BENNET, John (1553-1627), of York.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1553, 2nd s. of Richard Bennet of Clapcot, Berks. by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Tesdale, of Wallingford, Berks.; bro. of William. educ. prob. Abingdon g.s.; Christ Church, Oxf. 1573, BA 1577, MA 1580, DCL 1589; incorp. Camb. 1583. m. (1) Alice (d.1601), da. of Christopher Weekes of Salisbury, 4s. 2da.; (2) Elizabeth (d.1614), da. of Sir Thomas Lowe, alderman of London; (3) Leonora (d.1638), da. of Adrian Vierandeels of Antwerp, wid. Kntd. 1603.2

Offices Held

Vicar-gen. and chancellor to the abp. of York 1591; j.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) by 1594; member, council in the north 1599; freeman, York 1601; judge of the PCC c.1603; master in Chancery extraordinary; master in Chancery in ordinary 1608; chancellor to Queen Anne 1611. Deprived of all offices 1622.3


Of a minor Berkshire family, Bennet was a cousin of Michael Hickes. He owed his initial advancement to the dean of Christ Church, John Piers, whose chancellor he became within 18 months of Piers’s installation as archbishop of York. His sister married Piers’s nephew and heir, and in 1594 he himself was one of the executors of Piers’s will. By June 1596 he found so much ‘discontentment’ at York that he began to badger Robert Cecil for a post elsewhere. In April 1597 he was ‘specially chosen’ by the Queen to assist the border commissioners who were negotiating a treaty with the Scots. The commissioners gave him a good report both for his learning and his diligence, and he next became a member of the council in the north. When he quarrelled with its secretary, it was to Cecil that he appealed for support, but Bennet maintained contact with the Essex faction through Edward Reynolds.4

Brought into Parliament for Ripon by the archbishop of York, he served on two legal committees (8 Nov. 1597, 11 Jan. 1598) and a committee for maltsters (12 Jan.). In 1601, unable to secure re-election at Ripon, he achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the sole York MP during the Elizabethan period who was not a member of the city corporation. After the recorder had intervened on his behalf, Bennet was in fact returned at the head of the poll. Still, he had property in and around the city, and when in London, had performed an occasional commission for the corporation. After the date of his election and before that of the return, on which document he is described as of York, he was made a freeman of the city. Like the townsmen who usually represented York, he was paid parliamentary wages and allowances. In the 1601 Parliament he served on a committee concerned with St. Bartholomew’s hospital (17 Nov.). An active speaker, he spoke twice in support of a bill on the Act of Uniformity (20 Nov., 12 Dec.), drawing attention to the large number of recusants in Yorkshire. He contributed to the debate on monopolies, also on Nov., warning the House that ‘he that will go about to debate her Majesty’s prerogative royal must walk warily’; as York’s representative, however, he felt bound to attack the abuses in the salt monopoly. He served on the monopolies committee on 23 Nov., and was one of those appointed to attend the Queen to hear her message about monopolies on 28 Nov. As a citizen for York he could have served on committees concerned with the business of the House (3 Nov.), clothworkers (18 Nov.), and silk weaving (10 Nov.).5

The remainder of Bennet’s career belongs to the reign of James I. Expelled from the House for corruption in 1622, he died in 1627 and was buried at Christ Church, London.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. DNB; VCH Berks. iii. 548; M. B. Rex. Univ. Rep. in England 1604-90, p. 138; A. E. Preston, St. Nicholas Abingdon, passim; Drake, Eboracum, 511.
  • 3. DNB; Reid, Council of the North.
  • 4. Wood, Ath. Oxon. ii. 836; Le Neve, Fasti, iii. 199, 490; Drake, 456-7; PRO Index 6800, f. 521; HMC Hatfield, vi. 219; ix. 257, 363, 396; Border Pprs. ii. 284, 302, 310, 320, 329; APC, xxvii. 259; Lansd. 89, ff. 38, 183.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, viii. 419; Yorks. Fines (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. viii), 129; (liii), 26, 106, 134; (lviii), 35; York house bks. 31, f. 37; 32, ff. 116, 168-170, 192; D’Ewes, 578, 624, 641, 642, 645, 649, 657, 676, 683; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 103, 228, 232, 320.
  • 6. Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, ii. 465; DNB.