Allen H. (Allen Herbert) Bent.

The Bent family in America. Being mainly a genealogy of the descendants of John Bent who settled in Sudbury, Mass., in 1638, with notes upon the family in England and elsewhere online

. (page 1 of 30)
Online LibraryAllen H. (Allen Herbert) BentThe Bent family in America. Being mainly a genealogy of the descendants of John Bent who settled in Sudbury, Mass., in 1638, with notes upon the family in England and elsewhere → online text (page 1 of 30)
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Gift of
Allen H. Bent


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Bescenbants of John Be?it



With Notes upon the Family in England and elsewhere.


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Member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

We set to-day a votive stone.

That /Memory may their deed redeem.

When like our sires our sons are gone.


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Family histories are evolved slowly, notably so the Bent gene-
alogy. The writer first became interested in the subject at the cen-
tennial of his native town in 1885. In the summer of 1888 the
250th anniversary of the arrival of the first Bent in America and the
centenary of the birth of Hyman Bent, were celebrated by the de-
scendants of the latter at the ancestral home in Fitzwilliam, N. H.
For this gathering a brief account of Hyman Bent's ancestry was
prepared and afterwards printed. This encouraged further research,
and in the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register for
July, 1894, appeared a short account of the first four generations of
Bents in America. Since then many pleasant hours have been
spent in the company of old books, manuscripts and memorials of
bygone years, in the endeavor

" To summon from the shadowy Past
The forms that once have been."

The principal books containing information of the family are the
History of Marlboro', Mass., by Rev. Charles Hudson 1862; the
old History of Framingham, Mass., by Rev. William Barry 1847 ;
the new History of Framingham, by Rev. Josiah H. Temple 1887 ;
the History of Rutland, Mass., by Deacon Jonas Reed 1836; the
History of Milton, Mass., by Rev. Albert K. Teele 1887 ; the His-
tory of Canton, Mass., by D. T. V. Huntoon 1893 ; the History of
Fitzwilliam, N. H., by Rev. John F. Norton and Joel Whittemore
1888 ; the History of Paris, Me., by William B. Lapham 1884 ; the
History of Annapolis County, N. S., by W. A. Calnek and Judge
A. W. Savary 1897, and of course Savage's Genealogical Diction-
ary of New England, with which all good genealogical students be-
gin their researches. Many scattered items of interest are to be
found in the History of Sudbury, by Alfred S. Hudson 1889, and
more about Bent's Fort, Col. William Bent and Gov. Charles


Bent is to be found in the Histoiy of the Arkansas Valley, Colorado,
published by O. L. Baskin & Co. of Chicago, in 1881, the History
of Colorado, by Frank Hall, The Old Santa Fe Trail, by Colonel
Henry Inman 1897, the Story of New Mexico, by Horatio O. Ladd
1891, and an article by William Waldo of Texas, published by the
Missouri Historical Society in 1880. Many other publications have
contributed smaller but necessary items to the present volume.

One noticeable family trait that may be dwelt upon profitably is
the pioneer spirit that has pervaded a large part of the family — the
spirit that has been willing to brave the unknown quantity of the
wilderness to make a home, the spirit of independence that is the
foundation of the Republic. John Bent, who came from England
in 1638, went immediately to one of the frontier towns ; his sons fol-
lowed the advancing frontier, and deeper and deeper still their chil-
dren and children's children penetrated the outlying portions of New
England. Until 1760, however, all of the family, so far as known
to the writer, remained in Massachusetts. In that year the procla-
mation of Gov. Lawrence of Nova Scotia, opening the lands of the
unfortunate Acadians, who had been transported from their homes
five years previous, seems to have made some impression in New
England, and several of the Bent family, including David^ of Sud-
bury, SamueP, a native of Milton, and probably Elijah" and Peter"*
of Sudbury, moved to Annapolis County, N. S. Four years later
Jesse* and John* of Milton located in Cumberland County, N. S.,
and in 1772 Joseph* Bent, a Plymouth fisherman, transferred his
home to the Yarmouth shore. I do not find any of the family
among the Royalists who sailed away in such numbers a few years

