George Bennet, 7th Earl of Tankerville

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

George Montagu Bennet, 7th Earl of Tankerville (30 March 1852 – 9 July 1931), was a British peer,[1] cowpuncher, circus clown, and revival meeting singer.

Background and education[edit]

Bennet was born at Claridge's Hotel, Brook Street, London, the second son of Charles Bennet, 6th Earl of Tankerville and Olivia Montagu, daughter of George Montagu, 6th Duke of Manchester.[2] He entered the navy in 1865, was midshipman 1867 to 1869, and was educated at Radley from 1869 to 1870. He became a lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade in 1872, eventually serving as aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland[3] from 1876 to 1880.[2]

His elder brother, Charles, Lord Ossulton, the heir apparent, died, unmarried, of cholera in India 29 June 1879, while serving with the Rifle Brigade.[3] George was styled Lord Bennet at the time he became heir apparent. As the only surviving son, George succeeded his father as Earl of Tankerville on the death of the latter on 18 December 1899.

He travelled in America in 1892, becoming friends with two revivalists, Ira D. Sankey and Dwight L. Moody, accompanying them in both America and Britain. He spent some time as a cowpuncher in the western states.[4]

Known as "The Singing Earl," he sang hymns during his revival work,[4] and took part in concerts in the north of England. (His voice is described, confusingly, both as a "rich bass-baritone" and a "fine tenor".) He studied voice with Giovanni Sbriglia.[4]

Lord Tankerville made American headlines in January 1912 when he placed his 14-year-old son (and eventual successor) in a Boston, Massachusetts school, saying he wanted him to be "educated in a world where every one worked".[4]


Lord Tankerville, who for a time was a clown in the circus, met his future wife when he turned a somersault over a sofa in a New York drawing-room, nearly falling into her lap. He married Leonora Sophia van Marter (– 15 February 1949), daughter of James Gilbert van Marter of New York, at Tacoma, Washington, on 23 October 1895.[2] Prior to their marriage she had been a music teacher.[4] They had four children:

  • Charles Augustus Ker Bennet, 8th Earl of Tankerville (16 August 1897 – 1 December 1971)
  • Hon. George William Bennet (21 November 1903 – 12 February 1981), married Constance Clare Wace, of Victoria, British Columbia, and died sine prole.
  • Hon. Georgina Bennet (16 July 1896 – 17 July 1896)
  • Lady Ida Olivia Sophie Bennet (10 November 1898 – May 1900)

Lord Tankerville died at the family seat of Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, 9 July 1931, of the effects of a gastric hemorrhage, aged 79,[3] and was cremated and buried at Chillingham. After his death the Chillingham Estate was broken up.[2] He was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles. The Countess of Tankerville died 15 February 1949.


  1. ^ Mosley, Charles (2003), Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, I (107th ed.), Wilmington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage & Gentry LLC, ISBN 0-9711966-2-1 
  2. ^ a b c d Cokayne, George Edward; White, Geoffrey H. (1953), The Complete Peerage, XII/1, London: The St Catherine Press, p. 636, ISBN 0-904387-82-8 
  3. ^ a b c Lord Tankerville: Death of "The Singing Earl", Glasgow: The Glasgow Herald, 10 July 1931, p. 12, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  4. ^ a b c d e Lord Tankerville, 'Singing Earl,' Dies, New York City: The New York Times, 10 July 1931, retrieved 21 March 2014 

External links[edit]

Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Charles Bennet
Earl of Tankerville
Succeeded by
Charles Bennet