Astor, William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount

Astor, William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount,

1848–1919, American-British financier, b. New York City, educated in Germany and in Italy and at the Columbia law school; son of John Jacob AstorAstor, John Jacob,
1822–90, American financier, b. New York City, educated at Columbia and Göttingen universities and at Harvard law school; son of William Backhouse Astor (1792–1875).
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 (1822–90). He served as a state assemblyman and senator, but his political career was halted by his failure to win an election to the U.S. Congress. He was then appointed minister to Italy (1881–85). In 1890 he moved to England, where he acquired control of a newspaper and several magazines. He also founded—mainly to forward the literary ambition he had shown in two mediocre novels—Pall Mall Magazine. His estates, Cliveden and Hever Castle, were magnificent, his entertainments extravagant, his contributions to public causes—especially in World War I—munificent. He was made a baron in 1916 and a viscount in 1917.

His elder son, Waldorf Astor, 1879–1952, succeeded him as viscount and was a leader of "Tory democracy." His wife was Nancy, Lady AstorAstor, Nancy Witcher (Langhorne) Astor, Viscountess,
1879–1964, British politician, b. Virginia. She was first married to Robert Gould Shaw, and after her divorce (1903) from him she went to England.
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. The younger son, John Jacob Astor, 1886–1971, bought a major share of The Times of London and was made 1st Baron Astor of Hever.

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