Bentley Name Study

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Surnames/tags: Bentley Bently Bentlye
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This is a One Name Study to collect together in one place everything about the surname Bentley and its variants. The hope is that other researchers like you will join our study to help make it a valuable reference point for people studying lines that cross or intersect. Please contact the project leader, add categories to your profiles, add your questions to the bulletin board, add details of your name research, etc.

The Bentley Name Study is now officially registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies. You can visit study's profile on the Guild's website here:

For those wishing to view the current list of items the Study is working on, please visit:

One purpose of the Bentley Name Study is to trace the origin of the Bentley name, emigrants to, and early settlers in America. Another purpose is to have one place where people can easily view Bentley's who belong to the same Bentley line. As Bentley's migrated to America they arrived and lived in the same region. Those two lines are discussed in more detail on the following pages:

Feel free to add your Bentley family line or anything you feel will enhance people's knowledge of the Bentley name, including any sources on Bentley Genealogy.

To add a profile to the Bentley Name Study, use the following:

"Category: Bentley Name Study" (within brackets [[ ]]). If you know the state the Bentley lived in you can also add them to the appropriate state category by placing "Category: State, Bentley Name Study" (again within [[ ]], substitute "state" with the appropriate state.

The following template will be used to indicated profiles under current review by the Name Study.

This profile is part of the Bentley Name Study.
This profile is under active study, please coordinate any changes with Bentley Name Study manager

If you have any questions, comments or ideas, feel free to leave a message or contact the profile manger of the Bentley Name Study, John Bentley.

click here for Wikitree's Bentley Index


Origins and Meaning of the Bentley Name

The root of the surname Bentley is the Old English beonet, meaning "bent grass," and leah, a "woodland clearing," hence a clearing overgrown with bent-grass. There were a number of Bentley place-names in England - in Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire for example - which could have given rise to the Bentley surname. Bentley showed as Benedledge, Benetlea and Benedlage in the Domesday Book of 1086. The first recorded spelling of the family name was William de Benetlega in the pipe rolls of Derbyshire in 1176. [1]

According to one source, "The Bentleys are an old English family. In Burke's Armory, there are fourteen families, the arms varied. The family is also, sometimes Benly, Bentt, or Binley".[2]

The most frequently quoted Bentley legend is that the first Bentley, received land from William the Conqueror. The legend seems to come from a lawyer, George Bentley:

According to a manuscript written by Lawyer, George F. Bentley called "Genealogy of the Bentley Family", the Bentley name can be traced back to one "Drew of Bentley". Refering to 'Bentleys of Bentley-Haye", Staffordshire, England. "Bentley" is an ancient Manor and Hamlet belonging to the Parish of Wolverhampton, in the Hundred of Seisdon. It was granted by William the Conqueror to "Drew" by the services of keeping the hay for the King. Hence it is called, "Bentley-Haye". [3]

The story of William the Conqueror granting land to one "Drew" for the services of keeping the hay for the King is repeated often as the origin of the Bentley name. However, further evidence is necessary to separate fact from legend.

We do know certain elements of this story are factual. "In 1066, William I imposed a feudal structure on England. He was the owner of all land in England by conquest. He granted land to certain of his subjects in return for services"[4]. However, the hay associated the Bentleys was not hay for horses but instead a place called the Haye of Bentley.

The Ancient Bentley Family (1135 to 1390)

The Bentley Haye, one of the "Forest Tenure of Staffordshire, was given to a Drunad de Benetlea as one of the many Sergeanties issued by kings throughout England's history and remained within the family from 1135 to 1390 [5].

Sergeanties, consisted of services due to the King of a very miscellaneous character, many of them even of a grotesque nature; but being services due to the Crown and held by an hereditary tenture, they appear always to have been very highly esteemed and in most cases were performed by men of knightly rank".

