ward mcallister the gilded age

Who was Ward McAllister in HBO’s The Gilded Age? (pictures)

In HBO’s The Gilded Age, a meeting with Mr. Ward McAllister was key to helping Mrs. Russell gain entry into New York Society. Who was Ward McAllister and why was he so influential in shaping New York’s Society during the Gilded Age?

Who was Ward McAllister?

Ward McAllister was Mrs. Astor’s social confidant and friend. He was influential in deciding who was or who was not part of New York Society. In fact, Ward McAllister and Mrs. Astor came up with a list of who was part of New York Society.

In 1892, Ward McAllister leaked to the press the names of the Four Hundred people who made up New York Society. This list became famous nationwide and was called the Astor 400 or McAllister 400.

Did Ward McAllister Come From Old Money?

Ward McAllister did not come from old money but he did have Southern gentry roots and social connections to wealthy New York Society. His father, Matthew Hall McAllister, was ex-mayor of Savannah, a judge, a lawyer and a member of the Georgia State Legislature.

His mother, Louisa Charlotte Cutler, had New York Society connections through her Newport relations. Ward McAllister’s uncle, Sam Ward (maternal side), married Emily Astor (William Astor’s daughter).

Was Ward McAllister Rich?

Ward McAllister was not rich. He was well-to-do and lived comfortably. He made a modest fortune during his years in California and he also married into money.

Who Did Ward McAllister Marry?

Ward McAllister married Sarah Taintor Gibbons in 1853. She had money and was described as “a Georgia heiress.” Her personality was the opposite from Ward McAllister’s flamboyant personality. She was mild mannered and bashful.

Did Ward McAllister Have Children?

Ward McAllister had one daughter and two sons with his wife, Sarah Taintor Gibbons.

Where Did Ward McAllister Live?

Ward McAllister lived most of his life in a house on East 19th Street in Manhattan. He spent summers entertaining at his home, “Bayside Farm,” in Newport, Rhode Island.

Ward McAllister
Photo of Ward McAllister

How Did Ward McAllister Meet Mrs. Astor?

Ward McAllister met Mrs. Astor through his subscription balls. He was 45 years old and she was 42 years old when they met. They became friends and had in common the view that “Society in America is in urgent need of Guidance.” According to McAllister, “Profiteers, boors, boorish people, people with only money must be kept out.” Thus both Ward McAllister and Mrs. Astor set out to shape New York Society.

How Did Ward McAllister Decide Who were Admitted into New York Society?

According to Ward McAllister, in order to be admitted into Society you must have the “the three Bs- Birth, Background and Breeding.” Although Ward McAllister did admit people who did not quite live up to those requirements.

Ward McAllister divided New York Society into two groups- the “Nobs” and the “Swells”. The “Nobs” were from the old families and were automatically admitted into Society (unless they were blacklisted for social wrongdoings). The “Swells” had to prove themselves. They were admitted into New York Society by proving that they had “proper clothes, dignified style of entertaining, conduct and acquaintances”

ward mcallister caricature
Caricature of Ward McAllister

How Long Did It Take to Be Admitted to Ward McAllister’s New York Society?

It typically took 2 successful seasons in Newport to be admitted to Ward McAllister’s Society.

What is the McAllister 400?

The McAllister 400, also called the Astor 400, is an exclusive list of the crème de la crème of New York society. During the gilded age, Mrs. Astor and Ward McAllister had so much influence over New York society that they decided who was and who was not a member of New York’s elite society.

Who was included in the McAllister 400?

The McAllister 400 is an exclusive list of people admitted to New York Society. The list was released to the press by Mr. McAllister in 1892. The McAllister 400 comprised of a list of 319 names from 169 families. The list includes prominent old money families as well as new money with very little social credentials.

Some of the members of McAllister 400 old money families were the Van Cortlandts, Schuylers, Van Rensselaers, Beekmans, Schermerhorn, Suydams, de Peysters and Rhinelanders. New Money families, like the Vanderbilts made it to the McAllister 400.

Who was the Youngest Member of McAllister 400?

The youngest person on McAllister 400 was Julia Dent Grant. She was 16 years old when McAllister put her on the list. Although she was the granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant, her family was not wealthy or aristocratic. The inclusion of her name on McAllister’s list was surprising to many.

