Unfortunately, one of the key sources of our Bentley branch has disappeared. According to Carolyne Bentley Gibson, Adelia Bentley Burger once had a handwritten Bentley family history –which Carolyne witnessed---going back to the original immigrants from England (we believe that being William Bentley, Sr. (G3) in the mid-17th Century). Adelia sent a mimeographed copy to Carolyne’s mother, Ilo Bentley, the wife of George Henry Bentley, the brother of Adelia. At one point Ilo told Carolyne that she discarded the information. The handwritten history that was the possession of Adelia has also disappeared.
H. Ross Glover researched and photographed tombstones of Wilbur, Harriet and Edna Bentley at Mt Hope Cemetery in Rochester; Wilbur’s father George E. Bentley at Forest Lawn Cemetery in South Dansville; and his father George C. Bentley at Lakeside Cemetery, Loon Lake, Wayland, NY. Internet research located a transcription of Green Bentley, Jr ‘s (father of George C.) tombstone at Millport Cemetery, NY as well as a state marker for his father Greene Bentley, Sr. at the Bentley Cemetery in Millport.
But prior to the Green Bentleys still remained muddled.
Then a comprehensive Internet search by Bob Glover found a wealth of Bentley information. Research by and communication with Bentley descendants Elaine Cowan (6) and Marlin Criddle (7,8)---who Bob Glover contacted after discovering their Bentley genealogy online-- were key to the earlier Bentley history as were books by professional genealogists Emilie Sarter (pub. 1953) (12), and Bentley descendant Cameron Stewart (pub. 1986) (11). In particular, Elaine Cowan’s comprehensive web site postings and email communication helped unravel many of the mysteries of our Bentley genealogy. These sources established the first four generations of our Bentley branch as: William (G1) and John (G2) of England; William (G3) of England migrated to Rhode Island; and William (G4), first born in America, of Rhode Island .
In July 2007, Bob Glover posted a note in the guestbook for a website by Bentley descendant Scott Rode (5) which started a dialog that led to the coordination of this book with his Bentley website. Further, Scott put me in contact with Sean Bentley (27) who had traveled in 2005 to the ancestral homeland in England of the early Bentleys and photographed the 1632 will of Mary Goodwin Bentley, wife of William Bentley (G1). This opened up more doors to the past, as did the discovery by Sean at the John Bunyan (the famous author of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and grandson of William and Mary) Museum of a biography of Bunyan which noted the name of William’s (G1) mother, Mary.
Also, Bob Glover in July 2007 found a year 2000 message board posting by Kathy Popovich who was searching for information on George Cargill Bentley (G7) and his son (her g grandfather) Ernest Cargill Bentley. Bob Glover had thus found his “closest” Bentley researcher “cousin, ” who contributed to the more recent history of our Bentleys.
In July 2007, Scott Rode posted this “Stories and History of the Bentley Family” on his family history websites (5) to enable other Bentley researches access to our work. Team Bentley was formed as an advisory group to provide concerned feedback on the development of these “Stories” and the websites. This team consists of H. Ross, Bob, and Shelly Glover; Scott Rode; Elaine Cowan; Sean Bentley; and Kathy Popovich.
AUG 20 START ANCESTRY SITE
We hope this research matches the handwritten family history that was passed on to Adelia Bentley Burger by her father Wilbur.
BENTLEY OR BENTLY?
One of the challenges of researching the Bentley ancestors is the spelling of the family name. In modern times, since George Cargill Bentley’s birth in 1801, our branch of the family name has consistently been spelled “Bentley.” Prior to that, however, it was often spelled “Bently,” and many times the same person is listed in various documents as both “Bently” and “Bentley.” In some instances it was listed as "Bantley." Some theorize that going back to 1100-1400 in England, the name was “De Bentley” or “De Benthall.” We can only substantiate that for our branch the name has been “Bentley” and “Bently” back to 16th Century England.
Perhaps at one point the family name was “Bently” and it was “Americanized” over time to “Bentley?” This similar to our Gelser family name which was Americanized from Goltzer and Goelzer. Perhaps some of it was simply due to the fact that those writing the names, whether family members or census takers/record keepers, were not literate and “Bently” seemed correct to them?
