Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bennet, Robert (1605-1683)

BENNET, ROBERT (1605–1683), parliamentary colonel, was the eldest son of Richard Bennet, of Hexworthy, in Lawhitton, Cornwall, by Mary, daughter of Oliver Clobery, of Bradstone, Devon. During the civil war he was one of the chief Cornish adherents of the Commonwealth, and governed St. Michael's Mount and St. Mawes castle in its interest. He formed one of the thirteen members appointed as a council of state on 30 April 1653, and represented Cornwall among the 139 persons summoned to attend at Whitehall as a parliament on 4 July 1653; ten days later he became one of thirty-one members forming an interim council of state. In the parliament of 1654 he was elected both for the boroughs of Launceston and Looe; in that of 1659 he sat for the former borough. After the death of Oliver Cromwell he advocated the recognition of Richard as protector, his predilection being for a commonwealth, though he recognised the necessity, in times 'so full of distraction,' of a single person and two houses. After the restoration he retired, without molestation, into private life, and was buried at Lawhitton 7 July 1683, aged 78. Colonel Bennet's charge at the Truro sessions, April 1649, was printed under the title of 'King Charle's (sic) triall justified,' and William Hicks dedicated to him his 'Quinto-Monarchiæ cum quarto Ὁμολογία' (1659). Many of his letters occur in the Calendars of the State Papers during the Commonwealth, the Tanner MSS. at the Bodleian Library, and the Additional Manuscripts (12098) at the British Museum. When a wing of the old mansion at Hexworthy was demolished about forty years ago, an iron chest, concealed in a wall, was found to contain the correspondence of Colonel Bennet. The compilers of the 'Parochial History of Cornwall' assert (iv. p. viii) that these letters are not now to be found, but it is probable that they are identical with the three volumes of Colonel Bennet's correspondence included among the manuscripts of the late Sir Thomas Phillipps (Nos. 11015 and 12102).

[Visitation of Cornwall (Harl. Soc. 1874), p.10; Masson's Milton, iv. 498-506; Burton's Diary, iii. 138, 265. 359, iv. 29, 449, 488; Bibliotheca Cornub. i. 20, 238, iii. 1064.]

W. P. C.