Winthrop W. Aldrich

Winthrop Williams Aldrich GBE (November 2, 1885  February 25, 1974)[1] was an American banker and financier, scion of a prominent and powerful political family, and US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Winthrop W. Aldrich
Aldrich during World War I
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
February 2, 1953  February 1, 1957
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byWalter S. Gifford
Succeeded byJohn Hay Whitney
Personal details
Winthrop Williams Aldrich

November 2, 1885
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
DiedFebruary 25, 1974 (aged 88)
New York City, New York
Spouse(s)Harriet Alexander
Residence960 Fifth Avenue
Islesboro, Maine
Providence, Rhode Island
Alma materHarvard University

Early years

Aldrich was born in Rhode Island in 1885, the son of U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, Nelson W. Aldrich and the former Abigail Pearce Truman Chapman. He attended Harvard University, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1907 and a J.D. degree in 1910. Among his ten siblings was brother Richard S. Aldrich, who served in Congress from 1923 to 1933,[2] and sisters Lucy Aldrich, an art collector, and Abby Aldrich, who became the wife of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.[3]


During the First World War Aldrich had built, at his own expense, the patrol boat USS Herreshoff No. 309 which was leased by Aldrich to the U.S. Navy and patrolled the waters off of Rhode Island from November 15, 1917 to December 31, 1918 when it was returned to Aldrich.[1]

Aldrich with Marilyn Monroe, 1957

Aldrich had been commissioned a lieutenant (junior grade) in the Naval Reserve and was called to active duty on April 8, 1917 and was assigned to the Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island. He transferred to the USS Niagara (SP-136) in September and was assigned as the ship's navigator. He was reassigned to the USS New Orleans (CL-22) in June 1918 and served on convoy duty. He was promoted to lieutenant on June 1 of the same year and, after the armistice, was released from active duty in December.[4]

Business career

Aldrich served as president and chairman of the board of Chase National Bank from 1930 to 1953. He served as commodore of the New York Yacht Club from 1932 to 1934. During and after World War II, as president of the British War Relief Society and the National War Fund Inc., he supported relief efforts and financial assistance to the United Kingdom and Europe. For this work he received the King's Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom[5] and in 1947 was invested by King George VI as an honorary Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire (GBE).[1]

U.S. Ambassador to the U.K.

On February 2, 1953, he was appointed the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He presented his credentials on February 20, 1953, and remained in London while Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and Queen Elizabeth II was the reigning monarch, until his mission was terminated on February 1, 1957.[6] He belonged to and served on the boards of many charitable organizations.[1]

Personal life

In 1916, Aldrich was married to Harriet Alexander at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.[7] Guests at their wedding included "representatives of the Astor, Fish, Harriman, Rockefeller, Crocker, Webb, Rhinelander, Cutting, Vanderbilt, Bacon and other well-known families."[7] Harriet was the eldest daughter of Harriet (née Crocker) Alexander and Charles Beatty Alexander of New York City and Tuxedo Park, New York and the granddaughter of railroad executive Charles Crocker. Her younger sisters were Jannetta and Mary Crocker Alexander,[7] who married Sheldon Whitehouse in 1920.[8] Together, they were the parents of:[1]

  • Mary Aldrich (b. 1921), who married Robert Homans, a lawyer with the San Francisco law firm of Morrison, Holloway, Schuman & Clark.[9]
  • Harriet Aldrich (1922–2014),[10] who married Dr. Edgar A. Bering Jr.[11]
Portrait of his wife, Harriet Alexander, in 1909 before their marriage, by Joaquín Sorolla.
  • Lucy Aldrich, who married David W. Devens. They divorced and she remarried to her first cousin, George Davenport Aldrich (1916–1978),[3] in 1971.[12] After his death, she married Francis H. Burr in 1979.[13]
  • Alexander "Sam" Aldrich (1928–2017),[14] who married Elizabeth Hollins Elliott and, later, Phyllis Williamson and served as the Commissioner of the Office of Parks and Recreation of New York State.[1][15]
  • Elizabeth Brewster "Liberty" Aldrich, who married J. Woodward Redmond in 1946.[16][17]

He was an amateur musician and an artist whose specialty was watercolor seascapes. As a yachtsman he was navigator, under skipper Harold S. Vanderbilt, of the 1930 America's Cup J Class defender Enterprise.[18] He built a 40-room manor on 108 acres in Brookville on Long Island.[19]

Aldrich died at his home, 960 Fifth Avenue in New York City, on February 25, 1974.[1]


In 1947, he was appointed an honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire by King George VI.[18] This entitled him to use the postnominal letters GBE, but not to the prenominal title "Sir" as he was not a British subject.

He was a member of The New York Young Republican Club[20] and the exclusive and prestigious Pilgrims Society.


  1. Lissner, Will (February 26, 1974). "Winthrop Aldrich Dead; Banker and Diplomat, 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  2. "ALDRICH, Richard Steere, (1884 - 1941)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  3. "George D. Aldrich, 61". The New York Times. February 8, 1978. p. 2. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  4. Harvard's Military Record in the World War. Harvard University Press. pg. 28.
  5. Captain H. Taprell Dorling. Ribbons and Medals. p. 130. Published A.H.Baldwin & Sons, London. 1956.
  6. "Winthrop Williams Aldrich (1885–1974)". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs United States Department of State. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  7. "MISS ALEXANDER A BRIDE. Weds Winthrop W. Aldrich in Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church" (PDF). The New York Times. December 8, 1916. p. 9. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  8. "MARY C. ALEXANDER WEDS S. WHITEHOUSE; Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Alexander Married in Fifth Av. Presbyterian Church. THRONG AT THE CEREMONY". The New York Times. 15 October 1920. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  9. "Abigail Homans Is Married". The New York Times. August 28, 1983. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  10. "HARRIET ALDRICH BERING". The Boston Globe. January 29, 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  11. "Edgar A. Bering, 77, World War II Doctor". The New York Times. August 17, 1994. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  12. "Mrs. Lucy Devens Wed To George D. Aldrich". The New York Times. June 20, 1971. p. 57. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  13. "Prominent figure in health care Francis H. Burr, 90". The Harvard Gazette. December 2, 2004. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  14. "Alexander Aldrich March 14, 1928–July 19, 2017". The Saratogian. July 23, 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  15. Aldrich, Sam (2008). Dancing with the Queen, Marching with King: The Memoirs of Alexander "Sam" Aldrich. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press. ISBN 9781438439891. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  16. "MISS E.B. ALDRICH, J.W. REDMOND WED; MARRIED YESTERDAY" (PDF). The New York Times. December 15, 1946. p. 75. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  17. "Winn Kadick to Be Bride of Winthrop Redmond". The New York Times. September 16, 1973. p. 72. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  18. Time, 8 December 1952
  19. Brookville homes start at $1M and continue to lure the affluent Retrieved 2014-09-05.

Further reading

  • Winthrop W. Aldrich: Lawyer, Banker, Diplomat by Arthur M. Johnson. 1968. Harvard University.