Bentley Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
Bentley is an English habitational name denoting a person who was from any of several places throughout England, primarily in Derbyshire, Hampshire, Essex, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and East and South Yorkshire, as well as many small hamlets in various counties, named Bentley. The towns names are thought to derive from the Old English word beonet, meaning “bent grass” and leah, meaning “woodland clearing”. Translated literally, the name means “the field of Benedict”. In some instances, it may be an Americanized spelling of the Swiss surnames Bandle or Bandli or the German surname Bentele. Current spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Bently, Bentlie, Benteley, and Bentle.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, a survey of England
Highbury House c. 1800
and Wales ordered by William the Conqueror, the name is spelled as Benedkedge, Benetlea, and Benedlage. The name first established itself in county Lancashire and Yorkshire, where the family owned land and titles in the Middle Ages. Others trace the family back further to an ancient manor and hamlet in the parish of Wolverhampton, granted to a knight known as “Drew of Bentley” or “Dru nad de Benetlea” by William the Conqueror for his function of being in charge of the King’s hay, or for being in working in the King’s sergenaties (miscellaneous tasks done for the king, performed by men or rank of high esteem), but this may be legend or family folklore passed down through generations.
Early Bearers of the Bentley Surname
The first known bearers of this surname was Gervase de Benetlea who died in 1164 AD as documented in the Pipe Roll of that year. He had a son named Roger. The following is an excerpt from an article titled Forest Tenures of Staffordshire: “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”.
William de Benetlega was documented in the Pipe Rolls of Derbyshire in 1176 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists two bearers of this surname: John de Bentelege (Derbyshire), Robert de Benetlcye (Yorkshire). Other early bearers recorded between 1198 and 1302 AD include: William de Benetleg (Salop), William de Bentlee (Salop), and Simon de Benetl (Yorkshire). The Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1379 AD also list two bearers: Alicia de Benteley and Richardus de Bentley. John Benteley is listed in the Fine Court Rolls of Surrey in 1388 AD. The Placita de Quo Warranto, compiled between 1272-1377 AD lists two bearers: William de Benteley (Buckinghamshire) and Richard de Benteley (Yorkshire).
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Bentley ranks 814th popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following five states: Kentucky (203rd), Georgia (278th), Michigan (445th), Alabama (456th), and Utah (484th).
The surname Bentley frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (352nd), Scotland (1,612th), Wales (568th), Ireland (1,939th) and Northern Ireland (1,576th). In England, it ranks highest in Staffordshire and West Yorkshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Shetland. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Munster. In Wales, it ranks highest in Anglesey.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (1,374th), New Zealand (695th), Australia (500th), and South Africa (2,254th).
Bentley Family Tree & Bentley Genealogy
William Bentley, Master of Trinity College
Bentley of West House
The Bentley family tree for this branch of the family comes from Halifax and asserts it is the same family from which Richard Bentley, D.D., Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Jeremy Bentley, a Member of Parliament from 1654-1656, sprung. Robert Bentley, son of Timothy Bentley and Betty Green, had, with his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Miles Netherwood of Brockhurst Hall, had three issue together: Robert John, Mary (married Edward Robinson of Westville, Rotherham), and Elizabeth (married John Worthington of Brockhurst Hall). The only son, Robert John Bentley, was an Esquire of West House, Rotheram, York, England, Justice of the Peace, and Deputy Lieutenant born in 1822. In 1844, he married Sarah, daughter of Thomas Hirst of Low House, and had issue with her as follows: Robert, Montagu, Philip Arthur, Netherwood, Lionel Mortimer, Harriet Maud, Constance Sarah, and Agnes Isabel. The Bentley coat of arms is blazoned as follows in the medieval art of heraldry: Or, three bends sable. Crest: A spaniel dog passant, argent. Motto: Vive ut vivas. This family was seated at West House, near Rotherham, England, in present day United Kingdom.
Bentley of West House
This family traces its ancestral roots to an old Lancashire family who for a time lived at Bentley Hall or Bentlie Hall, near Bury, “on the line of the ancient Roman Watling Street”. John Bentley, son of John, lived around the 1750s. He married Mary Craven and had six issue with her as follows: John, Richard, Thomas, Sarah, Mary, and Lydia. His eldest son, John Bentley, Esquire of Birch House, was born in
Bentley Hall, late 1600s
1758. In 1793, he married Ellen, daughter of Richard Lomax of Lomax Fold, Harwood, near Bolton and had one son, also named John. This son, John Bentley, Esq. of Birch House, county Lancaster, and of Portland Place, London was a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant born in 1797. In 1836, he married Emma, daughter of Clement Royds of Mount Falinge, and had five issue with her as follows: Francis John Royds, Clement Edward Royds, Algernon Royds, Emma Rhoda, and Adela Constance.
