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Why is Bensalem Called Bensalem?

There are several theories on how the township got its unique name.

What's in a name?

There are more than two Philadelphias in the world. There is more than one Camden, too. Within three hours, it is possible to drive from Levittown, P.A. to Levittown, N.Y.

But there is only one Bensalem.

Often mispronounced as Ben’s Alem, Ben Sailing, or Ben Shalom, Bensalem Township has a name that is both unique and mysterious. But what does “Bensalem” mean? Where did it come from?

“I never really thought about the name. I mean, I never heard of any other places named Bensalem, but I didn’t think the name held any meaning. Maybe it was called Bensalem after the person who founded the town; I don’t know,” said Jared Krum, a former Bensalem resident now living in Atlantic City.

And interestingly enough, “I don’t know” is a pretty common response -- even from the experts. According to Bensalem Township’s official website, the name Salem was attached to the area through surveys and grants and “Ben-” was not added to the name until 1701. Another theory suggests that the name means “hill of peace” or “peaceful mount.”

Still another theory puts forth that Bensalem means “son of peace,” a phrase attributed to William Penn by Joseph Growden when he received land from Penn and named it “The Manor of Bensalem.”

There is, however, another theory. It is one that is not in the historical documents, not on the township’s website and the connection seems to have been missed completely.

In the mid-1620s, Sir Francis Bacon published his famous novel New Atlantis. In the story, a crew of European sailors get lost at sea and stumble upon the utopian island of Bensalem. The governor of the island approaches the sailors and explains to them how the “Bensalemites” live. Bacon’s work was so popular that it later inspired Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

But what do the Bensalemites think of this development?

“Bensalem’s pretty nice, but I wouldn’t call it a utopia,” said Krum. “The only other thing I’d call Bensalem is what everyone calls it on Facebook: ‘B-Town.’”

LOUISA SO April 08, 2011 at 05:48 PM
I PREFER THE MEANING "SON OF PEACE" OR "SON OF RIGHTEOUSNESS". IF BENSALEM WAS ONCE LIKE UTOPIA, I WAS NOT HERE. AS A RESIDENCE SINCE 1/89, I WATCHED THE RED LION INN INFERNO FROM ACROSS.... ON CHRISTMAS, 1991 - THE YEAR I WAS DRAWN TO THE BIBLE. SEEING THE INN'S 200 YEAR HISTORY VANISH IN SMOKE - CALL IT AN INSIGHT OR REMINDER OF "SODOM & GOMORRAH" - I THOUGHT: "IS THIS A HINT THAT MANKIND'S HISTORY WILL BE WIPED OUT TOO, ONEDAY?" TODAY, STILL THRIVING IN THE SAME CONDO APARTMENT, CONTENDING W/ DRUG ADDICTS AROUND ME, I BECAME AWARE OF A TOWN'S DILEMMA i.e., DRUG INFILTRATION - TO WHAT DEGREE? I LEAVE IT IN THE MAYOR'S HANDS. I BELIEVE, THE LORD GOD HAS REVELATION 9:21 FULFILLED. "SORCERY" IN ORIGINAL GREEK IS "PHARMAKEIUN" W/C COULD ALSO MEAN "MEDICATION/DRUGS". BENSLALEM, LIKE ANY OTHER TOWN IN THE WORLD IS NOT IMMUNED TO DRUG-LICENCE AFFLICTION DUE TO CLANDESTINE CONSPIRACY- AN END TIME SIGN. HOWEVER, A GREATEST IMPENDING ISSUE WE, BENSLAMITES, ARE FACING NOW IS THE UNFOLDING END TIME PROPHECIES COMING TO PASS! LET US NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN OUR TOWN NAME BUT PLEAD WITH GOD FOR HIS MERCY THAT WE MAY BE CAUGHT UP BY CHRIST ON MAY 21,2011. FROM WHAT I LEARNED, ON OCTOBER 21,2011, BENSALEM WITH THE WORLD WILL CEASE TO EXIST! LOG ON "YOU TUBE" & SEARCH FOR "MAY21,2011" AND KNOW MORE. GOD BLESS BENSALEM!
Diane Farren April 09, 2011 at 07:02 AM
Joseph Galloway (1731 – August 10, 1803)He was born near West River, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and moved with his father to Pennsylvania in 1749, Galloway was a member of the Continental Congress in 1774, where he proposed a compromise plan for Union with Great Britain which would provide the colonies with their own parliament subject to the Crown. He signed the nonimportation agreement, while at the same time he was opposed to independence for the Thirteen colonies Galloway was a resident of cosmopolitan Philadelphia and an associate of Benjamin Franklin with whom he corresponded over the issues of American/colonial independence. [3]Galloway urged reform of the imperial administration and was critical of the trade laws, the Stamp Act of 1765, and the Townshend Acts enacted in 1767; and as early as 1765 he had a conciliatory plan to end the disputes between England and the colonies In 1778 the General Assembly of Pennsylvania convicted him of high treason and confiscated his estates. Much of his property was the inheritance of his wife, Grace Growdon Galloway. They resided in Growden Mansion, now known as Trevose Manor, and owned much of the land which is now Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Did you also know that Benjamin Franklin flew his kite at the Shalom Cementary on Bristol Road and Benjamin's house also exist around the corner to where he flew his kite. That fact is in the Schools history books. Also Benjamin Rush signer of the Decolaration of Independence.
Andrew April 11, 2011 at 01:26 PM
OK. This article is close to correct. The root "Ben" is similar to the Hebrew "ben" or Arabic "bin" meaning "son", so Bensalem is son of Salem. And that's where things get a bit murky. It could easily be "son of Salem, Mass.", as Bensalem was founded after Salem chronologically, but that just passes the explanation of the name Bensalem to that of Salem. So the question then becomes what does Salem mean? Again, the Hebrew/Arabic helps us out. Salem seems to be "Shalom" in Hebrew or "Salaam" in Arabic, meaning peace, so it is not entirely inaccurate to say Bensalem is "son of peace". Of course, the founders or Bensalem likely did not speak Hebrew or Arabic. What they were familiar with, however, is the city of Jerusalem in the Middle East, which was originally called "Salem" thousands of years ago. So it is also correct to say that Bensalem is "son of Jerusalem".
John E. Dost September 20, 2011 at 06:31 PM
I do not have any references as to where I heard this information. But I beleive it was on a history channel documentary. The explanation that I always heard was that Benjamin Franklin had frequently visited Salem, Mass. Allegedly, Mr. Franklin loved Salem so much that he decided to name the area north of Philadelphia, Bensalem....meaning Ben's Salem.
Mhhffdcgf November 14, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It is an arabic name ben-salem .. Ben means son Salem is a name of a person .. So it means son of salem Also salem (the name) mean safe or unharmed .

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