Astor family

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Current regionUnited States
United Kingdom
Place of originGermany
Connected families
DistinctionsAmerica's first aristocrats
HeirloomsSancy diamond

The Astor family achieved prominence in business, society, and politics in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 19th and 20th centuries. With ancestral roots in the Italian Alps,[1] the Astors settled in Germany, first appearing in North America in the 18th century with John Jacob Astor, one of the wealthiest people in history.

Founding family members[edit]

John Jacob Astor (born Johann Jakob Astor) was the youngest of four sons born to Johann Jacob Astor (1724–1816) and Maria Magdalena vom Berg (1730–1764).

The Astor family can trace their ancestry back to Giovan Asdour (1595-1668) and Gretta Ursula Asdour (1589-). Giovan was born in Chiavenna and died in Zürich, Switzerland. Their son, Hans Pieter Asdor, was born in Schweiz and died in Nußloch.

In 1783, John Jacob left for Baltimore, Maryland, and was active first as a dealer in woodwind instruments, then in New York as a merchant in opium, furs, pianos, and real estate. After moving to New York, John met and married Sarah Cox Todd (1762–1842). She worked alongside her husband as a consultant, and was accused of witchcraft after her success with the company in 1817. The accusations never led to legal action. They had eight children, including John Jacob Astor Jr. (1791–1869) and real estate businessman William Backhouse Astor Sr. (1792–1875).[2]

Henry Astor, son of William Backhouse Astor Sr.

John Jacob's fur trading company established a Columbia River trading post at Fort Astoria in 1811, the first United States community on the Pacific coast. He financed the overland Astor Expedition in 1810–1812 to reach the outpost, which was in the then-disputed Oregon Country. Control of Fort Astoria played a key role in English and American territorial claims on the region.

John and George's brother Henry (born Heinrich) (1754–1833) also emigrated to America. He was a horse racing enthusiast, and purchased a thoroughbred named Messenger, who had been brought from England to America in 1788. The horse became the founding sire of all Standardbred horses in the United States today.

The third brother Melchior remained in Germany.

During the 19th century, the Astors became one of the wealthiest families in the United States. Toward the end of that century, some of the family moved to England and achieved high prominence there. During the 20th century, the number of American Astors began to decline, but their legacy lives on in their many public works including the New York Public Library. English descendants of the Astors hold two hereditary peerages: Viscount Astor and Baron Astor of Hever.

While many of Astor members had joined to the Episcopal Church,[3] John Jacob Astor remained a member of the Reformed congregation to his death.[4]

Family namesake places[edit]

For many years, the members of the Astor family were known as "the landlords of New York".[5] Their New York City namesakes are the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel,[6] an Astor Row, Astor Court, Astor Place, and Astor Avenue in the Bronx, where the Astors used to stable horses. The neighborhood of Astoria, Queens, was renamed to incite John Jacob Astor to invest there.

Beyond New York City, the Astor family name is imprinted in a great deal of United States history and geography. Astor Street, in Chicago's landmark Gold Coast district, is named after John Jacob Astor. There are towns of Astor in the states of Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Kansas and there are Astorias in Illinois, Missouri and Oregon. In the Astoria, Oregon, school district, the primary elementary school is called John Jacob Astor Elementary.

There is a neighborhood called Astor Park just south of downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin.[7] At the heart of this neighborhood is a park (also called "Astor Park"); the Astor family donated this land for the building of a trade school.

The Astors were also prominent on Mackinac Island, Michigan, and Newport, Rhode Island, with their summer house, Beechwood.[8] At Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, there are the Lord and Lady Astor Suites; the hotel salon is called Astor's. There is even a Hostel in York, England called The Astor. In addition, a dorm at St. George's School in Newport, Rhode Island, bears Astor's name.

The Danubius Hotel Astoria in the center of Pest, Budapest, Hungary, opened in 1914, was given its name by the original hotel owners and Mihály Gellér, the first General Manager of the hotel, who formerly worked for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.[9]

Astor family tree[edit]

Members by birth order[edit]