Cameron Stewart’s genealogy book on the Bentleys uses “Bentley” but where the old spelling appears in research notes as “Bentl(e)y.” Most of our family researchers simply keep it consistent and use “Bentley” in their listings. Since that is how our family branch has spelled our surname for the last 200 years, we will use that spelling throughout other than when directly quoting from sources that used “Bently.”
Green Bently----state marker for Green, Sr.
Green Bently, Jr.—transcription of tombstone
George C. Bentley—actual photo
George E. Bentley—actual photo
Wilbur D. Bentley---actual photo
BENTLEY HISTORY OF PATRIOTISM
William Bentley (G3) migrated to Colonial America in about 1671, and thus is considered to be a colonist founder of America.
Greene Bentley, Sr. (G5) served in the French & Indian War, and the Revolutionary War (4th Regiment of the Orange County, NY Militia).
Green Bentley, Jr. (G6) served in the New York Militia with the 79th Infantry Regiment .
George Eugene Bentley (G8) served in the Civil War with Co. D, 104th Infantry Regiment, N.Y.
H. Ross Glover, husband of Corinne Burger Glover (G11), served in World War II with the 36th Infantry Division. He saw service in North Africa, Italy, France, Austria, and Germany. He received many combat medals and three Purple Hearts. He has been a member of Dansville’s Daniel Goho Post 87 since 1945, and in 1970 was the first World War II member of the post to receive the prestigious Life Membership Award. He is a past commander of the post.
Robert H. Glover (G12) served in the Vietnam War in Phu Bai with the XXIV Corps Artillery.
Adelia Bentley Burger (G10) and Corinne Burger Glover were eligible to become members of the National Society of Colonial Dames (William Bentley G3 an approved colonist), the Daughters of the American Revolution (Green Bentley, Sr G5 an approved Revolutionary War soldier), and the National Association of the Daughters of Founders and Patriots (William Bentley G1 a Colonial America founder and Greene, Sr. a Revolutionary War Patriot).
DOCUMENTATION: BENTLEY FACT AND FICTION
We will quote professional genealogist Cameron Ralph Stewart (11) as his thoughts in his book pertain here as well:
“A strong attempt has been made to authenticate the known existence of named relatives of the past and present by introducing available evidence from many different sources. The information utilized has been in appearance both valid and reliable. The material is believed suitable for publication at this time.
Perhaps the best proverb to follow is: “Don’t believe anything that you hear. Believe only one-half of what you see; and then doubt that.” Some of the most tempting sources of documentary evidence may prove to be neither valid or reliable. Some of the “evidence” can be found to be in conflict with other delectable “facts.” The sincere genealogist continually faces the challenging task of decision-making—whether to accept, to reserve comment on, or to reject “evidence” from whatever source it may come. He has an obligation to the reader, however, in identifying these various sources.
The reader is not asked to accept all that he reads in blind faith. Wherever he is able, the reader is asked to carefully weigh the evidence on the basis of the indicated sources. Appropriate credit has been given to the known sources.
Primary-source documentation is desired for most of the links between the direct-line descendants of a common ancestor. Some minor errors would be expected.”
We make no claim to be as professional as Cameron Stewart. Much of the early Bentley history in our work is based on his fine work. Our sources are noted conservatively and listed at the end of the book to allow the text to be more readable---- as this is a family story and not a pure research project. Surely the purist genealogist would prefer precise footnoting and a more thorough attempt to find primary sources rather than depending at times on secondary sources, but to do so would mean this book would never get done.
One of the biggest difficulties in writing the “Stories and History of the Bentley Families” is the lack of consistency between information gleaned from various sources. Add to that the lack of accuracy that sometimes exists with what should be accurate primary and secondary sources, as well as innocent typing mistakes (including our own) that come with such massive volumes of work. There are instances where tombstone dates, family trees and records, census records, cemetery and death index records, birth and death certificates, obituaries, wedding announcements, military reports, genealogy website info and more have been proven to be in conflict and/or in error. Old, handwritten records are hard to read which adds to the dilemma. Even the recollections of our closest relatives have sometimes proven to be less than accurate. Unfortunately, one of the obstacles we face is erroneous information that spreads and spreads from researcher to researcher until it appears to many to be fact. Some researchers are rather sloppy with their work, but even the most careful can err. Surely with the huge volume of this book there will be some innocent errors. Surely over the years some will find errors in this work that will horrify us when brought to our attention. Some will have been by accident, others simply because we were mislead.
