This is a sub-project for the Bentley Name Study. The focus of this page is on the descendants of the Bentley family who first settled in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Their descendants then moved into Connecticut, New York and other parts of Colonial New England. Records from as early as 1636 contain many references to different people named William Bentley.
This page is created to try to help bring clarity to the web of William Bentleys and their descendants in Colonial New England. Please leave a message on this page or contact the Bentley Name Study Project Manager John Bentley if you have any additional resources or would like to collaborate research efforts related to the Bentleys of Colonial New England.
Web of William Bentleys
The Bentley family name begins to appear in the records of colonial America with three Williams:
- William Bentley arrives on the Truelove in 1636.
- William Bentley arrives in the Arabella in 1671 (William Bentley of Rhode Island).
- William Bentley begins to show up in the records of Massachusetts (William Bentley of Massachusetts).
This section will look at the lives of the three Williams together. When looking at the facts of each their lives, one notices a number of similarities. This raises the possibility that facts from one William's life are being confused with facts from another William. Immigration records and the early records or Massachusetts and Rhode Island will be examined to establish that three of the first Bentley immigrants were named William Bentley. Additionally, two of these Williams had sons named William.
After a brief discussion of the sons of Williams named William, the second section will focus on the different Bentley families as they begin to move across Colonial New England.
Most records agree the first Bentley who emigrated to this part of America was William Bentley who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635, aged 47 years, on the ship Truelove. Also aboard the Truelove were John Bentley, aged 17 years and Alice aged 15 years, perhaps his children..
According to the [Pilgrim Passenger Names Early 1600's website] five Bentleys are listed in the muster lists of ships coming to this part of America from 1636 to 1671
|Bentley Mary||age 20||1635||on ship [Defence]||from London to Massachusetts|
|Bentley William||age 47||1635||on ship [[[:Category:Truelove%2C_sailed_September%2C_1635|Truelove]]]||from London to Massachusetts|
|Alice||age 15||1635||on ship [[[:Category:Truelove%2C_sailed_September%2C_1635|Truelove]]]||from London to Massachusetts|
|Bentley, Jo.||age 17||1635||on ship [[[:Category:Truelove%2C_sailed_September%2C_1635|Truelove]]]||from London to Massachusetts|
|William Bentley||age 31||1671||on ship Arabella||Gravesend, England to Massachusetts|
Mary, age 20, was aboard the Defence which sailed from London to Massachusetts in 1635. She would have been born in 1615. Some genealogy show her married to the William who came on the Truelove.
William is listed as being born in England (in 1619) and died in Rhode Island. He not listed on any ship record found to date.
William Bentley Living in both early Massachusetts and Rhode Island
1635-1663(?)As discussed above, records show a William Bentley arriving on Truelove in 1635 at the age of 47. His profile states he died in 1663, however the source for this year is not clear.
1671 a William Bentley is record as arriving on the Arabella. This profile, and genealogy writings, state that the William who arrived on the Arabella is the William who lived in Rhode Island. However, a clear extant record has not been found to show the William who arrived on the Arabella and the William living in Rhode Island are the same people.
1675 two records establish a William Bentley was living in Massachusetts:
- In January 20, 1675 a William Bentley marries Mary Houghton in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts by a Mr. William Stoughton.
- Then on August 20, 1675, a William Bentley is included among "Soldiers credited with Military Service under Capt Daniel Henchman" (men taken from places including Dorchester).
- The marriage record from January states the marriage took place in Dorchester and Capt. Henchman drew men from Dorchester, therefore, it likely these two records relate to the same William Bentley. The William who arrived on the Truelove was believed to have died by this date, or would have been 87 years old. So its not likely these records relate to the Truelove William. They do show there was a William Bentley living in Massachusetts in 1675.
1679 a William Bentley begins to appear in the records of Rhode Island.
- The Genealogical and Family History of Western New York available here states the William Bentley who arrived on the Arabella in 1671 is the same William who was living in Narragansett, Rhode Island on July 29, 1679.
- William's name appearing on a petition along with "and forty-one others residence of Narragansett, Rhode Island.
1687 William was still living in Rhode Island
- William was involved in a dispute over land with French Protestants in Narrragansett, Rhode Island and is listed as one of the people entitled to receive a portion of all the hay cut on the disputed land or monies, William is listed as being of Kingston
The Family History of Western New York, also states records show this William was in Narragansett, Rhode Island from 1705 to 1720. These records will be discussed below.
Up to this point, it is possible to conclude the Bentley arriving on the Arabella, lived and was married in Massaachusetts, then moved to Rhode Island and married for a second time. However, in 1687 tax records seem to confirm there were was a William Bentley living in both Milton Massachusetts and in Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Tax records from 1687 from Massachusetts and Rhode Island:
- On May 14, 1687 A William Bentley was taxed in Milton, Massachusetts.
- September 6, 1687 A William Bentley was taxed in taxed by town of Kingstown, Rhode Island 4 shillings, 6 1/2 pence
The final record of the William in Massachusetts is in 1691. The records of Milton Church, Massachusetts, from April 12, 1691, show Rev. Peter Thacher of Milton baptized three children believed to be the children of William and Mary:
- William, Mary and Hannah Bentlet, Grandchildren to Bro. R. Haughton.
