Paraphrase with Annotations upon the Book of Common Prayer, wherein the text is explained, objections are answered, and advice is humbly offered, both to the clergy and the laity, for promoting true devotion to the use of it.' In 1710 these were tacitly vindicated by Bennet in 'A Letter to Mr. B. Robinson, occasioned by his Review of the Case of Liturgies and their Imposition,' and in a 'Second Letter to Mr. Robinson' on the same subject (also 1710). The issue of one letter before the other was characteristic of the hurry with which Bennet addressed himself to his controversies. He dashed off what first offered itself, and accordingly committed strange blunders. In 1711 he published 'The Rights of the Clergy of the Christian Church; or a Discourse shewing that God has given and appropriated to the clergy authority to ordain, baptize, preach, preside in church-prayer, and consecrate the Lord's Supper. Wherein also the pretended divine right of the laity to elect either the person to be ordained or their own particular pastors is examined and disproved,' Just after he had thus flouted the laity he was thankful to transfer himself from Colchester to London on the invitation of the lord mayor and aldermen of the metropolis. By a singular repetition of his former good fortune, he preached on an emergency a funeral sermon at St. Olave's, in Southwark, and was unanimously chosen lecturer there. On leaving Colchester—which from various causes had declined until his living was mere genteel starvation—he became deputy chaplain to Chelsea Hospital. He was further appointed morning preacher at St. Lawrence Jewry under Dr. Mapletoft. Finally he was presented by the dean and chapter of St. Paul's to St. Giles, Cripplegate, of 500l. a year. This presentation, however, embittered his remaining years, as he was speedily involved in parochial disputes and tedious lawsuits in order to recover the proceeds of an alleged assigned tax on peas and beans.
In 1711 he was created D.D. In 1714 he published 'Directions for Studying. ' In 1715 appeared his 'Essay on the XXXIX Articles agreed on in 1562, and revised in 1571, . . . and a Prefatory Epistle to Anthony Collins, Esq., wherein the egregious falsehoods and calumnies of the author of "Priestcraft in Perfection" are exposed.' In 1716 he assailed the extruded churchmen in 'The Nonjurors Separation from the Public Assemblies of the Church of England examined and proved to be schismatical upon their own Principles.' In 1717 he married Elizabeth Hunt of Salisbury, 'a gentlewoman of great merit,' and by her had three daughters. In 1718 he published 'A Discourse of the ever-blessed Trinity in Unity, with an Examination of Dr. Clarke's Scriptural Doctrine of the Trinity.' Like all his books, these were answered. His idea of the Trinity was undoubted Sabellianism. In 1726 he gave to the world a small memorial of his lifelong studies in 'A Hebrew Grammar.' He was always projecting polemical books, and especially designed a sequel to his 'Rights of the Clergy' of 1711, showing 'the independency of the church on the state.' But he died in the prime of his years 9 Oct. 1728. He is described by a contemporary as 'tall, strong, and haughty,' and 'a perfect master of Eastern and other learned languages.' Emlyn praised him for his 'small respect to decrees of councils or mere church authority.'
[Newcourt's Repertorium; Biogr. Brit.; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Bennet . . . Appellant, Perry and other Inhabitants . . . Respondents, 1722; tithes of peas and beans of vicar of East Ham in Essex; T. Brett's Dr. Bennetts Concessions to the Nonjurors prov'd to be destructive of the Cause which he endeavoured to defend, 1717; local researches at Colchester and London; Bennet's Works, and MSS.]
BENNET, WILLIAM (1746–1820), bishop of Cloyne, was born in the Tower of London 4 March 1745-6. He was educated at Harrow School, where he made the acquaintance of Dr. Parr, Gilbert Wakefield, and Sir William Jones, proceeding afterwards to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The dates of his degrees were: B.A. in 1767, M.A. in 1770, and D.D. in 1790. In 1773 a fellowship was conferred upon him, and for many years he was the chief tutor at the college. Among his pupils was the Earl of Westmorland, who, on his appointment as lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1790, nominated his old tutor as his chaplain. Bennet's promotion was then assured, and it came quickly: from 12 June 1790 to 1794 he held the see of Cork and Ross, and in the latter year was translated to the more lucrative bishopric of Cloyne. It was at one time proposed to appoint Bishop Bennet to an English see, and he was put in nomination for the provostship of Trinity College, Dublin, but was rejected in favour of another candidate. Among the pulpit orators of his day he took a high place, and his services were in frequent requisition. His exertions whilst preaching a charity sermon at St. Michael's, Cornhill, are supposed to have hastened his death. He died at Montagu Square, London, 16 July 1820, and was buried at Plumstead, Kent, a monument to his memory being erected in Cloyne cathedral. In 1791 he married Frances, daughter of Rev. Nathaniel Mapletoft, of Boughton,