The best we can do is attempt to verify accuracy from several sources. When feasible, we will note sources (but, again, this is a story and not a book of data). In some cases we will note inconsistencies and other times we will note unsubstantiated “theories.” We will at times offer debate over data that are acceptable by some researchers but not others. Primary sources are noted when possible, and other times we note secondary sources that sometimes note primary sources. Unfortunately, many times in order to keep the story going we have to note undocumented secondary (and often well beyond that as the info spreads over the Internet) sources. We attempt to cover these situations by noting that these are “claims,” “theories,” etc. Or, we go with what researcher Elaine Cowan calls “the researchers best friend: “about,” “probably,” and “possibly.”
Bob Glover has found that the only thing about the Bentley family genealogy he knows for sure is the date of his wedding, his son’s birth, and his mother’s death ----as those he witnessed.
NOTE: If a maiden name is not known, the married name is used to enable better indexing and searching. If a date for birth, marriage or death is not known, an “about” date is used to enable better indexing and searching.
b. - born
c. - christened
bapt. - baptized
m. - married
w. - wife
h. - husband
ch. - children
d - died
bur. -- buried
LDS ---Church of the Latter Day Saints genealogy resource file
abt. --- about
poss. --- possibly
prob. ---- probably
PART I: THE EARLY BENTLEYS OF ENGLAND—GENERATION 1 & 2
We begin the stories and history of our Bentley family with William Bentley (G1), (b. prob. betw. 1578/1581), as he is the oldest ancestor of our branch that is documented and thus the progenitor of our Bentleys.
There has been a lot of confusion concerning the early William Bentleys prior to William (G3), who immigrated from England to Rhode Island. Bentley researcher Elaine Cowan states that this was due “ mainly to errors appearing first in turn of the century genealogists which are still being perpetuated today. Having discovered the existence of several William Bentleys in colonial records, early searchers tried to classify them as grandfather, father and son. However, closer examination of the data does not support this idea.”
**THE WILLIAM-WILLIAM-WILLIAM THEORY
Many Internet listings show William (G1)-William (G3)-William (G4) as the family lineage. Sounds good, but the numbers don’t fit. Indeed, there are several conflicting listings of William Bentley, Sr. (G3) with differing dates of birth and death, wife, children etc. as researchers “tried to make it fit.” The Cameron Stewart research documents the lineage as: William (G1)-John (G2)-William (G3) –William (G4)-Greene (G5)-Green (G6). From there Bob Glover was able to connect to George C. (G7), George E. (G8), Wilbur (G9), and Adelia Bentley Burger (G10)---and on to Corinne Burger Glover (G11), Robert Harold Glover (G12), and Christopher Ross Glover (G13).
**THE CAPTAIN JAMES BENTLEY AS FATHER OF WILLIAM (G1) THEORY----- GOING BACK TO DE BENTLEY IN YEAR 1100
Adding to the confusion are the various theories for the Bentley family line prior to William (G1), most starting with Captain James Bentley as the father of William (G1) (b abt 1560 in High Bentley, Eng.) and going back to abt 1100-1400 in England when the name was “De Bentley” or “De Benthall.” See Ancestry.com’s One World Tree for the Bentleys (18) as an example. This is a community tree where anyone can add or delete and no documentation is provided, and since it has huge exposure, misinformation can spread wildly.
This theory makes “our” William Bentley (G1) the 17th generation Bentley. Wouldn’t that be nice!
All these theories are seemingly guesses and there are many holes in the undocumented listings. Genealogist Emilie Sarter (12) stated in 1949 after a careful investigation of this theory: “Bentley descendants in this country are inclined to connect William Bentley (G3) of Rhode Island with Thomas, a half-brother of Dr. Richard Bentley (a noted classical scholar). Such search as has been made here has revealed nothing in the nature of proof. It may be possible, however, to find the connecting link in English records.” Indeed, the various sites list as half-brothers and sons of Captain James Bentley a William and Thomas Bentley—with Thomas the father of the scholar Dr. Richard Bentley.
Cameron Stewart (11) reprinted Sarter’s remarks, and begins with William (G1), not following the path of Captain James.
