Boston’s Most Famous Business Men and Women

Famous Family Members of the Boston Brahmin

Boston has long been famous for political personalities and the changes they brought about in America as a whole. Another group has also brought notoriety to this city throughout its history. These families began as the Boston Brahmin, a group of influential industrialists who formed the city’s philosophical atmosphere.

The Adams family was one of these families. Charles Francis Adams IV was born in Boston, graduated from Harvard in 1932 and attended Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. In later life he was awarded honorary degrees from Bates College, Northeastern University, Suffolk University and Tufts University. He spent his working life in industrial electronics and was the first president of the Raytheon Company.

Boston’s Lowell family was another of the Brahmins. The Honorable John Amory Lowell became first Treasurer of both the Merrimack Manufacturing Company and Boott Cotton Textile Mills. He acted as Director of the Winnipiseogee Lake Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company. Lowell was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Harvard College. He was a member of the Linnean Society of London and Harvard honored him with an LLD. His financial acumen and high intellect allowed the Lowell Institute to flourish, supporting celebrated personalities in science, literature, politics, economics, theology and philosophy.

Philippe de Lannoy arrived in America in the 1600s and over the years his family name was Americanized to Delano. Many of his progeny became mariners, whalers and shipbuilders also making them part of the Boston aristocracy. Jane Arminda Delano was a member of this family dynasty. As a pioneer of modern nursing, she founded the American Red Cross Nursing Service. Her efforts led to the organization of emergency response teams to deal with disaster relief. Over 8,000 registered nurses were trained and prepared for immediate assignment when the U.S. entered World War I. More than 20,000 nurses she trained played vital roles supporting the military during the “Great War.”

George Richards Minot, M.D. received his degree from Harvard in 1912. In 1934 he was one of three men who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his study of anemia. The three had concluded that pernicious anemia could be treated through patients eating liver—rich in vitamin B12. Today vitamin B12 shots are still given to treat this condition.

Josiah Quincy, Jr. served as a lawyer and was a principal spokesman for the Sons of Liberty in Boston prior to the American Revolution. He had been born in Boston and educated at Harvard. His experience in the practice of law helped him become an impassioned orator on the topic of true liberty and what it meant to be a patriot. His editorials, printed under a variety of pseudonyms, helped fire the “rebels” choice to separate from England.

Clara Endicott Sears became a preservationist, an author and a philanthropist. She was born into a wealthy Boston family and educated in the city’s private schools as well as by tutors in Europe. She penned several historical tracts and continued this interest in association with the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, adding a Native American collection for display at the museum. She also donated her collections of American Folk Art and Hudson River School paintings to the Peabody. Sears acted as one of the trustees of Historic New England, a member of the Colonial Dames of America, Society of Mayflower Descendants and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

A leading Boston citizen, William Tudor, became co-founder of the Boston Athenaeum and the North American Review. His brother Frederic was founder of the Tudor Ice Company which shipped ice from fresh water ponds in the area to the tropics. This business gained Frederic Tudor the title of “Ice King.”

Robert Charles Winthrop attended the prestigious Boston Latin School and then graduated from Harvard with a law degree. He practiced law with Daniel Webster in Boston filling Webster’s term as Massachusetts State Senator when he became Secretary of State in 1850. Winthrop became a major patron of the Boston Public Library and President of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He wrote a biography of an ancestor, John Winthrop. Robert became permanent chairman and president of the Peabody Education Fund Trustees serving in that position until his death.

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