Julia Dent Grant later marries Prince Michael Michailovitch Cantacuzene of Russia and becomes Princess Cantacuzene.

Julia Dent Grant
Julia Dent Grant

McAllister 400

Below is a list of the McAllister 400.

Last Names of Astor 400Names of Astor 400
AllenFred H
AppletonMr. and Mrs. F. R.
AstorMr. and Mrs. John Jacob
AstorMr. and Mrs.William
BaldwinMiss Louisa
BaldwinC.C.
BaldwinC.C. Jr.
BarbeyMrs. Henry
BarbeyMiss Eva
BarclayMr. and Mrs. James
BayliesMr. and Mrs. Edmund L.
BendMiss Amy
BendMiss Beatrice
BerrymanMiss Georgina
BishopMiss Mary Cunningham
BishopHeber
BowdoinGeorge S.
BowdoinTemple
BronsonMr. and Mrs. Frederic
BrownHarold
BrownWilliam Harold
BryceMr. and Mrs. Lloyd
BulkeleyEdward
BurdenMiss Evelyn Moale
BurdenMr. and Mrs. I. Townsend
BurnettGeneral and Mrs. Henry L.
CameronThe Misses (Margaret, Isabel, Catherine N., Judah Howe Sears and Anne F. Cameron)
CameronDuncan
CameronSir Roderick
CannonMr. and Mrs. Harry
CarrollMr. and Mrs. Charles
CaryMr. and Mrs. Clarence
Cavendish-BentinckMrs. Elizabeth
ChanlerMr.and Mrs. Winthrop
ChanlerThe Misses (Elizabeth, Margaret and Alida)
CooperMr. and Mrs. Edward
CosterHarry
CosterWilliam B.
CottenetRawlins
CrosbyMiss Angelica Schuyler
CrosbyCol. J. Schuyler
CrossMr. and Mrs. James
CrugerMr. and Mrs. S. Van Rensselaer
CushingMiss Edith
CushingThomas F.
CuttingMrs. Brockholst
CuttingF. Bayard
CuttingF. Brockholst
CuttingMr. and Mrs. W. Bayard
CuttingRobert L. Jr.
CuttingWilliam Jr.
DanaMr. and Mrs. Paul
De ForestMr. and Mrs. George B.
DelafieldMiss Elizabeth Ray
DelafieldDr. and Mrs. Francis
DepewMr. and Mrs. Chauncey M.
De PeysterMr. and Mrs. Frederic J.
DyerMr. and Mrs. Elisha, Jr.
ElliottMr. and Mrs. Duncan
ErvingLangdon
FishMr. and Mrs. Hamilton Jr.
FishMr. and Mrs. Stuyvesant
ForbesH. De Courcey
FrancklynMr. and Mrs. C.G.
FrelinghuysenTheodore
FurmanJ.C.
GoeletMr. and Mrs. Ogden
GoeletMr. and Mrs. Robert
GrantMiss Julia Grant
GreeneMiss
GreeneAlister
GriswoldFrank Gray
GurneeAugustus C.
HaddenAlexander M.
HaddenJohn A. Jr.
HallMiss Elizabeth Livingston
HallMr. and Mrs. Valentine G.
HavemeyerMr. and Mrs. Charles F.
HawkesRobert F.
HewittMr. and Mrs. Peter Cooper
HoffmanMiss
HoffmanMrs. Charles P.
HoneRobert Jr.
HowlandMeredith
HowardMr. and Mrs. Thomas
IrvinMr. and Mrs. Richard
IselinMr. and Mrs. Columbus
IselinIsaac
JaffrayMiss Helen
JaffrayMrs. William
JayCol. And Mrs. William
JonesMiss Beatrix
JonesMr. and Mrs. F. Rhinelander
JonesShipley
KaneMr. and Mrs. De Lancey
KaneS. Nicholson
KaneWoodbury
KeanElizabeth
KeanJulian
KernochanMr. and Mrs. Frederick
KernochanMr. and Mrs. J. P.
KipCol. and Mrs. Lawrence
KipMiss Edith
KnowltonMiss Mary
KountzeMr. and Mrs. Luther
LanierMr. and Mrs. James
LearyArthur
LeiterMiss Mary Victoria
LivingstonMiss Clarissa
LivingstonEdward
LivingstonEdward de Peyster
LivingstonMr. and Mrs. Henry B.