It is our opinion that Captain James Bentley was the father of a different William Bentley who was a contemporary of our William G1, and that this other William was the uncle of Dr. Richard Bentley the scholar, that this William migrated to America well before our William G3, and spread his family to the south in Virginia and North Carolina. And that some sources mistakenly paired “our” Mary Goodwin Bentley with the wrong William. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that this other William Bentley and Dr. Richard Bentley and Captain James Bentley are some sort of relatives to our branch.
Interestingly, Doris Burger Smalt, daughter of Adelia Bentley Burger and aunt of Bob Glover, told Bob in 2007 (without any knowledge of this research) that she recalls being told by her mother that they were related to a Doctor Reverend Richard Bentley and a Captain James Bentley. So does this mean that our family received this misinformation half a century ago or that we are barking up the wrong Bentley tree? We will follow the lead of professional genealogists Emilie Sarter and Cameron Stewart unless at some point this position is proven wrong.
***THE MYSTERIOUS ROBERT AND MARY BENTLEY AS PARENTS OF WIILLIAM THEORY
We perhaps can extend our family another generation to Robert and Mary Bentley of Elstow, Bedfordshire, England. Or at least we can do so with some confidence with the mother of William (G1), if not the father.
The mother of William Bentley (G1) was Mary Bentley. This seems to be proven by the biography of John Bunyan, although professional genealogists would prefer to find a primary source. Sean Bentley (27), a 13th generation Bentley (maybe we can claim 14th generation for him?), posted on his family history website:
In August 2005 I visited the Ancestral Home of the Bentleys (at least as far back as I've been able to trace somewhat definitively so far) in Bedfordshire, England. Aside from prowling around Elstow and Ampthill I visited the John Bunyan Museum in Bedford (his mother was Margaret Bentley).”
Sean wrote to family researcher George Nelson Bentley in Sept 2001:
“I was at the Bunyan Museum in August; they showed me a biography of Bunyan that listed William and Mary Goodwin and GAVE WILLIAM’S MOTHER”S NAME AS MARY AS WELL, SURNAME UNKNOWN.”
The biography Sean viewed most likely was the highly respected work of John Brown. In “John Bunyan: His Life, Times, and Work” by John Brown (28), published first in 1887, the author notes on page 35 in reference to Margaret Bentley Bunyan, the wife of Thomas Bunyan and mother of the famous author John Bunyan (“Pilgrim’s Progress”):
“Margaret Bunyan, the tinker’s wife, and the Dreamer’s mother, like her husband, was a native of Elstow, being born there in the same year in which he was born, as the following entry from the Transcript Register shows:-
1603. “Margarett Bentley, daughter of Wm. Bentley, was C. (christened) the xiij of November.” (NOTE: The Bedfordshire Records show she was christened Nov 13, 1603 per letter from the Senior Clerk to Cameron Stewart).(11)
“Though her parents, William Bentley and Mary Goodwin were married, in 1601, at St. Paul’s Church, in Bedford, we may infer that since MARY BENTLEY, HER GRANDMOTHER, DIED IN ELSTOW, AS A WIDOW, IN 1613, the Bentleys, like the Bunyans, had been long resident in the Parish. Their names do not occur in the Court Roll of Elstow between 1542 and 1550, but are found in the earliest Transcript Register.”
Note that John Brown was not just a nobody with a bunch of theories. He was a Congregational minister who served at Park Chapel, Manchester, England, from 1855 to 1864 and at Bunyan Church, Bedford, from 1864 to 1903 (during the time he wrote the Bunyan biography). He was the Lyman Beecher lecturer at Yale in 1899. Brown wrote broadly in history and biblical studies but is best known for his Bunyan work. He edited Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim Progress,” “Holy War,” and Grace Abounding,” and Bunyan’s complete works for the Cambridge University Press.
Some 100+ years ago and being connected so closely with the Bunyan Church near Elstow, he certainly had access to records that we are less likely to find now. His position that Mary Bentley was the mother of William Bentley (G1) should be highly respected and we have accepted this position as most likely and thus refer to her in this book as the mother of William (G1). Thus our first Bentley mothers were Mary (unknown surname) Bentley, Mary Goodwin Bentley, and Mary Betts Bentley. William Bentley (G1) had as his mother, wife and daughter-in-law Mary Bentley, and he had as his grandson and great grandson William Bentley. Got that? And there were a whole bunch more of William and Mary Bentleys over the years causing a lot of confusion (and errors) among Bentley researchers.
