Bennett, William Cox (DNB01)

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BENNETT, WILLIAM COX (1820–1895), miscellaneous writer, born at Greenwich on 14 Oct. 1820, was the younger son of John Bennett, a watchmaker of that place. He was educated at Greenwich in the school of William Collier Smithers, but when he was nine he was compelled, by the death of his father, to remain at home to assist his mother in business. Bennett took much interest in the affairs of his native borough, and succeeded in effecting several useful reforms. In 1868 he proposed Gladstone to the liberals of the borough as their candidate, and assisted to secure his return by very strenuous exertions. He was a member of the London council of the Education League. In 1869 and 1870 he was employed on the staff of the 'Weekly Dispatch' as a leader writer and art critic, and subsequently he contributed to the London 'Figaro.' He died on 4 March 1895 at his residence at Eliot Cottages, Blackheath, and was buried at Nunhead cemetery on 8 March.

Bennett was well known as a writer of songs. His chief works are:

  1. 'Poems,' London, 1850, 8vo; new edit. 1862.
  2. 'War Songs,' London, 1855, 8vo.
  3. 'Queen Eleanor's Vengeance and other Poems,' London, 1867, 8vo.
  4. 'Songs for Sailors,' London, 1872, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1873.
  5. 'Baby May: Home Poems and Ballads,' London, 1875, 8vo.
  6. 'Songs of a Song Writer,' London, 1876, 8vo.
  7. 'Prometheus the Fire-Giver: an attempted Restoration of the lost First Part of the Promethean Trilogy of Æschylus,' London, 1877, 8vo.
  8. 'The Lark: Songs, Ballads, and Recitations for the People,' London, 1885, 4to.

His 'Songs for Sailors' were set to music in 1878 by John Liptrot Hatton [q. v.] A collective edition of his poems appeared in 1862 in Routledge's 'British Poets.'

His elder brother, Sir John Bennett (1814–1897), sheriff of London and Middlesex, was born on 15 Oct. 1814 at Greenwich. He commenced in 1846 the occupation of a watchmaker, which he carried on at 65 Cheapside until 1889, when he retired. He was a common councillor for the ward of Cheap from 1862 to 1889, and a member of the London school board from 1872 to 1879, and from 1885 to 1889. In 1872 he was sheriff of London and Middlesex, and was knighted on the occasion of the national thanksgiving for the recovery of the prince of Wales. In July 1877 he was elected alderman for the ward of Cheap, but was rejected by the court of aldermen on the ground that he was not a person of fit character. In spite of this decision the ward returned him twice more. On the occasion of his return for the third time, the court of aldermen declared his opponent duly elected despite the far inferior number of votes cast in his favour. Thereupon Bennett withdrew from the struggle. He was a member of several city companies. He died at St. Leonards-on-Sea on 3 July 1897. In 1843 he married Agnes (d. 1889), daughter of John Wilson of Deptford.

[Biograph, new series, 1882, i. 57; Men and Women of the Time, 1895; the Times, 8 March 1895.]

E. I. C.