Benn, William

, a nonconformist clergyman of Dorsetshire, was born at or near Egremond, in Cumberland, Nov. 1600, and educated at St. Bees. Thence he entered Queen’s college, Oxford, Wood thinks, as a servitor, but left the university without taking a degree, on obtaining a presentation to the living of Oakingriain, in Berkshire; but upon Mr. Bateman’s having got another presentation to the same living, a gentleman who was his contemporary at Oxford, they agreed jointly to perform the duty, and divide the profits, rather than contest the matter at law. Mr. Benn became afterwards chaplain to the marchioness of Northampton, with whom he resided in Somersetshire, leaving Oakingham to Mr. Bateman In 1629, the celebrated Mr. White, usually called the patriarch of Dorchester, invited him to that town, by whose interest he obtained the rectory of All Saints; and, excepting two years ttiat he attended Mr. White at Lambeth, continued here until Bartholomew-day, when he was ejected for nonconformity. Not satisfied with his constant labours in the church, while he held his rectory, he preached gratis, on week-days, to prisoners in the gaol, and the room not being large enough for his auditory, he built a chapel within the prison limits, principally at his own expence. In 1654, he was one of the assistants to the commissioners for ejecting such as were called scandalous, ignorant, and insufficient ministers, and school-masters. After his own ejectment, he continued to preach occasionally, and was sometimes fined and imprisoned. He died March 22, 1680, and was buried in All Saints church-yard. Wood records three particulars of him the first, that he was, as already mentioned, assistant to the commissioners, &c. secondly, that although he lived to be eighty, he never used spectacles, and yet read and wrote much, writing all his sermons as he delivered them; and thirdly, that he prayed in his study seven times a day, and commemorated certain deliverances from dangers which he had experienced on certain days of his life. His only works were an “Answer to Mr. Francis Bamph’eld’s Letter, in vindication of the Christian Sabbath against the Jewish,” Lond. 1672, 8vo; | and a volume of sermons, on “Soul prosperity,1683, 8vo. 1


Wood’s Ath. vol. II.—Hutchins’s Dorsetshire.—Calamy.