Vanderbilt family

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Vanderbilt Mausoleum (edit).jpg
The Vanderbilt mausoleum at the Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp, Staten Island, N.Y.
Current regionUnited States East Coast
Earlier spellingsVan der Bilt, van Derbilt
EtymologyVan der Bilt ("from de Bilt")
Place of originDe Bilt, Netherlands
Estate(s)Vanderbilt houses

The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin who gained prominence during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the family expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy. Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants went on to build grand mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City; luxurious "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island; the palatial Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina; and various other opulent homes.

The Vanderbilts were once the wealthiest family in America. Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest American until his death in 1877. After that, his son William acquired his father's fortune, and was the richest American until his death in 1885. The Vanderbilts' prominence lasted until the mid-20th century, when the family's 10 great Fifth Avenue mansions were torn down, and most other Vanderbilt houses were sold or turned into museums in what has been referred to as the "Fall of the House of Vanderbilt".[1][2]

Branches of the family are found on the United States East Coast. Contemporary descendants include journalist Anderson Cooper, actor Timothy Olyphant, musician John P. Hammond and screenwriter James Vanderbilt.


The progenitor of the Vanderbilt family was Jan Aertszoon or Aertson (1620–1705), a Dutch farmer from the village of De Bilt in Utrecht, Netherlands, who emigrated to the Dutch colony of New Netherland as an indentured servant to the Van Kouwenhoven family in 1650.[3][4] The name of Jan's village, in the genitive case, was added to the Dutch "van" ("from") to create "Van der Bilt", which evolved into "Vanderbilt" when the English took control of New Amsterdam (now Manhattan). The family is associated with the Dutch patrician Van der Bilt.[5]

His great-great-great-grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt, began the rise of the Vanderbilt dynasty. He was the fourth of nine children born into a Staten Island family of modest means. Through his paternal great-great grandmother, Abigail Southard, he descends from Republic of Salé President Jan Janszoon and his son Anthony Janszoon van Salee. They were among the earliest arrivals to 17th-century New Amsterdam. In a number of documents dating back to that period, Anthony is described as tawny or mulatto,[6] as his mother was of Berber origin from Cartagena in the Kingdom of Murcia.[7][8] Cornelius Vanderbilt left school at age 11 and went on to build a shipping and railroad empire that, during the 19th century, would make him one of the wealthiest men in the world. Starting with a single boat, he grew his fleet until he was competing with Robert Fulton for dominance of the New York waterways, his energy and eagerness earning him the nickname "Commodore", a United States Navy title for a captain of a small task force. Fulton's company had established a monopoly on trade in and out of New York Harbor. Vanderbilt, based in New Jersey at the time, flouted the law, steaming in and out of the harbor under a flag that read, "New Jersey Must Be Free!" He also hired the attorney Daniel Webster to argue his case before the United States Supreme Court; Vanderbilt won, thereby establishing an early precedent for America's first laws of interstate commerce.

The Vanderbilt family lived on Staten Island until the mid-1800s, when the Commodore built a house on Washington Place (in what is now Greenwich Village). Although he always occupied a relatively modest home, members of his family would use their wealth to build magnificent mansions. Shortly before his death in 1877, Vanderbilt donated US$1 million for the establishment of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

The Commodore left the majority of his enormous fortune to his eldest son, William Henry Vanderbilt. William Henry, who outlived his father by just eight years, increased the profitability of his father's holdings, increased the reach of the New York Central Railroad, and doubled the Vanderbilt wealth. He built the first of what would become many grand Vanderbilt mansions on Fifth Avenue, at 640 Fifth Avenue. William Henry appointed his first son, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, as the next "Head of House".

Cornelius II built the largest private home in New York, at 1 West 58th Street, containing approximately 154 rooms, designed by George B. Post. He also built The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island.

Cornelius II's brother, William Kissam Vanderbilt, also featured prominently in the family's affairs. He also built a home on Fifth Avenue and would become one of the great architectural patrons of the Gilded Age, hiring the architects for (the third, and surviving) Grand Central Terminal. He also built Marble House at 596 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island.

George Washington Vanderbilt II, the 3rd and youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt and youngest brother of Cornelius II, hired architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to construct Biltmore Estate on 125,000 acres near Asheville, North Carolina. The 250 room mansion and 175,856 square feet of floor space remains on top of the list of largest houses in the United States to date.