It was not until toward the close of the Revolutionary War that
Massachusetts men began to settle in the wooded parts of northern
New England. In 1780, Samuel* Bent of Sudbury cleared a farm
in Fitzwilliam, a comparatively new town in southwestern New
Hampshire. About the same time his cousin Stephen*, also of Sud-
bury, moved to Dublin, N. H., not far away; and in 1797, Nathan,
a brother of the latter, located farther west, in the same county, at
Winchester. After the war, Vermont was rapidly taken up. The
first of this family to remove thither was David* Bent Jr. , formerly
of Rutland (Mass.), who located at Mt. Holly, in the heart of the


Green Mts., in 1786. In after years three of his brothers followed,
Thaddeus to Rutland about 1800, Phineas to Underbill, well to the
north, in 1803, and Samuel B. to Middlebury in 1818. Another
brother, Darius, went to Montreal about 1808. In 1810 Samuel
Bent Jr. left his early New Hampshire home and settled in Stock-
bridge, Vt. In 1796 Wm.^ Bent of Middleboro' located in Paris,
Me. ; in 1800 Isaac® Bent of Quincy moved to New Sharon, Me.,
and nine years later David J.® Bent of Sudbury transferred his
home to Bangor, Me. Then the children of the early Vermonters
began to overflow into northern New York, the first of this family
being Peter® Bent (in 1801), followed a few years later by three of
his brothers.

Meanwhile, two longer migrations had taken place, Lemuel®
Bent of Canton, Mass., to Virginia, sometime before 1792, and
Lieut. -Col. Silas* Bent of Rutland, Mass., to Ohio, with the first
settlers, in 1789. In 1806 Silas® Bent Jr. pushed on from Ohio
to St. Louis, only three years after the great territory of Louisiana
had come into the hands of the United States. This branch seems
to have led the family in the westward course of empire. Two of
the latter's sons went to Colorado as early as 1826, and three years
later Charles had reached what is now New Mexico, and established
his home. About 1824 Horatio G.'' Bent went to Georgia, thence
to Alabama, and finally to Louisiana. Edward^ Bent of Missouri
was one of the earliest permanent settlers of California, and so they
have spread until members of the family are or have been located in
nearly every State in the Union. The list is far from being ex-
hausted, but to prolong it here might be tiresome.

Henry Van Dyke, in one of the most charming of out-of-dooi"
books, says : " Little rivers have small responsibilities. * * * *
When you set out to explore one of these minor streams in your
eanoe you have no intention of epoch-making discoveries, or thrilling
and world-famous adventures." " It is not required of every man
and woman," he adds, "to be or to do something great; most of
us must content ourselves with taking small parts in the chorus."
The Bent family is one of the " little rivers " of history. The his-
torian is the canoeist. Will you accompany him in his frail bark?

Allen H. Bent.

Boston, Mass., Feb. 1900.


In the arrangement of the following records the plan adopted by
the New-England Historical and Genealogical Society has been fol-
lowed in the main. The reader, after looking in the index for a
certain name, say Josiah® Bent of Milton, finds the page to be, in
the example chosen, 105. The italicized names in parenthesis, fol-
lowing his name, show his line of descent from the original Ameri-
can ancestor, John', the little index figures denoting the generation.
The nmnbers in full-faced type against the names of his sons indi-
cate that more is to be found about them under those numbers in
the succeeding pages. Thus, Josiah (Jr.) is carried forward in
regular order, appearing on page 203. By reversing the method
the line can be traced back.

When not specified, the State is Massachusetts, unless it is plainly

Many words not absolutely necessary in a sentence are omitted

Abbreviations : b. for born, m. for married, unm. for unmarried,
and d. for died.