  1. John Jacob Astor Sr. (1763–1848)
  2. William Backhouse Astor Sr. (1792–1875)
  3. Charles Astor Bristed Sr. (1820–1874)
  4. John Jacob Astor III (1822–1890)
  5. William Backhouse Astor Jr. (1829–1892)
  6. Matthew Astor Wilks (1844–1926)
  7. DeLancey Astor Kane (1844–1915)
  8. S. Nicholson Kane (1846–1906)
  9. William Waldorf Astor I (1848–1919)
  10. John Innes Kane (1850–1913)
  11. Sybil Kent Kane (1856–1946)
  12. Woodbury Kane (1859–1905)
  13. Carrie Astor Wilson (1861–1948)
  14. John Armstrong Chaloner (1862–1935)
  15. Winthrop Astor Chanler (1863–1926)
  16. John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV (1864–1912, died in the sinking of the Titanic)
  17. William Astor "Willie" Chanler Sr. (1867–1934)
  18. Lewis Stuyvesant Chanler Sr. (1869–1942)
  19. Margaret Chanler Aldrich (1870–1963)
  20. Robert Winthrop Chanler (1872–1930)
  21. Peter Augustus Jay (1877–1933)
  22. Waldorf Astor (1879–1952)
  23. James Roosevelt "Tadd" Roosevelt Jr. (1879–1958)
  24. Marshall Orme Wilson Jr. (1885–1966)
  25. John Jacob Astor V (1886–1971)
  26. William Vincent Astor (1891–1959)
  27. Louis Zborowski (1895–1924)
  28. Theodore Chanler (1902–1961)
  29. Ava Alice Muriel Astor (1902–1956)
  30. Jimmy Van Alen (1902–1991)
  31. William Waldorf "Bill" Astor II (1907–1966)
  32. Francis David Langhorne Astor (1912–2001)
  33. John Jacob "Jakey" Astor VI (1912–1992)
  34. Michael Langhorne Astor (1916–1980)
  35. Susan Mary Jay (1918–2004)
  36. John Jacob "Jakie" Astor VII (1918–2000)
  37. Gavin Astor (1918–1984)
  38. John Astor (1923–1987)
  39. Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky (1925–2019)
  40. Sylvia Sergeyevna Obolensky (1931–1997)
  41. Simon Bowes-Lyon (born 1932)
  42. Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby (born 1938)
  43. John Jacob "Johnny" Astor VIII (born 1946)
  44. William Waldorf Astor III (born 1951)
  45. John Dalrymple, 14th Earl of Stair (born 1961)
  46. Alexandra Aldrich (born 1972)

Spouses by birth order[edit]

  1. Vincent Rumpff (1789–1867): husband of Eliza Astor
  2. Franklin Hughes Delano (1813–1893): husband of Laura Eugenia Astor
  3. Samuel Cutler "Sam" Ward (1814–1884): husband of Emily Astor
  4. John Winthrop Chanler (1826–1877): husband and widower of Margaret Astor Ward
  5. Caroline Webster Schermerhorn (1830–1908): widow of William Backhouse Astor Jr.
  6. James John Van Alen (1848–1923): husband and widower of Emily Astor
  7. Augustus Jay (1850–1919): husband of Emily Astor Kane
  8. James Roosevelt "Rosey" Roosevelt Sr. (1854–1927): husband and widower of Helen Schermerhorn Astor
  9. Count William Eliot Morris Zborowski (1858–1903): 2nd husband of Margaret Laura Astor Carey
  10. Marshall Orme Wilson (1860–1926): husband of Caroline Schermerhorn Astor
  11. John Jay Chapman (1862–1933): husband of Elizabeth Astor Winthrop Chanler
  12. Richard Aldrich (1863–1937): husband of Margaret Livingston Chanler
  13. Amélie Louise Rives (1863–1945): wife of John Armstrong Chaloner
  14. Ava Lowle Willing (1868–1958): 1st wife of John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV
  15. Harriet Sylvia Ann Howland Green(1871–1951): wife and widow of Matthew Astor Wilks
  16. Natalina Cavalieri (1874–1944): 2nd wife of Robert Winthrop Chanler
  17. Herbert Henry Spender-Clay (1875–1937): husband of Pauline Astor
  18. Margaret Louise Post (1876–1969): wife and widow of James Laurens Van Alen
  19. Robert Joseph Collier (1876–1918): husband of Sarah Steward Van Alen
  20. Nancy Witcher Langhorne (1879–1964): widow of Waldorf Astor, first female British MP to sit in the house of commons.
  21. Minnie W. Collins (1880–1946): widow of William Astor "Willie" Chanler
  22. Julia Lynch Olin (1882–1961): 2nd wife and widow of Lewis Stuyvesant Chanler
  23. Theodore Douglas Robinson (1883–1934): husband of Helen Rebecca Roosevelt
  24. Lawrence Grant White (1887–1956): husband of Laura Astor Chanler
  25. Violet Mary Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (1889–1965): wife of John Jacob Astor V
  26. Prince Sergei Platonovich Obolensky Neledinsky-Meletzky (1890–1978), 1st husband of Ava Alice Muriel Astor
  27. Helen Dinsmore Huntington (1893–1976): 1st wife and widow of William Vincent Astor
  28. Madeleine Talmage Force (1893–1940): 2nd wife and widow of John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV
  29. Louis Bancel LaFarge (1900–1989): husband and widower of Hester Alida Emmet
  30. Roberta Brooke Russell (1902–2007): 3rd wife and widow of William Vincent Astor
  31. The Hon. Sir David Bowes Lyon (1902–1961): husband of Rachel Pauline Spender-Clay
  32. Mary Benedict "Minnie" Cushing (1906–1978): 2nd wife of William Vincent Astor
  33. John Aylmer Dalrymple, 13th Earl of Stair (1906-1996): husband of Davina Katherine Bowes-Lyon
  34. Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster (1907–1983): husband and widower of Nancy Phyllis Louise Astor
  35. Joseph Wright Alsop V (1910–1989): 2nd husband of Susan Mary Jay
  36. Irene Violet Freesia Janet Augusta Haig (1919–2001): widow of Gavin Astor
  37. Hon. Sarah Kathleen Elinor Norton (1920–2013): 1st wife of William Waldorf "Bill" Astor II
  38. Janet Bronwen Alun Pugh (1930–2017): 3rd wife and widow of William Waldorf "Bill" Astor II
  39. Roderick McEwen (1932–1982): husband of Romana von Hofmannsthal
  40. Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones (born 1948): wife of William Waldorf Astor III, mother-in-law of British PM David Cameron
  41. Elizabeth Constance "Liz" Mackintosh (born 1950): 2nd wife of John Jacob "Johnny" Astor VIII
  42. Jools Miles Holland (born 1958): 2nd husband of Christabel Mary McEwen
  43. Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, 11th Duke of Richmond (born 1955): husband of Janet Elizabeth Astor
  44. Edward Richard Lambton, 7th Earl of Durham (born 1961): 1st husband of Christabel Mary McEwen
  45. Laura Rose Parker Bowles (born 1978): wife of Harry Marcus George Lopes

