Robert Winthrop (1833–1892)

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This article is about the financier. For the lawyer and politician, see Robert Charles Winthrop.
Robert Winthrop
Robert Winthrop (1833-1892) by Theobald Chartran (cropped).jpg
Born (1833-04-18)April 18, 1833
Died November 18, 1892(1892-11-18) (aged 59)
38 East 37th Street
New York, NY
Resting place Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn, NY
Nationality United States
Occupation Banker
Spouse(s) Katherine "Kate" Wilson Taylor
Children Robert Dudley Winthrop
Grenville Lindall Winthrop
Katharine Taylor Winthrop
Frederic Bayard Winthrop
Albertina Taylor Winthrop
Beekman Winthrop

Robert Winthrop (April 18, 1833 – November 18, 1892) was a wealthy banker and capitalist in New York City.


He was the son of Thomas Charles Winthrop (1797–1873) and Georgianna (Kane) Winthrop and the brother of Civil War General Frederic Winthrop. He was a direct descendant of colonial governors John Winthrop, John Winthrop, Jr., and Fitz-John Winthrop.[1]

Robert Winthrop was married to Kate Wilson Taylor (1839–1925) on June 23, 1859. She was the daughter of Moses Taylor, who was one of the greatest railroad, iron, and coal company financiers and was president of National City Bank for 27 years.

They had six children who lived to adulthood: Robert Dudley Winthrop (1861–1912), Grenville Lindall Winthrop (1864–1943), Katharine Taylor Winthrop (1866–1943), Frederic Bayard Winthrop (1868–1932), Albertina Taylor Winthrop (1871–1934),[2] and Beekman Winthrop (1874–1940). Katharine married United States Senator Hamilton Fish Kean (1862–1941) and Albertina married Dutch diplomat Jan Herman van Roijen (1870–1933).[3]


Robert Winthrop commenced his business career in the cotton and sugar business with J.&A. Dennistoun Wood. In 1859, he turned to banking with the firm of Read, & Drexel. He was admitted to the New York Stock Exchange in 1862. In 1863, he became a one-third owner in the firm of Drexel, Winthrop & Company.

Drexel, Winthrop was a very successful firm during the 1860s. most of this time, this New York branch, combined with the Drexel’s Philadelphia branch, was profiting between $300,000 and $350,000 per year. The Drexel brothers had a desire to do more European investing, as Winthrop did not agree, Drexel, Winthrop was dissolved in 1871 and Robert Winthrop & Company was established.

Over the next twenty years, this company would grow into an important family banking enterprise; Robert Winthrop multiplied his family’s fortune many times over. The Company would remain in the Winthrop family’s hands for over one hundred years. In 1977, Wood, Struthers, & Winthrop, the successor firm of Robert Winthrop & Company, was sold to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette for one-million shares of DLJ stock. DLJ went on to become part of Credit Suisse.

Robert Winthrop was considered a close associate of his father-in-law, Moses Taylor. By the late 1860s, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Winthrop were large holders of the Manhattan Gas Light Company with 240 shares. In 1873, they held 1,320 shares of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. In 1870, Winthrop was a director of The Manhattan Coal Company. The extent of the Robert Winthrop family wealth would be further revealed during the Pujo Committee investigations. In 1913, a report issued by the Taft Administration showed that Mrs. Robert Winthrop was the third largest shareholder of National City Bank of New York, while Robert Winthrop & Company was the sixth largest shareholder in the National Bank of Commerce of New York. These were the nation’s two largest banks at the time.[4]

In 1883, Robert Winthrop was an original shareholder of the Real Estate Exchange and Auction Room in New York when he purchased $10,000 of the original $115,000 subscribed. Other original shareholders included John Jacob Astor, William Astor, and Lloyd Aspinwall. Winthrop served as a trustee of the New York Life Insurance and Trust Company and the Orthopedic Hospital.

Socially, Robert Winthrop belonged to the Union, Knickerbocker, Riding, and Metropolitan Clubs. Winthrop was a friend, neighbor, and business associate of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., father of United States President Theodore Roosevelt. The Winthrop and Roosevelt families would remain close through the next generation as Robert Winthrop’s son, Beekman Winthrop, would serve as Governor of Puerto Rico and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during Roosevelt's Administration.


Robert Winthrop was the grandfather of United States Congressman Robert Winthrop Kean and great-grandfather of New Jersey Governor and 911 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean. It was the Winthrop-Taylor fortune that kept the Kean family afloat in tough economic times. Winthrop-Taylor monies were lent to the Kean’s during the Panic of 1907, during the Great Depression to recapitalize Kean, Taylor and National State Bank of Elizabeth, and once again upon the death of Hamilton Fish Kean in 1941 to keep Kean, Taylor in existence.

Robert Winthrop’s son, Grenville Lindall Winthrop accumulated one of the largest and most valuable private art collections in the United States. The collection was bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University upon his death in 1943.

Robert Winthrop’s son Beekman Winthrop served in the Taft Administration as well. From 1909 to 1913, he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Beekman Winthrop headed Robert Winthrop and Company from 1913 until 1939 and served as a director of National City Bank.

Among Robert Winthrop’s descendents, Robert Winthrop (1904–1999) headed Robert Winthrop & Company, and Wood, Struthers, & Winthrop from 1939 until 1969 and was the majority partner upon its sale in 1977. Frederic Winthrop (1906–1979) was a gentleman farmer who presided over his 600-acre (2.4 km2) estate in Hamilton and Ipswich, Massachusetts. Frederic Winthrop was the father of five sons including Grant Forbes Winthrop who is a partner at Milbank, & Winthrop, a private investment firm in New York City. Through his marriage, Frederic Winthrop was the uncle of U.S. Senator John F. Kerry. The Winthrop cousins also jointly own a 23,000-acre (93 km2) plantation in Allendale County, South Carolina, called Groton Plantation.[5] The plantation is today the site of ongoing conservation efforts through game management, and the land remains a token of beautiful low country South Carolina.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Henry Anstice. History of Saint George's Church in the City of New York, 1752-1811-1911. N,Y.: Harper, 1911, p. 450.
  2. ^ Albertina van Roijen died April 19, 1934 obituary, The New York Times, April 24, 1934.
  3. ^ Lawrence Shaw Mayo. The Winthrop Family in America. Boston, Ma: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1948, pp. 381-383.
  4. ^ Robert Winthrop obituary, The New York Times, November 22, 1892.
  5. ^ A Rich Do-gooder Named Winthrop Turns Detective to Solve a Brutal Murder, People, July 8, 1974, Vol. 2, No. 2. Archived.

Further reading[edit]

  • "The Business Career of Moses Taylor" by Daniel Hodas, New York: New York University Press (1976).
  • "An Old Merchant's Death", obituary of Moses Taylor in The New York Times, May 24, 1882.
  • "Reared in a Greenhouse" by Dorothy B. Wexler, New York and London, Garland Publishing (1998).
  • "Governor Tom Kean" by Alvin S. Felzenberg: RutgersUniversity Press (2006).
  • "Fourscore Years" by Robert W. Kean, Privately Published (1974).
  • "The New York Times," articles from the following dates: June 25, 1859; October 16, 1977; January 23, 1913; December 4, 1883;

External links[edit]