Bennett, Edward Turner
- J. C. Edwards
Bennett, Edward Turner (1797–1836), zoologist, was born in Hackney, Middlesex, on 6 January 1797, the son of Edward Turner Bennett and his wife, Lucy. He was the elder brother of the botanist John Joseph Bennett (1801–1876). He practised as a surgeon in Portman Square, having been a pupil at the anatomy school operated by the surgeon Joshua Brookes. Bennett was interested in zoology and became a prominent member of the Zoological Club of the Linnean Society. In 1828 he became vice-secretary of the newly founded Zoological Society of London, whose secretary, Nicholas Aylward Vigors, seems to have been his patron. Indeed, it has been claimed that some of Vigors's works were ghost-written in part by Bennett (Mitchell, 128–9).
In 1833 Bennett was himself elected secretary of the Zoological Society. He was extremely diligent and enriched the collection of living animals with many new specimens, notably four giraffes in 1836. His attention to the routine work of the zoological gardens and the society's museum was exemplary, and he carefully supervised the publication of the society's Proceedings and Transactions. His gift of 218 volumes was the effective nucleus of the society's library. Some idea of the general magnitude of his services can be gleaned from the decline in its fortunes during the decade and a half that followed his death.
Bennett wrote The Tower Menagerie (1829) and edited The Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society Delineated (2 vols., 1830, 1831), to which Vigors, Broderip, Wallich, and Yarrell also contributed; in addition he contributed many papers to the Proceedings and Transactions of the Zoological Society and to other natural history periodicals of his time. He was working on an edition of Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne at the time of his early death. He never married, and died on 21 August 1836 at Bulstrode Street, London.
- Zoological Society of London Archives
- H. Scherren, The Zoological Society of London: a sketch of its foundation and development (1905)
- P. Chalmers Mitchell, Centenary history of the Zoological Society of London (1929)