjamin married Edward Raymond's daughter Lucy, 13 years his junior, in Yeovil. Behind Raymond's Mars House were what were described in 1869 as "newly erected wool stores" which were in the occupation of Raymond's son-in-law, Benjamin Chaffey.
The 1871 census lists Benjamin and Lucy living in Reckleford. This was today's Market Street and their house was called Reckleford Cross, seen on the map below. They were listed there with their two daughters Ethel and Susan, their two sons Edward and Benjamin, together with a general servant and and nurse. In this census Benjamin gave his occupation as Wool Broker. In the 1881 census Benjamin and Lucy were listed at Reckleford Cross with their three children and a domestic servant. Benjamin listed his occupation as "Wool Merchant employing 4 men, 1 woman and 1 boy".
Benjamin Chaffey died aged 54 on 2 September 1884, at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset and his widow Lucy proved his will at Taunton in November. His personal estate was valued at £12,357 (in the region of £5,400,000 at 2017's value). Lucy carried on living at Reckleford Cross where three of her daughters, Ethel, Susan and Kathleen, ran the Reckleford Cross School in their home, while Benjamin and Lucy's son, Edward, became manager of the family wool stapling business started by his father.
This map, based on the 1886 Ordnance Survey, shows Market Street named as such for the first time and running from its junction with Silver Street and Court Ash at bottom left to Reckleford Hill, today's Reckleford, at top right. Reckleford Cross, the home of Benjamin and Lucy Chaffey, is seen as the first large house set in its own grounds on the north-western corner of Market Street.
The 1886 Ordnance Survey showing Mars House and its large garden at top left on the corner of Stars Lane and South Street. Behind Mars House, at the end of Raymond's orchard, were what were described in 1869 as "newly erected wool stores" which were in the occupation of Raymond's son-in-law, Benjamin Chaffey. The large empty space at the centre of this map was an orchard that was also owned by Edward Raymond and the wool store, at bottom right, was built in a sectioned-off part of the orchard. The wool store was later used as the premises of scrap merchant and Mayor of Yeovil, Ernest Farr.
Benjamin Chaffey's obituary in the 5 September 1884 edition of the Western Gazette.