William Astor Sr

William Backhouse Astor Sr (1792 - 1875)

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William Backhouse Astor Sr
Born in New York City, New York County, New York, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in New York, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 25 Apr 2014
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Categories: Famous People of the 19th Century | This Day In History September 19 | This Day In History November 24 | American Notables.

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William was born in New York City to fur-trader John Jacob Astor and Sarah Cox Todd. He was one of seven siblings were Magdalen, Sarah, John Jr., Dorothea, Henry, Eliza and an unnamed brother who died shortly after his birth. He attended local public schools. His spare hours and vacations were employed in assisting his father in the store. When he was sixteen, he was sent to the University of G├Âttingen in Germany, where he joined the German Student Corps Curonia of the Baltic German students; later he moved to the University of Heidelberg. He returned to the United States in 1851 and entered partnership with his father, who changed the firm name to John Jacob Astor & Son and engaged in the China trade. He worked there until his father's death. One source argued that his role in the company was never anything more than as "an industrious and faithful head clerk", despite his official title of head of the firm's chief subsidiary, the American Fur Company, in its last several years of its ownership by Astor & Son.

Although William's fortunes grew with his father's company, he became a truly wealthy man when he inherited the estate, worth around $500,000, of his childless uncle Henry Astor I. When John Jacob Astor, Sr. died in 1848, William became the richest man in America.


  • 1850; Census Place: New York Ward 15 Eastern half, New York, New York; Roll: M432_552; Page: 244A; Image: 498.
  • 1870; Census Place: New York Ward 15 District 4 (2nd Enum), New York, New York; Roll: M593_1033; Page: 108A; Image: 219; Family History Library Film: 552532.
  • Ancestry.com. U.S., Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
  • Record of Wills, 1665-1916; Index to Wills, 1662-1923 (New York County); Author: New York. Surrogate's Court (New York County); Probate Place: New York, New York.

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No known carriers of William's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Images: 1
William Astor, Sr. 1850
William Astor, Sr. 1850


William is 19 degrees from Robin Helstrom, 23 degrees from Katy Jurado and 8 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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