While some of Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants gained fame in business, others achieved prominence in other ways, e.g.:

In 1855, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt donated 45 acres (~182,000 m2) of property to the Moravian Church and Cemetery at New Dorp on Staten Island, New York. Later, his son William Henry Vanderbilt donated a further four acres (16,000 m2). The Vanderbilt Mausoleum was designed in 1885 by architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Vanderbilt family tree[edit]

Members (by year of birth)[edit]

The following list includes Amy Vanderbilt (1908–1974), as it is believed she descended from either an uncle or brother of Cornelius Vanderbilt and is therefore not a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

  1. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877)
  2. William Henry Vanderbilt (1821–1885)
  3. Cornelius Jeremiah Vanderbilt (1830–1882)
  4. Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843–1899)
  5. Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt (1845–1924)
  6. William Kissam Vanderbilt (1849–1920)
  7. Emily Thorn Vanderbilt (1850–1946)
  8. William Knapp Thorn (1851–1911)
  9. Florence Adele Vanderbilt (1854–1952)
  10. Frederick William Vanderbilt (1856–1938)
  11. Eliza "Lila" Osgood Vanderbilt (1860–1936)
  12. George Washington Vanderbilt II (1862–1914)
  13. Cornelius Vanderbilt III (1873–1942)
  14. Emily Vanderbilt Sloane (1874–1970)
  15. Alice Louise Vanderbilt Shepard (1874–1950)
  16. Gertrude Vanderbilt (1875–1942)
  17. Elliott Fitch Shepard Jr. (1876–1927)
  18. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (1877–1915)
  19. Consuelo Vanderbilt (1877–1964)
  20. William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878–1944)
  21. Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880–1925)
  22. James Watson Webb II (1884–1960)
  23. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884–1970)
  24. Gladys Moore Vanderbilt (1886–1965)
  25. Flora Payne Whitney (1897–1986)
  26. John Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough (1897–1972)
  27. Cornelius Vanderbilt IV (1898–1974)
  28. William Douglas Burden (1898–1978)
  29. Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill (1898–1956)
  30. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (1899–1992)
  31. Muriel Vanderbilt (1900–1972)
  32. Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt (1900–1976)
  33. Governor William Henry Vanderbilt III (1901–1981)
  34. Mary Cathleen Vanderbilt (1904–1944)
  35. Frederick Vanderbilt Field (1905–2000)
  36. William Armistead Moale Burden II (1906–1984)
  37. Amy Vanderbilt (1908–1974)
  38. Shirley Carter Burden (1908–1989)
  39. John Henry Hammond Jr. (1910–1987)
  40. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Jr. (1912–1999)
  41. George Washington Vanderbilt III (1914–1961)
  42. James Watson Webb III (1916–2000)
  43. Sir Richard Thorn Pease, 3rd Baronet (1922–2021)
  44. Whitney Tower (1923–1999)
  45. Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (1924–2019)
  46. George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil (1925–2020)
  47. John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough (1926–2014)
  48. William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil (1928–2017)
  49. Flora Miller Biddle (born 1928)
  50. Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill (born 1929)
  51. Christopher Denys Stormont Finch-Hatton, 16th Earl of Winchilsea (1936–1999)
  52. John Wilmerding (born 1938)
  53. Shirley Carter Burden Jr. (1941–1996)
  54. John Paul Hammond (born 1942)
  55. Kenneth Peter Lyle Mackay, 4th Earl of Inchcape (born 1943)
  56. Jonathan Edward Pease (born 1952)
  57. John LeBoutillier (born 1953)
  58. Sage Sohier (born 1954)
  59. Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough (born 1955)
  60. Sir Richard Peter Pease, 4th Baronet (born 1958)
  61. Lady Henrietta Mary Spencer-Churchill (born 1958)
  62. Nichola Pease (born 1961)
  63. William Douglas Burden III (born 1965)
  64. Anderson Hays Cooper (born 1967)
  65. Daniel Finch-Hatton, 17th Earl of Winchilsea (born 1967)
  66. Timothy David Olyphant (born 1968)
  67. James Platten Vanderbilt (born 1975)
  68. George John Godolphin Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford (born 1992)

Spouses (by year of birth)[edit]