The Pipe Roll of 1164 lists "the earliest custodian of the Bentley Haye who is mentioned in the Records is one Gervase de Benetlea who was dead in II H. II. (1164) Gervase had a son named Roger. Roger is shown to be the son of Gervase by the following abstract of a deed which is taken from the Huntbach MSS. in the William Salt Library:

Roger the son of Gervase of Bentley grants to Roger his son and to his heirs all Bentley with the custody of the Hay of Bentley, with its appurtenances except the land of Richard the son of Simon and of Robert the son of Jeffrey and the land of Hyndebadeshull, and the land of Hutcheberge and the Bailiwick of Wolverhampton which he kept for his own use for his life. Witnesses:
Willo filio Odonis, Willo. Ruffo et aliis".[6]
"The second Roger was dead in 12 H. III. (1228) leaving a widow, Juliana, and two sons, William and Richard." The Hundred Roll of 1255 states that William de Benetlega held a virgate of land by Sergeanty of the King for the custody of the Haye of Bentley, for which he renders one mark. His predecessor had been enfeoffed by King Henry I".[7] A footnote also notes that:
Shaw in his history of Staffordshire-under-Bentley states that one Dru nad held Bentley and had been enfeoffed at Bentley by the Conqueror, but the probability is that Dru was the father of Gervase and had been enfeoffed by Henry I (reign from 1100 to 1135)"[8]

Again here we see a reference to Dru and William the Conqueror but again without any evidence to factually show this story is more than legend. The Forest Tenures article outlines the geneology of the de Benetlea/Benetlega/Benteleye family from Gervase in year 1164 to William de Benetlega, "born at Little Sardon, and baptized in the church of Shareshull on the 21st November, 22 E. III. 1348 and died about 1390 without leaving issue" (i.e., children). While the trail to the Bentleys of modern time dies with William, the following quote regarding his father provides an interesting perspective of the events taking place at this time:

The last named John, the third of his name, died before he came of age during the great Pestilence of 1349. On the Fine Roll of 23 E. III. (1349) there is a writ dated 8th of May ordering an Inquisition to be taken on the death of John son of John de Benteleye a minor, and in ward to the King. The Inquisition held in pursuance of this writ gives a vivid account of the ravages of the Black Death. [9].

The connection between these de Benetlea/Benetlega/Benteleye and the Bentleys who migrated to America in the 1600s is unclear. However, at least one sources states that James Bentley (born Abt. 1560 in High Bentley, England, and died date unknown in Pontefract Castle, England.) was a "19th generation descendant of "Drew of Bentley Haye" the first known Bentley (1100 AD)."[10]

This James is said to be the father of a William Bentley who settled in America. James would be about the same age of the father one or more of the different William Bentley immigrants who settled in America. Assuming these lines can be linked (and the Bentley's from 1390 to 1560 are documented) the Bentley's alive today are over 30 generations removed from the first Drew or Dru , spanning from approximately 1135 to the present, almost 900 years.

For an example of this line one can refer to Descendants of Dreux The Norman. One should note, there appears to be very few actual records cited to support all the generations. More specifically, one of the generations made on this site has been disproved. This relationship is wrongly cited on many genealogy sites:

  • (WILLIAM BENTLEY57-58) was born in 1573 in Elstow, Bedfordshire, , England57-58. He died in 1632 in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, , England57-58. He married MARY GOODWIN. She was born in 1602 in , , , England59. She died in Elizabeth City, Rhode Island, United States59

The Mary Goodwin married to William Bentley never came to America. They also did not have a son named William.

The William Bentley ("19th generation of Dru") seems to be a combination of facts taken from a number of different William Bentleys. See the conflated profile of William Bentley for more details.

The Bentleys In America

Two separate lines of the Bentley family were well established during early colonial America, one in the south and one in the north. These lines remained very distinct from one another in colonial time.

By the turn of the eighteenth century, the Bentley name was found in many colonies of early America. The Bentley line of the south, originating in Virginia, moved further south to North Carolina, Georgia and other southern colonies. While the Bentley line arriving in Massachusetts, spread out through Rhode Island, Connecticut and the colonies of the north. If there are any instances of the two family lines mixing in colonial America, this project is unaware of those people yet. This may serve as a clue to tracing any Bentley ancestors. Sub-projects look into the Bentley lines from each area.

The name William Bentley is very common among the Bentley families living in America in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds. The number of people named William Bentley with fathers, sons or brothers named William or John, makes tracking the Bentley line very difficult. It is hoped that the Bentley Name Study and its sub-projects will help to bring clarity to the different Bentley families of America.

Southern Colonial America

See the Sub-Project examining Bentley Families in Southern Colonial America for more information about the Bentley families of this era and location.

