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“John Bunyan's father, Thomas Bunyan, Jr., was what we should now call a whitesmith, a maker and mender of pots and kettles. In his will he designates himself a "brasier;" his son, who carried on the same trade and adopted the same designation when describing himself, is more usually styled a "tinker." Neither of them, however, belonged to the vagrant tribe, but had a settled home at Elstow, where their forge and workshop were, though they doubtless travelled the country round in search of jobs.”

Note that “Bunyan” has been found spelled no fewer than 34 ways various ways according to the Wholesome Words bio, including “Bunnion,”  “Bonnionn,” and “Boynon.”



C Nov 30, 1628, Elstow    d.   Aug 31, 1688, London

Cameron Stewart concluded from the Bedfordshire Records that both William Bentley (G3), the Rhode Island progenitor, and John Bunyan, the famous author, were grandsons of William Bentley (G1) and thus first cousins.  (11—p. 1067)

John Bunyan was c. Nov 30, 1628 in Elstow according to the Bedfordshire Records. His bio at Wholesome Words notes his death in 1688:

“In the spring of that year he had been enfeebled by an attack of "sweating sickness." He caught a severe cold on a ride through heavy rain to London from Reading, whither he had gone to effect a reconciliation between a father and a son. A fever ensued, and he died on 31 Aug. at the house of his friend John Strudwick.  He continued his literary activity to the last. Four books from his pen had been published in the first half of the year, and he partly revised the sheets of a short treatise entitled "The Acceptable Sacrifice" on his deathbed. He was buried in Mr. Stradwick's vault in the burial-ground in Bunhill Fields, Finsbury.”

View his tombstone at the London cemetery:    which reads:

 “John Bunyan, Author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, OBI 31st Aug 1688, Age 60”

His book is the second best-seller of any book in history, second only to the Bible, and well ahead of the one million best-selling books on running sold thus far by Robert H. Glover.  

John’s ancestry was traced back to the 14th Century in a biographical sketch of the author In “The Pilgrim’s Progress”:  

“In the year 1327, records show that William Boynon and his wife Matilda, lived about a mile from Elstow, on the very spot where, three hundred years later, John Bunyan was born. John was born November, 1628, a mile from Elstow, and the same distance southwest of the town of Bedford.”

A detailed bio of John and a review of his ancestors can be viewed at the Wholesome Words site, which copied it from “Dictionary of National Biography,” London: Smith, Elder, & Co,, 1886.

“Dreyer Roots and Many Branches” (22)  includes a significant amount of information about the Bunyans, including the wives, children, and grandchildren of John Bunyan, the author.  The website does not offer documentation, however much of it is corroborated in the John Bunyan bio at Wholesome Words and the John Bunyan bio at

Dreyer Roots:

John Bunyan, the author, married Mary  (b abt 1627 in Elstow; d. abt 1658 in Elstow) in 1648 in Elstow. John and Mary are listed as having 4 ch.:  Mary (1650, blind from birth), Elizabeth (1654), John (1654, twin of Elizabeth),Thomas (1656).  John the author married Elizabeth (b 1641; d. 1691) in 1659 in Elstow.  John was imprisoned just after the marriage, leaving Elizabeth to care for his four ch. by his first wife.  John and Elizabeth had 2 ch.:  Sarah (1665), and Joseph (1672).

Dictionary of National Biography:

“In his sixteenth year (June 1644) Bunyan suffered the irreparable misfortune of the loss of his mother, which was aggravated by his father marrying within two months of her decease. The arrival of a stepmother seems to have estranged Bunyan from his home, and to have led to his enlisting as a soldier.”

“He and his wife were "as poor as poor might be," without "so much household stuff as a dish or spoon between them." But his wife came of godly parents, and brought two pious books of her father's to her new home, the reading of which awakened the slumbering sense of religion in Bunyan's heart, and produced an external change of habits. Up to this time, though by no means what would be called "a bad character" -- for he was no drunkard, nor licentious -- Bunyan was a gay, daring young fellow, whose chief delight was in dancing, bell-ringing, and in all kinds of rural sports and pastimes, the ringleader of the village youth at wake or merrymaking or in the Sunday sports after service time on the green. As a boy he had acquired the habit of profane swearing, in which he became such an adept as to shock those who were far from scrupulous in their language as "the ungodliest fellow for swearing they ever heard." All this the influence of his young wife and her good books gradually changed.”

Of his preachings in 1675:  “He frequently visited London to preach, always getting large congregations. Twelve hundred would come together to hear him at seven o'clock on a weekday morning in winter.”