- Mary's father is Ralph Houghton making the R. Haughton a plausible grandfather, lending support to the above named children being those of William and his wife Mary Houghton. While this record does not specifically show William was still living in Massachusetts, or even still alive, it does support that William was married to Mary Houghton.
The Family History of Western New York, states records indicate William Bentley was in Narragansett, Rhode Island from 1705 till his death in 1720 (these records have not been independently located)
One final point of similarities between the two Williams should be noted:
- William(came on Arabella in 1671) was born on 13 Sep 1640 in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, , England. (William Bentley of Rhode Island)
- William (not sure when he came to America) was born 20 June 1641 in Shudy Camps, Cambridgeshire,,,England (William Bentley of Massachusetts)
The sons of the Williams named William and their wives
Two of the Williams who migrated to America had multiple children, including each having a son named William.
- William Bentley (of Rhode Island) had a son William Jr.
- William Bentley (of Massachusetts) had a son William IV
Both of the second generation Williams had multiple children. One of the Williams was married more than once. Some confusion has resulted from at least one source stating the William Bentley of Rhode Island married both Mary Elliot and Bathsheba Lewis (available here). Two other sources, however, agree the William Bentley who married Mary Elliot was the son of William Bentley and Mary Houghton of Massachusetts.  and 
Since the above source confused, one William marrying another, there may also be confusion about which children belong to each William.
William Bentley Jr. lived his entire life in Rhode Island based on his profile, need to verify place of 1760 will. Based on his profile all of his children were born in Rhode Island.
- One of his sons Green Bentley (MA to NY) moved to NY
William Bentley IV was born in Massachusetts, but moved to Connecticut by 1703 when he married Mary Elliot.
Bentley Families in Colonial New England
Bentley Families of Early Rhode Island
William Bentley, of Rhode Island, (the immigrant who arrived on the ship Arabella in 1671) is the first known Bentley in Rhode Island. Stewart established the following letter code to classify the five children of William and their selected children.
The Bentley Lines of WILLIAM BENTL(E)Y, X.193.,PROGENITOR (Be:F.)
- Jane (Be:Fa.)
- William (Be:FB)
- James (BeFC)
- Thomas, (Be:FD.) FX.97.
- Jane (Be:FDa.)
- Mary (Be:FDb.)
- William Be:FDC.
- Benjamin, Be:FDD. Vm.49
- Caleb Be:FDDA.
- Joseph Be:FDDB.
- Thomas Be:FDDC.
- Samuel,Be:FDDD. VH.25.
- Benjamin Be:FDDE.
- Gideon Be:FDDF.
- Ann(e) (?) Be:FDDg.
- Thomas Be:FDE.
- Benjamin Be:FE.
Not sure if the following fit into the above family or not The records of the First Congregational Church of Newport, Rhode Island, shows two Bentley marriages:
- one taking place on Nov. 18, 1756 between William Bentley and Sarah Pitman (Stewart does not have a Pittman in his classification system) and
- one taking place Oct. 18, 1772 Nathaniel Bentley and Anne Trowbridge. 
Bentley Families of Early New York
This section will highlight the first known or well known Bentley citizens of New York. All New York Bentley profiles located by the Study can be found on the main page of the New York, Bentley Name Study category
The category currently has approximately 34 Bentley profiles. Most are from the following families:
John Bentley and his son Eldred Bentley account for 12 of the Bentley names.This line of the Bentley family needs more research, it is possible/ likely, that it might be tied to the family below) . From the profiles it seem this family was in New York from around1755 to approximately 1888. Eldred also has grand children who lived in New York. They have not been added to the Study so far.
William Bentley, of Rhode Island, (the immigrant who arrived on the ship Arabella in 1671) had two sons Thomas Bentley and William Bentley Jr. whose children account for 22 of the New York Bentley profiles:
Eleven are tied to Thomas Bentley. While he never lived in New York, he had a son William who did. This Bentley family was in New York before 1770.
- William (died in New York in 1800) and his children:
- Elizabeth Bentley (died in New York, date unkown)
- Joseph Bentley (died in New York in 1799)
- Tabor Bentley (died in New York in 1826)
- Henry Bentley (born in New York in 1771)
- Tillinghast Bentley (b.1735-died in New York in 1820) and his children:
- Six of New York Bentley profiles come from the Green Bentley and his children. Its not yet known when he moved to New York, however, five of his children where born or lived in New York. His family was in NY from 1778 to 1854:
- Green Bentley Jr. (was born in New York in 1778)
- Bathsheba Bentley Bennett (died in New York in in 1779)
- Hannah Bentley Bennett (was married in New York in 1781)
- Rhoda Bentley Teeples (was married in New York in 1793)
- Benjamin Bentley (died in New York in 1854)
- Five of the Bentley profiles are tied to William Bentley (died in New York in 1800) and his children. This Bentley family was in New York as early as 1784:
- Jonathan Bentley (born in New York in 1784-died in Illinois in 1889)
- John Bentley (born in New York in 1787-died in New York in 1856)
- David Bentley (born in New York in 1790)
- Joshua Bentley (born in New York in 1792-died in New York in 1860)
Bentley Families of Early Connecticut
William Bentley IV was born in Massachusetts, but moved to Connecticut by 1703 when he married Mary Elliot. George Bentley son of William Bentley (of Rhode Island) is believed to have moved to Connecticut and was married in approximately 1723.
