This is an English locational surname. It originates from the hamlets of High and Low Bentham, near the town of Settle in the former West Riding of Yorkshire. The village name, and hence the later surname, derives from the pre 7th century Olde English 'beonet - ham', which translates as 'The homestead on the reed grass'. The surname is recorded in the Poll Tax register of Yorkshire for the year 1379, when three men called Bentham, who may have been related, and were most certainly land owners, appear in the records. These were Johannes de Bentham, Ricardus de Bentham, and Thomas de Bentham. It is not clear whether any or all of them lived in Bentham, but the use of the French 'de' would indicate that originally at least, all were from the village. Locational surnames are by their very nature 'from' surnames. That is to say that they were usually names given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere, as an easy form of identification. The exception to the rule is when the local lord of the manor took the village name as his surname, which may well be the case here. For instance at the battle of Boroughbridge in 1322 'Sire Thomas de Bengham' (as spelt) is recorded as one of the knights, in the list known as 'Bodley's roll'. Other examples of recordings from later times are those of Sir Edward Bentaine at St Dionis Backchurch, city of London in 1576, and Thomas Bentham, who married Katherine Brooke, at St Leonards church, Eastcheap, also city of London, on November 5th 1586.
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