William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor

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William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor's Geni Profile

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William Waldorf Astor, Sr.

Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: New York, NY, United States
Death: October 18, 1919 (71)
Brighton, Sussex, England (Congestive heart failure)
Immediate Family:

Son of Bvt. Brig. Gen. John Jacob Astor III and Charlotte Augusta Astor
Husband of Mary Astor (Paul), Viscountess Astor
Father of William Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor; Pauline Spender-Clay; John R. Astor; Col. John Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever and Gwendolyn Enid Astor

Occupation: 1st Baron Astor (1916-1918); 1st Viscount Astor (1917-1918); US Minister to Italy (1882-1885)
Managed by: Private User
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About William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor


William Astor was born in New York City, the only child of John Jacob Astor III (1822-1890) and Charlotte Augusta Gibbes (c. 1825-1887). He was educated in Germany and in Italy before studying at Columbia Law School. He worked shortly in law practice and in the management of his father's estate. In 1878 he married Mary Dahlgren Paul (1858-1894) and went into politics, serving as a New York state assemblyman and senator. Astor was likely elected with help from the boss of the New York State Republican machine, notorious Roscoe Conkling, with whom his family was involved. He was twice defeated in his bids for a seat in the United States Congress. In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur appointed Astor Minister to Italy, a post he held until 1885. ("Go and enjoy yourself, my dear boy," the president told Astor.) While living in Rome, Astor developed a life-long passion for art and sculpture.

Upon the death of his father in early 1890, William Waldorf Astor inherited a personal fortune that made him the richest man in America. On November 7, 1890, plans were filed with the New York City Building Department to construct a new hotel on the site of William Astor's residence. In 1891, after a family feud with his aunt Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor over matters of social seniority, Astor and his family moved to England, a decision that was published throughout all the major newspapers. Although the owner of the Waldorf Hotel built where his home had stood, William Astor visited it only once in his lifetime. In 1897, his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912) built the Astoria Hotel adjoining the Waldorf, and the complex then became known as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Arriving in England, at first Astor rented Lansdowne House in London until 1893 when he purchased a country estate at Cliveden-on-Thames in Taplow, Buckinghamshire from Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster. In 1899 Astor became a British subject and in 1903 acquired Hever Castle near Edenbridge, Kent about 30 miles south of London. The huge estate, built in 1270 was where Anne Boleyn lived as a child. William Waldorf Astor invested a great deal of time and money to restore the castle, building what is known as the "Tudor Village" and creating a lake and lavish gardens. In 1905 he gave his son William Waldorf Astor II and his new daughter-in-law, the former Nancy Langhorne, the Cliveden estate as a wedding present.

He died of congestive heart failure in the lavatory of his Brighton, Sussex, England home. His ashes were buried under the marble floor of the chapel at Cliveden.

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William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor's Timeline

March 31, 1848
New York, NY, United States
May 19, 1879
Age 31
New York, NY, United States
September 24, 1880
Age 32
New York, New York, United States
November 28, 1881
Age 33
New York, New York, United States
May 20, 1886
Age 38
New York, New York, New York, United States
Age 40
October 18, 1919
Age 71
Brighton, Sussex, England