By Amy Grant
Southwark Historical Society
Below is a brief sketch of the life of Anders Bengtsson (called “Andrew Bankson” in the English language). Andrew Bankson (1640-1705) was one of the earliest Swedish settlers in Southwark and owned a large plot of land located between Wicaco and Moyamensing where his family operated a plantation. Today, that land makes up the southern portion of the bustling neighborhood we call Pennsport.
Anders Bengtsson, known as Andrew Bankson in English records, was born in 1640 in Fåxarn parish, located northeast of Gothenburg in Sweden. At age 16, he was amongst the earliest Swedish settlers who arrived in New Sweden, or present day Delaware, on the ship Mercurius in 1656. On November 22, 1668, he married Gertrude Rambo, an 18 year old resident of Kingsessing, New Sweden. He and Gertrude eventually settled just north of Moyamensing in present day South Philadelphia where they raised nine children.
Andrew Bankson very active in the local Swedish church, called Wicaco, where he served as a church warden, trustee, and lay reader. He was a faithful supporter of the clergy and was very likely involved in raising capital to erect a brick building to replace the log cabin the church had been using for worship. The efforts of the congregation were eventually successful and Andrew Bankson was present for the dedication of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church in 1700.
Andrew Bankson became politically active when William Penn settled Pennsylvania and personally known by the Governor. He served as a justice of the New Court at Upland from 1681-82, 1693, and again from 1701-03. He was also elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1683, 1686, and 1698 and witnessed the charter of Pennsylvania on April 2, 1683. By the time of his death in 1705, he owned over 50 acres of land adjacent to Moyamensing, where his family had a plantation, as well as 500 acres in the Swedes’ tract at Manatawny in present day Bucks County.
Andrew Bankson drowned in the Delaware River in 1705 and was buried at Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church on September 14th of that year. He was survived by his descendants who maintained the family plantation near Moyamensing for another 65 years.