Bentley from Jamestown
William Bentley was born around 1589. He went to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, which is 12 or 13 years prior to the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock. He came aboard ships named the Phoenix and the John and Francis. According to the book Colonial Surrey by John Bennet Boddie, he charged with manslaughter in 1628 for the death of Thomas Godby at the house of William Parker. It is said “He demanded that ‘he ought not to die and claimed the Benefit of Clergy’ and his life was spared”. According to Geni.com, “In England, when a prisoner claimed benefit of clergy he was asked to read from the bible, the text usually selected by the Court for him to read was the first verse of the 51st Psalm beginning "Miserere mei deus", "Lord have pity on me". This was commonly called his "neck Verse". His wife was named Elizabeth, but her last name is not known. They had two issue together: Richard and William. His son Richard was born in Elizabeth City, Colony of Virginia c. 1636. He married twice: Jade (surname unknown) and Lydia Mann. He had the following issue: Mary, Sarah, Richard, William, and John. His son Richard was murdered by his slave, for which the slave was executed, and stands among one of the earliest executions in America. His sons are discussed as follows:
Land Deed of William Bentley, Jamestown settler
1) John Bentley was born in North Carolina in 1665. He married Ann Barrow. It is unknown if he had children.
2) Richard Bentley was born in Perquimans, Carolina in 1668. It is unknown if he married or had children.
3) William Bentley was born in Perquimans, Carolina in 1671. It is unknown if he married or had children.
4) John Bentley was born in Chowan County, North Carolina c. 1679. He owned 300 acres of land in Chowan Precint and 480 acres of land along the north side of the Morarock River. He married Sara, daughter of James Farlee Sr., and had issue with her as follows: William W., John, Joseph, Mary, James, Lydia, and Jeremiah. His sons are discussed as follows:
A) William W. was born in 1702. He married Elizabeth Ashley, and had the following children from her: Elizabeth, Ann, Mildred, Robert, John, James, and William II.
B) John was born c. 1703. He married Sarah Manning and had two sons with her: William and John.
C) Joseph was born in 1709 in Chowan, North Carolina. It is unknown if he married or had issue.
D) James was born c. 1717. He married Mary Legett and had a son with her named John.
E) Jeremiah was born prior to 1721. It is unknown if he married or had issue.
Bentley from Monmouthshire
John Bentley was born in Monmouthshire, Wales c. 1500 AD. His son, George Bentley Sr., was born in the same town c. 1530 AD. George married Barbara, daughter of Coningsby Watts, and had two sons: George and James, the former born around 1560 AD, and the latter born in Bentley, Hampshire, England in 1568 AD. According to the book As The Twig Is Bent, A Bentley Family History, by Ruth Schmidt, “Captain James Bentley of the Royal Stuart Army was captured in the wars with Cromwell. He died a prisoner in Pontefract Castle. His estate was confiscated and his home plundered, but his son, Thomas Bentley, had a small estate in his own rights at Woodlesford in parish of Roshwell, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England. Thomas was married twice. He was a 19th generation descendant of "Drew of Bentley Haye" the first known Bentley (1100 AD) Pontefract is in the county of Yorkshire, east of Wakefield and northwest of Bentley”.
Bentley from Yorkshire
Thomas Bentley was born in Bentley, Yorkshire, England c. 1600. He married Alice Knowles and had a son with her named Thomas. Thomas was born in West Riding, Yorkshire, England c. 1625 AD. He married Sarah Baker, and had two sons with her, both named William. Each is discussed below.
1) William Bentley was born in Shudy Camps, Cambridgeshire, England in 1646. He married Mary, daughter of Ralph Houghton, and had issue with her as follows: Hannah, William, Mary, and Henry. His son William was born in Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1677. He married Mary, daughter of Henry Elliot, and had children as follows: Mary, William V., John, Mercy, Hannah, Deborah, Captain James Bentley, David, and Joseph.
2) William Bentley, a currier by profession, was born in Amptill, Bedfordshire, England in 1645. He married Sarah, daughter of William Eldred, and had a son with her named William. This son, William Bentley was born in Narrangsett, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in 1677. He married twice: Bathsheba Greene and Elizabeth Gardner. He was the father of the following children: William, James, Benjamin, John, George, Elizabeth, George, Tabita, Mary, Lewhannah, Ezekiel, and Caleb.