Lines of Succession to the Family Titles[edit]

Both in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, the titles Coronet of a British Viscount.svg Viscount Astor, of Hever Castle in the County of Kent (1917), with subsidiary title Coronet of a British Baron.svg Baron Astor, of Hever Castle in the County of Kent (1916), and Coronet of a British Baron.svg Baron Astor of Hever, of Hever Castle in the County of Kent (1956), were granted with the standard remainder to the legitimate heirs male of the bodies of the original grantees.

Both of the current titleholders continue to sit in the House of Lords following the expulsion of the majority of the hereditary peers by the House of Lords Act 1999.

Viscount Astor's Official Parliamentary Portrait
Lord Astor of Hever's Official Parliamentary Portrait


  1. ^ Madsen, Axel (2002-03-14). John Jacob Astor: America's First Multimillionaire. New York: John Wiley & Sons (published 2002). pp. 7–8. ISBN 9780471009351. Retrieved 2016-11-16. The Astors [...] were Italian Protestants from the Alpine village of Chiavenna high above the northern end of Lake Como. [...] The first documented ancestor is Jean-Jacques d'Astorg. [...] He and his family are assumed to have been followers of the persecuted Waldensian Puritan faith [...]. Like most subjects of the duke of Savoy, d'Astorg spoke French and Italian, and answered both to Jean-Jacques and Giovan Petro Astore. [...] [I]n 1685 [...] the Sun King revoked the Edict of Nantes [...]. The massacre of Protestants in Valtellina high up in the Adda Valley sent d'Astorg-Astore, his wife, and their two children fleeing north across Switzerland to Heidelberg.
  2. ^ Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Astor, John Jacob" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  3. ^ B. Drummond Ayres Jr. (2011-12-19). "The Episcopalians: An American Elite with Roots Going Back to Jamestown". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
  4. ^ Reformed Congregation James Parton, Life of John Jacob Astor: To which is appended a Copy of his last will (The American News Comp., 1865), pg. 81
  5. ^ Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Astor Family" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  6. ^ Archives, The National. "Africa through a lens | The National Archives". Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  7. ^ "Astor Neighborhood Association – Astor Neighborhood Association – Green Bay, Wisconsin". Archived from the original on 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  8. ^ Dangremond, Sam (2021-09-02). "Is New Money Changing High Society's Favorite Summer Destination Forever?". Town & Country. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  9. ^ "The history of Danubius Hotel Astoria | Danubius City Center Hotels in Budapest, Hungary & London". Retrieved 2021-09-20.

External links[edit]