John Bennett emigrated to Canterbury when was seven with his parents, Joseph (b. 1810), a gardener, and Margaret (40), and siblings William (1838-1923), Margaret (12), Richard (11), Elizabeth (9), Stephen (5), James (3), and Frederick (infant). At some point the family moved to Kaiapoi, where Joseph was a bushman. In 1900, John was living in Doyleston. His brother William became a station hand and a contract carter, and later farmed Pleasant Valley. In 1900 he was living at Kaiapoi.