From the Publisher’s Forward of his spiritual autobiography “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners:”

“In Grace Abounding,”  Bunyan describes his descent as "of a low and inconsiderable generation." He had particular disdain for his father's house; to him it was "of a rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families in the land."The Bunyans were not homeless; they were landowners, but of peasant stock.

Bunyan's schooling was of brief duration, and it wasn't long before he was assisting his father and learning the tinker trade himself. On his sixteenth birthday Bunyan joined Cromwell's New Model Army, introducing him to the Puritan movement. After this military stint, he settled down as a tinker ("brazier") and married at the age of twenty.
In 1653 Bunyan joined the Puritan Free Church in Bedford, and in 1657 he took on his first assignment as a "field preacher." At this time there were scores of men, most with little education, who were preaching to Nonconformist audiences throughout England. With the restoration of Charles II to the throne, these preachers were suspect and subject to arrest. Refusing to refrain from preaching, Bunyan was arrested in 1660 and imprisoned-for more than eleven years.
“Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,” written during this imprisonment, is the spiritual autobiography of Bunyan, the traveling tinker who became the eminent preacher and author. It is not a detailed account of Bunyan's early life, for it tells us very little of his youth, education, military experiences, and marriages.
Written in 1666, “Grace Abounding” chronicles Bunyan's spiritual journey from a profane life filled with cursing, blasphemy, and Sabbath desecration to a new creation in Christ Jesus.”


Information on John Bunyan from (including a copy of the painting of him by Sadler, National Portrait Gallery (also 11-- p. 1272)

    John Bunyan , a Christian writer and preacher, was born at Harrowden wrote The Pilgrim's Progress, arguably the most famous published Christian allegory.

Bunyan had very little schooling (about 2-4 years). In his autobiographical book, Grace Abounding, Bunyan describes himself as having led an abandoned life in his youth; but there appears to be no evidence that he was, outwardly at any rate, worse than the average of his neighbours: the only serious fault which he specifies is profanity, others being dancing and bell-ringing. He followed his father in the Tarish Tinker's trade, and served in the parliamentary army at Newport Pagnell (1644 - 1647); in 1649 he married a pious young woman, whose only dowry appears to have been two books, Arthur Dent's Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and Lewis Bayly's Practice of Piety, by which he was influenced towards a religious life. He was received into the Baptist church in Bedford by immersion in the River Great Ouse in 1653. In 1655 he became a deacon and began preaching, with marked success from the start. He lived in Elstow till 1655 (when his wife died) and then moved to Bedford. He married again in 1659.  John converted to Puritan after his first wife died. Bunyan became a popular preacher as well as a prolific author (who penned about 60 books), though most of his works consist of expanded sermons. In theology he was a Puritan, but there was nothing gloomy about him

The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come, an allegorical novel, was published in 1678 after being written in 1675 while Bunyan was imprisoned for conducting unauthorised religious services outside of the Church of England. He was jailed  for nearly 12 years for attacking the teaching of the Quakers and “preaching without a license.”   An expanded edition appeared in 1679, and the Second Part appeared in 1684. This work is regarded as one of the greatest classics of literature. Bunyan has the distinction of having written, in The Pilgrim's Progress, probably the most widely read book in the English language, and one which has been translated into more tongues than any book except the Bible. The charm of the work, which gives it wide appeal, lies in the interest of a story in which the intense imagination of the writer makes characters, incidents, and scenes alike live in that of his readers as things actually known and remembered by themselves, in its touches of tenderness and quaint humour, its bursts of heart-moving eloquence, and its pure, idiomatic English.  The novel was made into a film in 1912.  Another film version was made in 1977 starring Liam Neeson in the title role.

Review the “Pilgrim’s Progress”  online at at

Article and photo of the book cover  at:


Chapter 2:  JOHN BENTLEY (G2) (1608-1666), son of WILLIAM BENTLEY and MARY GOODWIN BENTLEY ; husband of MARY BETTS BENTLEY (b 1607); father of WILLIAM BENTLEY, SR.; grandfather of William Bentley, Jr.; g grandfather of Greene Bentley, Sr.; gg grandfather of Green Bentley, Jr.; ggg grandfather of George C. Bentley; ggg g grandfather of George E. Bentley;  ggg gg grandfather of Wilbur D. Bentley; ggg ggg  grandfather of Adelia Bentley Burger; ggg ggg g grandfather of Corinne Burger Glover; ggg ggg gg grandfather of Robert H. Glover