The Bentley name is one of the oldest family names recorded in America. Jamestown was established on May 14, 1607 and became the first successful English settlement in North America. Eight months after Jamestown was established, on January 12, 1608, the first Bentley immigrant, William Bentley, arrived in America. He arrived aboard the John and Francis as part of the First Supply convoy to reach Jamestown since its establishment. While this William is believed to have returned to England, he came back to the Jamestown area in 1624 and raised a family who moved to North Carolina.

Immigrants to Virginia

According to the Pilgrim Passenger Names Early 1600's website four Bentleys are listed in the muster lists of ships coming to America from 1608 and 1671.

Bentley, William age 20 1608 on ship John and Francis (First Supply) from London to Virginia
Bentlie, William age 36 1624 on ship Jacob from London to Virginia
Bentley, Abram age 20 1635 on ship Globe from London to Virginia
Bently, Jo. age 21 1635 on ship Alice from London to Virginia
It is believed that the William Bentley and Bentlie listed above are the same person. William is discussed more below. Abram and Jo. do not have profiles on wikitree and no further information is known about them at this time.

Colonial New England

Please visit The Bentley families living in Colonial New England for more information about the Bentley families of this era and location.

Immigrants Boston

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 Bentleyage 311671on ship ArabellaGravesend, 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.

A second William Bentley immigrant arrived in Boston in 1636, only sixteen years after the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. William Bentley 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.

A third William Bentley immigrant, came to America on May 27, 1671 aboard the ship Arabella, Richard Sprague, Master.[11]

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.[12].

Other Known Bentley Immigrants

Richard Bentleyage 201841on ship Tyrianfrom Liverpool to New Orleans

Richard migrated to America and is considered and LDS Pioneer. While he migrated to America later than many of the other Bentley migrants, The profile of Richard Bentley more clearly reflects what it might have been like traveling to this new land than any of the early Bentley arrivals.

Geographic Distribution of Bentleys in 1880 Census

The statistics in this table were obtained at Population refers to the number of Bentleys in the location. Frequency refers to the ratio of Bentleys to the overall population. Popularity refers to how popular the Bentley name is in the area compared to other names.

Bentley Worldwide Population in 1880 era

Country Population Frequency (1 in:) Popularity
United States6,768:7,420260

1880 Bentley Population in the United States (by select State)

State Population Frequency (1 in:) Popularity
New York1,019:4,985716
Vermont110:3,004 572

Counties with over 50 Bentleys in the 1880 Census

State Population Frequency (1 in:) Popularity
Chautauqua Co. (NY) 123:53140
Letcher Co. (KY)119:5510
Bennington Co. (VT)80:27317
New London Co. (CT)66:1,105179
Floyd County (KY)65:15726
Philadelphia Co. (PA)64:13,2441,862
Alexander Co. (NC) 53:15833
Tallapoosa Co. (AL)53:44260
Saint Louis Co. (MO)52:13,550 1,693

Counties in which Bentley name ranked highest as compared to other names in the same county in 1880

State Population Frequency (1 in:) Popularity
Letcher Co. (KY)119:5510
Bennington Co. (VT)80: 27317
Haralson Co. (GA)38:15720
Floyd Co. (KY)65:15726
Rockdale Co. (GA)34:20132
Alexander Co. (NC) 53:15833
Stanislaus Co. (CA) 20:43838
Chautauqua Co. (NY)123:53140
Fremont Co. (IA)38:466 43
Olmsted Co. (MN)37:58344
Shiawassee (MI)49:55249

Bentley Families in Canada

A sub-project has been established to research Bentley families living in Canada.

Unconnected Bentley Lines

This page has been established to identify Bentley family lines who exist for a few generations but are not connected to the larger family tree. click here

Bentley Genealogy Resources

  • Allan Bentley has two very well researched sites on the genealogy of the Jamestown line of Bentleys:
Allan Bentley genealogy on
Allan Bentley Genealogy on
  • BENTLEY FAMILY HISTORY, "AS A TWIG IS BENT" including 1975 update by Ruth Schmidt (available here)
  • A document entitled "Bentley Gleamings" written in 1908 has information about the Bentleys (Wm. Bentley whose wife was Sarah Leithfield w as at Kingston, R. I. before 1679) and settled in Rhode Island, (Bentley Gleamings, Lobdell, Julia Harrison, b. 1839, available here). Available on wikitree here
  • A document entitled "Book One Bentley Ancestry" by Slough History. This is an old typed and hand written history of the Bentley name, mostly Bentleys in England available here
  • The Manuscript of Presenting the Genealogy Research of Helen Stone Woodruff who presented the histories to her sons. In order to make her work more readily available and accessible to all family members, Burrton Glenn Woodruff III in August 30, 2000 made her manuscript available to the public here. The family tree based on their work can be found here cite as: Manuscript of Presenting the Genealogy Research of Helen Stone Woodruff made available to the public by Burrton Glenn Woodruff III in August 30, 2000, Page available to online here.]