Introduction — Origin of the Name, etc 7

English Antecedents of American Bents ... 9

The Family in America 11

Bent's Fort, Colorado 127

Bent County, Colorado 128

Unclassified Members of the Family .... 250

Bents in America not descended from John Bent op

Sudbury, 1638 253

Memorials Quaint and Olden:

Will of John Bent of England, 1588 . . . 255

Will op Edith Bent of England, 1601 . . • 255

Will of Robert Bent of England, 1631 . . . 256

Will of John Bent of Sudbury, Mass., 1672 . . 257

John Bent's Inventory, 1672 258

Petition of Elizabeth Bent, 1679 260

Gov. Charles Bent's Appointment and Epitaph . . 261

The Family in War:

Colonial Wars 262

Soldiers op the Revolution 263

Militia Officers since the Revolution . . . 267

The Civil War 267

The Family in Peace:

College Graduates 270

Clergymen 270

Physicians 271

Lawyers 271

Political Statistics 271

Nonogenarians 272

Middle Names before 1800 273

Peter Bent Brigham 274

The Name in Story 277

Bents in England and Elsewhere 277

Coats-of-Arms 281

Additions and Corrections 282

Last Scene of All — Arousement — by Miss Frances

Bent Dillingham 286


Old Bent Homestead, Marlboro', Mass. . . . frontispiece.
(From a photograph by Mr. W. L. Stevens of Marlboro'.)

Judge George® Bent op Nebraska .... page 80

K. L.' Bent of Gardner, Mass 117

Gov. Charles'^ Bent op New Mexico 121

LiEui. Silas Bent, U. S. N 128

Hon. Charles' Bent of Illinois 156

Major Luther S.'' Bent of Pennsylvania . . . 192

Horatio G.® Bent of Illinois 212

Wm. H.* Bent of Taunton, Mass 247


" Bent, a plain or common, a field, a moor, so called from those
places being fi-equently covered with bent-grass, the term is very
common in early English poetry." Thus says M. A. Lower in his
" English Surnames." So the name seems to be a local surname, and
the first to take it lived presumably on a plain or moor. It is not
inappropriate that a family which has furnished so many sturdy
yeomen and pioneers should draw its name from the soil.

Surnames in England, it may be said in passing, did not become
hereditary or permanent until the 11th or 12th centuries. They
were derived in various ways, from baptismal names, e.g. Allen,
Richardson, Adams ; from localities, e.g. Bent, Bridge, Wood ; from
official titles, e.g. Lord, King ; from occupations, e.g. Smith,
Wright ; and from nicknames, e.g. Long, Young, Brown.

Bent-grass is a stiff, wiry growth, little known in America,
though one of the early nineteenth-century poets, Joseph Rodman
Drake, made good use of it in his delightful imaginative poem, " The
Culprit Fay." The fairy was arrayed in a cloak of butterfly wings
and an acorn helmet, plumed with thistle down.

" Swift he bestrode his fire-fly steed ;

He bared, his blade of bent-grass blue ;
He dj'ove his spurs of cockle-seed,

And away like a glance of thought he flew."

In Scotland is a town of Bentpath, and on a branch of the North
British Ry. is a station of Bents, of which the station agent says :

"This Bents is a farm and the station takes its name therefrom.
In regard to the origin of the name it does not appear to have any
connection with the family of Bent. On the other hand the name
seems to have arisen from what was the nature of the ground some
forty years ago or more. At that time the whole farm lay open
and bare and would be in Scottish style, termed the bent, which
means a rising ground covered with a wild wiry grass that grows in
tufts and is known as bent-grass. There is a Benthead farm at Croft-
head Village, two miles away, and there used to be a Kilbent farm
near by. There is another Bents in Midlothian, a Bent Colliery
in Lanarkshire, a Bent House in Forfarshire, and on the English
Crash in Cumberland is a Whitburn Bents. Bent or Bents it is


thus seen is quite a common place name and is evidently derived
from the existence of bent-grass growing near."

