Bennetts the Blacksmiths

The history of a blacksmithing family

The Bennett family appear in the trade directories for Docking as blacksmiths from 1830 till 1929.

The Plough Commercial Inn

Using the census returns and parish registers we can establish that John and Rose Bennett came to Docking from Snettisham in 1827-28 and set up a blacksmith’s shop near to the Plough Inn in Church Street, now Chequers Street.

John Bennett is recorded as blacksmith there in 1841.

By 1851 his son Robert has taken over and he is described as a shoeing smith.

In 1861 Robert and his wife Frances, nee Melton, are employing two men.

In 1871 Robert’s son John is an apprentice blacksmith.

By 1881 Robert is dead and John is the blacksmith with his younger brother James as apprentice, but by 1891 John has gone and James is the blacksmith.

James married Madeline Rose Calver, a farmer’s daughter from Burnham Thorpe; he is still trading in 1911 and they have one daughter, Avis. James died in 1946 and Madeline in 1949; they are buried in Docking churchyard.

Avis remained unmarried and died in 1982.

So using the trade directories and other sources we know that the Bennett family traded here as blacksmiths for more than 100 years.

On a village walk in 2011 organised by the heritage group we were joined by a niece of Madeline Bennett.