Anna Maria Bennett
Anna was probably born in Glamorganshire, Wales, the daughter of David Evans, described variously as a customs officer or grocer. She was briefly married to customs officer Thomas Bennett, but while working in a chandler's shop after moving to London, she met Vice-Admiral Thomas Pye. She became his housekeeper and mistress in Tooting, Surrey. The couple had at least two illegitimate children together, Thomas Pye Bennett and Harriet Pye Bennett. The latter became a famous actress as Harriet Pye Esten (ca. 1765-1865), with her mother helping to launch her career.
- Anna: or Memoirs of a Welch Heiress, 1785
- Juvenile Indiscretions, 1786
- Agnes de-Courci: a Domestic Tale, 1789
- Ellen, Countess of Castle Howel, 1794
- The Beggar Girl and he Benefactors, 1797
- De Valcourt, 1800
- Vicissitudes Abroad, 1806
Vol 4 'Memoirs of Charles Lee Lewes p 199: 'Mrs Bennet, Manageress & Authoress. She is the daughter of Mr Evans, a grocer on the Back, Bristol (who was native of Merthertidwell (sic) in Glamorganshire) where this lady was born. She married one Bennet, a tanner of Brecknock. Many domestic occurrences, which would ill become me to relate, I shall passover; distinguished characters are not judged by common rules but I will not demonstrate any given position at the expence of a lady's feelings. We find her some time back in the occupation of a slopseller, in Wych St, St Clements, London; after that in a chandlers shop in the Borough, where Admiral Pye one day accidentally sheltered himself from a shower of rain; her polite attention to the old gentleman so won upon him, that in a little time she was elevated to the post of his housekeeper, at Tooting in Surrey.
- She minc'd his meat, & made his bed
- And warm'd it too, sometimes, 'tis said.'
Mrs Bennet (as she is spelt by Lewes) is also mentioned in Vol 3 of his Memoirs p 90 and Mrs Esten p 83.
In 1804 Richard Westall exhibited portraits of Miss Bennett (363) and Mrs Esten (374) suggesting that Anna Maria had another daughter. Westall is mentioned as being betrothed to a Miss Bennett (Farington Diaries Nov 3/4 1804) but the marriage does not take place. Westall had a pupil William James Bennett who could be another member of the family. 'A Curious Genealogical Medley' by James F. Fuller (1913) indicates the links between the Bennetts and the Hamilton family. Mrs Esten is said to have had a daughter whose father was the 8th Duke of Hamilton. Sir William Hamilton was related to the 8th duke and his wife Emma was Nelson's sweetheart. Paintings by Westall of incidents in the life of Nelson were exhibited at the RA in 1807. A portrait of Miss Hamilton was exhibited at the RA in 1804 (377) and the original is now at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. In the publication 'Anna or Memoirs of a Welch (sic) Heiress', published in Dublin in 1804 the author Agnes Maria Bennett (also called Anna) dedicates the book to Princess Charlotte Matilda, Princess Royal of England. The Dedication ends: 'Permit an orphan, Madam, to find an asylum at your feet; she is young, virtuous and friendless: the vicissitudes of her fortune are many of them taken from real life'.
- Agnes Maria Bennett, in Laura Dabundo, ed., Encyclopedia of Romanticism (Routledge, 1992).
- "‘Bennett, Anna Maria (d. 1808)’, rev. Rebecca Mills" (subscription required for online access). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2117.
- Humphreys, Jennett. "‘Bennett, Anna Maria (d. 1808)’, rev. Rebecca Mills" (subscription required for online access). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2117.
- Humphreys, Jennett (1885). "Bennett, Agnes Maria". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 4. London: Smith, Elder & Co.