Marriages of Bentleys
1) Nichum Bentley married Kathina Finkowe in Cheshire, England in February 1615
2) Richard Bentley married Ann Gibbs in England in January 1684
3) William Bentley married Margery Scottam in Wolvey, Warwickshire, England in February 1689
4) John Bentley married Pressila Manning in Bertie, North Carolina in November 1779
5) John Bentley married Mary Lawrence in Bertie, North Carolina in August 1796
6) Robert Bentley married Rebecah White in New Bedford, Bristol, Massachusetts in June 1764
7) John Bentley married Lettie Jarrall in Phillips County, Arkansas in December 1878
8) George Bentley married Melda Ludlow in Harrison, Indiana in December 1815
9) Alexander Bentley married Maderah McCarty in Lechter, Kentucky in March 1881
10) James Siggoe Bentley married Mary Hollox in Cuyahoga, Ohio in October 1847
11) Mary Bentley married Frederick Barber in Berie, North Carolina in October 1803
12) Barbara J. Bentley married John W. Shillington in Wayne, Michigan in 1892
Early American and New World Settlers
Some of the earliest settlers in colonial America bearing this name include:
1) William Bentley came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607
2) William Bentlie, age 36, came to Virginia aboard the Jacob in 1624
3) Mary Bentley, age 20, came to New England aboard the Defence in 1635
4) John Bentley, age 34, came to Virginia aboard the Alice in 1635
5) Abram Bentley, age 20, came to Virginia aboard the Globe in 1635
6) William Bentley, age 47, Alice Bentley, age 15, and Joseph Bentley, age 17, came to Virginia aboard the Truelove in 1635
7) Henry Bentley came to Virginia in 1650
8) Elizabeth Bentley came to Virginia in 1652
9) Samuel Bentley came to Maryland in 1654
10) John Bentley came to Maryland in 1659
11) Matthew Bentley came to Maryland in 1665 or 1666
12) William Bentley came to New England in 1671
13) Elizabeth Bentley came to South Carolina in 1681
14) Henry Bentley came to Virginia in 1684
15) Martin Bently came aboard the Mary & Sarah in 1679
16) Mary Bentley came to Pennsylvania in 1703
17) Richard Bentley came to Virginia in 1704
18) John Bentley came to Pennsylvania in 1714
19) Stephen Bentley came to Maryland in 1714
20) Benjamin Bentley came to Maryland in 1739
Several thousand members of the Bentley family came to the United States through Ellis Island, during the nineteenth century, including:
1) Samuel Bentley came aboard the Paris in 1895
2) John James Bentley came aboard the New York in 1894
3) Jane Bentley came aboard the Majestic in 1893
4) William B. Bentley came aboard the Aurania in 1894
5) William J. Bentley came from Liverpool aboard the Caronia in 1905
6) Cyril Bentley came from Sheffield aboard the Laurentian in 1904
7) James Bentley came from Ashboro aboard the Celtic in 1902
8) Edwin Bentley came from Ashton aboard the Oceanic in 1904
9) Stephen J. Bentley came from England aboard the Germanic in 1904
10) William J. Bentley came from Liverpool, England aboard the Lusitania in 1908
11) Alexander Bentley came from Kilnamock, Scotland aboard the Caledonia in 1907
12) Edmund C. Bentley came from Sheffield, England aboard the Cedric in 1908
13) Edmond Bentley came from Halifax, England aboard the Celtic in 1907
14) Edward Bentley came from Rochdale, England aboard the Campania in 1910
Some of the earliest settlers in Canada bearing this name include:
1) Samuel Bentley came to Nova Scotia in 1760 (in the same year, Amelia, Asahel, David, William, Ann Baldwin, Phebe, and Sarah Baker also came, assumedly his family members)
2) Mary Bentley came to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1774
3) Elizabeth Bentley came to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1776
4) Hannah Bentley, and her parents, came to Prince Edward Island in 1799
5) John Bentley came to Quebec, Canada in 1805
Some of the earliest settlers in Australia bearing this name include:
1) Joseph Bentley, of Staffordshire, England came to New South Wales aboard the Asia in 1822
2) John Bentley, of York, England came to Van Diemen’s Land (present day Tasmania) aboard the Anson in 1843.
3) James Bentley came to Adelaide aboard the Cheapside in 1849
4) Noah Bentley, age 40, came to Port Phillip in 1852
5) Thomas Bentley, age 42, came to Melbourne in 1852
6) William George Bentley, age 25, came to Sydney in 1853
7) Fred Bentley, age 24, came to Melbourne in 1859
8) Henry Bentley, age 25, came to Melbourne in 1855
Some of the earliest settlers in New Zealand bearing this name include:
1) John Bentley came to Wellington in 1840
2) Henry Bentley came to Karori in 1840
3) John Bentley, a miller by trade, age 20, came to Wellington aboard the Clifton in 1842
4) Rachel Bentley, age 18, wife of John Styles, and George Bentley, age 13, came to Otago aboard the Phoebe Dunbar in 1850
5) Charles Bentley, born 1821, came to Wellington aboard the John Wickliffe in 1847
6) Alfred Bentley came to Canterbury aboard the Northampton in 1874
7) John Bentley, of Yorkshire, England came to Canterbury aboard the Carisbrooke Castle in September 1874
Edward Bentley of Ely Place
Grantees of Arms
1) John Bentley of county Derby, son of Humphrey, grandson of William, of Ashes, county Staffordshire, 16 April 1589, by Ed. Knight, Norr.
