BENTLEY, Richard (d.c.1441), of Shrewsbury, Salop.
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Family and Education
m. bef. 1426, Agnes, at least 2da.1
Assessor, Shrewsbury Sept. 1415-16, 1422-3, 1426-7; coroner 1425-6.2
Under sheriff, Salop c.1419-1420; acting sheriff 13 Oct.-Nov. 1420.
Commr. of inquiry, Shrewsbury Nov. 1434 (misuse of murage).
Coroner, Salop 14 Jan. 1423-d.3
Bentley, a lawyer by training, was retained by the borough of Bridgnorth as its official attorney for three years, starting in 1409. Having been admitted to the freedom of Shrewsbury in November 1412, he was unusual among the burgesses in attending, at Shrewsbury castle, the elections of the knights of the shire for the Parliaments of 1413 (May) and 1417. In the meantime he had been elected for the first of three annual terms as one of the six assessors of the borough. In 1420 Bentley was holding office as under sheriff of Shropshire and, following the death of the sheriff, Robert Corbet*, he was temporarily promoted to the higher post, being therefore responsible for holding the shire elections at Shrewsbury on 21 Nov., this being the occasion of his own return for the borough. He again attended the shire elections to the Parliaments of 1423, 1426 and 1427, having meanwhile acted as one of the borough coroners for a term. In 1426-7 he travelled to Gloucester on the town’s business, and in the same year he received a small fee of 6s.8d. from the commonalty of Shrewsbury.4 In September 1427 he witnessed a conveyance to, among others, William Burley* of Broncroft; and his name appeared again as a witness on 11 Nov. 1429 at Shrewsbury, although it is likely that he was at Westminster at the time, having been returned to the Parliament then assembled. During the second session of the same Parliament, on 21 Feb. 1430, and described as ‘gentleman’, Bentley found mainprise for Burley (then representing Shropshire), Hugh Burgh*, then sheriff, and (Sir) Thomas Strange*, the Exchequer lessees of the manor of ‘Monkemeorle’ in the liberty of Shrewsbury, and the association evidently proved rewarding, for in the following year Burley and Strange named him as their attorney for livery of seisin of property in the locality. In November 1431 Bentley served as a juror at the Shrewsbury inquiry to assess liability to contribute to a royal aid. Two years later he took out a royal pardon for failing to appear before the justices of the common pleas to answer the prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England for a debt of £40.5
By 1423 Bentley had acquired an interest in land in the hamlets of Forton and Montford, five miles from Shrewsbury, but he continued to increase his holdings in the town itself: in 1426 he and his wife took out a ten-year lease on two buildings there, and five years later he obtained a joint interest in another in Frankwell.6 One of Bentley’s servants was indicted in 1435 for complicity in the murder of William Horde*, but Bentley himself seems not to have been involved. It is possible that he died before 12 Oct. 1436, when instructions were sent to the sheriff to arrange for the election of a new county coroner to take his place, but he may have been still alive since these instructions were repeated on 8 Feb. 1441, on this occasion stating that he was dead. In 1480 one of his daughters and coheirs, Elizabeth, who had since married Ralph Hitton, conveyed Bentley’s lands, tenements and shops in S