This site has many good Bentley related resources: Bentley-family

Bentley DNA

For those interested in a Bentley DNA study, please click here. If anyone has additional Bentley DNA information feel free to add it here

Famous or noteworthy Bentleys

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. Caleb's wife, Marie Henrietta Thomas, was a close friend of Dolley Madison. In August 1814, during the War of 1812, the White House was set ablaze by British troops on August 26, 1814, President James Madison fled Washington, D.C. and arrived in Brookeville on horseback, where he found refuge in the home of Caleb Bentley

Margaret Bentley was the mother of John Bunyan was an English writer and preacher best remembered as the author of the religious allegory The Pilgrim's Progress. In addition to The Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan wrote nearly sixty titles, many of them expanded sermons. The Pilgrim's Progress became one of the most published books in the English language; 1,300 editions having been printed by 1938, 250 years after the author's death.

Matthew Bentley was sued for damages done during Bacon's Rebel in 1676

"The records of Henrico County contain sundry charges of depredations committed by Bacon's soldiers, showing that the people's cause was strong in that section. Major John Lewis, of Middlesex, laid claim of damages at the hands of one [Captain] Matt Bentley, with forty or fifty men-of- arms, in the time of the late rebellion. Major Lewis's inventory of his losses includes "400 meals" (which he declares were eaten at his house by Bacon's men during their two days encampment on his plantation), the killing of some of his stock, and carrying off of meal "for the whole rebel army," at Major Pate's house, at whose house Bacon died in October 1676 . [13] and [14]

Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley credited with discovering that no two snowflakes are alike.

[Wikipedia list of notable Bentleys]

Bentley Miscellany

Wikipedia lists six places named Bentley in the US, ten in England, two in Antarctica and one in both Australia and Canada. [15]


  1. Select surname website
  2. Lobdell: Page 4
  3. [Katie citing]: Trisman states on page "G" "Early 'Bentley' History in England","TRISMAN, Eleanor L. (Eleanor Louise WESCOT) "BENTLEY GENEALOGY: Some of the descendants of George (3) Bentley; William (2) Bentley; William (1) Bentley; Also background of the Bentleys in England/ by Eleanor L. Trisman (Mrs. Ralph D.)-Salt Lake City: Filmed by Genealogical Society of Utah, 1980. Microfilm of the Manuscript Collection (ca, 500 leaves) donated by Eleanor L. Trisman, Riveredge, New Jersey.
  4. History of Land Tenure in England, [Author Unknown found at]
  5. Forest Tenures of Staffordshire, published in the Collections For A History Of Staffordshire, Vol. 10, Part 1, Edited by The William Salt Arthrological Society,1907 pages 230-237 [available here on Google books]
  6. Id.
  7. Id.
  8. Id
  9. Id p. 233
  10. "MANUSCRIPT OF HELEN STONE WOODRUFF": "From a Manuscript sent to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1981 by the Family of Richard L. Bentley (handwritten and very hard to decipher) states that "100 acres of land was granted to JOHN BENTLEY on August 14, 1704 in Pennsylvania. The material indicated the information had been taken from a FAMILY BIBLE, and that the Family had indeed originated in BENTLEY HALL in Staffordshire, England. Helen Woodruff donated this manuscript to the Genealogical Society Library (Assume this is the LDS Genealogical Society Library in Salt Lake City, Utah) In any event, this was found on microfiche from the LDS Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City. (Microfiched, 9 Nov 1982. Project and Fiche # ZLIB 7-105 #1287 G.S. Call # 6017787) Ruth SCHMIDT, in her 1975 update of the BENTLEY FAMILY HISTORY, "AS A TWIG IS BENT" as cited on Lafferty's Bentley page on
  11. THE FOUNDERS OF NEW ENGLAND, 1860, page 78, (The original of this entry was in possession of Samuel Gardiner Drake in 1860).
  12. GENEALOGICAL DICTIONARY-FIRST SETTLERS OF NEW ENGLAND By James SAVAGE as cited by [Lafferty Bentley page on]: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.
    These records appear as they are, from The Original Lists of Persons of Quality 1600-1700 by John C. Hotten. Even the spelling is as shows on the list."
  13. [story of Bacon's Rebellion, section XIV]
  14. The William and Mary Quarterly, Volume 5, 1879 [available on google books here]
  15. Bentley Places on Wikipedia

