Surnames/tags: Bentley Bently Bentlye
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.
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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.
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"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.
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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. 
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".
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". 
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". 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 .
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:"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". A footnote also notes that:
- Willo filio Odonis, Willo. Ruffo et aliis".
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)"
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. .
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)."
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 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.
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.
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.
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..
Other Known Bentley Immigrants
|Richard Bentley||age 20||1841||on ship Tyrian||from 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 Forebears.com. 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|
1880 Bentley Population in the United States (by select State)
|State||Population||Frequency (1 in:)||Popularity|
Counties with over 50 Bentleys in the 1880 Census
|State||Population||Frequency (1 in:)||Popularity|
|Chautauqua Co. (NY)||123||:531||40|
|Letcher Co. (KY)||119||:55||10|
|Bennington Co. (VT)||80||:273||17|
|New London Co. (CT)||66||:1,105||179|
|Floyd County (KY)||65||:157||26|
|Philadelphia Co. (PA)||64||:13,244||1,862|
|Alexander Co. (NC)||53||:158||33|
|Tallapoosa Co. (AL)||53||:442||60|
|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||:55||10|
|Bennington Co. (VT)||80||: 273||17|
|Haralson Co. (GA)||38||:157||20|
|Floyd Co. (KY)||65||:157||26|
|Rockdale Co. (GA)||34||:201||32|
|Alexander Co. (NC)||53||:158||33|
|Stanislaus Co. (CA)||20||:438||38|
|Chautauqua Co. (NY)||123||:531||40|
|Fremont Co. (IA)||38||:466||43|
|Olmsted Co. (MN)||37||:583||44|
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:
- Stewart, Cameron Ralph Genealogical Classification By Family Group Vol. 2, Page 1105 (Stewart, Long Beach, 1986) available online directly here Genealogical classification by family group coding for descent from common ancestors, vol. 2 has thousands of Bentley names linked back to William Bentley of Rhode Island
- 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 http://genealogy.bgwoodruff.com/original/INDEX.HTM available to online here.]
This site has many good Bentley related resources: linkpendium.com Bentley-family
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 .  and 
Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley credited with discovering that no two snowflakes are alike.
Wikipedia lists six places named Bentley in the US, ten in England, two in Antarctica and one in both Australia and Canada. 
- ↑ Select surname website
- ↑ Lobdell: Page 4
- ↑ [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.
- ↑ History of Land Tenure in England, [Author Unknown found at]
- ↑ 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]
- ↑ Id.
- ↑ Id.
- ↑ Id
- ↑ Id p. 233
- ↑ "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 Genealogy.com
- ↑ THE FOUNDERS OF NEW ENGLAND, 1860, page 78, (The original of this entry was in possession of Samuel Gardiner Drake in 1860).
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ [story of Bacon's Rebellion, section XIV]
- ↑ The William and Mary Quarterly, Volume 5, 1879 [available on google books here]
- ↑ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bentley_(disambiguation) Bentley Places on Wikipedia
Lobdell, Julia. Bentley Gleanings (A.W. Fleming, Chicago, 1905)
- New Bentley One Name Study Jan 19, 2016.
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