Bennet, Thomas (1645?-1681) (DNB00)

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BENNET, THOMAS (1645?–1681), grammarian, was born at Windsor about 1645. His parentage is unknown. He was a Westminster scholar (Alumni Westmonast. p. 154), and proceeded thence to Christ Church, Oxford, where he was entered in 1663; took his B.A. in 1666 (Wood, Fasti Oxon. iv. 289); and his M.A. 3 April 1669 (ibid, 307).

Afterwards Bennet became corrector of the University Press. Dr. Fell, the dean of Christ Church, nominated Bennet, 29 Dec. 1669, as candidate for the vacant post of architypographer, with which was then joined the superior beadleship of civil law (Wood, Ath. Ox. iii. 883). Bennet, thinking the appointment secure, did not go round to the masters, cap in hand, which was the usual manner of applying for their votes (Wood, ibid.), and one Norton Bold obtained the post. A second attempt on the part of Fell to secure for Bennet the architypographership in October 1671 met with the same ill success. In 1673 Bennet published a grammar in 8vo, entitled 'Many Useful Observations by way of Comment out of Antient and Learned Grammarians on Lilly's Grammar,' Oxford. This work, from its birthplace, became known as the Oxford Grammar, and sometimes, from Fell's patronage, as Dr. Fell's Grammar; and Bennet was styled the Oxford Grammarian. He took orders after his second rebuff, and obtained the livings of Steventon by Abingdon, and Hungerford. At this last place he died in August 1681, and there he was buried.

What Bennet did for (Latin) grammar was to make 'more easie and more compleat . . . the rules of Lilie's "Propria quæ maribus" and "As in praesenti"' (Twells's Grammatica Reformata, preface, xxvi); and Twells, who was a schoolmaster at Newark-upon-Trent, publishing his book in 1683 (unaware apparently of Bennet's death two years before), alluded to him as the Oxford Grammarian, and hoped he would 'speedily apply both his head and hand to 'remedy' the grand inconveniences of the "Quæ genus" and Syntax.'

[Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. iii. col. 883; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), vol. iv. cols. 289, 307; Welch's Alumni Westmonasterienses, p. 154; John Twells's Grammatica Reformata, 1683, preface 26.]

J. H.