BENNET, William (aft.1553-1609), of Marlborough, Wilts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. aft. 1553, s. of Richard Bennet of Clapcot, Berks., and bro. of John. educ. Abingdon g.s.; G. Inn 1584. m. Anne, s.p.
Quite why a William Bennet came into Parliament for Ripon in 1593 instead of (but through the patronage of) the better qualified John Bennet, who was left out of the House altogether, is not clear. But he did, for he was described on the election return as William Bennet, a student of Gray’s Inn. That the return goes into such detail at all is a little out of the ordinary, and its making the point so emphatically may be intended to divert attention from the very man here assumed to be the Member, to a younger brother or other relation of John Bennet also named William and also of Gray’s Inn. But, in the absence of any evidence for the existence of such a younger man, it has to be assumed that the older one whose particulars appear at the head of this biography was the MP, though he must have been over 40 and of some nine years standing at Gray’s Inn. He was the founder of the Bennet scholarship at Abingdon grammar school. By his will, dated 29 Dec. 1608, which is that of a wealthy man, he made provision for the free education and subsequent apprenticeship of six poor boys of Abingdon, to be known as Bennet boys. His brother Ralph, also a beneficiary under the will, was appointed sole executor. A brother Edmund received £500 and another brother Walter £200. His wife Anne received her clothes, jewels, household goods and furniture. Besides various legacies to nephews and nieces, he left his house in Marlborough to the mayor and council so that they could use the rent for the relief of the poor of the town. He died in February 1609.1
The 1593 Ripon MP was appointed to two committees, concerning kerseys (23 Mar.) and weirs (28 Mar.).2