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BENNETT, Thomas (?1674-1738), of Welby, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. ?1674, 1st s. of St. John Bennett of Welby by Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Myddelton, 1st Bt., M.P., of Chirk, Denb. educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 29 Mar. 1693, aged 18. unm.
Though a Leicestershire man, Bennett was invited by Newcastle to succeed the second Lord Howe as Member for Nottinghamshire ‘to serve for this Parliament only’. He accepted, ‘wholly in obedience to your Grace’s commands, contrary to my inclinations, and the state of my health’.1
In my opinion [Howe wrote to Newcastle] your Grace has made the best choice you possibly could have done in fixing on Mr. Bennett for your man, for besides his good character in this county, and his attachment to the Whig interest, which he has shown on all occasions, especially in the Leicestershire elections, I don’t in the least doubt but that the Duke of Kingston will be extremely pleased with it, who is very fond of him, by which means your Grace will effectively secure that interest.2
Apart from his connexion with the Duke of Kingston, the chief reason for choosing him appears to have been his readiness to serve as a stop-gap, keeping the seat warm for Howe.
Returned unopposed under a compromise agreement with the local Tories, Bennett consistently supported the Government, voting for the excise bill. In 1733 he unsuccessfully tried, on Newcastle’s behalf, to persuade the Duke of Kingston to accept a lordship of the bedchamber, thereby incurring the displeasure of the Duke’s aunt, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who, he reported to Newcastle,
has done everything in her power to set her nephew and your Grace by the ear. She has been eternally saying to him, ‘what, will you support Bennett for the county, when you see that all his endeavour is to make you a tool of the Duke of Newcastle and to bring you to court?’ This is so great a crime in me that she will never speak to me more.
He added that steps had been taken to enlighten the Duke as to his aunt’s character and that she had since ‘lost all power with him’.3
‘For the reasons that prevailed last time’, Bennett was returned again in 1734, ‘in spite of some local discontents ... at choosing a gentleman of another county’.4 In the autumn of 1737 he fell ill of a dropsy, dying 10 June 1738.