Bentley Shaw was born at around 10am on 16 January 1816, the son of local brewer William Shaw and his wife Ann (née Bentley). Ann's father was Timothy Bentley who had established the brewery in 1795 at Lockwood, making use of Horse Bank Spring to provide water.
On 16 June 1842 he married Jane Elizabeth Lancaster (c.1818-1893), daughter of local auctioneer John Lancaster, and they had at least nine children together.
Shaw lived at Woodfield House, near Lockwood, and became a partner in the Lockwood Brewery, more commonly known as Bentley and Shaw, around 1841. In 1843, he purchased the brewery outright at an auction arranged by the executors of Timothy Bentley's estate.
Around the mid-1840s, he became a Freemason and for 11 years was the Deputy-Grand Master of the Province of the West Riding. He later became the Senior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge of England.
In 1857 he was appointed as a local magistrate for Huddersfield and Holmfirth.
We, the inhabitants of Netherton and South Crosland, feeling ourselves aggrieved at the conduct of Mr. Bentley Shaw, in his determined and persevering opposition to a bill now pending in parliament to enable the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company to make a branch line of railway from Lockwood via Netherton, to Meltham, resolve therefore that we will refrain from drinking any ale, beer, or porter brewed by the firm of Bentley and Shaw, till the train shall run on the said line through our village
Shaw appears to have joined the local Emmanuel Church in Lockwood in the 1860s and was baptised there, along with his younger sister Mary Anne, on 4 February 1863. In his obituary, the Huddersfield Chronicle noted that "for many years he was the churchwarden" of Emmanuel Church.
During the mid-1860s, he helped fund the building of the Lockwood Mechanics' Institute.
By 1870, the Bentley and Shaw brewery had expanded to cover 12 acres of land and was using so much water from Horse Bank Spring that little was left over for the local population. A bitter dispute over the spring continued until Lockwood began receiving water via a mains supply. The former brewery, much of which was demolished in the 1970s, is now the home of the Huddersfield Rugby Union Football Club.
In late February 1878, he suffered an apoplectic fit and took to his bed where he was treated by Dr. Scott of Waverley House. Despite hopes that he might rally, he died peacefully at around 11:30am on 20 March 1878, aged 62. He was buried at Emmanuel Church on 23 March.