Born Bradford 1780, he enlisted into the 84th Foot at Rochdale on 18th January 1797 for unlimited service.
He served for three years before being promoted Corporal 25th April 1800.
Promoted Sergeant 25th October 1804 a rank he held until being pensioned.
In the rank of sergeant he was engaged in recruiting – 25th August he appears on the Muster Roll as recruiting in the Manchester District at Lancaster
At this time Ensign’s Kay and Westwater, 4 sergeants, 2 drummer and 7 privates were engaged recruiting in Manchester district.
Throughout the Napoleonic wars James remained in recruitment as did his two brothers, they saw no action.
17th February 1816 with recruitment having been drastically reduced, all three brothers joined the 2/84th in Ireland.
James was discharged to pension at Athlone with chronic rheumatism 24th October 1817 – described as 37 years, 5’8, brown hair, hazel eyes, fresh complexion. – His conduct Good. He has been very useful as a recruiting sergeant a great many years
31st October 1817 William Plunkett of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, questioned the legitimacy of the pension claim as a consequence on the 5th November 1817 a Court of Inquiry was held by the Regiment at Athlone, regarding the date of attestation of James Bentley. The regimental descriptive book had been erased for his date of enlistment and 1796 entered
The board found in is favour and the Adjutant Generals Office in Dublin sent him for a medical examination 12th November 1817