(With apologies to Dire Straits.)
A great deal: the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (that’s of the UK) is offering free internet access over the weekend. You do have to sign up, but it is a painless process.
I went looking for female “relatives” and found:
Etheldred Benett: (1775-1845) who “acted as a clearing-house for palaeontological and geological investigations throughout Wiltshire, though these were sometimes interupted by electioneering for her brother in the often sordid provincial politics before the Reform Act of 1832.”
Anna Maria Bennett, novelist: (d. 1808) Very much a self-made woman, from obscure origins, “she met Admiral Sir Thomas Pye while working in a chandler’s shop. She became his housekeeper and mistress in Tooting, Surrey, and had at least two children with him… Her daughter became the famous actress Harriet Pye Esten (1761?-1865).”
Louise Bennett, suffragist, trade unionist, and pacifist: (1870-1956): “It was the bitter labour conflicts in Dublin in 1913 that awakened Louie Bennett to full realization of the desperate situation of Irish women workers—’the slaves of slaves’—who were very near starvation level. She founded the Irish Women’s Reform League and thereafter became the leading activist and organizer in the cause of economic justice and human dignity.”
Sarah Bennett, governess: (1797-1861) “The extent of her correspondence to former pupils, family, and missionaries (profits from the memoir were dedicated to the Church Missionary Society) gives an indication of the esteem in which she was held, especially as a role model for young ladies in similar straitened circumstances.”
Not such a bad lot.