Drawing of the first patented lockstitch sewing machine,
invented in 1845 by Elias Howe and patented in 1846,
15 years after William Bentley's death. He would have
done all his tailoring work by hand.
After posting a couple of articles about Ben Bentley my plan was to say something about his forebears and those of Harriet Smith, his wife. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot to say with any certainty about Ben's parents.
His father, William Bentley, was born in Gildersome near Leeds and was baptised on Christmas day, 1785, at the parish church in nearby Batley. He was the son of Samuel Bentley, a clothier of Gildersome, and his wife Hannah Clough.
The baptismal records of several of William's children show that he was married to "Ann Wildrick", daughter of John Wildrick. I haven't been able to trace this Wildrick family or the marriage between William and Ann with any certainty. The only Ann Wildrick I've come across lived in Fishlake, near Doncaster, which is quite a long way from Gildersome and Leeds.
Possibly Wildrick is a variation on Weldrake, with several families by that name (or something similar) living in the Gildersome area. In 1785 a Nancy Weldrick, daughter of John Weldrick was baptised in Birstall, in the Cleckheaton parish, which is not far from Gildersome. Nancy is sometimes used as a diminutive form of Ann. Could this be "Ann Wildrick"?
Curiously, the only possible marriage I've come across for William and Ann, or Nancy, occurred in Oldham, Lancashire. William Bentley, tailor, "of Royton" (sic) married a Nancy Weldrake there on 3 June 1806. Unfortunately no details are given about their ages or their fathers' names. This date would fit in well with the dates of their children's births, but begs the question of why they would go to Oldham to marry. Was William there on business? Were they avoiding marrying in Gildersome for some reason? Or was this another couple entirely? For now it remains a mystery, and I'd be happy to hear any suggestions.
All the children of William and Ann were born in Gildersome. Matthew, the eldest, was born in 1808 and became a tailor like his father. John (1811) Ann (1813) and William (1815) followed before Ben arrived in 1819.
William's name appears in the 1826 General and Commercial Directory for the Borough of Leeds as one of the two tailors living in Gildersome, the other being William Dixon. In the 1830 Leeds and Clothing Directory he's listed as Wm. Bentley & Son, tailor (& draper). He probably had a shop front somewhere close to the Town Green, and would have sold fabric as well as making up clothing on commission and perhaps doing repairs. The first practical and commercially available sewing machine didn't appear until 1846, so he would have done everything by hand.
William died on 4 August 1831 at the relatively young age of 46. According to the Leeds Patriot and Advertiser on 20 August, he died "after a lingering illness". Ann, his wife, died in Gildersome in December 1849.
Image: By Frank Puterbaugh Bachman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons