James Bennett

Headmaster 1882-1900

Certified Master 1st Class 

Birth possibly registered Dec 1854, Stow W 6a 313, Daylesworth in Stow W registration district

1861 census – parish of Daylesford, Worcestershire, son of John 54 and Mary 47, sibling John E aged 5 and a groom lodger Joseph Hooper aged 17

At the beginning of 1880, Mr Bennett married Sarah Chandler (March 1880 Lambeth 1d 474)
In 1881 at the time of the census – James 26, Sarah 27 and Grace E Chandler aged 32, James’ sister in law a domestic lady’s maid were living at 18 Livingstone Street, Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester.

Madeline Mary Bennett’s birth was registered at Chorlton (Vol. 8c, page 791, March 1882)

April 24th, 1882 Mr James Bennett took up his post at Highfield School, Archer Flux recorded in his notes on the history of the school “that during Mr Bennett’s time the school made considerable (and much needed) improvement and he laid the foundation of the good name and high reputation which the school now enjoys”. The notes also show that in 1882 the floor of a sitting room in the master’s house consisted of bricks laid on the earth, and “it is hardly to be wondered at that the in-coming master insisted on an alteration before taking office”. This heralded the start of some significant changes to the school. The school was enlarged in 1886 and the last addition to the class rooms was made in August 1894, this room taking the place of a “lean to” makeshift.

The entry in the school log for February 20 1885 shows that the master was out of school most of the week – owing to a death in the family. Possibly, a son John Edward Barton whose birth had been registered Jun 1884 (S Stoneham 2C 69)

December 17th 1886 it is recorded in the school log that the school was closed for 3 weeks owing to the master’s wife having measles

In March 1887 the birth of Ernest John Bennett was recorded at South Stoneham.

On the 1891 census James aged 36, Sarah 38, Madeleine 9 and Ernest aged 4, are shown living on Church Lane, presumably in the school house, with Helena A Sinclair, a school mistress aged 19 born in Barnet, Middlesex boarding with them.

In 1893 another son, Bernard Edgar was born.

January 19 1900 the school log shows that Mr Bennett had been absent since Tuesday owing to the dangerous illness of a relative

It is recorded in the school log on Mar 25 1900 that Mr Bennett (Head Master) died suddenly – his last attendance at school being on Thursday March 22nd 1900. He was aged just 45 years.

Her Majesty’s Inspector J G Roper inspected the school on July 10th and reported that ‘the sudden death of the late Master, after so many years of vigorous work, came as a sad surprise to all who knew him’

The continuing Bennett connection at Highfield School

Madeline Bennett who had once been a pupil of the school is first noted as a Pupil Teacher in 1898. In 1901 still a pupil teacher, she is living in Highfield, now at ‘The Myrtles’, Church Lane with her mother Sarah who continues to teach needlework at the school. There are still 2 brothers at home, Ernest aged 14 and Bernard aged 8 and they share the house with a 24yr old pupil teacher, Maud Keal, who is from Somerset and boarding with them.

Miss Bennett appears in the school log books on May 5th 1904 when the work of STD IV (Miss Bennett) is recorded as being especially good and for a young teacher she deserves high praise. On November 7th 1920 she was given leave of absence to meet her brother on his return from five year’s service with the troops in India.

Mr Leggett wrote in the school log for October 29th 1947 that “Miss M.M. Bennett retired today after completing the required number of years for pension. The vicar paid tribute to Miss Bennett and the work she had done for the school. The Headmaster on behalf of the staff and scholars thanked Miss Bennett for her loyal service to the school and wished her a long and well earned ‘holiday’. He presented her with a wristwatch, Miss Bennett suitably replied.”

On April 7th 1983 Headmaster (Mr Colin Westlake) recorded that he attended the funeral of Miss Bennett who died aged 101 and had been connected with this school for over fifty years.

Notes on the History of Highfield School written by Archer T Flux
Diary of a School – compiled by Jo Ladkin & Isobel White
Census Information