Whitney family

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For other people with this surname, see Whitney (surname).

The Whitney family is an American family notable for their social prominence, wealth, business enterprises and philanthropy, founded by John Whitney (1592–1673) who came from London, England to Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635. The historic family mansion in Watertown was built in 1710.

The New England Whitneys[edit]

John Whitney, formerly resident at Isleworth-on-Thames, west London, England, sailed on the Elizabeth and Ann (Roger Cooper, master) in 1635 with his wife and five of his sons. He settled at Watertown, Massachusetts, where he was elected town clerk and, in 1641, appointed constable.

The New York Whitneys[edit]

Rise to prominence[edit]

The prominence of the New York branch of the Whitney family began with William Collins Whitney (1841–1904). Born in Conway, Massachusetts, he was a younger brother to Boston industrialist Henry Melville Whitney (1839–1923). William Collins Whitney became an extremely wealthy businessman who made the Whitney name synonymous with thoroughbred horse racing in the United States.

Horse racing[edit]

The Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Race Course is named in the family's honor. Whitney-owned horses have won every major race in the United States including multiple wins at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Members of the family also maintained stables and breeding facilities in Newmarket (in Suffolk, United Kingdom); they won important British races including the prestigious Epsom Derby.

A number of the New York Whitney family members were owners of thoroughbred racing operations under various names including Greentree Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Today, Whitney family members remain involved with horse racing, notably in 2004 when Marylou Whitney apologized on national television for denying Smarty Jones the U.S. Triple Crown after her colt Birdstone won the Belmont Stakes.

Other endeavors[edit]

In addition to horse racing, a number of Whitney family members were important financiers and business owners, statesmen and philanthropists. Joan Whitney Payson, an avid sportswoman, was the first owner of the New York Mets Major League Baseball team from its founding in 1962 until her death in 1975. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City was founded by a Whitney-by-marriage, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

Prominent descendants of John Whitney[edit]

By marriage:


External links[edit]