BENNETT, Sir John (c.1658-1723), of Essex Buildings, Essex Street, Westminster
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Family and Education
b. c.1658, 1st s. of John Bennett of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, Westminster and Witham, Essex by his w. Sarah. educ. G. Inn 1675, called 1683. m. 9 Jan. 1683 (with £1,000), Anne (d. 1722), da. of Sir Joseph Brand of Edwardstone, Suff., wid. of Thomas Dudson, woollen-draper, of St. Benet’s, Gracechurch Street, London, 4s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1670; kntd. 10 July 1706.1
Attorney, duchy of Lancaster ct. 1678, clerk of council 1678–85; dep. south auditor, duchy of Lancaster 1678–84; clerk of revenue, duchy of Lancaster 1685–d.; steward, Essex, Herts. and Mdx. 1697–d.; judge of Marshalsea ct. 1699–d.; bailiff, Salford hundred 1699–d.; serjeant-at-law 1705.2
The ancestry of Bennett’s father is obscure. Resident in London in the 1660s he purchased the manor of Witham, Essex in 1668, but otherwise little is known of his background save for the claim that he was descended from the same family as the Earl of Arlington (Henry Bennet†), and the 1st Lord Ossulston. This contention is perhaps supported by the numerous offices the young Bennett accrued in the duchy of Lancaster during the 1670s and 1680s, a period in which two of Arlington’s political followers held the post of chancellor. After the Revolution Bennett retained office in the duchy and in the later 1690s gained a number of additional offices, mainly legal in character. The benefits he derived from his places were revealed to the Commons on 4 Feb. 1703 when the House was informed of a number of leases made to Bennett in the 1690s of lands, and a colliery, belonging to the duchy of Lancaster. If Bennett may have owed his initial administrative and legal advancement to the influence of Arlington, he certainly owed his parliamentary career to the interest of the 2nd Lord Ossulston. Ossulston had succeeded to Northumberland lands in 1706 and at the 1708 election forwarded Bennett’s candidacy at Morpeth. Returned unopposed, Bennett proved himself to be a Whig, supporting in 1709 the naturalization of the Palatines and the following year voting for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. He was otherwise an inactive Member and did not stand in 1710 or subsequently. Bennett’s sons followed him into the law, two of them becoming masters of chancery, one of whom was appointed clerk of the custodies in 1714. Little more is known of Bennett’s career before his death on 21 Dec. 1723. Buried at Witham nine days later, he was succeeded by his eldest son. None of his sons entered the Commons, but Bennett’s only surviving daughter married John Vaughan, 2nd Viscount Lisburne [I], who sat in George II’s first Parliament.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. The Gen. n.s. xx. 238; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 331, 493; Vis. Mdx. (Harl. Soc. xcii), 57.
- 2. Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster Official Lists, 39, 63, 71, 141, 206, 214.
- 3. Morant, Essex, ii. 107; Somerville, 3; C104/116, 21 Apr. 1708 (ex inf. Dr C. Jones); HMC Portland, v. 459; Boyer, Pol. State, xxvi. 675.