BORN:  chr. Nov 5, 1608, Elstow church

MARRIED:  Oct 3, 1630 in Ampthill church to Mary Betts
DIED:  buried at St. Andrews Church, Ampthill on March 26, 1666

The 1978 letter and pedigree (11-p.1631) from the Senior Records Officer of Bedfordshire documents John (G2) as the son of William (G1), husband of Mary Betts, and father of William (G3):

“William Bentley G3) was baptizes in Ampthill church on Sep 13, 1640.  He was the son of Jn. Bentley who married Mary Betts, in the Ampthill church on 3 Oct 1630.  Jn. Bentley….was buried was buried at Ampthill on 26 Mar. 1666……Jn. Bentley above (who married Mary Betts) was the son of William Bentley who married Mary Goodwin…..”

The Bedfordshire letter also noted that John Bentley was chr. Nov 5, 1608 in Elstow church.

Lawrence Bentley (28) notes that John was buried at St. Andrews Church in Ampthill.  


Stewart lists her date of birth (p. 1817) as “?” and also lists no date of death.

Cowan and Criddle and several others list:  Mary Betts Bentley was b. Aug 2, 1607 in prob. Ampthill ,Bedfordshire Co., England; and d. in prob. Ampthill. But they offer no documentation. Some list her as dying in abt 1673 in Ampthill.

Ancestry Family Trees lists 1607-1673 and 1613-1674

Allan Bentley notes that she was chr. Aug 2, 1607 in Ampthill and “place of christening and date were obtained from the LDS IGI files of Bedfordshire, England which also showed her father was Robert Betts.”


John and Mary had 6 children born in Ampthill according to the Senior Records Officer of Bedfordshire and Parish Records of Ampthill:  Robert, Mary, John, Thomas, James and William. (11)

bap. below indicates dates of baptism for children of Jn. both from the Parish Records of Ampthill (11-p. 1045), and the Pedigree Chart from the Bedfordshire Records (11-p. 1632).  According to Lawrence Bentley the baptisms took place at St. Andrews Church in Ampthill.

bur. below indicates burial dates from the Bedfordshire Records

m.  below indicates marriage dates (11-p 1046) from the Parish Records of Ampthill

1.  ROBERT BENTLEY was bap Mar. 25, 1631, at Ampthill. We have located no additional info on him, he may have died young.

2.  MARY BENTLEY was bap November 11, 1632, at Ampthill.  She m. Hen (or Henry)  Chad or Chadd Sep 28, 1674 in Ampthill.

3.  JOHN BENTLEY  was bap July 20, 1634, at Ampthill;  bur at Ampthill, July 22, 1686.  He married Margaratt (Margaret) Bowth Nov 3, 1656 in Ampthill.  Ancestry Family Trees lit as 1636-1675. The Parish Records show that Margaret Bowth Bentley was bur Aug 18, 1675 in Ampthill.

 The Ampthill Parish records listed the following as the children of a Jn., which are likely the grandchildren of John (G2):  Mary, chr. Aug 6, 1657; Elizabeth, chr. Aug 8, 1664; Thomas chr. Jan 18, 1668.  Criddle (7) also lists the same as the children of John and Margaret.

Stewart’s list from the Parish Records seems to show that John Bentley then married Rebecca Michell (or Mitchell) on Nov 15, 1678 in Ampthill, and they had a daughter Rebecca christened  there Oct 18, 1679.  Rebecca, the mother, apparently remarried after the death of husband John:

Bently m 9.28.1687  Rebecca h Wm Holis

And John’s daughter. Rebecca Bentley, may have twice married:

Bently  m 5.19.1694  Ann h Jn Neale??????????????????
Bently m 10.11.1707  Rebecca h Thos Harbor (Harbour)

4. THOMAS BENTLEY was bap April 10, 1636, at Ampthill;  bur at Ampthill, Jan 11, 1667 (Thomas died just 9 ½ months after his father).  He m. Mary Abes Oct 8, 1655 in Ampthill. Stewart notes the Ampthill Parish Records listed the following as ch. of a Thos., (which are likely the grandchildren of John (G2): Ann chr. Sep 27, 1650; Mary chr. Jan 19, 1654; Jn. chr. July 20, 1656.  However, Allan Bentley lists Ann as c. Sep 27, 1660.  Since Thomas didn’t marry until 1655 most likely the 1660 date is correct.  Allan Bentley listed only Ann as a child of Thomas and Mary.

