A Bending History

In writing a family history there is little certainty, and the words 'perhaps', 'possibly' and 'probably' may be used. New evidence could make significant changes in the structure of the tree, but the general picture of growth and dispersal would remain.

There are two distinct families of Bendings, the Norman de Bendings, in various spellings, and the native Bendings who originated in Devon. (see Origins). There is a possible link from Norman to modern Bendings in a family whose first records appear in the Eton/Windsor area in the late 1600's, (see John Bending}. The arguments for, being the locality, Eton near Windsor, where the Norman Bendings had strong connections, (see Eton), and the end of the line, Joseph Bending and nephew Thomas Firth Richmond Bending being alumni of Cambridge University.

There are other Bendings originating in Europe. John August Bending emigrated from Kalmar, Sweden, to Australia about 1860; and in the US censuses are immigrants from Germany, (Hesse Darmstadt is mentioned as the birth place for some).

This is the history of the Devon Bendings as part of the social history of England. For information on the Norman Bendings go to Medieval Bendings, where a Bending pedigree gives a possible history.

The beginnings

The first reference to Bendings in Devon is in the Crown Pleas of the Devon Eyre, 1238, Axmouth Hundred where Robert de Bendone is outlawed for killing Robert de Bolonge. The fugitive's lord is named as Philip de Bendone, and there are references to Axmouth and Bindon tithing. The de Bendone probably refers to Bindon, and although Robert and Philip share this description, it is unlikely that they were of the same family. It is probable that the name Bending is derived from Bindon


The next mention, in 1290, of a surname close to Bending is Sir Robert Bendyn, who had property in Devon. (see the biography by Arthur Bending). No connections have been found to later Bendings, although it is possible that Bendyn is derived from Bindon.

The modern Bendings first appear in the 16thC where there are references to seven probable Bendings. The Devon Subsidy Rolls of 1543/5 have references to John and Thomas Bendon of Payhembury and John Bendyng of Honiton. Payhembury is about 15 miles from Bindon and Honiton 10 miles.

The 1569 Devonshire Muster Rolls have references to John Bennynge, archer of Payhembury, Robert Bennynge, billman of Payhembury and Walter Bendinge, pikeman of Honiton; we also know that Robert Bennynge, (aka Bendinge, Bending), leased land at Awliscombe.

Robert, billman of Payhembury, appears to be the progenitor of the main line of Devon Bendings. His son, John Bending, moved to East Budleigh, and there are records in parish registers, wills and tithe maps (1 and 2) of two generations before that branch became extinct.

Robert's other son with descendants, Martin, married in Clyst Hydon in 1608, and Bendings were present in that village until about the end of the 17thC. The main line descends from Martin's son Robert who married Dinah Clark at Fen Ottery in 1652 and moved to Ottery St Mary about that time. This move was significant as Ottery and its surrounds were to be the main centre of Bendings for the next two hundred years.

Robert was born the year after Shakespeare died, and lived through the Civil Wars from 1642 to 1648, the execution of Charles I, Cromwell's 'reign', and the proclamation of Charles II as king in 1660. He appears to have been of some substance and possibly could be classified as a yeoman, thereafter the fortunes of the family declined and they were agricultural labourers, shoe makers,tailors, and carpenters, (see occupations).

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