But who was this earliest Mary Bentley’s husband, the father of William (G1)? John Brown made no mention of the grandfather of John Bunyan in his biography, nor did Cameron Stewart in his massive 1986 Bentley history. Seems they would have if they had evidence. But he did state that Mary died a widow in 1613, thus we know her husband (Robert or otherwise) died prior her death.
Cameron Stewart wrote to Lawrence H. Bentley (29) on Sep 18, 2002: “that Robert Bentley, buried June 30, 1605 in Elstow Churchyard, Bedfordshire, England may have possibly been the father of William Bentley. This has not been proved.”
Sean Bentley notes:
“In 2005 George Nelson Bentley sent me some photocopies from a correspondence with Cameron Stewart from 2002.
In a footnote with this document it says "Apparently the only other Bentleys buried there [Elstow Churchyard] in this time frame were Robert Bentl[e]y, bur 30 June 1605 and wife Mercy, bur 7 Apr 1612...." Cameron just theorizes that these might be William's parents.”
Sean responded to George Nelson Bentley in regard to the John Brown statement that Mary Bentley died in 1613 but Stewart found a Mercy, husband of Robert, bur 7 Apr 1612:
"Of course, perhaps Mercy/Mary is an error one way or the other - between illegible handwriting and bad spelling I've run across a lot of discrepancies here and there. For example, one of William's children I've seen listed as Annie, Amie, and Arnie! One interesting thing is that I've seen the transcribed parish records for Ampthill/Elstow ... going back to 1602… and didn't see an entry for Robert's death, so I'm wondering where Stewart's data comes from. A frustrating mystery!”
George Nelson Bentley to Sean Bentley in 2005:
“I assume that you consider Robert to be the father of William as a Robert Bentley is buried in the same graveyard as this Mary or Mercy. No one I know has confirmed that, however it is logical. Unfortunately, according to Cameron Stewart, Bunyan’s paternal line is well documented, but his maternal line ends at Mary. Perhaps some day the John Bunyan Museum in Bedford woud help find a connection.”
So Mary could have died and was buried in 1612 or 1613---or the Mercy/Mary buried with Robert in the Elstow courtyard is the wrong family. Although they are common names, the fact remains that a Mary Bentley was the mother of William (G1) and she died abt 1613 a widow and that is a close match to the Mercy (which might be Mary). And her husband, Robert, died in 1605 and William’s (G1) father died before his mother. So it is a highly possible fit!
Sean wrote Bob Glover in July 2007:
As far as I know Cameron did not find an actual tombstone for a Mary or Mercy -- or Robert! Frankly it would be miraculous if he did, given the older stones' condition. I don't know where he got his data but presumably from a church record.
Bob Glover found this listing at familysearch.org which may be a match for Robert Bentley, father of William (G1):
Christening 24 MAR 1560
Dunstable, Bedford, England
-----right name, right age range, right county. Could this then be the same Robert Bentley buried 30 June 1605 at the Elstow, Bedford, England courtyard and is he the father of William (G1)?
SUMMARY OF THE ROBERT AND MARY THERORY:
The "Mercy" Bentley that Cameron Stewart found either in the cemetery at the Elstow Churchyard or in records as buried the wife of Robert and with burial date of Apr 7, 1612 is likely the same Mary Bentley as noted in the Bunyan bio. The bio could have been off a year or the burial date off a year. Further, the Robert Bentley buried there died in 1605. The Bunyan bio notes Mary died a widow in 1613.
Thus Mary Bentley is very probably the mother of William G1, died abt 1613 or poss. died prior to burial April 7, 1612, was buried a widow, poss. the wife of the Robert Bentley buried in the Elstow courtyard. Mary Bentley likely was age 18-21 when William (G1) was born and thus was probably born in about 1560 or so.
Robert Bentley (Benteley, Bently) was poss. christened Mar 24, 1560, Dunstable, Bedford, Eng. He was poss. buried in the Elstow churchyard June 30, 1605 and was poss the husband of Mary Bentley, and thus poss. the father of William G1.