5.  JAMES BENTLEY was bap May 06, 1638, at Ampthill;  bur at Ampthill, Jan 28, 1696/7. The Ampthill Parish Records listed the following as ch. of a Jas., which are likely the grandchildren of John (G2):  Francis chr. Sep. 29, 1661; Elizabeth chr. Aug. 13, 1663; Jas. chr. Sep 23, 1664; Elizabeth chr. June 24, 1667.  Also listed as dau. of Jas. Bentley and Mary:  Ann chr. Apr 8, 1670.  Criddle (7) lists Mary as the mother of these 5 children with James.

Note that two daughters named Elizabeth are listed. Perhaps one died and the next took her name, or it could have been an error in listing one of the names?  Both would fit in the time frame.  Dryer and Allan Bentley list the first Elizabeth and not the second, and do not list James.  

Also listed as dau. of Jas. Bentley (or Benkley):  Frances b. June 13, 1698, chr. June 24, 1698.

6.  WILLIAM BENTLEY (G3) was bap Sep 13, 1640, at Ampthill. His burial and marriage dates are not listed by Stewart with these records.  He d. prob, July 9, 1720 in Kingstown, RI. (6, 7,11, 23); and m. Sarah (Eldred?) in abt 1675 (7, 12, 13).  Children of William and Sarah:  William (1667), James (1679), Jane (1681), Thomas (1685), Benjamin (1690).  See Chapter 3 for more info.

Scott Rode (24) added Elizabeth (b abt 1637) and Jasper (b abt 1643) to bring his list to 8 children, and placed them in a different order than the Rhode Island Records (which most likely would be correct)

Also birth records Rob. Bunyan---Eliz, Jn., Thos.  1665-1667-1654

Also listed by Stewart from the marriage records of the Parish in Ampthill:





Chapter 3:  WILLIAM BENTLEY, SR. (G3)(1640-1720); son of JOHN BENTLEY and MARY BETTS BENTLEY ; husband of SARAH ELDRED BENTLEY (1650-1731); father of William Bentley, Jr.; grandfather of Greene Bentley, Sr.; g grandfather of Green Bentley, Jr,; gg grandfather of George C. Bentley; ggg grandfather of George E. Bentley; ggg g grandfather of Wilbur Bentley; ggg gg grandfather of Adelia Bentley Burger; ggg ggg grandfather of Corinne Burger Glover;  ggg ggg g grandfather of Robert H. Glover---FIRST BENTLEY TO IMMIGRATE TO COLONIAL AMERICA

William Bentley, Sr. (#2) was christened Sep 13, 1640 in Ampthill, Bedfordshire Co., Eng; and died July 9/11,1720 in Kingstown, RI. (6, 7,11).  Davidson notes he was born Aug 29, 1640 in Gravesend, England.  Rode lists him as b Aug 29 as well, but in Ampthill.  *****Most likely he was b Aug 29, 1640 in Ampthill, and christened there on Sep 13.

d-----see RODE**

However, Stewart’s research found in The Record, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, RI:


 “William Bently Born in Ampthill in Bedfordshire, England and Departed this Life in Kingstown 83 yrs and 11 days of His age.”  

Which would mean he was born 2 or 3 yrs prior to 1640.  Cowan:  “The two plus year discrepancy in the date of baptism and age as given at death could simply be a failing of memory, not uncommon as one grows older.”  That is there could have been an error in the recording of his age.

Since his father was born and died in England and William (#3) was born in England and died in Rhode Island, we know that he was the first Bentley in our part of the family to migrate to America.  The date when William migrated to the colonies is not known for sure. The “New England Genealogical and Historical Register” gives,  “Wm. Bentley came to New England on the “Arabella,” May, 1671.” (10) Samuel Gardiner Drake wrote in “Founders of New England”, 1860:  “William Bentley was probably the William who sailed from Gravesend, England, May 27, 1671 in the ship, “Arabelle.”  (13)  Davidson states the vessel landed at Boston, Mass.   It seems that William either landed in Boston and then went to Narragansett, RI (formerly part of South Kingstown), or he in fact landed in Narragansett.  We know that he arrived in Kingstown, RI by July 8,1677 as that is when William, Jr. was born there.  