These places, it ought to be added, are in Southern Scotland —
Anglo-Saxon Scotland — not in the Highlands or Celtic Scotland,
for the name seems to be of Anglo-Saxon origin. Somethino; simi-
lar to it appears as a personal name in most of the nations of Teu-
tonic origin.

The van der Bent family is an old one in Holland.

In Bjornstjerne Bjornson's story, Synnove Solbakken, one of the
minor characters is Slave Bent. Of this the late Hjalmar Hjorth
Boyesen, Professor in Columbia College, wrote : "The name Bent in
Synnove Solbakken is a Christian name, not a surname. It is the Nor-
wegian corruption of Bernt, which is again an abbreviation of Bern-
hardt. I have never known of its being used as a family name in
any of the Scandinavian countries."

In Germany there are several names having a Bent flavoring :
Bente, Bentz, Bentmann and Bentheim.

Originally taken from a place, it has not hesitated to give its
name in turn to places. In Virginia there is a Bent Mountain
post office. The tradition is that many years ago a man by the
name of Bent tracked a buffalo from the low lands to the mountain
from which the post office is named. Bent County and Bent's Fort,
Colorado, are treated at length elsewhere.

f"^ The descendants of John Bent, who came to America in 1638,
^have made their way to nearly every state in the Union, as well as
to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Province of Que-
bec, British Columbia, Cuba, Australia and the Sandwich Islands ;
and there are still some to be found in Sudbury, Mass., where the
family first settled. There are to-day several hundreds of families
descended from the emigrant of 1638, the heads of the families be-
in": in most cases of the seventh and eiji-hth o-enerations. There
are at least three of the sixth and a few of the ninth,
y The first of the family to indulge in the luxury of a middle name
was Ebenezer Vose® Bent, born in Fort Lawrence, Nova Scotia,
March 3, 1771.

The oldest member of the family was Patience (Bent) Newton,
who died in Southboro', Mass., in 1837, fe. nearly 96. It was ori-
ginally intended to print a list of octogenarians, but it grew too long.
A list of nonogenarians will be found elsewhere, however.



In the western part of the county of Hants, or Hampshire, in
the south of EngLand, 22 or 23 miles north of " storied Southamp-
ton," and about seventy miles southwest from London, between
Salisbury Plain and the South Downs, lies the little hamlet of Pen-
ton-Grafton in the parish of Weyhill. It is a small but ancient
place, held originally by the Abbey of Greistain and later on by the
family of Chaucer, the poet, whose granddaughter gave it to the
hospital of Ewelme. Here was the ancestral home of the Ameri-
can Bents.* The same description that Longfellow gave to the
earliest cis- Atlantic home of the family, Sudbury, is equally appli-
cable there :

" A region of repose it seems,

A place of skimber and of dreams."

The country is a sort of undulating plain, delightfully green and
fertile. INIany of the houses, as well as the roadside walls, are
covered with a heavy thatch. The little parish church, with its red-
tiled roof and ivy-grown walls, in the midst of the country church-
yard, is not unlike the one made famous by Gray's Elegy.

The parish records do not begin until the year 1564 (the year
Shakspere was born), and the name of Bent is found on the first
page, "Ede Bent filia Joannis bet baptizata est xvj° Septembris
1564." At " venerable Winchester," less than twenty miles away,
the capital of Alfred and Canute, where Sir Walter Raleigh was
tried and good old Izaak Walton died, are Bent wills dating back
to 1519, among them an Edward Bent, 1558 ; but the first one of
the family of whom we have definite knowledge is

John Bent, who died in Peuton-Grafton, in 1588, in the oOth
year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, leaving a widow Edith, who

* The writer made a pilgrimage to this home of his fathers, July 4, 1891, taking
the train from Waterloo Station in London to Andover (66 miles) , where a change was
made to a local train that carried him two miles further to Weyhill station. A pleasant
walk of a mile or more, by green pastures and still waters, found him at the parish
church .



