William and Mary Louisa
Born Patshull, Wolverhampton,
William Bentley was born
on 20 September, 1830 in Patshull, Staffordshire, but was to spend most
of his formative years in Shropshire - I almost claimed him as a Salops
Lad, but had to remain pure to where he was born, although his birthplace
was less than five miles from any of the places his ancestors and siblings
were born - all in Shropshire. Patshull, or Patteshull, is on a finger
of Staffordshire, reaching into Shropshire near Wolverhampton. It's likely
that William had no memories of ever living in Staffordshire. By the time
his brother John was born in 1832, the family had moved to Worfield, a
little over four miles over the border into Shropshire.
Shropshire Mist -classically
beautiful English countryside.
William was the son of
and Ann (nee Dovey) Bentley, the eldest of four children. William was
the part owner of a shipping company, Bentley and Parker, and came to Australia
some time before 1851. This company was to become Huddart and Parker soon
after, as William moved on into other areas of transport. He was still
listed as a 'shipmaster' on his daughter Elizabeth Jane's birth certificate
in 1855, but had moved inland far from the sea by 1857. He married Mary
Louisa Wilkins, a London girl, at the Church of England, Christchurch,
Geelong on 02 August 1852. The couple moved to St Arnaud, Victoria, within
the next five years, where William went into partnership with a Mr Stewart,
owning forty drays - quite a sizeable transport company for the time. (Also
recorded in another family members history as 23 drays - I'm not sure which
figure is right! My info came from my great aunt Clara Streeter, William's
grand daughter). St Arnaud was a thriving gold town, and fortunes could
be made catering to the frantic gold trade. Many supplying goods came away
from the gold rushes wealthier than the diggers.
The young couple were married
by licence with the permission of parents in 1852. Mary, I believe, deserves
a medal - from what I can work out she had thirteen children in thirty
years, between 1851 and 1881, with her last child, Frederick Herbert, being
born when she was 51. Mary died at the age of 84.
Children of William
and Mary Louisa Bentley
(Listed in the Pioneers Index as 'father
1851 Newt (Newtown?)
27 Feb 1855 Ashby (Geelong)
1864 St Arnaud
1866 St Arnaud died 1866
1867 St Arnaud
1869 St Arnaud
1871 St Arnaud
1873 St Arnaud
1876 St Arnaud
1881 St Arnaud
Family records have
a few discrepancies to the above... My Auntie Clara had the children's
names as follows: Mary, Elizabeth, George, William, Jack, Lil, Emma, Bert,
Etty, and Harry the youngest born in Fitzroy. Both too few and too many!
(Who was Lil, and if Frederick Herbert was Bert, where and who was Harry?)
Other than Elizabeth
Jane, who married my great grandfather James Streeter, I know that William
moved to Tasmania, George had a wooden leg and was a printer in the Government
Printing Office, and 'Bert', who I'd say is Frederick Herbert - had the
grand distinction in my rather straight laced ancestors minds of having
had a son who married a Roman Catholic! This is certainly not something
that would faze anyone these days, but a special note of it was made in
my family records... My family was (almost) exclusively Church of England
for many generations.
Mary Ann married Stephen
Box in 1876, and died in Albert Park aged 80 in 1934. George William married
Sara McGee in Dunolly in 1890 and died in East Brunswick aged 83 in 1940.
Emma (using the middle name Wilkins) married James Howard in 1885, and
died in Brighton aged 81 in 1943. Annie married James Joseph Wright at
St Arnaud in 1889, and died aged 62 at Fitzroy North in 1926. Sarah married
Henry Symons in 1900 at St Arnaud, and died at Oakleigh aged 86 in 1959.
Henrietta (also using the middle name Wilkins) married William McCrohan
at St Arnaud in 1899, and died aged 83 in 1960.. at 'NORT', which may be
Northcote in Melbourne.
There has been a (very)
garbled story passed down to me from my older sister, that William, known
as 'Old Stinky', was a sailor with a wooden leg. I'd say this is
a mixture of William being a ships master, and George - and I really hope
neither of them were smelly!
It is very apparent that
William had a severe change in fortune during his lifetime. The story below
is of his death, and, following somewhat of a tradition in my family, it
is possible that William's fall in status was due to imbibing too much
alcohol - perhaps that was why his grandchildren may have thought he was
smelly! There are not a lot of other explanations of why such a highly
successful man would go from being a shipmaster at the age of 25, followed
by owning a thriving business, then to being a labourer at the age of 58.
His youngest children were only eight and thirteen at the time, and he
had numerous grandchildren - my grandmother and six of her siblings had
been born by then.
The Kilmore Advertiser
The second accident
happened at Pyalong, where a large pile bridge is being erected
over Mollison's Creek.The works have been in progress for some months, and
Wednesday, two men named Blaney and Phipps were on top of the piles, some
forty feet high when an order was made for them to throw down a clamp, a heavy iron instrument weighing
upwards of a hundred-weight. Under the bridge William Bentley, an elderly
man, was working and the men above called out to warn him of danger, but
as he was very deaf, he did not hear them, and just as Blaney threw the
clamp over the side Bentley walked under the bridge. The eyewitnesses saw
that a terrible accident would occur and shouted to Bentley to go back,
but the unfortunate man rushed on to his doom, the heavy clamp striking
him with great force on the right side of his head, making an awful gash.
He was felled to the ground, and on several men rushing to his assistance
found that he was beyond it having been killed instantaneously. Bentley
was a man about 58 years of age, and had been employed on the works for
some time. An order was given for his dismissal owing to his deafness.
The practice of throwing such heavy weights about cannot be too severely
condemned, and the coroner referrred to it in strong terms at the inquest.
The deceased visited Melbourne last week and stated he intended leaving
the work shortly. He was a well-connected man, and has a wife and family
living in Carlton. Cemetery Burial 21/06/1889 at Kilmore Cemetery.
Mary Louisa Bentley,
as an older woman.
She was to survive
William by another 26 years, and died on 15 October 1915 at North Fitzroy
Bentley Family in Shropshire
James and Elizabeth Jane (Bentley) Streeter
Burge-McLean Index Page
Please feel free
to email me if you have any comments
or information to add.