Stories from The Titanic

The story of
John Jacob Astor

First class passenger, Titanic
John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest passenger aboard Titanic. He was the head of the Astor family, with a personal fortune of approximately $150,000,000.
Passenger list showing first class passengers embarking at Southampton. Thomas Andrews is shown with his ticket number 112050. Catalogue Reference: BT 27/780B page 8

John Jacob Astor c.1895

Born on 13 July 1864 to William Astor, he was educated at St. Paul's School, Concord and later went to Harvard. After a period of travelling abroad (1888-91) he returned to the United States to manage the family fortune.

Astor married Ava Shippen, daughter of Edward Shippen Willing of Philadelphia, in May 1891. Together they had a son and one daughter.

In 1894 Astor wrote a semi-scientific novel, ‘A Journey in Other Worlds’. He also developed several mechanical devices, including a bicycle brake (1898), helped to develop the turbine engine, and invented a pneumatic road-improver.

In 1897 Astor built the Astoria Hotel, New York adjoining the Waldorf Hotel, which had been built by William Waldorf Astor, his cousin. The new complex became known as the Waldorf-Astoria. Astor's real estate interest included two other hotels, the Hotel St. Regis (1905) and the Knickerbocker (1906).

Astor divorced Ava in 1909 and, in 1911, married 18 year old Madeleine Force. They travelled to Egypt and Paris before deciding to return to America as first class passengers on board the brand new Titanic.

The Astors boarded Titanic at Cherbourg on Wednesday 10 April 1912. They were accompanied by Astor’s personal manservant, Victor Robbins, Madeleine Astor's personal maid, Rosalie Bidios, and finally, Caroline Endres, Madeleine Astor's nursemaid who was with her on the voyage because of her pregnancy.

John Jacob Astor’s body was recovered from the sea on Monday 22nd of April by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett, He was buried in Trinity Cemetery, New York.