  1. Horace F. Clark (1815–1873): 1st husband of Maria Louisa Vanderbilt
  2. Nicholas B. La Bau (1823–1873): 1st husband of Mary Alicia Vanderbilt
  3. Elliott Fitch Shepard (1833–1893): husband of Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard
  4. Frank Armstrong Crawford Vanderbilt (1839–1885): 2nd wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  5. William Douglas Sloane (1844–1915): 1st husband of Emily Thorn Vanderbilt
  6. Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt (1845–1934): wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt II
  7. Hamilton McKown Twombly (1849–1910): husband of Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly
  8. Henry White (1850–1927): 2nd husband of Emily Thorn Vanderbilt
  9. William Seward Webb (1851–1926): husband of Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb
  10. Alva Belmont (1853–1933): 1st wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt
  11. Louise Vanderbilt (1854–1926): wife of Frederick William Vanderbilt
  12. Anne Harriman Vanderbilt (1861–1940): 2nd wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt
  13. Richard M. Tobin (1866–1952): 2nd husband of Florence Adele Sloane
  14. Jacques Balsan (1868–1956): 2nd husband of Consuelo Vanderbilt
  15. Grace Vanderbilt (1870–1953): wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt III
  16. James A. Burden Jr. (1871–1932): 1st husband of Florence Adele Sloane
  17. Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough (1871–1934): 1st husband of Consuelo Vanderbilt
  18. Dave Hennen Morris (1872–1944): husband of Alice Vanderbilt Morris
  19. Harry Payne Whitney (1872–1930): husband of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
  20. Edith Stuyvesant Gerry (1873–1958): wife of George Washington Vanderbilt II
  21. Virginia Fair Vanderbilt (1875–1935): 1st wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt II
  22. George G. McMurtry (1876–1958): 4th husband of Teresa Sarah Margaret Fabbri
  23. László Széchenyi (1879–1938): husband of Gladys Vanderbilt Széchenyi
  24. Ralph Pulitzer (1879–1939): 1st husband of Frederica Vanderbilt Webb
  25. Leopold Stokowski (1882–1977): 2nd husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  26. Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888–1960): wife of James Watson Webb II
  27. Frederick Osborn (1889–1981): husband of Margaret Louisa Schieffelin
  28. John Francis Amherst Cecil (1890–1954): 1st husband of Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
  29. Vivian Francis Bulkeley-Johnson (1891–1968): 2nd husband of Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
  30. Aileen Osborn Webb (1892–1979): wife of Vanderbilt Webb
  31. Frederic Cameron Church Jr. (1897–1983): 1st husband of Muriel Vanderbilt
  32. John J. Emery (1898–1976): 2nd husband of Adele Sloane Hammond
  33. Jack Speiden (1900–1970): 2nd husband of Rachel Hammond
  34. Arthur Duckworth (1901–1986): 1st husband of Alice Frances Hammond
  35. Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt (1901–1978): wife of Harold Stirling Vanderbilt
  36. Marie Norton Harriman (1903–1970): 1st wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
  37. Charles Bosanquet (1903–1986): husband of Barbara Schieffelin
  38. Earl E. T. Smith (1903–1991): 1st husband of Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl
  39. Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt (1904–1965): 2nd wife of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt
  40. Dunbar Bostwick (1908–2006): husband of Electra Webb
  41. George W. Headley (1908–1985): 3rd husband of Barbara Vanderbilt Whitney
  42. Eleanor Searle (1908–2002): 3rd wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
  43. Pat DiCicco (1909–1978): 1st husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  44. Benny Goodman (1909–1986): 2nd husband of Alice Frances Hammond
  45. Edward P. Morgan (1910–1993): 2nd husband of Katharine Sage Burden
  46. Christopher Finch-Hatton, 15th Earl of Winchilsea (1911–1950): 1st husband of Countess Gladys Széchényi
  47. Edwin F. Russell (1914–2001): 1st husband of Lady Sarah Consuelo Spencer-Churchill
  48. Laura Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1915–1990): 2nd wife of John Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough
  49. Louis Auchincloss (1917–2010): husband of Adele Burden Lawrence
  50. Kenneth James William Mackay, 3rd Earl of Inchcape (1917–1994): 2nd husband of Aline Thorn Pease
  51. Orin Lehman (1920–2008): husband of Wendy Vanderbilt
  52. Edwin D. Morgan (1921–2001): 1st husband of Nancy Marie Whitney
  53. Charles Scribner IV (1921–1995): husband of Jeanette "Joan" Kissel Sunderland
  54. Stanley Schachter (1922–1997): husband of Sophia Duckworth
  55. Sidney Lumet (1924–2011): 3rd husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  56. Marylou Whitney (1925–2019): 4th wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
  57. Wyatt Emory Cooper (1927–1978): 4th husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  58. Tina Onassis Niarchos (1929–1974): 2nd wife of John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough
  59. Rosalba Neri (born 1939): 3rd wife of Henry Cooke Cushing IV
  60. Rosita Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (born 1943): 3rd wife of John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough
  61. Amanda Burden (born 1944): 1st wife of Carter Burden
  62. Neil Balfour (born 1944): 3rd husband of Serena Mary Churchill Russell
  63. James Toback (born 1944): 1st husband of Consuelo Sarah Churchill Vanderbilt Russell
  64. David Rosengarten (born 1950): husband of Constance Crimmins Childs
  65. John Silvester Varley (born 1956): husband of Carolyn Thorn Pease
  66. Crispin Odey (born 1959): husband of Nichola Pease
  67. Edla Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (born 1968): 2nd wife of James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Review of Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt". The New York Times. September 24, 1989.
  2. ^ Vanderbilt, Arthur T., II (1989). Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0-688-07279-8.
  3. ^ Dorothy Kelly MacDowell. Commodore Vanderbilt and his family: a biographical account of the Descendants of Cornelius and Sophia Johnson Vanderbilt. 1989. University of Wisconsin
  4. ^ Woodard, Colin (September 29, 2011). "Chapter 6 - The Colonies' first revolt". American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Penguin. ISBN 9781101544457. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  5. ^ List of Dutch patrician families in the Nederland's Patriciaat 1910–2007/2008 (PDF).
  6. ^ Dubois, Laurent; Scott, Julius S. (Jan 11, 2013). Origins of the Black Atlantic. Routledge. p. 150. ISBN 9781136096341.
  7. ^ "The Van Salee Family". Frontline. PBS. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  8. ^ "Jan Jansen van Haarlem and Anthony Jansen van Salee", Brian A. Smith. Washington D.C. 2013