John Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever

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John Jacob Astor V
John Jacob Astor V.jpg
John Jacob Astor V, 1st Baron Astor of Hever
Personal details
Born (1886-05-20)May 20, 1886
New York City, U.S.A.
Died July 19, 1971(1971-07-19) (aged 85)
Cannes, France
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Violet Mary Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound
(1918—1965; her death)
Relations
Children
Parents William Waldorf Astor
Mary Dahlgren Paul
Alma mater Eton College
New College, Oxford

Lieutenant-Colonel John Jacob Astor V, 1st Baron Astor of Hever, DL (20 May 1886 – 19 July 1971) was an American-born English newspaper proprietor, politician, sportsman, military officer, and a member of the Astor family.[1]

Biography[edit]

Baron Astor was born in New York City in 1886, the fourth child of William Waldorf Astor (1848—1919) and Mary Dahlgren Paul (1858—1894). He was five years old when his family left New York to live in England.[1] He was raised on an estate purchased by his father at Cliveden-on-Thames in Buckinghamshire and was educated at Eton College and at New College, Oxford.[2] Upon his father's death in 1919, John Jacob V inherited Hever Castle near Edenbridge, Kent, where he lived the life of an English country gentleman.

Olympic Games[edit]

Olympic medal record
Men's Rackets
Gold 1908 London Men's doubles
Bronze 1908 London Men's singles

John Jacob Astor V represented Great Britain in rackets at the 1908 Summer Olympics, winning the gold medal in the men's doubles competition together with Vane Pennell, and winning bronze in the men's singles event.[citation needed]

Astor had been the British Public Schools rackets champion in 1904-05, and in the same year as his Olympic competition he played singles and doubles in the British Army rackets championships.[3]

Despite a later loss of leg, he was able to play and win against younger opponents at squash on a prosthetic limb.[2]

Military Service[edit]

He served in the 1st Life Guards, which he joined in 1906[3] after a year at Oxford, and was Aide-de-Camp to Baron Hardinge, Viceroy of India between 1911 and 1914. Within his regiment he was promoted Captain in 1913 and Major in 1920.[3]

In World War I, he was wounded serving with his regiment at Messines in October 1914. After recovering he returned to the Western Front, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel commanding 520 Household Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery and awarded the Légion d'Honneur as a Chevalier. In September 1918, near Cambrai, his right leg was shattered by a shell and later amputated.[2]

He was Honorary Colonel of the Kent and Sussex Royal Artillery, between 1927 and 1946 and Honorary Colonel of the 23rd London Regiment, between 1928 and 1949. In World War II he was Lieutenant-Colonel of the 5th Battalion, City of London Home Guard, a unit drawn from newspaper employees,[4] between 1940 and 1944.[3]

Marriage[edit]

On 28 August 1916, Baron Astor married a widow named Violet Mary Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (28 May 1889 — 3 January 1965). Her parents were Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound and Mary Caroline Grey. From her previous marriage to World War I casualty Charles George Francis Mercer Nairne Petty-Fitzmaurice, Violet had two young children, Mary and George. She bore John Jacob V three sons:

Career[edit]

He was a director of the Great Western Railway between 1929 and 1946. He held the office of Lieutenant of the City of London in 1926. He held the offices of Justice of the Peace from 1929 and Deputy Lieutenant of Kent from 1936 until 1962. He was a director of Hambros Bank between 1934 and 1960. He was Vice-Chairman of Phoenix Insurance between 1941 and 1952 and Chairman of between 1952 and 1958. He was a director of Barclays Bank between 1942 and 1952.

In 1922, he purchased The Times newspaper following the death of its owner, Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe. During his tenure as head of The Times, Lord Astor had the newspaper sponsor Edmund Hillary's expedition that made the first successful climb to the summit of Mount Everest. Astor remained chairman of the paper until 1959 when his son Gavin took over. In 1966, The Times was sold to Canadian newspaper tycoon, Roy Thomson.

In addition to his newspaper business, John Jacob V served in politics, as Alderman of the London County Council between 1922 and 1925, and in the Parliament of the United Kingdom for 23 years as Unionist Member of Parliament (MP) for Dover from 1922 to 1945. On 21 January 1956 he was created Baron Astor of Hever, of Hever Castle, co. Kent. In 1962, he moved from England to France.

Death[edit]

He died on 19 July 1971 in Cannes, France.[1]

Legacy[edit]

Selected artworks from the family's vast collection were bequeathed to the National Gallery including the prized "Thames below Westminster" by Claude Monet. John Jacob V and Violet are buried together on the grounds of Hever Castle, which, since 1983, has been owned by Broadland Properties Limited and is a major tourist attraction. Eldest son Gavin succeeded him as Baron.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Lord Astor of Hever Is Dead, Published The Times of London. American-Born Press Lord Headed Newspaper for 37 Years. Served in House of Commons 1922-1945". New York Times. July 20, 1971. Retrieved 2014-07-27. "Lord Astor of Hever, former publisher of The Times of London, died today in the ..." 
  2. ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 2. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 796. ISBN 0-19-861352-0. Article by Derek Wilson.
  3. ^ a b c d Who Was Who, 1971-1980. A and C Black. 1982. p. 30. ISBN 0-7136-2176-1. 
  4. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 2. p. 797. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Andrew Polson
Member of Parliament for Dover
19221945
Succeeded by
John Thomas
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Astor of Hever
1956–1971
Succeeded by
Gavin Astor
Media offices
New office Chairman of the General Council of the Press
1953–1956
Succeeded by
Linton Andrews