Gordon Bennett may or may not have ever existed. Just supposing he did exist, he could have been one of three people. A Scotsman who started The New York Herald, his son who, born into a life of privilege, was determined to make the most of it and ended up with a road named after him in Paris, or an Australian General during the Second World War. For any non-British readers – here, perhaps I’d better say, any non-British readers of my generation – Gordon Bennett! Is a polite exclamation of surprise or irritation. As such, the most likely explanation for the exclamation is that it is a corruption of a less polite response to surprise or irritation.
Saint Benedict, on the other hand, was a real person. That is to say that we are almost sure that he was a real person. If he did really live in Italy around 500AD, then it is quite possible that he wrote Saint Benedict’s Rule. Around that time, monasteries were the in thing and they were pretty much going viral throughout Europe. They ranged from a medieval equivalent of a sweat shop to centres of peace, prayer and learning. Saint Benedict had been in a few of them so he knew. His contribution was his Rule. A balanced and fair way to pray, work and support the community. More importantly, he wrote it in a straightforward, plain and simple way that could be understood by anyone.
Herb Bennett could be a corruption of Herb Benedict. The plant is also known as Avens. The name Avens is derived from the Medieval Latin word avantia, but we don’t actually know what avantia used to mean.