Our oldest proven Bentley is Thomas and his wife, Hannah.
Some say that this Thomas was living in England and was near the court of royalty. Thomas shaved on a Sunday which was an offense that meant death. Because he was in the favor of the royals, he was given a choice of being beheaded or coming to the colonies. He chose to come to America. Thomas landed in North Carolina and that was the start of our family.
Now that's the story I always heard growing up. I have never found anything to it. In fact, some researchers believe that the Bentleys were in Maryland many years before and migrated down to North Carolina. These researchers say that Thomas was born in America.
Those researchers say that Thomas was the son of Thomas Bentley, who was born in 1690 in Virginia, and Mary Beasley, who was born in 1695 in North Carolina. I have about four other generations on the Beasleys, but so far it doesn't make sense to me datewise, so I am not presenting it here.
Thomas who was married to Mary Beasley is supposed to be the son of Thomas Bentley and Hannah Barnfield. This is the Thomas who was born in England and came to America according to their research.
I don't have proof of this genealogy, but I thought I would tell you what I have picked up from some other researchers.
Many who came to America came as indentured servants. They would work for someone or go into an apprenticeship for seven or more years. This would pay for their passage and give them a home until their obligation was fulfilled.
On February 27, 1834 an advertisement appeared in Ben Franklin's newspaper, The Philadelphia Gazette, making it known that there was a runaway from Henry Smith's plantation on the 12th. The servant's name was Thomas Bentley, age 18. Some have written that this would be our Thomas and he had served his indentured time and was not being released, so he ran away.
The earliest proven record I have found is that Thomas Bentley was an early settler of Rowan County, North Carolina (which is now Davis County). He and his son, Benjamin, are listed on the tax list of 1768 as one poll each.
In 1778 he is listed as Thomas Bentley, Jr. on the tax list.
On December 17, 1769 Thomas wrote a note giving permission for his son, Benjamin, to sign the bond for his daughter, Mary, to marry Aaron Freeman.
On August 8, 1771 Thomas Bentley registered his brand on his livestock as a "crop and a hole in the right ear & a crop of the left."
Thomas was a planter
On November 4, 1777 Thomas appeared in court and swore an oath of fidelity to the State of North Carolina.
On August 8, 1778 names appear on a list of those persons who "refused or neglected" to take the Oath of Allegiance to the State. Included in the list for Capt . Lyon's District is the name of Daniel Bentley, and the names of Bentley neighbors: Mesheck Davis, John Willcockson , Snr., Mark Whitacre, Adam Hall Snr., Samuel Willcoxson and Israel Willcoxson being also on the list. Evidently Daniel Bentley and his future brother-in-law, Meshack Davis, did not take the oath for they both would later apply for Revolutionary War pensions.
In December 1780 Thomas was considered a patriot by selling corn at a price of 75 cents per bushel.
A list dated November 3, 1782 details the names of men living in Capt. Pearson's Company who were summoned by William Butler, constable, to show why their property should not be confiscated. Included are the names of Anthony Pealor, John Wilcockson, Danul [Daniel] Lewis, and "Ric hard Whitaker Runaway." "Runaway" simply meant the individual was no longer in the area. This was Richard Whitaker's case as he moved with Thomas Bentley's family in 1782 to Lincoln County, North Carolina, having married Thomas Bentley' s daughter, Rachel Bentley."
Thomas, his wife Hannah, and some of the children moved to Lincoln County, North Carolina. His son, Benjamin, sold the land he owned in Rowan and moved to the Cedar Run - South Yadkin River area of Iredell (now Alexander) County while the other son, Daniel, moved to Lincoln County, North Carolina. Daniel Bentley married Nancy Lewis by bond in Rowan County North Carolina February 8, 1782 . As he and his parents were moving to Lincoln County, it appears he could not bear to leave his sweetheart behind.
On January 1, 1783 Thomas Bentley bought 100 acres for 30 pounds on both sides of Indian Creek in Lincoln County from Robert Armstrong and Hugh Beaty, executors
Thomas Bentley died in 1789 in North Carolina.
The house the Bentleys lived in was still standing until a few years ago when some high school boys broke into it and set it on fire. These are pictures that were taken before the fire happened.