Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bennet, Christopher

BENNET, CHRISTOPHER (1617–1655), physician, born in Somersetshire in 1617, was the son of John Bennet, of Raynton in that county, He entered Lincoln College, Oxford, in Michaelmas term, 1632; was B.A. 24 May 1636, and M.A. 24 Jan. 1639. He did not graduate in medicine at Oxford, but was incorporated M.A. at Cambridge, and became M.D. there in 1646 (Munk). On 11 Sept. of the same year he was admitted licentiate of the College of Physicians, on 16 July 1647 a candidate, and on 7 Dec. 1649 a fellow of the college, where he was censor in 1654. Bennet practised first at Bristol (for how long is not known), and afterwards in London, where he acquired considerable reputation. He is chiefly known for his treatise on consumption, 'Theatri Tabidorum Vestibulum,' which from its title and from certain allusions was apparently intended to be the introduction to a larger work. It treats of various forms of wasting disease, dealing more with what would be now called pathology than with treatment. Its most valuable feature is the constant reference to cases observed and to dissections, not to authority, which gives the little treatise an honourable place among the earlier examples of the modern method in medicine.

Bennet's life was cut short by consumption, at the age of 38, on 30 April 1655. He was buried in St. Gregory's church, near St. Paul's, London. His portrait by Lombart is prefixed to his book. The full title of the first edition of his book is 'Theatri Tabidorum vestibulum seu Exercitationes Dianoeticæ cum Historiis et Experimentis demonstrativis,' sm. 8vo, Lond. 1654. The 2nd edition bears the title 'Tabidorum Theatrum, sive Phthisios, Atrophiœ, et Hecticæ Xenodochium,' 8vo, Lond. 1656; idem Lugd. Batav. 1714; id. Lipsiæ, 1760. It appeared in English as 'Theatrum Tabidorum, or the Nature and Cure of Consumption,' Lond. 1720, 8vo. Bennet also edited 'Health's Improvement, or Rules for preparing all sorts of Food. By Thomas Muffett, corrected and enlarged by Christopher Bennet,' Lond. 1655, 4to.

[Baldwin Hamey, Bustorum aliquot Reliquiæ (MS. biographies) in Brit. Mus. and Coll. Phys.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. 1721, ii. 191; Wood's Fasti, i. 266, 276; Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 248]

J. F. P.