2) Bentley (after Gordon), of Bentley Naish, county Worcestershire, and Little Kington, county Warwickshire, 5 June 1777.
3) Bentley after Forbes, Thomas, of Clifton, c. 1820.
4) Edward Bentley of Ely Place, London, 18 July 1834.
5) James Kersey Bentley of Hadleigh and Boxford, co. Suffolk, and Scarborough, county York, c. 1830.
6) Bentley (Forbes) late George Calland, of Glyncollen, county Glamorgan, Wales, c. 1850.
There are hundreds of notable people with the Bentley surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include:
1) William John Bentley (1947) was a professional soccer (football) player from Stoke-on-Trent, England who plated from 1964-1981 for four teams: Stoke City, Blackpool, Port Vale, and Stafford Rangers.
2) Beverly Bentley (1927) was a professional ice hockey player born in Delisle, Saskatchewan, Canada who played goaltender from 1943-1967 for several different.
3) Walter Owen Bentley (1888-1971) was an English engineer from Hampstead who designed car and aircraft engines, raced cards and motorcycles, and founded Bentley Motors Limited.
4) Jay Dee Bentley is the bassist and co-founding member of the American punk rock band Bad Religion, born in Wichita, Kansas.
Maxwell Herbert Lloyd Bentley
5) Maxwell Herbert Lloyd Bentley (1920-1984) was a Canadian hockey player from Delisle, Saskatchewan who played from 1940-1954 who three teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers. He played in four All-Star Games and won the Hart Trophy in 1946.
6) Frederick Dierks Bentley (1975) is an American country music singer and songwriter, born in Phoenix, Arizona, who has 16 songs that reached number one on the country charts
7) Helen Delich Bentley (1923-2016) was a member of the US House of Representatives from Maryland from 1985-1995, a Republican, born in Ruth, Nevada
8) Elizabeth Terrill Bentley (1908-1963) was an American spy for the Soviet Union active in the early late 1930s and early 1940s, born in New Milford, Connecticut. She named over 80 American who were engaged in espionage.
9) John “Needles” Bentley (1895-1969), also known as Jack Bentley, was a professional baseball pitcher who played in the MLB from 1913-1927 for three teams: Washington Senators, and New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, born in Sandy Spring, Maryland
10) David Michael Bentley (1984) is a former English soccer (football) player from Petersborough who played from 2001-2013 for several teams including Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Bentley America Civil War Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Bentley who served in the American Civil War, including the following:
1) Charles Bentley of the 32nd Regiment Wisconsin Infantry (Union)
2) Edward E. Bentley of the 145th Regiment Ohio Infantry (Union)
3) Benedict Bentley of the 43rd Regiment Ohio Infantry (Union)
4) Sylvester R. Bentley of the 25th Regiment Michigan Infantry (Union)
5) Daniel D. Bentley of the 58th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry (Union)
6) John E. Bentley of the 84th Regiment Illinois Infantry (Union)
7) Robert S. Bentley of the 5th Regiment Maryland Infantry (Union)
8) Alfred W. Bentley of the 3rd Regiment Georgia Cavalry (Confederacy)
9) James F. Bentley of the 47th Regiment Alabama Infantry (Confederacy)
10) Anthony G. Bentley of the 1st South Carolina Infantry (Confederacy)
11) Caleb N. Bentley of the 3rd Regiment Tennessee Infantry (Confederacy)
12) Aaron R. Bentley of the 13th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry (Confederacy)
13) James L. Bentley of the 2nd Regiment Kentucky Cavalry (Confederacy)
14) Isaac T. Bentley of the 2nd Battalion Alabama Light Artillery (Confederacy)
Bentley America Revolution Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Bentley who served in the Revolutionary War, including the following:
1) Private Asahel Bentley of Connecticut
2) Private Henry Bentley of Pennsylvania
3) Private Thomas Bentley of Vermont
4) Private Jeremiah Bentley of Virginia
5) Captain James Bentley of Vermont
6) John Bentley of Virginia
7) Sergeant Bentley of Connecticut
8) Private Joshua Bentley of Massachusetts
9) Private Peter Bentley of Rhode Island
10) Lieutenant William Bentley of Virginia
11) Captain Caleb Bentley of New York
12) Elijah Bentley of Connecticut
13) Sergeant John Bentley of Delaware
14) Private John Bentley of Rhode Island
15) Private George Bentley of New York
16) Richard Bentley of Vermont