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

BENNET, GEORGE (1750–1835), Hebraist, was minister of a small presbyterian congregation in Carlisle, and passed a great portion of his life in the study of Hebrew. He was well acquainted with the learning of the rabbis, who were in his opinion more accustomed, if not better able, than christian commentators to catch the rays of light reflected from the Hebrew Bible. One of the principal contributors to the 'British Critic,' he reviewed from time to time the works of some of the most celebrated English divines, and he became at an early period of his life acquainted with many eminent theologians of his day. He corresponded on intimate terms with Milner, Dean of Carlisle, and his brother the historian, with Archdeacons Paley, Markham, and Nares, and with Bishops Porteus and Horsley. It was the learning and power of writing displayed in his criticisms of their works which induced Horsley and others to inquire of Archdeacon Nares, then editor of the 'British Critic,' the name of the reviewer to whom they were indebted for such able and luminous articles. In 1802 Harvard College in Boston, Mass., U.S., conferred the honorary degree of D.D. upon Bennet. In the preceding year Horsley, seldom liberal of his praise, had recorded in his 'Hosea' the strongest testimony to the merits of Bennet's work 'Olam Hanashamoth.' Before this Bennet had published another book, attacking sympathisers with the French revolution. His friends desired that he should take Anglican orders, but he preferred a settlement among his own countrymen, and Archdeacon Markham applied to his brother-in-law, the Earl of Mansfield, who appointed him to the parish of Strathmiglo in Fife, where he died, aged 84.

The full titles of Bennet's works, in their chronological order, are: 1. 'A Display of the Spirit and Designs of those who, under pretence of a Reform, aim at the Subversion of the Constitution and Government of this Kingdom. With a Defence of Ecclesiastical Establishments,' Carlisle, 1796. 2. 'Olam Hanashamoth, or a View of the Intermediate State, as it appears in the records of the Old and New Testament, the Apocraphal (sic) Books in heathen authors, and the Greek and Latin Fathers; with Notes,' Carlisle, 1800.

[Ramage's Drumlanrig, p. 231 ; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Notes and Queries, 1883, p. 334; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; British Critic, 1798, p. 326; Statistical Account of Scotland, ix. 777; Orme's Bibl. Bibl. p. 27.]

J. M.