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John Jacob Astor III
File:John Jacob Astor III.jpg
Born June 10, 1822(1822-06-10)
Died February 22, 1890 (aged 67)
Manhattan, New York
Resting place Trinity Church Cemetery
Spouse(s) Charlotte Augusta Gibbes
Children William Waldorf Astor
Parents William Backhouse Astor, Sr. and Margaret Rebecca Armstrong
Relatives John Jacob Astor, grandfather

John Jacob Astor III[1] (June 10, 1822 – February 22, 1890) was the elder son of William Backhouse Astor, Sr. and the wealthiest member of the Astor family in his generation. He was the founder of the English branch of the Astor family, which persists to this day. [2][3]


Astor studied at Columbia College and Göttingen, following which he went to Harvard Law School. During the American Civil War he served as a volunteer aide-de-camp to General George B. McClellan. For his services during the Peninsular Campaign he was brevetted brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers.

As a businessman, he dabbled in railroad investment, but was forced to yield control of the original New York Central Railroad line (from Albany to Buffalo) to Cornelius Vanderbilt. His principal business interest was of course the vast Astor Estate real estate holdings in New York City, which he managed profitably and parsimoniously.

In 1846, he married Charlotte Augusta Gibbes (c. 1825-1887) of South Carolina and in 1859 he built a home at 350 Fifth Avenue, which is today the street address of the Empire State Building. Later, he added an imposing vacation home, Beaulieu, in Newport, Rhode Island.

John Jacob Astor III had little inclination to do much in the way of charitable works beyond continuing gifts made by his ancestors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Trinity Church, and the Astor Library. However, his deeply religious wife had quite a different attitude. Charlotte Astor supported the newly formed Children's Aid Society and sat on the board of the Women's Hospital of New York, an institution that to her dismay refused to accept cancer patients. Deciding to do something about it, she persuaded her husband to donate the money to erect the New York Cancer Hospital's first wing, the "Astor Pavilion."

Aristocratic by inclination, he increasingly visited London in his later years, and his only child, William Waldorf Astor, would move there permanently with his family in 1891.[4]

John Jacob Astor III died on February 22, 1890 and was interred in the Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan, New York.[5]


John Jacob Astor III married 1846 Charlotte Augusta Gibbs (1822 - 1887). They had one son only:

William Waldorf Astor, created Viscount Astor in 1917 (1848-1919), American ambassador in Italy 1882-1885, built the Waldorf Hotel, New York, in 1893, bought Cliveden-on-Thames from the Duke of Westminster, m.1878 Mary Dahlgren Paul (1858-1894) . There were 5 children from this marriage:

1. Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor (1879-1952), m.1906 Nancy Witcher Langhorne (1879-1964), m.1st 1897 (div 1903) (5 children)

2. Pauline Astor (1880-1972), m.1904 Sir Herbert Henry Spender-Clay (1875-1937) (3 children)

3. John Rudolph Astor (1881-1881) (no issue)

4. Gwendolyn Enid Astor (1884-1902) (no issue)

5. John Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever in 1956 (1886-1971), m.1916 Lady Violet Mary Elliot [of the earls of Minto] (1889-1965) (3 sons)



  1. Some sources such as Time magazine list him as John Jacob Astor II, and discount the birth of John Jacob Astor (1791-1869) who was unstable.
  2. "Milestones". Time (magazine). July 31, 1939.,9171,761800,00.html. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "To celebrate the fourth birthday of Millionheir* William Astor, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor III, invited his playmates to a party on the lawn of Chetwode, pillared Astor mansion at Newport. *When John Jacob Astor II went down on the Titanic, most of his fortune went to 20-year-old Son Vincent, only a few million to Son John Jacob III, then unborn. Since Vincent has no direct heirs, William is heir apparent to both fortunes." 
  3. "John Jacob Astor II". New York Times. August 24, 1890. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "John Jacob Astor, the second of the name, was born in New-York June 10, 1822. His parents were William B. Astor, son of the founder of the family, and Margaret Rebecca, daughter and granddaughter of the Armstrongs of Revolutionary honor." 
  4. "Viscount Astor Died Suddenly of Heart Disease. Stricken Saturday Morning, After Having Passed Part of Preceding Day Outdoors. Body Will Be Cremated and the Ashes Placed in Private Chapel at Cliveden. Peerage Came as Reward for War Gifts. Realty Holdings Here Valued at $60,000,000. Little Known to British Public. Estate Will Pay a Heavy Tax. His Pursuit of Title Evoked Bitter Criticism. Became a British Subject in 1899. Peerage Followed War Gifts.". New York Times. October 20, 1919. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "Viscount Astor died yesterday morning. His death, which was from heart disease, was unexpected." 
  5. "John Jacob Astor Dead. Heart Disease Carries Him Off Suddenly. The End Of A Placid And Useful Life Full Of Good Deeds. William Waldorf Astor His Only Heir.". New York Times. February 23, 1890. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 

External links[]

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