Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bennett, George John
BENNETT, GEORGE JOHN (1800–1879), actor, was born at Ripon, in Yorkshire, 9 March 1800. His father was for thirty years a member of the Norwich company. Bennett entered the navy in 1813, and quitted it in 1817. He made his first appearance at Lynn, in Norfolk, in 1818. After playing in different country towns he became in 1820 a member of the Bath company, and in 1822 came to London, making an appearance at Covent Garden, 27 Jan. 1823, as Richard III. The performance was a failure. In Hotspur he was more fortunate. On 23 July 1824, at the Lyceum, then called the English Opera House, he took part in the first presentation in England of 'Der Freyschütz, or the Seventh Bullet,' a rendering by Logan of Weber's famous opera. The part he played was Conrad. In 1830 he joined the Covent Garden company, appearing as Hubert in 'King John' to the Constance of Miss Fanny Kemble. At Covent Garden he remained through the successive managements of Charles Kemble, Laporte, and Macready, playing such characters as Grindoff in the 'Miller and his Men,' Macduff, Master Walter in the 'Hunchback,' and Caliban in Macready's revival of the 'Tempest,' October 1838. He accompanied Macready to Drury Lane, and remained with him till the close of his management, from 4 Oct. 1841 to 14 June 1843. On 27 May 1844 Phelps and Greenwood began their memorable campaign at Sadler's Wells. Bennett joined them, remaining with them during the eighteen years over which the management extended, and playing Sir Toby Belch, Pistol, Bessus in Beaumont and ifietcher's 'A King and No King,' Enobarbus in 'Antony and Cleopatra,' Bosola in 'Duchess of Malfi,' altered from Webster by R. H. Horne, Antonio in the 'Merchant of Venice,' Henry VIII, Apemantus in 'Timon of Athens,' Fenton in 'John Savile of Hasted,' Douglass in 'Feudal Times,' &c. When Phelps retired (1802) from the management of Sadler's Wells, Bennett left the stage. Some time subsequently he was, it is stated, established in Chepstow as a photographer. Bennett was a trustworthy actor, but barely rose into the second rank. His daughter, Miss Julia Bennett, has played with success at minor theatres. A five-act play by Bennett, entitled 'Retribution, or Love's Trials,' was successfully produced at Sadler's Wells on 11 Feb. 1850, the principal parts being supported by Phelps, Henry Marston, A. Younge, the author, and Miss Glyn. Bennett also wrote a drama called the 'Justiza,' produced by Miss Cushman at Birmingham. He died on 21 Sept. 1879, and was buried at Nunhead Cemetery.
[Genest's English Stage; The Drama, or Theatrical Pocket Magazine; Tallis's Dramatic Magazine; Era newspaper, 28 July 1879; Era Almanack.]