Bentley Families of Pennsylvania
Is it reasonable to assume that the following records are for all for two people, John Bentley and Jeffery Bentley (believed to be John's son)? The only Bentley names listed are for John (once as Jonathan) and Jeffery. The last time is sometimes spelled Bently other times Bentley. The Jonathan is listed as a freeman all others landholders.
|John||West Bradford||1735/36||Landholder||County (C‐13A)|
|John||West Bradford||1737/38||Landholder||County (C‐14A)|
|John Jr.||Fallowfield||1737/38||Landholder||County (C‐14B)|
|John||Society Land||1740||Landholder||County (C‐16)|
|John||Society Land||1739||Landholder||County (C‐15)|
Bentley Families in Early Vermont
- Shelly Bentley(born 1795 CT?) is believed to have moved from Wells, Connecticut to Jericho Vermont before 1800. He settled in Millbrook, VT. He married Abigail Stevens prior to their first child was born in 1826.
- Ira (Reverend) Bentley was born in 1785 in Cornwall, Addison, Vermont, USA. He had 3 wives between 1809-1842, all the marriages where in VT. He had six children, between 1815-1831. He died in Washington CO., New York in 1855
Unconnected Bentley Families
This section is under construction...Not organized well=
The Table may be sorted by clicking the buttons below
|Last Name||First Name||Birth Year||Birth Place||Death Year||Death Place||Family Line|
|Bentley||William III||1640||England||1720||Rhode Island||R1|
- ↑ GENEALOGICAL DICTIONARY-FIRST SETTLERS OF NEW ENGLAND By James SAVAGE as cited by [Lafferty Bentley page on Genealogy.com]:Truelove from Ye Port of London
- Sept. 21, 1635
- These under-written names are to be transported to New - England imbarqued in the Truelove JO: Gibbs Master. the Men have taken the oaths of Alleg: & Suprem.
- ↑ THE FOUNDERS OF NEW ENGLAND, 1860, page 78, (The original of this entry was in possession of Samuel Gardiner Drake in 1860).
- ↑ Genelogical Classification By Family Group Coding For Descent From Common Ancestors by Cameron R. Stewart Vol. 2, pages 1059, 1652, 1790 as cited [here by Allan Bentley]
- ↑ Soldiers in King Philip's war; Being a critical account of that war, with a concise history of the Indian wars of New England from 1620-1677, official lists of the soldiers of Massachusetts colony serving in Philip's war, and sketches of the principal officers, copies of ancient documents and records relating to the war, also lists of the Narragansett grantees of the United colonies, Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut; by Bodge, George M. (George Madison), 1841-1914, 1896, Pages 47 & 51 [available here]
- ↑ Genealogical and Family History of Western New York: A Record of the Achievements of her People In the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation, Vol. II, William Richard Cutter, 1912, Lewis Historical Pub. Co, page 869 available here
- ↑ Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations ..., Volume III, 1858, Page 60 [available here]
- ↑ Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations ..., Volume III, 1858, Page 228 [available here]
- ↑ Tax Lists Extracted From The History of Milton, Mass., 1640 to 1887 Boston, 1887, Transcribed by Jane Devlin, In observance of the Treasury warrant dated the twenty seventh day of March 1700, we the Selectmen of Milton on the 14th day of May [available here]
- ↑ Ancestors of the Bentley's of Chautauqua County, N.Y., by Eleanor L. Trismen, page K, [as cited by Allan Bentley here]
- ↑ The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 22, 1868. Page 443 [available online here]
- ↑ GENEALOGICAL CLASSIFICATION BY FAMILY GROUP CODING FOR DECENT FROM COMMON ANCESTERS", by Cameron Ralph Stewart, Vol II, p. 1059, 1986. [cited by Allan Bentley here]
- ↑ Emile Sarter, compilation entitled "One Branch of the Bentley Family of Rhode Island", 1953 as cited by Allan Bentley [available here]
- ↑ Stewart, Cameron Ralph Genealogical Classification By Family Group Vol. 2, Page 1105 (Stewart, Long Beach, 1986)
- ↑ VITAL RECORD of RHODE ISLAND 1636-1850. First series. BIRTHS, MARRIAGES and DEATHS, A Family Register for the People, By James N. Arnold Editor of the Narrangansett Historical Register, VOL. VIII. Episcopal and Congregational, FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND MARRIAGES available online here
- Using Categories in One Name Studies Jan 8, 2017.
- New "Bentley Families of Colonial New England", need advice and more sources Dec 21, 2016.