Select Bennett Miscellany

Here are some Bennett stories and accounts over the years:

Peter Benet of Saughall Massey in Cheshire

In the early registers at Neston parish church in Cheshire, a large proportion of the entries related to persons of the name of Bennett, many of them of comparably humble positions in life.  This circumstance is probably due to the fact that, from a very early date, the Benedictine monastery at St. Werburgh in Chester held considerable estates in that and neighboring parishes.
In his Notes on the Ancient Bennett Families of Saughall Massey and Barnston in 1889, Edward Hance wrote that the Bennett line started with Benedictus or Benet and his brother Hamo de Benet.  The former was the father of Henry Benet, "baly" or governor of Rhoddlan castle, and of Peter Benet.  This Peter Benet acquired the property of Saughall Massey in 1369 and was probably the grandfather of John Benet from whom the Saughall Massey pedigree began.  John Benet was born around 1428 and lived to around 1495.

The Benetts of Norton Bavant in Wiltshire

The Benetts were said to have been profitable in the village since the late 14th century.  John Benett claimed to hold land there in 1390.  Another John, a clothier, died in 1460; and a third John, also a clothier, flourished in the late 15th century.  He had apparently been succeeded by his son John in 1509.  Thomas Benett of this family was a tax collector for Henry VIII.  He died in 1558 a relatively wealthy man.

Bishop Bennet Way

The Bishop Bennet Way runs from below Beeston Castle west towards the Welsh border.  It passes by Tattenhall and Aldford before turning south and east past Farndon towards Malpas and Whitchurch. Altogether the route comprises some 27 kilometers of surfaced roads and 12 kilometers of "green lanes."  It  is named after the eighteenth century traveller who once explored these tracks.

William Bennet was born in 1745 in the Tower of London.  He was educated at Harrow School and at Emmanuel College where he later became a fellow and tutor.  He was appointed Bishop of Cork and Ross in 1790 and four years later became Bishop of Cloyne, a post he kept until his death in 1820.  A member of the House of Lords, he found time during the summer to carry out some of the earliest detailed surveys of the old Roman roads of England, including those between the old Roman forts at Deva (Chester) and Mediolanvm (Whitchurch).

Early Bennetts in America

Bennett Name
Mass (Ipswich)


1700 c.
Mass (Ipswich)
Married Mary Lakin and died in 1757

1750 c.
N. Carolina (Butte)
Died in Tennessee around 1845

A Revolutionary War soldier
Married Phebe Lain and died in 1811
Rhode Island
Married Eunice Bentley and died in Ohio in 1834
NY (Long Island)
Married Sarah Cooper and died in Illinois in 1860

His father Zebulon died in the Revolutionary War
Mass (Lancaster)
Married Mary Pratt and died in 1841

Died in Georgia around 1830
New Jersey
Married Peggy Herbert and died in 1850
Virginia (Botetourt co)
Married Mary Persinger and died in 1860

His parents were John and Sarah Bennett
New Jersey

New Jersey
Married Hannah Lippincott and died in 1869

Reader Feedback – James Bennett of Massachusetts  

James Bennett, son of Nicholas Bennett of Glastonbury, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1639 as an indentured servant.  After his seven years of service, he married and settled a farm in Connecticut and has many descendents in the US.  

John Allan Bennett, Sequim, Washington (

Reader Feedback - John Bennett from Portishead

My paternal grandmother was a Bennett, descended from John Bennett, supposedly known as an “architect and builder.”  I am trying to get more information about him, but am at a standstill.  My great-grandfather, William Morris Bennett, was born in Toronto in 1844, so that is where his father, John, first landed.  They eventually moved to New York state, settling in the Buffalo area, Erie county. 

From what documents and information the family has gathered over the years, as well as a small watercolor of the family “manor,” this Bennett family was from Portishead in Gloucestershire. 

G. Morris Clements (

Bennetts from Ayrshire

Rose Bennett's ancestors have been traced back to her grandfather Samuel Bennett, a master tailor in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.  Saltcoats was originally a sleepy little area on the coast of Ayr where salt was produced.  During the Napoleonic wars Saltcoats became something of a boom town, attracting people from all over for shipping and related kobs.  After 1815 the area gradually reverted back to being a peaceful little place again.

Samuel Bennett probably moved to Saltcoats during the war either as a tailor or as an apprentice.  Around 1806 he married Rosina Pollock and they raised a large family.  The eldest Robert continued the tailor business at first in Saltcoats and later in Glasgow.  The next son Samuel also started out as an apprentice tailor.  But he left early to seek his fortune elsewhere.  He eventually became the owner/publisher of The Dumbarton Herald and the Provost of Dumbarton.  William started as a master lithographer, but later became a Unitarian minister.  The youngest, Thomas, was a journalist and poet.

The Trial and Conviction of James Bennett

On November 9 1817, 13 year old James Bennett's life on the streets of the East End of London was changed forever when he was indicted for:

"stealing at the parish of St. Catherine Cree Church, in the dwelling house of John Keys, one pocketbook of value two shillings, three guineas, two sovereigns, one half guinea, two half sovereigns, one seven shilling piece, five pound thirteen shillings in moneys numbered, and eleven one pound bank notes, Mr. Keys' property."

James Bennett was tried at the Old Bailey in London on Januray 14, 1818.   The transcript of the trial reads very much like the story of the urchin Fagin and his band in Oliver Twist.  In Bennett's case, Seymour was the leader with his band of young boys, Bennett, Duproy and Munroe.

Bannett was the cocky one and seems to have played a large part in the actual theft, although there were conflicting stories from the testimonies of Duproy and Bennett (Bennett denying doing the thieving).  In any case the verdict was guilty and the sentence was death.  There was a recommendation for mercy that he should be transported to Van Dieman's Land "for the term of his natural life."  He was shipped there, after five years in a prison hulk, in 1823.

The Bennett Letters from St. Helena

The Bennett family whose letters formed the guiding thread through The Bennett Letters by Colin Fox lived lives that spanned the whole of the 19th century.  These letters are not essays or dry official reports; they are full of gossip and good humor and tell of the ups and downs, joys and tragedies of family life during two long generations.  The Bennetts lived in England, St. Helena in the south Atlantic, and South Africa and from their letters come their many varied experiences during this period.

The father of the family was James Bennett.  He was born in London in 1773 and, at the age of 16, joined the army of the East India Company.  He spent most of his career in St. Helena.  During his time on the island he rose in rank from private to a senior captain in the St. Helena Foot Regiment.

His main claim to fame was a somewhat mysterious link to the Emperor Napoleon who was exiled to the island in 1815 after his defeat at Waterloo.  According to some histories, Napoleon was buried in a coffin manufactured from James Bennett's mahogany dining table.

Alternative English Versions of "Gordon Bennett"

"The Gordon Bennett Cup for motor racing was won by a British driver and car in 1902.  Under the rules of the competition, Britain would be the host for the race in 1903.  A circuit was laid out on closed public roads in county Kildare, Ireland.  Due to the sudden influx of wealthy foreign visitors to the area, the local cafe and bar owners took the opportunity to taise their prices and make a quick killing.  Locals reacted to the inflated prices by exclaiming 'Gordon Bennett.'"

"I had always thought Gordon Bennett referred to General Gordon Bennett of the Australian Forces in Malaya prior to the fall of Singapore.  He is chiefly remembered for having abandoned his forces to their fate, slipping back to Australia immediately prior to Singapore's surrender.  Scathing comments can be found in various histories of the colonial forces involved in the Malaya campaign."

"Perhaps there is a tennis connection.  The Stade Roland Garros in Paris is on Avenue Gordon Bennett."

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