The surname of BENTLEY was a locational name 'of Bentley' parishes in Counties Suffolk, Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Essex. Local names usually denoted where a man held land. The name was originally derived from the Old English word BEONET-LEAH, literally meaning the dweller at the clearing overgrown with bent grass. The earliest record of the name appears to be BENEDLEGE, listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. In 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered England. He was crowned King, and most of the lands of the English nobility were soon granted to his followers. Domesday Book was compiled 20 years later. The Saxon Chronicle records that in 1085 'at Gloucester at midwinter, the King had deep speech with his counsellors, and sent men all over England to each shire to find out, what or how much each landowner held in land and livestock, and what it was worth. The returns were brought to him'. William was thorough. One of his Counsellors reports that he also sent a second set of Commissioners 'to shires they did not know and where they were themselves unknown, to check their predecessors' survey, and report culprits to the King'. The information was collected at Winchester, corrected, abridged, and copied by one single writer into a single volume. Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were copied, by several writers into a second volume. The whole undertaking was completed at speed, in less than 12 months. Later records of the name mention William de Benetlega who was documented in the year 1176 in County Derbyshire. Alicia de Benteley of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Ostler and Abigail Bentley were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1786. A notable member of the name was Richard Bentley (1794-1871) the English publisher. He was the founder of 'Bentley's Miscellany' (1837-68) with Charles Dickens as editor. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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