Caleb Bentley
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Caleb Bentley (1762 - 1851)

Caleb Bentley
Born in Chester, Colony of Pennsylvania, British Colonial Americamap
Ancestors ancestors
Son of and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married 1807 in Bookerville,
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 89 in Sandy Spring, Montgomery, Maryland, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 8 Sep 2009
This page has been accessed 1,132 times.



Caleb Bentley was born in "Concord," Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1762. He was the son of Joseph Bentley (1725-1778) and "Mary Bentley (nee Thatcher) (1727-1799)". "Caleb descended from Joseph Bentley and Mary Thatcher, son of Joeffrey Bentley and Eleanor Banner, son of John Bentley and Mary Miles, of Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania."[1] and [2]

Caleb was married twice. First to Sarah Brooke in 1791 (who died 1805). Secondly, he married Henrietta Thomas (1782-1860) on August 6, 1807. He had three children: Mary Thomas Bentley (b. 1808); Sarah Brooke Bentley (b. 1814); and Richard Thomas Bentley (b. 1819). Died in Montgomery County, Maryland on July 13, 1851.[3]

It is believed that Caleb and his first wife Sarah Brooke were married on March 26, 1791 in Indian Springs, Frederick County, Maryland. [4] and [5]

Caleb was a silversmith, shopkeeper, and first postmaster in Brookeville, Maryland. Bentley was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1762.[6] In the early 1780s, Caleb emigrated with his brother, spending some time in York, Pennsylvania and then moved to Leesburg, Virginia in 1786. While in York, Bentley became a Quaker. In the early 1790s, Bentley established himself as a silversmith in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.[7]

"Caleb Bentley was the brother of Eli. Only two sources have been discovered giving the facts on Caleb. Dr. James states that "he tried his trade in New York, Pa., later at Leesburg, Va. and finally settled in Sandy Spring, Md." History of the Bentley family was given by John N.[eedles] Bentley of Sandy Spring, Maryland, at a meeting of the council of the Carroll County Historical Society in Taneytown, October 10, 1946. Caleb was born in 1762, near Doe Run, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and became a great clockmaker who eventually settled in Montgomery county, Maryland, in 1794 and was well-to-do.[8]

Caleb Bentley and President Washington and President Madison

Caleb Bentley was commissioned by President George Washington to make the brass cornerstone used for the White House groundbreaking ceremony in 1792. A year later, Bentley made a silver cornerstone which was used for the United States Capitol.[9] [10]

Bentley's wife, Marie Henrietta Thomas, was a close friend of Dolley Madison. In August 1814, during the War of 1812 when President James Madison fled Washington, D.C., he fled to Brookeville on horseback, where he found refuge in the home of Caleb Bentley.[11] [12] Mrs. Mary Bentley Thomas, a granddaughter, made a record of this visit. She relates that the President only asked for a room for his officers, and her grandmother's private room was set aside for them. The President did not retire at all, but sat all night in the armchair, with a secretary table upon it, from which he dispatched orders throughout the night. There was a guard of soldiers surrounding the house, and their continual tramp destroyed Mrs. Bentley' s vegetables and flowers. The chair in which President Madison sat during that eventful night long remained and honored heirloom in the home of her father, and, upon his death of her mother, it became the property of Mr. Richard Bentley, of Baltimore. Next morning, after having received evidence that the British were marching to their vessels, President Madison bid goodbye to his Quaker host, and returned to his desolated capital."[13] Today Caleb's house is know as the "Madison House"

Madison House

Caleb owned two slaves, both of whom he manumitted in 1815: Eliza (born c. 1798), free in 1815 and Esther (born c. February, 1815), free in 1831.[14]

The Bentleys continued to live in Montgomery County for years, though he returned to live for a period of time in Georgetown in the late 1830s. Bentley died in 1851 in Sandy Spring, Maryland.[15]

Research Notes

Caleb's possible mother Mary Thatcher

See Caleb's father's profile for more information

Caleb's first wife Sarah Brooke

The place of birth and the ages of the Children of the existing profile of Sarah Brooke indicate she is not Caleb's wife.

Sarah Brooke was born on December 29, 1767, daughter of wealthy landowner Roger Brooke IV. Sarah married Caleb Bentley in 1791. Although they had no children, the couple raised an orphaned child and a young African American girl until Sarah's untimely death on September 9, 1805.[16] and [17]


  1. Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series) for Caleb Bentley, [available here]
  2. Lobdell, Julia, page 37-38. Bentley Gleanings (A.W. Fleming, Chicago, 1905) citing FROM AMERICAN HISTORICAL REGISTER, PP. 857, 859 AND 860
  3. Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series) for Caleb Bentley, [available here]
  4. The Thomas book giving the genealogies of Sir Rhysap Thomas, K.G., the Thomas family descended from him, and of some allied families, by Thomas, Lawrence B., Published in 1896, H. T. Thomas Co. (New York), page 200 as cited by Allan Bentley [available here]
  5. Maryland Marriages, 1778-1800, page 17 as cited by Allan Bentley [available here]
  6. Farquhar, Roger Brooke (1952). Old Homes and History of Montgomery County, Maryland. Judd & Detweiler, Inc. pp. 207–208.
  7. Allen, William C. (1995). In The Greatest Solemn Dignity — The Capitol's Four Cornerstones. Government Printing Office. pp. 12–13.
  8. Dixie Clockmakers by James W. Gibbs, 1979, page 22 as cited by Allan Bentley [available here]
  9. Allen, William C. (1995). In the Greatest Solemn Dignity — The Capitol's Four Cornerstones. Government Printing Office. p. 7
  10. Allen, William C. (2001). History of the United States Capitol — A Chronicle of Design, Construction, and Politics. Government Printing Office. p. 24.
  11. Landphair, Ted (2007-08-15). "You Won't Need Much Time to Tour This 'Capital'". VOA News.
  12. "Brookeville: Gem from the Past". Sandy Spring Museum. Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  13. Browning, Charles Henry (1895). "President Madison's Retreat". The American Historical Register. Historical Register Pub. pp. 857–861.
  14. "Forgotten Names: Brookville's Slaves" part of a website maintained by Maryland Archives [available here]
  15. Allen, William C. (1995). In The Greatest Solemn Dignity — The Capitol's Four Cornerstones. Government Printing Office. pp. 12–13.
  16. Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series) for Caleb Bentley, [available here] citing to Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting Church Records: 1824-1964, 1736-1969, 1758-1979. First set of memberships, births, and deaths in chart form, p. 1 [MSA SCM 2250]
  17. Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting; Births, Deaths, and Membership, 1730-1895; Minutes, Women, 1811-1824. [MSA SC 2978, SCM 667-3]. as cited on Maryland Archives website [copy of the handwritten document available here]

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I am very familiar with this name, having lived in Montgomery County for over 60 years; I was a member of the historical society for many years and toured the house years ago. I have a booklet which mentions a Caleb Bentley from Brookeville, MD, as having land in Steubenville, Ohio, 9 May 1806. Is he possibly a son of this Caleb. Noland 588
posted by Linda (Noland) Layman
edited by Linda (Noland) Layman