Every now and then a unique name from the family history reaches out and demands attention, and such a one was Daniel Napoleon Bennett. He has gone down in some family memories as a Captain in the Royal Navy, sadly the facts don't back this up. It was in March 1842 when a case of assumed mistaken identity brought him before the Clerkenwell magistrates accused of stealing half a dozen silver forks from the Reform Club where his brother worked as a servant, and taking them to a pawnbroker. The report in the Morning Herald on March 28, 1842 describes him as " A tall, exceedingly well-dressed, very portly, and altogether quite a gentlemanly-looking man, wearing his short-collar à la Byron and his nose à la Napoleon, with rather a sentimental pair of whiskers." His father, William Bennett, is recorded at this time as running the Golden Anchor in St John-street-road, Clerkenwell where Daniel was found “asleep with his head on the table in the bar”, by the police. The pawnbroker’s confidence that he had identified the right suspect quickly faded away when faced in court by this “respectable-looking young man” and Daniel was let go “without a blemish on his character”. Daniel had married Maria Corke, from Tonbridge in Kent (she's the family connection) in St Martin in the Fields on 17th September 1839; here he gives his occupation as Seaman, while his father William was a Coachman. Their daughter Agnes Price Bennet was born on the 4th November 1842 and baptised in St John the Baptist, Hoxton on the 21st January 1844, when again Daniel is just described as a Seaman. Agnes married William Henry Forbes at St John the Baptist Church in Hoxton on the 28th January 1863, and her father Daniel is said to be a Sailor, and deceased; and here is a salutary lesson not to believe everything you find in the newspapers, for the announcement of the marriage in all the Somerset newspapers - from whence William Henry hailed - places the wedding at St John's Church in Wells, and has promoted Daniel to "late Capt. Bennet, R.N." Perhaps that is what William Henry told his Somerset family though ... Daniel's career at sea wasn't with the Royal Navy and he appears in the Merchant Seaman records with ticket no.27,985. According to this he was born in Bognor on the 21st July 1814 - he was baptised in St Andrew, Holborn on the 18th September 1815, as his father was a Coachman this is not impossible. He first went to sea as a Servant in 1834, and lived in Walbrook, London when unemployed. He was 31 when he was first ticketed as a Servant which matches this date of issue: in London 24 Jun 1845; Servant in this context would refer to cabin crew as opposed to deckhands. Daniel has one voyage out listed for 1845 with the comment: "Deserted at Calcutta 27/11/45". He probably never returned home, for the death of a Daniel Bennett, aged 33 and "a townsman; and a patient in the General Hospital" is recorded on the 1st March 1846 in Calcutta, and he was buried next day in Fort William, Archdeaconry of Calcutta. Was Maria informed of his death? By the time of the 1851 census she is describing herself as a widow and has returned, with her daughter Agnes, to live with family in Sussex.
Tales around the tree Daniel Napoleon Bennett
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