The Bennett family came from England in 1635 and settled in the Saybrook Colony, a British colony established at the mouth of the Connecticut River. Zadack (Zadoc) Bennett left Lyme, Connecticut in 1761 with his wife Mary (Mercy) Hackett and their children to settle in Horton, near present day Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Their 500 acre land holdings included a town lot, a share of dyke land, and two farm lots.
In 1784 Benjamin Bennett, son of Zadoc Bennett, left his new wife in Horton while he went to Hopewell, New Brunswick, to clear land and build a home for his family. Unfortunately his wife died in 1788 and therefore she never made the journey to join Benjamin in Hopewell. In 1800 he married his second wife, Rebecca Stevens, of Harvey. They had several children together.
Benjamin’s brother, George, was the first Bennett in what is now Albert County to build ships. The 61 ton Schooner ‘Mary and Eliza’ was launched in May 1818. Several members of the Bennett family followed in the shipbuilding tradition including Benjamin’s and Rebecca’s son, Nathan Murray Bennett. Nathan’s first registered vessel was the 75 ton Schooner ‘Hopewell’ that was launched in July 1835. Nathan’s son, Henry John Bennett, joined the family tradition and launched his first vessel, the 680 ton Barque ‘Enoch Arden’, in June 1867.
In all, there were 44 registered vessels built by the Bennett family. 36 of them were built at the family shipyard in Hopewell Cape, 7 in Hillsborough and one in Harvey. The Bennett shipyard in Hopewell Cape was well equipped with a large boarding house, moulding copts, a blacksmith shop, barns and stables, and a general store.
Henry Bennett, father of Richard Bedford Bennett, is credited as the builder of the last vessel constructed at the Bennett Shipyard, the 298 ton Brigantine ‘Romola’. It was launched in December 1874 and marked the end of an era for the Bennett family.