died in the summer of 1601. (The wills of both will be found

Children of John and Edith, born in Penton-Grafton :

i. Edith, baptized Sept. 16, 1564.
'- ii. Robert, " Sept. 29, 1566.

iii. David, " Oct. 13, 1568 ; his mother's executor,
iv. Maria, " Jan. 13, 1572; d. iu Jan. 1591.
V. Joan, " Nov. 12, 1574; m. William Noyes, perhaps the

Rev. William of Wiltshire, father of Rev. James and Nicholas
Noyes, who were among the first settlers of Newbury, Mass.
vi. Richard, baptized Feb, 5, 1577.
vii. Alice, " June 7, 1579.

viii. Agnes, " Feb. 27, 1582 ; m. a Street.

Robert Bent (son of John Bent preceding), was born in Sep-
tember, 1566, in Penton-Grafton, where he died in July, 1631, je.
64 years and 10 mos. He married, Oct. 13, 1589, Agnes Gos-
ling, who followed her son to America and died in May or June,
1639, on board the ship " Jonathan " just outside Boston Harbor.
Her body was brought ashore and buried, presumably in Boston.
Her passage cost £17, besides £1 10s. for bringing over her goods
aiid 10s. paid to the ship's surgeon.

Children of Robert and Agnes, born in Penton-Grafton :

i. Margery, bap. March 28, 1590.

ii. Richard, " May 7, 1592.
""^ iii. John, " Nov. 20, 1596 ; the original emigrant to America.

iv. Maria, " Sept 24, 1598; buried Feb. 2, 1599.

V. Dennis, " Dec. 10, 1599; m. May 8, 1626, William Ba-
ker, and lived in New Sarum, Wiltshire, Eng.

vi. Agnes, baptized July 16, 1602; m. in Penton-Grafton, April 11,
1630, Richard Barnes, who died a few years after, leaving two
children, Barnes: Richard,* bap. Feb. 20, 1631, and Elizabeth.
Agnes m. again, iu England, Thomas Blanchard, and April 12,
1 639, sailed from London for New England in the ship " Jona-
than," with her whole family. Fifteen days out she died, and
soon after her uifant child died. Blanchard settled m Braintree,
but afterwards moved to Charlestown and married again.

vii. Jane, ; m. in England, Robert Plimpton, and had

five cluldren, Plimpton : Robert, Thomas, William, Jane, Eliza-
beth. The children Thomas and Elizabeth came to America
and lived in Sudbury, Mass.

* Richard Barnes was probably brought up by his uncle John Bent. He was one of
the first settlers of Marlboro', Mass., where he d. June 22, 1708, ce. 77. He m. Deborah Dix
anrl had six chiklren : Sarah, Deborah, iiichard, John, Edward and Abigail, the young-
est of whom m. Peter^ Bent.



John' Bent, first of the name in America, was born in Penton-
Grafton, England, in November, 1596 (while Elizabeth was still
Queen), came to America in his forty-second year, and settled in
Sudbury, Massachusetts, where he remained until his death, Sept.
27, 1672, X. nearly 76. (His will and inventory will be found

elsewhere.) He married in England about 1624, Martha ,

who died in Sudbury, May 15, 1679, well along in years.

The ftmiily — John, his wife and five small children — sailed from
Southampton in the latter part of April, 1638, in the ship "Confidence"
of London, John Jobson, master, the whole number of passengers,
" greate and little," beino- 110 souls. Amono; them was the ances-
tor of the poet Whittier, Thomas Whittier, se. 18, who with oth-
ers settled in Salisbury, Mass. Nearly eighteen years be&re.^tlie
Mayflower sailed on her eventful voyage from the same port. La-'
ter in the century, Isaac Watts first saw the light of day there.
From Southampton, Richard Coeur-de-Lion sailed with his Crusa-
ders ; thither went Henry V. to embark for the field of Agincourt,
and there Canute tried to exercise his authority over the waves. So
much for the port of departure. The latter part of spring is still
a popular time for crossing the Atlantic, but the voyage is a very
different thing from what it was then, when they were tossed about
in a small wooden vessel from six to eight weeks.

