William Backhouse Astor

William Backhouse Astor

Male 1792 - 1875  (83 years)    Has 10 ancestors and more than 250 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name William Backhouse Astor 
    Relationshipwith Francis Fox
    Born 1792 
    Gender Male 
    Died 1875 
    Person ID I363799  Geneagraphie
    Links To This person is also William Backhouse Astor at Wikipedia 
    Last Modified 21 Feb 2007 

    Father John Jacob Astor,   b. 1763,   d. 1848  (Age 85 years) 
    Mother Sarah Todd,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Siblings 7 siblings 
    Family ID F144160  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Margaret Rebecca Armstrong,   b. 1799,   d. 1872  (Age 73 years) 
    Married 1818 
     1. Emily Astor,   b. 1819,   d. 1841  (Age 22 years)
     2. John Jacob Astor, III,   b. 10 Jun 1822,   d. 22 Feb 1890  (Age 67 years)
     3. Laura Astor,   b. 1824,   d. 1902  (Age 78 years)
     4. Mary Alida Astor,   b. 1826,   d. 1881  (Age 55 years)
     5. William Backhouse Astor, Jr.,   b. 1830,   d. 1892  (Age 62 years)
     6. Henry Astor,   b. 1830,   d. 1920  (Age 90 years)
     7. Sarah Astor,   b. 1832,   d. 1832  (Age 0 years)
    Last Modified 17 Jan 2002 
    Family ID F144159  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    William Backhouse Astor
    William Backhouse Astor

  • Notes 
    • When he inherited the huge estate of his father, William Backhouse was already a very rich man. As a consequence of an inheritance of 500'000 $ from his uncle Henry Astor, a butcher on the Bowery, through generous gifts and business partnerships from his father as well as his own shrewd investments in real estate, William Backhouse Astor was worth 5'000'000 $ in his own right. He had been president of the American Fur Co for many years and also held a general power of attorney for his father’s business transactions. Whilst his father spent most of his life living in an apartment on top of his store at 223 Broadway, William Backhouse Astor had a fine mansion on Lafayette place. Physically a tall man, he otherwise resembled his father, being almost as unsocial and retreating, parsimonious and astute in business.
      Along with many other influent New Yorkers, William Backhouse Astor benefited from the corrupt city government under Tammany Hall Mayor William Marcy Tweed and his infamous Tweed ring. He and his family repeatedly got water grants from the City for ridiculously low amounts of money. It was later estimated that the Tweed ring, which also included Controller Richard B. Connolly and Street Commissioner George W. McLean misappropriated between 45'000'000 and 200'000'000 $ during their administration from 1868-1871. How much was “shared” with the wealthy citizens who took advantage of the spoliation is unknown, but whereas Tweed died in prison quite poor and Connolly fled abroad with about 6'000'000 $, the wealthy New Yorkers who bought land for little money kept their prices and prospered unmolested.
      Through his marriage to Margaret Livingston William Backhouse raised the social status of the Astor family, a move which would be furthered by his children to the extent that his second daughter-in-law Caroline Schermerhorn Astor would become the society matron in New York.
      After a lifelong dedication to the administration and increase of the Astor fortune, William Backhouse Astor died in 1875, leaving an estate of 47'000'000 $, mostly real estate which he bequeathed to his two valid sons John Jacob Astor III and William Backhouse Astor jr. He had already provided his daughters with ample dowries and a trust fund for his youngest son. At the time of his death, William Backhouse Astor owned more than 700 buildings, in addition to vast tracts of still undeveloped land in Manhattan, thus well deserving his unofficial title of “landlord of New York”.

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