Recorded as Bentham, Bentam, Bentame and occasionally Bantham, this is an English locational surname. It originates from the villages known as High and Low Bentham near to the small town of Settle in North Yorkshire. The place name is first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Bentome', but a century later it appears in the register known as the 'Couch Book of Furness Abbey' in the year 1204 as 'duae Benthem', or the two Benthams. The place name and hence the later surname, is probably from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'bent 'used in this context to describe a tough wiry grass found on the uplands, and '-ham', a house or probably a farm.Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people as easy identification, and after they had left their original homesteads, to move somewhere else. The exception to this rule which may apply in this case, was when the name was that of the local lord of the manor. The first known recording is that of Johannes de Bentham in the Poll Tax register for the county of Yorkshire in the year 1379, whilst Ricardus de Bentham is also found in the same records. Other early examples taken from surviving church registers include Gracia Bentham who was christened at Halifax, on October 14th 1539, and Elizabeth, the daughter of Thomas Bentame, who was christened at Horton in Ribblesdale on January 31st 1573.
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