This is an English medieval locational surname. It originates from the villages of High and Low Bentham in the former West Riding of Yorkshire, and near to the town of Settle in the famous Yorkshire Dales. The village name and hence the surname, derives from the pre 7th century Olde English 'beonet' meaning 'reedy or bent grass' and 'ham' a homestead or settlement. The surname is first recorded in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire for 1379, when three people who may have been related and were most certainly land owners in Bentham appear in the register. These were: Johannes de Bentham, Ricardus de Bentham and Thomas de Bentham. Locational surnames by their nature are usually 'from' names. That is to say that unless they were the lords of the manor, and therefore took the name of the village as their surname, for most people they are identification names given to them by their new neighbours when they moved elsewhere. In this case we have the confusing recording of Sir Edwarde Bentaine, whose daughter was buried at St Dionis Backchurch, city of London in 1576, and who may have been a descendant of the original landowners, whilst Thomas Bentham, who married Catherine Brooke at St Leonards Eastcheap, also city of London, on November 5th 1586, probably was not a relative, but a former inhabitant of Bentham.
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