William Bingham (1752-1804)

Senator William Bingham, of Philadelphia; President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate

Associated Houses

Bingham Mansion


Lansdowne House

Blockley Township

Bingham Hill


Powel House


He was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the College of Philadelphia (M.A., 1771) before serving his apprenticeship with Thomas Wharton and then joining Willing, Morris & Co. In 1771, he was appointed Consul to Martinique and during the Revolution he officiated as the agent of the Continental Congress in the West Indies. Notably through privateering, he was reputed to be a millionaire by the time he returned to Philadelphia at the age of thirty. He invested in land and bought a million acres in Pennsylvania, 2.5-million acres in Maine, and considerable property in upstate New York where Binghamton is named for him. In 1781, he founded the Pennsylvania Bank which later became the Bank of North America for which he wrote the by-laws.

In 1803, he and his son-in-law, Lord Baring, brokered the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon. In politics, he was Speaker for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives before becoming a Senator in 1795. In 1797, he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate. William and his wife, Nancy Willing, were the undisputed power couple of American Revolutionary society and he was reputed to be America's first millionaire. In 1813, John Quincy Adams admitted that Washington's Presidency, the Capital, and the Country had all been governed by Bingham and his family connections.

In 1779, he married Nancy, daughter of Thomas Willing, President of the First Bank of the United States. They were the parents of three children: (1) Ann, married Alexander Baring, 1st Lord Ashburton, of Baring's Bank (2) Maria, married first the Comte de Tilly, secondly her sister’s brother-in-law, Henry Baring, of Cromer Hall, and thirdly the Marquis de Blaisel (3) William, married Marie-Charlotte de Lotbiniere, Seigneuresse de Rigaud. 
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 29/09/2018 and last updated on 16/03/2023.