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William R. Grace

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Title: William R. Grace  
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Subject: List of foreign-born United States politicians, Irish Americans in New York City, List of American politicians of Irish descent, Henry F. Dimock
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William R. Grace

William R. Grace
William R. Grace, as Mayor of New York City
Born May 10, 1832
Ballylinan, County Laois,
Died March 21, 1904(1904-03-21) (aged 71)
New York City, New York,
United States
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn
Residence 31 E. Seventy-ninth St.,
New York City
Occupation Businessman, politician, philanthropist
Known for Mayor of New York City
Founding co-benefactor of the Grace Institute
Board member of W. R. Grace and Company,
Grace Brothers & Co.
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Lillius Gilchrist
Children Joseph Peter, Willliam Russell Jr., Alice, Lily, Louise
Parents James Grace & Ellen Russell
Relatives Siblings: Michael Paul, John William, Morgan Stanislaus

William Russell Grace (May 10, 1832 – March 21, 1904) was the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York City and the founder of W. R. Grace and Company.


Grace was born in Ballylinan, County Laois, Ireland to James and Eleanor May Russell (Ellen), and raised in Rivertown near the Cove of Cork, on Grace property at Ballylin. He was a member of the prestigious Grace family.

The Grace or Grace-Donoughmore (Lord Donoughmore) Contract

William married Lillius Gilchrist Sept. 11, 1859. She was the daughter of George W. Gilchrist, a prominent ship builder of Thomaston, Me. They had eleven children.[1]

  • Alice Gertrude Grace, born in South America, June 11, 1860.
  • Florence F. Grace, born in South America, Sept. 20, 1861; died Sept. 27, 1861.
  • Lilius Clemintina Grace, born in South America, Oct. 24, 1864; died in Ireland, June 26, 1866.
  • Agnes Isadora Grace, born in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 4, 1867; died in New York City, March 8, 1884.
  • Mary Augusta Grace, born in Brooklyn, Sept. 2, 1868; died there Feb. 16, 1870.
  • Lilius Annie Grace, born in Brooklyn, Sept. 1, 1870; died there Aug. 30, 1871.
  • Joseph P. Grace, born at Great Neck, June 29, 1872.
  • Lilias Juanita Grace, born in New York City, March 30, 1874; married July 12, 1898, to George Edward Kent.
  • Louisa Nathalie Grace, born in New York City, Dec. 23, 1875.
  • William Russell Grace, jr., born April 11, 1878.
  • Caroline S. Grace, born April 22, 1879; died April 21, 1882.


William and his father, James Grace, traveled to Callao, Peru South America in 1851, seeking to establish an Irish agricultural community. James returned home but William remained, where he began work with the firm of John Bryce and Co., as a ship chandler. In 1854, the company was renamed Bryce, Grace & Company, in 1865, to Grace Brothers & Co., and then W. R. Grace and Company.[2]

Reform politics

Opposing the famous Tammany Hall, Grace was elected as the first Irish American Catholic mayor of New York City in 1880.[3] He conducted a reform administration attacking police scandals, patronage and organized vice; reduced the tax rate, and broke up the Louisiana Lottery. Defeated in the following election, he was re-elected in 1884 on an Independent ticket but lost again the following time.[4] During his second term, Grace received the Statue of Liberty as a gift from France.


William Russell Grace was a renowned philanthropist and humanitarian, at one point contributing a quarter of the aid delivered to Ireland aboard the steamship Constellation during the famine of the later 1870s.[5] In 1897, he and his brother, Michael, founded the Grace Institute for the education of women, especially immigrants.


His nephew Cecil Grace attempted a crossing of the English Channel in December 1910 in an aeroplane. He flew from Dover to Calais. However in coming back he became disoriented and over Dover flew northeast over the Goodwin Sands toward the North Sea and was lost.[6]

See also



  • Marquis James, Merchant Adventurer: The Story of W. R. Grace, Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources (1993) ISBN 0-8420-2444-1

External links

  • article on the estate of William Russell Grace
  • Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Clayton, Lawrence A. [1] "Grace, William Russell (1832-1904), merchant" in Irish Migration Studies in Latin America 4:4 October 2006 (
  • Biography from
  • "
Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Cooper
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
Franklin Edson
Preceded by
Franklin Edson
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
Abram Hewitt

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