A glance at affairs in England will show ample cause for a change
of home at that time. The rule of Charles I. had become almost
unbearable, and it is not at all surprising that so many looked upon
"the American wilderness as the only asylum in which they could
enjoy civil and spiritual freedom." The king, advised in affairs of state
by Lord Wentworth (Earl of Strafford) and in religious affairs by
William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, wished to do for Eng-
land what Richelieu was at that very time doing for France, "put
the estates and the personal liberty of the whole people at the dispo-
sal of the crown and deprive the courts of law of all independent autho-
rity," as well as to break up all gatherings of religious dissenters.
He had already ruled nine years without a Parliament and his despo-
tism seemed nearly complete. But one thing was lacking, and that



•was a standing army. How to raise taxes for the support of
troops became the great question. Though a time of peace and no
navy was needed, it was decided to revive an old method of taxa-
tion, tiiat of levying ship money upon the maritime counties, for the
ostensible purpose of protecting the coast. It will be borne in
mind that Hampshire was one of these seacoast shires. It was in
the year of this pernicious tax that John Bent left the land of his

Let us see with his eyes if we can. Two pictures are there.
First, England, to the outward eye, verdant, calm and peacefiU,
but in reality on the verge of a political and religious volcano.
(The explosion came with the Civil War in 1642.) Six weeks elaps-
es, and the curtain rises on the second scene, a June morning,
America, forest clad, vast, unknown, its shadowy recesses holding
no one knew what foes. But " hope springs eternal in the human
breast" and doubtless the American shore seemed more hospitable
than Old Enoland in 1638.

John Bent continued to till the soil in America as he had done in
England. His farm was in the part of Sudbury* now the town of
Wayland, about sixteen miles directly west of Boston. He was
one of the original settlers of the town, which was incorporated
in 1639 with fifty-four inhabitants. Although it was the nineteenth
town in Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the Sudbury River, the
picture of peace, ran through fertile meadows near his new home,
it was for some years after its settlement a frontier town. Beyond
was the wilderness, stretching unbroken to the Connecticut valley,
threaded only by the Indian's narrow trail and known only to the red-
man's moccasined foot and unerring eye.

John Bent was made a freeman in 1640 ; that is, because he
had become a member of tlie church of the Puritans, he was al-
lowed to take part in town affairs. The church was first in those
days, and none but members were allowed to vote. His house lot,
about six acres, was about a quarter of a mile north of the present
R. R. station in Wayland, and the same distance from the river.
At the first division of meadow lands, in 1639, he received one acre ;
at the second, in 1640, fourteen acres ; and at the third, the same
year, lOJ acres more, besides a gratulation — for some service done
— of four acres of meadow and six of upland. In 1655 he re-
ceived an additional <)jrant. In 1641 he was one of the selectmen
and on the connnittee to assign timber. In 1648, with two others,
he was appointed to end small businesses under 20 shillings — a sort
of trial justice. In 1648, with two others, he was appointed to

* East Sudburj' was incorporated as a separate town in 1780 ; name changed to
"Wayland in 1830; botli are still essentially farming towns; the population of Sudbury
is 1,137 (in 1895) and of Wayland 2,026. During the Kevolntion, Sudbui-y was the
most populous town in Middlesex County.


lay out a highway from Watertown (the part now Weston) to the
Dunster Farm, in the edo-e of what is now Framino-ham. This
road followed the old Connecticut Path, an ancient Indian trail
leadino^ from the seacoast to the Connecticut River. He has been
set down as one of Major Simon Willard's troopers that went to

Online LibraryAllen H. (Allen Herbert) BentThe Bent family in America. Being mainly a genealogy of the descendants of John Bent who settled in Sudbury, Mass., in 1638, with notes upon the family in England and elsewhere → online text (page 1 of 30)