Lobdell, Julia. Bentley Gleanings (A.W. Fleming, Chicago, 1905)

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Comments: 10

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I appreciate the amount of detail included in this Bentley study! I come from a line of Bentley's in the Yorkshire, England area and so far have got back to the late 1700's. Every Bentley I have found so far in my family was born in, lived in and died in Yorkshire. I see a lot of info for Bentley's that emigrated and I read through the Descendants of Dreux but I am stuck on finding out where my family originated from. If anyone can offer any suggestions I would be very grateful. Thanks in advance.
On, there are excerpts from another resource: "History of the Bentleys" by Lewis Bentley (1888).
posted by Tara (Smith) Bentley
Couple of Bentleys...

1 There is an un-noted Richard Bentley transported to Virginia in the 1600s. 2 There is the case of a Bentley being charged with the murder of Godby in early 1620s? Virginia. 3 There is a Bentley noted in early Maryland and a place called Bentley's Point. Thomas Bentley of c1750 Rowen Co NC is noted as being from MD. 4 There may have been a Bentley associated with a Coombs in some sort of possible ferry business across the Rappanock River in the late 1600s or early 1700s. 5 There is a "Dan of Glouster" VA noted in1704 in Richmond Co VA. There are 3 proved different Daniel Bentleys there in c1721-23. A Sr with a 1721 will, a Jr and another married to an Anne (noted as a widow there by 1723) and they have 3 proved children baptized there in 1717, '19 and '21.

posted by George F. Bentley Jr.
edited by George F. Bentley Jr.
I was part of the c2000 group that figured out a lot of the "who was who" of the SE VA Bentleys. Their descendants' DNAs match.

1) Daniel I bc1675 - Will in 1721 Richmond Co m Eliazbeth I - F/o Dan II bc 1700 m Elizabeth II and James bc 1710. 2) Daniel bc 1685 dc1723 Richmond Co m Ann - F/o John bc1715, Ann b1717, Samuel b1719 [MY GGGGgf] and William b1721. 3) Samuel bc 1705 Will 1784 Amelia Co - F/o John bc1735, Samuel bc1740, William bc1754, Efford b1759, Mary bc1742, Elizabeth bc1746, Rebecca b1750 and Rachael bc1755. Note: NOT Christened: 30 Dec 1719 North Farnham Parish, Richmond Co VA 4) John bc1700 m Mary Ellis 1726 Middlesex Co - Res c1735 Amelia - F/o Samuel, Edmund, Mary Ellis b1733, Sarah? & John? DNA proves many of the Wilkes Co GA Bentleys are descendants of the above (inc William 1791 will).

posted by George F. Bentley Jr.
Cal. IPMs Vol. VIII, Edward III, p. 156, #202. John died before 12 Dec 1339, IPM held 18 Jan 1339/40. His heir is his grandson, John son of John son of the deceased, aged 10 in 1339.
posted by [Living Horace]
Thanks Anne, I have added this to the resources section
posted by John Bentley

This is an old typed and hand written history of the Bentley name - some origins are suggested as coming from the Normans. It has some interesting notes. Anne Bentley

posted by Anne Bentley
John, I love all the changes and the new tables.

Oh, I noticed you misspelled the title "sources" you wrote "Sorces" it's below the new tables. Of course that could be the way you meant to spell it. Taylor

Thank you Taylor. I just recently started the name study and must admit I don't know much about them. I am very open to other's ideas. My intention was to lay a foundation that can be built upon by anyone with an interest in the Bentley name. In the process I am learning many interesting things about the Bentley name. Hopefully, the community here will help me collectively produce a study helpful and respected by fellow genealogists. Thanks again for the comment and feel free to send me a message if you have any questions or want to share any ideas.
posted by John Bentley
John, I just joined the one name study group and have yet to start my study. I have reviewed many family studies on the internet and very few are as nice as yours. Are you going to include profiles, obituaries etc. You could eventually produce a book from your one name study and future genealogists will be using your book as a reference. Keep going it looks great.