///Various records show:

-a William Bentley arriving in Virginia in 1624. He received land in  
Elizabeth City, Virginia the same year. ( Perhaps early searchers  
confused Elizabeth, New Jersey with Elizabeth City, Virginia ).
-a John Bentley to Virginia July, 1635 age 34 years
-a Mary Bentley to New England July, 1635 age 20 years
-a William Bentley to New England September, 1635 age 47 years **
-a John Bentley  same ship   age 17 years
-   Alice Bentley  same ship   age 15 years
-a William Bentley to New England May, 1671 no age given (Tepper's  
"Ships Passenger Lists")///

After the end of the 1675-1676, King Phillip’s War, which pitted the English colonists of New England against the Indians, there was a lot of unrest in the Narragansett area. Connecticut and Rhode Island both claimed the area.  “Bentley Gleanings” lists a note from the Narragansett Historical Register in regard to the 1700 wedding of Jane Bentley to John Wightman, which states “her father, Wm. Bentley, was a resident of Narragansett, 29 July, 1679.”  A note dated July 26, 1679 from “Ancestors of the Bentley’s of Chautauqua County, N,Y.” by Eleanor Trisman reads:  “William Bentley and forty-one others of Narragansett sent a petition to the King, praying that “he would put an end to those differences about the government thereof, which has been so fatal to the prosperity of the place; animosity still arising in the people’s minds, as they stand affected to this or that government.”  (13)

In 1696, William was a freeman. He was a currier (one that prepares tanned hides for use) in North Kingstown.   “When in 1705 the town granted him liberty to erect his tan hose (a tannery for the making of leather), the land allotted for the purpose was not apparently other occupied.  However, when the “vacant lands” were in 1709 “platted” and “laid out” to Captain John Eldred from whom on December 14, 1716 William Bentley bought eight acres which included the tan house and “garding” on which he continued to live until his death in 1720 when if fell to his youngest son Benjamin as his inheritance.”  (11)


William’s wife Sarah was poss. born Oct 10 or 19, 1650 in Yarmouth, Mass (7); married William abt 1674 (6), and died Dec 28, 1731.

July 10, 1978, Davidson took a photo copy of the handwritten, frail, old Bible transcriptions from the Rhode Island Record that Stewart notes in his research.  It stated:

 “Sarah Bently  She the Wife of ye above William Departed this Life December ye 28 1731.”

Various sources list Sarah’s maiden name as Leithfield , Litchfield, and Eldred.  Eleanor L. Trishman’s “Ancestors of the Bentleys of Chautauqua County, N.Y.”  seems to clear up why some list Leithfield as Sarah’s maiden name:  Stating it was the name of her first husband:

”Sarah Eldred by her first husband (Leithfield) had two sons.  Sarah’s mother was Ann Lumpkin who was the daughter of Tamazine amd William Lumpkin from Norwich, England.  Ann Lumpkin married William Eldred in 1647.”  Lobdell adds: “William Bentley whose wife was Sarah Leithfield was at Kingston, R.I. July 1679. “(10)

Criddle (7) has Sarah the daughter of William Eldred (abt 1622, Suffolk Co., Eng-abt 1679, Yarmouth, Mass., and Anne Lumpkin (abt 1624, Lincolnshire Co, Eng-Nov 1, 1676, Yarmouth).  

Criddle doesn’t list a Leithfeld as a first husband but lists as the husband of Sarah after William died as Henry Brightman, married in North Kingstown, RI Mar 16, 1721.  (7, 14)  He died in 1728 in Freetown, Bristol, Mass (7, 12)

 Others, including Cowan, aren’t convinced that Sarah Bentley was Sarah Eldred.

Seems most logical that Eldred was her last name as several records show the sale of land involving Bentleys (including her sons William, Jr and Thomas) which were witnessed by Eldreds ; and a 1696 list of freemen in Kingstown includes several Eldreds along with Thomas Bentley (who would likely be Sarah’s son), and records show that in 1716 William bought land from a Captain John Eldred.  Davidson refers to a document stating:  “Aug 1,1718 His wife, Sarah testified that Samuel Eldred, father of her cousin John Eldred, did dwell upon the land where John now dwells, fifty years ago.”  So likely then that Sarah was also an Eldred like her cousin?

So for now we will go with Eldred (?) as Sarah’s maiden name.

Dolores Davidson on William, Sr.: “In 1720 he died and his wife Sarah and son Benjamin were appointed executors under his will.  There were bequests to his eldest son William, an also to sons James, and Thomas, and Benjamin, and to his daughter Jane Whitmore.”

The Rhode Island Record notes the birth dates of the sons of William and Sarah below but doesn’t mention daughter Jane. Instead, it is noted: “Mary Austen Born in ye year 1670.”  This perhaps could have been a daughter born in England who died?   Or more likely the same as the Jane mentioned as William’s daugher in his will?

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