LivingstonMrs. Maturin
LuskMiss Anna H.
MarchClement
MariePeter
MarshallMr. and Mrs. Charles H.
MartinMr. and Mrs. Bradley
MartinF.T.
McAllisterMiss Louise Ward
McAllisterWard
McVickarMr. and Mrs. H.W.
MillsMr. and Mrs. Ogden
MooreMr. and Mrs. Clement C.
MorganMiss Anne
MorrisMr. and Mrs. A Newbold
MorrisMiss Eva C.
MortimerMr. and Mrs. R.
MunnCharles
NelsonMrs. Frederick
NewboldMr. and Mrs. Thomas
OelrichsMr. and Mrs. Charles M.
OlinStephen H.
OtisMiss Mary
OtisJames
ParkerJames V.
PendletonMr. and Mrs. Francis Key
PerryMiss Bertha
PerryMrs. William A.
PetersRichard
PiersonMiss Marguerite
PiersonGeneral and Mrs. J. Fred
PorterMr. and Mrs. Benjamin C.
PostMr. and Mrs. Charles A.
PostEdward C.
PortMr. and Mrs. George B.
PotterClarkson
PotterMr. and Mrs. H.N.
PotterJulian
RandolphMiss Cora
RedmondGoold H.
RhinelanderT.J. Oakley
RichardsRobert Kerr
RipleyMr. and Mrs. S.D.
RitchieJames W.
RivesMr. and Mrs. George L.
RobertMr. and Mrs. Christopher
RobinsMr. and Mrs. H
RobinsonD.T.L.
RobinsonMr. and Mrs. Douglas Jr.
RobinsonRandolph
RocheMrs. Burke
RogersMiss Julia Fish
RogersMrs.
RooseveltMr. and Mrs. James
RutherfurdMr. and Mrs. Lewis
SandsMiss Edith Cruger
SchuylerMr. and Mrs. Philip
ShepardMiss Agnes
ShepardMr. and Mrs. Edward
ShermanMr. and Mrs. William Watts
SloaneMiss Adele
SloaneMr. and Mrs. William D.
SmithJ. Clinch
StevensMr. and Mrs. Byam K.
StevensMiss Elizabeth
StewartLispenard
StewartMr. and Mrs. William Rhinelander
StokesMiss Olivia Eggelston Phelps
StokesMr. and Mrs. Anson Phelps
SturgisMr. and Mrs. F.K.
SuydamMr. and Mrs. Walter Lispenard
TailerMiss Fannie Bogert
TailerE.N.
TalleyrandMarquise De
TiffanyBelmont
TookerMiss Emily M.
TookerG. Mead
TwomblyMr. and Mrs. Hamilton McKown
VanderbiltMr. and Mrs. Cornelius
VanderbiltGeorge W.
Van RensselaerMrs. A.
Van RensselaerMiss Alice
Van RensselaerMiss Mabel
VarnumJames Mitchell
WaterburyMr. and Mrs. James M.
WebbAlexander S.
WebbGeneral and Mrs. Alexander S.
WebbMiss Carrie
WebbMr. and Mrs. W. Seward
WellesMr. and Mrs. Benjamin
WellsMr. and Mrs. W. Storrs
WetmoreMiss Edith
WetmoreGovernor and Mrs.
WhitehouseWorthington
WhitneyMr. and Mrs. William C.
WhittierMrs. C.A.
WilksMatthew Astor
WillingMiss Susan
WillingBarton
WilmerdingMiss Georgiana L.
WilsonMiss Grace
WilsonMr. and Mrs. Orme
WilsonRichard T. Jr.
WinthropMiss Marie Austen
WinthropMr. and Mrs. Buchanan
WinthropEgerton
WinthropF.B.
WysongMr. and Mrs. J.J.
List of Astor 400

The Gilded Age is Streaming on HBO, Mondays at 9pm

Bibliography: The First Four Hundred: Mrs. Astor’s New York in the Gilded Age by Jerry E. Patterson

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The Gilded Age Film Locations (pictures and where to visit)

Who was the Real Life Mrs. Astor in HBO’s The Gilded Age? (pictures)

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