Grace, William Russell

Grace, William Russell,

1832–1904, American financier, b. Queenstown, Ireland. He was in business in England and Peru before establishing (1865) W. R. Grace & Company in New York City. After Peru's defeat by Chile, Grace was among those who underwrote the Peruvian national debt, in return for extensive business concessions. The Grace firm established branches in many Latin American countries after 1895 and developed steamship operations. In 1880, Grace became the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York City and in two reform administrations opposed Tammany.


See biography by his grandson, J. P. Grace (1953).

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Grace, William Russell

(1832–1904) international businessman, capitalist; born in Queenstown, Ireland. Prevented by his father from joining the Royal Navy, he ran away to sea and then to Peru where he and his brother, Michael Grace eventually formed Grace Brothers & Company, a trading company. His health forced him to leave Peru in 1860, and after traveling around, he settled in New York City in 1865 and set up W. R. Grace & Company. He conducted a vastly successful trade with Peru and after 1890 he profited from concessions received for funding Peru's national debt. By 1895, the William R. Grace & Company had expanded throughout Latin America and he had moved into mining, mills, international banking, and trading; he also started two steamship companies. Although known as "the pirate of Peru," he served two terms as mayor of New York City (1880–88).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.